Well, Teddy Bears’ weekend has come and gone. Star of today’s photo from the event is Phil the Guard. Here Phil can be seen proudly signalling the train to depart from Apedale Rd Station on the first day back into service of our World War One Kerr Stuart Joffre loco. We have a feeling that both are starting to get delusions of grandeur.
It all started last week with the transmission of the third of the series of “Railways of the Great War”, presented by Michael Portillo on BBC2. You can still see it on i-Player here.
This programme included a section on the role that 600mm gauge tactical light railways played in the logistics of the war effort. Michael visited Apedale earlier this year and we helped him to illustrate various aspects of light railway construction and operation using our extensive collection. He was shown laying a section of pre-fabricated track and driving one of the then high-tech Simplex petrol locomotives, comparing it to the more traditional Joffre steamer. Phil explained the advantages of railways compared with road vehicles for transporting the vast quantities of supplies over waterlogged terrain. It all seemed to come across quite well in the programme. Ever since his appearance, though, Phil has been asking people what they thought of the programme, whether they would like his autograph and offering his services to open local fetes etc. We think that fame has gone to his head.
The last thing we heard was that he was writing a book. Fortunately, it isn’t his autobiography; it’s a history of another survivor from the same era as the Joffre which will soon be back running on Apedale rails in time for our Tracks to the Trenches event. More about that soon, but in the meantime if you come across Phil at Apedale, don’t forget to remark on his recent appearance and ask him how Michael is doing. You can also compliment Phil via our website here, in addition to any more serious enquiries.