Steam train departing from King's Lynn remembers leading heritage rail figure Nigel Dobbing
A leading figure in the heritage rail industry has been given a “fitting farewell” with a memorial steam train which departed from Lynn on Sunday.
The steam special was arranged for Nigel Dobbing who established Lynn-based The Railway Touring Company 22 years ago, and who died in October.
The 1945-built steam loco No. 35018 British India Line hauled the train, with about 80 passengers on board including Nigel’s family, friends and colleagues, from Lynn to Melton Mowbray, where Nigel lived as a child.
A memorial plaque was unveiled at Melton Mowbray railway station, as Nigel’s love of steam was inspired by the locomotives which operated from there.
Crowds gathered to watch the steam train during its journey, which was organised by The Railway Touring Company.
Managing director Kelly Osborne said: “The memorial trip for Nigel Dobbing went very well and we would like to thank David Smith and the train crew from West Coast Railways for all their hard work and efforts to make the day such a success.
“It was a fitting tribute and farewell to Nigel and we were particularly pleased to see the level of support we received from onlookers throughout the journey.”
Ahead of the journey, Kelly said the fact that ‘Merchant Navy’ Class No. 35018 British India Line was to haul the train was particularly appropriate.
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.”
Kelly said, unfortunately, due to ill health he was unable to take that journey, so the company was pleased that No. 35018 hauled the train in Nigel’s memory.
She thanked David Smith of West Coast Railways for making the loco available, and Graeme Pratt, of Govia Thames Railway, who secured the departure from Lynn.
Kelly added: “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.”
More by this authorRebekah Chilvers