Monday 22nd February 2021

Tom with his 90th birthday spreadSadly, we have recently lost another of the Trust’s stalwarts, Tom Bradshaw. Tom passed away peacefully at home from natural causes on the 22nd January, surrounded by his family. A private funeral was held last Wednesday. Tom had been a member since 1976 but unfortunately  had to retire from working parties at Preston in recent times due to his increasing fragility. He was admitted into hospital just before Christmas, but returned home at his request in the New Year.

Tom left school at the age of 14, but was unable to achieve his dream of becoming a train driver, in the footsteps of his father, based at Blackpool Central, and his uncle at Fleetwood, owing to his need to wear spectacles. His application to train as an electrician was refused because it was known that he would be called up to the army at the age of 18 and so Tom became a points boy with the Blackpool tramway, progressing to being a ‘jumper’, who moved from tram to tram collecting fares. Tom used to recall the day that he was fired, by no lesser person than manager Walter Lough, for having had a run in with his wife over fares!

Tom was called up and joined the army in 1944 where he was almost immediately involved with providing covering fire from the opposite side of the river during the withdrawal from Arnhem where losses to British forces totalled nearly 2,000 during that fateful battle. Tom ended up in Germany after the surrender and started driving vehicles. On the afternoon of the day that he was passed out to drive, Tom notably drove a three ton truck all the way to Italy. He then spent quite some time driving around a wagon picking up tanks from battlefields.

On returning home Tom married wife Barbara and bought a car. Tom was pleased with the fact that the car turned out to be very economical, although Barbara contended that this was due to the fact that she seemed to spend much of her time pushing it! Tom then spent 20 years in the postal service and, from tales told over mess room lunches, it appears that he managed to spend some of those times at railway stations. Tom then went into club management where his natural outgoing personality must have made him particularly suited, so much so that he was recruited to manage the Marton Mere Caravan Club for many years until retirement.

On joining the Lakeside Railway Society, Tom became a staunch member of the Blackpool Branch and was able to volunteer at Haverthwaite during the closed winter season at Marton Mere. As well as being an enthusiastic member of the sales team, Tom became a stalwart of the carriage and wagon team at Haverthwaite and enjoyed taking on board those tricky tasks that demanded both skill and determination. One of his favourite tasks was the overhaul of carriage door locks. He was absent for some years whilst he tended to wife Barbara until her untimely death from cancer, but then returned and was joined by son Trevor. Team Bradshaw played a vital part in the restoration of GER No. 5 at Appleby and also a refresh of the North London Railway coach at the FRT shed at Preston.

It was always a joy to be with Tom during working parties and he thoroughly enjoyed the playful banter that went on between us as well as recounting tales of times past. We will very much miss his company and will remember Tom as such a cheerful character who unfailingly brightened up our lives with his presence. He will be very much missed and our sincere condolences go to Trevor and family.

Our photo shows Tom on the celebration of his 90th birthday in the FRT shed on the 22nd July 2015.

There is not much more to report this week apart from some more progress on painting FR 20’s components and the fitting of a couple of boiler bands. Alan with his cakeAlan celebrated his birthday on Wednesday and brought along his cake!

We conclude with a look at some time lapse of FR No. 3 Coppernob being cleaned at the National Railway Museum. This was originally posted on Twitter, and there is a short thread there too about the history of the famous locomotive.

Monday 15th February 2021

Derek at Dalton, 20.08.20We are extremely sorry to have to record the death of long standing member, Derek Milby, who died on the 9th February after having contracted Covid-19 in January.

After having started his career as a seaman on the Irish boats working out of Heysham, Derek transferred to working on the Windermere steamers, becoming the long-time engineer on MV Tern before becoming part of the relief crew who worked on all three remaining steamers after 1981. Derek, who always lived in his hometown of Ulverston, soon became a member of the Lakeside Railway Society which was supporting the initiative to open and operate the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway. Although being unable to have much time off during the summer sailing season, he was a regular at the Sunday winter maintenance working parties where he will be remembered for purchasing and cooking local Cumberland sausage to provide a warming roast meal for members. Despite that limited availability during the running season, Derek became a loco fireman and was usually rostered on Saturdays when the boats had a reduced service in the early days.

Derek’s cheerful demeanour and natural wish to go the extra mile when meeting visitors to both the railway and the boats resulted in him forming many lasting friendships, including with the late David Shepherd CBE. He also travelled widely in the low season, again making friendships at many heritage railways, and he also had a wide circle of friends within the model railway world and particularly within the Furness Model Railway Club (of which he was a founder member) and the National Model Railroad Association.

Derek’s birthday parties were renowned as an opportunity for him to invite his many friends from around the country for a day out on a vintage bus to local heritage attractions followed by an evening of music in a pub, usually provided by home folk band, Live Steam. His natural organising skills led him to organise many weekend trips away to heritage railways where his contacts invariably produced preferential rate travel and cab passes. Again, the associated evening Live Steam concerts were memorable, with the ale at Cranmore village hall, on a visit to the East Somerset Railway, being notably quaffed before the start of the concert. Needless to say, further supplies appeared (in buckets) from the nearby Strode Arms. The result of these parties and visits was that we all made a wide circle of friends, benefitting from Derek’s many contacts, and have enjoyed some wonderful times together.

Derek was presented with a video camera on his retirement from Windermere Lake Cruises which he soon mastered.  He set about recording steam specials, generously providing his many friends with copies of the subsequent DVDs. He also took it upon himself to record progress on the Furness Railway Trust’s projects and made a monthly journey to Preston to film. It was whilst passing Carnforth on his way to Preston in November 2011 that he suffered the first of two strokes. Fortunately, as a result of swift action at Lancaster station and the fact that the exact timing of the stroke was known, he was able to receive the latest treatment and subsequently, after moving into sheltered accommodation at Abbeyfield House in Ulverston, he was able to resume his hobbies, albeit with some loss of use of his right hand.

Derek will always be remembered as a cheerful, generous and loyal supporter to the Furness Railway Trust, and a man with so many, many friends. We extend our sincere condolences to his bothers, Don and Ken. Derek’s funeral will take place at 1 pm on Friday, 19th February at the chapel in Dalkeith Street, Barrow, before a graveside ceremony at Ulverston Cemetery. Unfortunately, owing to current restrictions, only invited mourners will be able to attend the chapel service, but others may wish to pay their last respects at the Cemetery.

In other news, the continuation of the third lock down and the high rate of Covid-19 infections in the Preston area has made it necessary to limit work in the FRT shed to that which is necessary to progress essential pre-planned projects, in line with HRA guidelines. This has enabled some work to continue, with only a very few members in attendance, with the ongoing overhaul of FR 20 which is planned to be completed in time for it to operate during the 2021 season.

FR 20 with boiler cladding plates fitted and paintedAs can be seen, the boiler cladding plates have been fitted and painted which will enable pipework to be fitted in the coming weeks.

It is to be hoped that a continuation of the current reduction in infections will enable normal working parties to be resumed in the not too distant future. We very much look forward to the day when all regular working members can be welcomed back to the FRT shed.