Steam loco hauls out of King's Lynn in memory to Nigel
In a rare appearance so far south, 1945-built steam loco 35018 British India Line will haul a very special train from Lynn on Sunday, March 17.
The steam special has been arranged as a fitting farewell to Nigel Dobbing, a leading figure in the heritage rail industry, who died in October.
Organised by the Railway Touring Company, from Tuesday Market Place, Lynn, as a tribute to Nigel, who established the company in the town 22 years ago, the private train will take around 80 members of Nigel’s family, his friends, colleagues and people who supported him over the years, for a steam journey to celebrate his life and achievements.
A love of steam, inspired by the locomotives which operated close to his childhood home in Melton Mowbray, drove Nigel’s entrepreneurial vision to organise mainline steam excursions, both in the UK and worldwide, at a time when steam on the mainline was almost a thing of the past.
A stop at Melton Mowbray during the memorial steam journey on Sunday, March 17, will include the unveiling, by kind permission of Network Rail and East Midlands Trains with the help of their stakeholder and community rail manager Donna Adams, of a memorial plaque in the station waiting room.
The fact that ‘Merchant Navy’ Class No. 35018 British India Line is to haul the train is particularly appropriate according to his former colleague and friend of many years Kelly Osborne, who is now managing director of the business.
She said: “Nigel had been eagerly waiting for the completion of British India Line’s restoration and had arranged for this historic locomotive to haul a leg of the Railway Touring Company’s annual ‘Great Britain’ steam tour in April 2018, on which he planned to travel.
“Unfortunately, due to ill health he was unable to take that journey, so we are very pleased that No. 35018 is to haul this train in memory of Nigel and we thank David Smith, of West Coast Railways, for making this loco available and enabling this journey to happen.
“We would also like to thank Graeme Pratt, from Govia Thames Railway, who has secured our departure from King’s Lynn.”
“Nigel’s passion and determination has given so many people the opportunity to experience steam travel through the steam charters he devised, so Sunday’s train is one of the best ways for us all at The Railway Touring Company to say goodbye and pay our respects to him.”
Friends and rail enthusiasts have paid tribute to Nigel Dobbing.
John Holwell knew Nigel from their childhood in Melton Mowbray and shared his enthusiasm, watching steam hauled freight trains in action, train-spotting and visiting loco sheds together.
He said “The Railway Touring Company has operated ground breaking tours in the UK and worldwide. The development of the ‘Great Britain’ steam rail tours was Nigel’s idea and only someone of his vision and calibre could have carried that forward.
"Nigel will be sorely missed but his legacy will survive and generations to come will be grateful for his pioneering work in running steam hauled rail services.”
Ray Mason said, “Nigel built up The Railway Touring Company to be the world’s leading tour operator using mainly steam locomotives. Often pioneering, Nigel ran tours where others didn’t. They were successful, incredibly interesting and often historic events – either a ‘first’ for 30 to 50 years or a ‘final’ visit before a system closed, dieselised or was destroyed in a civil war.
“Thank you Nigel for establishing The Railway Touring Company and safely conveying thousands of travellers, enthusiasts and adventurers to countries far and wide. The ambitious and extensive Railway Touring Company programme for 2019 is a fitting memorial to Nigel.”
Train manager David Hughes added, “We salute you Nigel for bringing so much pleasure from your vision and forethought in the world of steam hauled mainline trains.”
The Railway Touring Company urges anyone who plans to come out to see the train to follow safety guidelines and to do so from a safe viewing point.