Friday 22 November 2013

A Volunteer's Story - Dave Bowie

As with other  contributors to the volunteer's  stories published so far, I met Dave Bowie as member of Jim Graham's original gang of seven in 2009. In those days it was all about having an enjoyable time on a Saturday, doing some ground clearance work, and talking enthusiastically about the future at Broadway. As an active member of the BAG Committee,  Dave's great vision and sense of purpose, keeps us on the right track. Here is his story:-

My love of railways started at primary school in Nottinghamshire, which was right next to a branch line into the local gypsum works.  By the age of nine I was allowed to wander round the works and the railway sidings & watch the daily pick-up train shunting wagons (no ‘elf & safety’ in those days!). Later my granddad showed me where the branch joined the ex-GCR main line and we watched heavy freights and B1 4-6-0s on fast passenger trains thunder by.  I was well hooked!
No Job Too big.........
We moved then to Warwickshire and as luck would have it there was a railway running past the end of our garden – the old Midland SMJ line between Stratford and Broom Junction!  Many hours were spent watching the procession of goods trains hauled by 4F and 3F 0-6-0s and, later, WD 2-8-0s, until the line closed in 1960. 
Meanwhile I had discovered Honeybourne Junction, which was exciting and busy and had convenient bridges over both the Cotswold and Stratford-Cheltenham lines, with a 4-platform station and goods yard. At first, being GWR territory, it seemed a bit ‘foreign’ (sorry folks!) but I gradually became converted.  Standing on Platform 2 as Castles brought fast expresses through the station at over 90mph was an unforgettable experience.

Sadly I had to scale down my railway interests to enter the world of work, further education, driving lessons, girls and all such irritations  (my dear wife Wendy, whom I married in 1968, is an exception of course).  But as is the way of things, railways were sidelined by our setting up home in Stratford, starting a new job, bringing up our daughter and worrying about money.
I worked then for over 30 years at the Joseph Lucas Research Centre in Shirley carrying out experimentation and testing on new products and materials, eventually managing a department of 40 responsible for testing and validation of all electrical products (despite having qualified in mechanical engineering – but you learn on the job!!).

On retirement in 2002 I started (as one does!) on the long list of jobs on the house and garden, but needing more mental stimulation I became involved in local politics and helped to form a new residents’ association.  I also joined the local chess club and started playing the game competitively. 
Affectionately known as the "Fire Starter" (in a good way!)

Although I still do all that, it was never enough without the ‘call of the railway’ which never really leaves you.  So in about 2005/6 I joined the GWR and started as a volunteer on line-side clearance.  That was dirty, smelly and scratchy but great fun – until I twisted
my back and had to give up.  A couple of years later, having recovered, I responded to a call for volunteers for a 2-day blitz clearing vegetation on the Broadway station site.  I was hooked again, and as soon as a regular team was established I joined up and our small happy band led by Jim Graham started the mammoth task on which we’ve now made such great progress.

No Job too small ......
With an engineering background and lots of DIY experience I can turn my hand to most things, including coming up with ideas & plans which are – sometimes - well received !

The best thing is being part of a great team which has achieved so much, with the shared ambition of seeing steam trains running into Broadway.


Dave Bowie

Thanks Dave


Anonymous said...

Great work at Broadway, Dave, but I think I prefer your Ziggy Stardust period...

Anonymous said...

I'll bet he's not heard that one before.

Dave said...

Of course as Ziggy I never got the chance to clear brambles or dig out blocked drains. Life's so much more satisfying now.