We 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.
As 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.