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Sunday, 11 August 2013

A Nostalgic Day for Derek Soames

Derek Soames (83) is one of those people it is a privilege to know.   He spent his entire working life on the railway - mainly on the Settle Carlisle line as a signalman.   Even in retirement he works hard as a volunteer at Settle's immaculately restored signal box, entertaining countless visitors and showing them how the job was, and still is, done.

Today was special for Derek - it saw a re-run of the famous Fifteen Guinea Special.   The original ran over the S&C on 11th August 1968 and Derek was on duty in the S&C's Horton in Ribblesdale signal box.    It was meant to be the very last steam train to run on Britain's railways.  45 years on and Derek was again in an S&C signal box, this time Settle.    Dressed in his Sunday best he had opened the box specially.

Click pictures to enlarge
Here is Derek in the early evening sunshine waiting for the train, listening for the tell tale whistle.   "She's here" said Derek long before the crowd of photographers on the footbridge had raised their cameras.

And presently, there she was - double headed by two Black Fives, just as 45 years ago.   Derek waves at the train as so many times in the past but this time with added reason.   Besides rejoicing at the continued presence of main line steam, Derek believes that his son Martyn (52) is the fireman on the train engine as it hurtles past.   In fact Martyn could not fire the engine as he had hurt his wrist but Derek was not to know that.

Old habits die hard.   Derek checks that there is a tail lamp on the back of the train and that all is well.
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