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Author Topic: Member Roll call  (Read 5819 times)
grahame
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« on: March 16, 2020, 07:09:36 am »

In famous "Blind Date" (*) terms - "what's yer name and where d'ya come from?"

This thread is a "re-Hi" for members old and new ... I anticipate that many of us will be spending a lot more time at home over the next few months, and this is a "get to know you" thread for our forum which is positioned to be able to provide some sort of relief from social isolation, as well as updated information and views.  Separate overview thread at [to be added in next few minutes - {{ edit - done - http://www.passenger.chat/23050 }}

Let me start ...

Grahame ... I live in Melksham, Wiltshire and by background I'm an IT person - finding through my career that I enjoy working with people and helping them using IT too - hence I spent most of my time running training courses, which I've found very rewarding.  Nearly due for my bus pass, I have been winding down the IT training and describe myself as "semi-retired"; the current CoronaVirus stuff being a logical time for me to move on to declaring myself fully retired, though I'm still happy to teach you Python, help you get to grips with old PHP, Perl, Lua or Ruby code, and do a bit of consultancy.

My interest in public transport has been lifelong, though it was dormant from a move from the home counties to Wiltshire in 1979 through to 2005.  At that point, my wife pointed me to a letter in our local newspaper - "Do you realise you're about to loose most of your trains" and - reading into it - I felt that just 2 trains a day was a silly service for a town of 25,000 - either kill it completely, or make it useful for the general population. As they say, "the rest is history".  Moving from an initial protest phase (to ensure our case was on the radar), I would now consider myself to be very much more working as a partner with the public transport industry, as we very much have the common goal of making a success of mass transit, and of providing a good network of thinner branches to ensure good access to that mass transit.  Our campaign has moved from "Save the Train" through to the "TransWilts Community Rail Partnership" - initial phase completed there, and TransWilts has taken a life of its own, now taken over by a team looking to the medium and long term future, and to wider uses of the service in the community, and now accredited with the Department for Transport.  Although no longer anything more than an ordinary member of the CIC, I look back with pride at what we have achieved, and look to work in support of the local train and bus services that I was alerted to 15 years ago.

This forum was set up (Lee and I are the founding members) at the time that First group had taken over from National Express in running regional trains in Wiltshire.  Like many stories since, this was a far from smooth progression, with service cuts at Melksham just a micro example of what was happening elsewhere too. It was intended as a short term project, but has rather taken over my life.  Fortunaltey I have a very supportive wife, and an excellent team of friends here who are a real pleasure to work with - as are our members, including newcomers who "brave" posting here and are very very welcome to ask just about anything on transport even if covered elsewhere.

From driving 30,000 miles a year a decade ago, I've dropped back to under 1,000 miles these days.  I have still travelled around to give courses, but by public transport. That's partly for "green credentials" but also because I can work / sleep / learn on trains, and not end exhausted at the end of my journey; health issues in recent years mean I tire quickly when concentrating. Much lighter and less to carry for course has also made my luggage practical.   As well as running courses on customer sites, Lisa and I have run courses here in Melksham and from 2006 to 2018, our training centre was also "business accommodation" - a hotel tuned for business guests, initially for our courses but quickly it became a general facility for the town. We even appeared on "Four in a Bed" as a quirky place to stay in 2013.  As at date of writing this (16.3.2020) I am relieved that I am not business planning for the hotel for the next months!

With my growing background in transport campaigning, I joined the board of TravelWatch SouthWest a few years back and happily will be there for the foreseeable future.  I stood for (and was elected to) the national board of RailFuture last year - for a one year term which expires in June.  I am not standing for re-election there; it turns out to not be my "thing" though I remain very much supportive of their objectives and admiring of many of the individuals involved.

So - where am I now?   Administrator here, vice chair of Melksham Rail User Group, board member of Travelwatch SouthWest.  Active retired and living in Melksham, where I expect we will remain ... plans are we won't be moving in this decade, through realism of Coronavirus (this year) and Climate Change (this decade and beyond) somewhat reduce the chances of that from "nearly certain" to slightly less than that.  Lisa and I are planning for our Golden Wedding here in 2048.



(*) Blind Date was hosted by Cilla Black from 1985 to 2003, and has been revived from 2017 with Paul O'Grady hosting.  People are joined up on the most limited and entertaining of questions, and head off for a day out to see how they get on.  For some it works and indeed is life-changing, for others they learn about themselves and someone else and that can't be bad, can it, even if appearing on the show was just a flash in the pan.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2020, 09:16:04 am by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2020, 07:31:52 am »

Grahame, you didn't mention SHEEPBINGO.  I only stumbled across it this morning Grin

I'll write up and post my profile later today.
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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2020, 12:19:35 pm »

Hi I'm Nick

After a short career in the Western Region of British Railways, (started signalling at Blockley, moved to Moreton-in-Marsh, and thence to Witham in Somerset), I was offered the chance to become responsible for operations on the about-to-be-reopened West Somerset Railway, where I started on 1st March 1976 (44 years ago - ouch!)

I enjoyed my time on the big railway, particularly at Witham.  What's now East Somerset Junction was, back then, a very interesting place to work.  Fasts between London and the West Country; stoppers between Bristol and Weymouth; the Cranmore trip; a smattering of mainline freight to/from further west; and, most significantly, the Foster Yeoman stone traffic.  The latter generated all sorts of excitement.  Playing trains and getting paid for it.  Margining them across the junction, or out onto the main on their way to Westbury yard was always a challenge.  You ahd to know what was happening at all the other 'boxes on the patch.  At that time, I think all the signalboxes on the Westbury Area Manager's territory were, with the exception of the rarely opened Bruton, junctions.

When offered the chance on the WSR, I left BR with a heavy heart, but the management hadn't exactly done very much to retain my interest and commitment.  It was on the WSR that I found out precisely what a dull mob the Divisional setup were.

We had a burning desire to do what the people of West Somerset wanted - to reinstate a regular year-round service between Minehead and Taunton.  I still believe we could have done it, had there been a more enlightened attitude at Bristol.  Still, they couldn't allow a success on the branch - not after they'd made-up all those numbers to kill it off in 1971.

When the plan to start running proper services into Taunton, and after all the effort and hardships of reopening the line (some of which I will take credit for, but it was a massive team effort) I decided I'd had enough of railways, and the politics, and my life headed off in a different direction.  I made some enduring friendships at that time, for which I am grateful on a daily basis.

I'm still involved a bit with railway heritage.  I'm a founder shareholder and Financial Director of Locomotive 5542 Ltd, which owns and operated ex-GW 2-6-2T 5542.  She's currently in Devon, on the South Devon Ry.
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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2020, 02:25:24 pm »

Good afternoon all. The more observant amongst you will know that I am Roger.

Born a cockney, I spent my childhood in Castle Cary - mostly as an 'illegal' in the signal box (Thank you SM Reg Hopkins, and the long-suffering team at Cary) from whence grew my interest in signalling and timetabling.
I joined the railway as a 'lad' in the box, not as a precursor to a career - centralised ps boxes were round the corner - so it was seen as more of a gap year or two.
Then, between 1964 and 2010 a career away from the railway and Somerset. But Somerset always stayed close to my heart. I travelled extensively to all corners of the world. So much so that when I retired I had accumulated well over 3 million Airmiles, and over 100 countries, and had travelled over all the major rail lines of the USA (and those of some other countries). Trains, schedules and signalling always remained a major interest.

In 1958 my family joined the Talyllyn Railway, and all holidays were spent at Towyn (as then spelt). Membership lapsed for a few years when I went to university ('uni' being an unknown concept at that time) in France, but I rejoined as a life member back in the early seventies. Although I rarely get to go up to Twywn these days, I do devote a considerable amount of time for six months every year in helping to organise Steampipes, and running the box Office, etc. Steampipes will this year celebrate it's 41st year of putting on a major film show featuring transport films - mostly of yesteryear - with accompaniment as appropriate by the noted organist Len Rawle on a Wurlitzer. All film is 16mm reel to reel, and the whole presentation (two shows at a major venue in the London area) is magical. And it raises funds for the Talyllyn as well as for our friends at the Ffestiniog and the Welshpool and Llanfair. (End of advert - but details can be posted if of interest to members).

Since 2010 I have worked as a full time volunteer at an educational charity aimed at kids with schooling problems and other educational needs. But I take every opportunity to travel by train both here and on the near continent (Subject to virus, etc!).

And any thread or post in the Coffee Shop can guarantee to catch my immediate attention by incorporating the words 'Castle Cary' - and a couple of times per year it is possible to see a 75 year old man and camera taking a day trip and spending a few hours on or around the station at Castle Cary . . ,

Thanks to everyone on the Coffee Shop for the fascinating insights so often posted and also to everyone for the unfailing courtesy that accompanies comment and discussion.

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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2020, 06:39:51 pm »

My name is Sid.

I grew up in LBSCR & LSWR territory, specifically Hayling Island. The Stroudley Terriers were still running, just on the wrong side of the island. I can just about remember before they built the new road bridge to the island, the weight limit on the bus meant you had to walk across the bridge (people who live inland really don't understand what wind is!).

Later spent part of my youth near Shoreham (Sussex) so was familiar with the line to Steyning and on the Horsham. The odd connection between the two is that both had road toll bridges where the tolls were collected by Southern Railway/Region staff.

My connection with railways graduated from standing on the platform at Havant, and being able to call all the stations on the stopper to Waterloo. Did a short course at Longmoor Military Railway, which is the only time I played with the real thing.

Army service in REME as electronic engineer, followed by similar in the real world.

Since we exported most of manufacturing engineering to the Far East I have worked for the NHS; they wanted somebody numerate? My area of specialism/interest is Public Health and Accessible & sustainable transport. Gives me a chance to drive a GIS.

My connection with railways now is purely as a passenger. Sorry about boring on about the other stuff!

So there you have the basics if it needs recycling as an obit.
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2020, 08:29:22 pm »

Thank you all so far, and your dark humour, Sid;  I am, however, going to be approaching you to be our data manager on the "Cycles" board ... and that's a permanent and growing area as we move to more sustainable travel.  In 10 years, we'll be asking for another "reHi" for new members!
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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2020, 06:51:45 am »

"Thanks" Graham! I did wonder if I was leaving myself open to something. I will have to re-read what you posted the other day on the Data Manager role.
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2020, 11:30:32 am »

I'm Mark from Weston-super-Mare

Don't work in the rail industry but have been commuting between Weston and Temple Meads for over 25 years now.
Spend all my spare time either following Bristol City or helping out at my local social club.

With the football connection I am a moderator on two of their fans forum websites. One with over 17,000 members and the other with a few hundred - so can fully appreciate all the time and effort that goes into this site, but assume you don't get all the problems we get over there with language and rants from angry fans

At my local social club I look after all the entertainment bookings, the advertising (web, facebook, radio, local paper) and the clubs websites.

My grand dad did work at Weston station many many years ago, so that is where my liking of the railway started. Will always remember the days in trainspotting at WSM station and the driver of a class 37 let me ride the cab when the engine shunted from one end of the train to the other via the other line
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grahame
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2020, 01:30:07 pm »

With the football connection I am a moderator on two of their fans forum websites. One with over 17,000 members and the other with a few hundred - so can fully appreciate all the time and effort that goes into this site, but assume you don't get all the problems we get over there with language and rants from angry fans

We have had our issues over the years but they are few and far between.

I "cut my teeth" before Coffee Shop days on UK Yankee which was far less genteel at times that we are here;   I was a moderator - but not a global moderator (so same as our new Data Manager role) looking after Travel and Transport in the interesting world of international relationships and moves - visas, citizenship and things which were lifechanging.   People tend to get fraught when faced with unknown key situations, they tend to "shoot the messenger" when presented with answers that they don't like, and at times such a board can attract members who pray on the vulnerable.  There is / was also a far wider variety of people than we have here;  the Coffee Shop is a walk in the park!
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2020, 07:10:59 pm »

I come from a large network of cables, circuit breakers and transformers .. and no I'm not a robot in disguise  Grin

I have worked in the National Rail Industry for 45 years BR(W) apprentice, first year in Gods Wonderful Railway Swindon Works apprentice training school and time served at OOC and Padd.

I have been involved in Traction Power Distribution since 1990, nothing like a bit of heavy current  Cheesy and have worked in both 25kV and 750V DC systems Nationally, there is now only one Electrical Control Room (ECR) I have not visited

I travel to work by train every day, COVID-19 permitting
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2020, 08:28:03 pm »

Richard, been here a long time.

Work in the bus industry, with considerable knowledge of that element of transport. Can often be found riding trains in my spare time exploring new places,
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« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2020, 09:29:20 am »

Now fully retired from teaching after 40 years in West Dorset, the last 20 as a cover/supply teacher. Interest in railways started in the late 1950s/early 1960s.
After the demise of steam railways took a back seat to a certain extent. My interest re-awoke when asked to run a railway society in the school. We ran trips with like minded parents and, for a few years, took a working party to the NYMR & SVR for a week each summer.
Then in 1985 I spent 3 months at Durham on a school teacher fellowship. I spent much of the time investigating and walking the old mineral railways of that county. On my return to Dorset, I set about writing an history of the Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway; completed the manuscript but unpublished. Railways continued to play an important role and I was a committee member of the Yeovil and District Rail Action Group for some years; and I spent a lot of time in the signal box at Maiden Newton until it closed in 1988. I also wrote the case for the listing of its station and signal box.
I moved to live near Bridport after marrying Marion, almost 25 years ago. During this time I have engaged in researching aspects of industrial history. I produced the manuscript for Palmers Brewery history book and, more recently, published books on the sailcloth, rope, twine and netting industries of South Somerset and West Dorset.
Railways still play an important part but not as active as before.

Richard
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« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2020, 09:38:59 pm »

No prizes for guessing my given name!
Born and brought up alongside the Mule at Pinhoe and with a professional photographer for a grandfather it is no surprise that I developed an early interest in railway photography. My first solo trip as a trainspotter was at the grand old age of 8, when my parents allowed me to travel on the train to Exeter St Davids. I graduated through all phases of anorak, thermos, notebook, pen and Ian Allan ABC.

My father was a Maths teacher, so I ended up taking Pure and Applied Maths at A'Level and it was at that time I developed an interest in railway timetables. The Mule had been very badly run down, so I ended up doing a project for my Statistics S'Level on re-timetabling the Exeter to Salisbury line (after reinstating double track!). It got me an A grade and I still have it up in the loft!

After 3 years at Bath University, I was determined to have a career in railway timetabling, but sadly failed the interview at Paddington, so I ended up with a job in the fledgling computer programming industry back in Exeter with London and Manchester Assurance. Thirty One years (and two mergers) later in 2009, I was made redundant and took early retirement and was able to concentrate on my passion of railway photography.

I soon grew bored and decided to apply for a part-time job on the railway and am still there today, but can chose my shifts to fit around trips all over the country with my camera.
   
My photography in the early years was not particularly good, but I was shocked when somebody posted a photograph a few weeks ago on the Exeter Memories facebook page of Pinhoe station in August 1964. It features a 7-year old me, my sister and our mum watching a local train. (credited to a Ronald A Lumber) 
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« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2020, 09:47:20 am »

One and all

Kernow Otter is actually Tim.  Lifelong believer in railways, and a passionate supporter of the benefits of Public Transport.

The observant amongst you, might have figured out that I am in Cornwall, in Lostwithiel, and after 8 years serving on the Town Council, I am currently Mayor of Lostwithiel.  Over those 8 years the Council has been leading a drive to improve service levels and the passenger offering at our station, and it is hugely gratifying to have engaged with, and been listened to by the key influencers for the railway in Cornwall.

We have seen, the redundant sidings cleared of unsightly vegetation, a huge uplift in stopping services, engagement with GWR at regular timetable group meetings and the annual conference, new trains, new seating, a refurbished waiting room, repainted station buildings, station wifi, new platform lighting, better access to the up platform and carpark, bespoke Timetables, bespoke leaflets, and reinstated litter bins.

Lostwithiel has just been awarded 100k from the station access fund for accessibility enhancements to the Down platform, which we understand should coincide with a commitment from GWR, Cornwall Council, and Network Rail to relocate the former footbridge from Totnes to a new home at Lostwithiel, which will go a long way to alleviating the disruption caused by having the level crossing with the highest number of barrier movements west of Exeter.

Longer term, an application has been made to the 500m Beeching fund to consider reopening the branch line to Fowey for passenger service, and the suggested lifting of some of the redundant down siding capacity to provide much needed carparking.

Our community is hugely grateful for the ongoing support of GWR, NR, DBS, Cornwall Council, (in particular Nigel Blackler), Richard Burmingham at DCorP, and Sheryll Murray our MP to name but a few.

The improvements at our station have been transformative for our Town, and if you are looking for a supporter of joint and partnership working, then look no further.
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« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2020, 06:41:43 pm »

With a long interest in railways as a means of transport, I have no professional background in that area. From Reading Uni in the 60s (physics) I became a (sort of) project manager lasting in the same company for about 40 years, and working for a while in Houston. Active interest in local railways came about 20 years when I went to a slide show on the old Melksham station and have dabbled with  MRDG/MRUG ever since.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2020, 07:41:43 am by Reginald25 » Logged
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As well as posting messages onto existing threads, and starting new subjects, members can communicate with each other through personal messages if they wish. And once members have made a certain number of posts, they will automatically be admitted to the "frequent posters club", where subjects not-for-public-domain are discussed; anything from the occasional rant to meetups we may be having ...

 
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