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John Snell

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by ragl, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. ragl

    ragl Member

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    I have just read the sad news that John Snell has passed away.

    Received from the Talyllyn Press Officer via the NGRS:

    The following Press Release has just been issued by the Talyllyn:

    The Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society was saddened to hear of the death of one of its first volunteers, and a significant figure in the field of railway preservation, John Snell, who was the fireman on the first train to run on the Talyllyn under preservation.John Snell was born in 1932 in Fiji and was educated in New Zealand until 1945 when he went to Bryanston School. He obtained a place at Balliol College in Oxford to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics in 1951, but he had also volunteered to work on the Talyllyn in preparation for the line opening under the auspices of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society. In his book, Mixed Gauges he recounts that he accompanied Tom Rolt and David Curwen to Tywyn in April 1951, having first visited the line at Easter 1947. As has been stated he was the fireman on the inaugural train on 14 May 1951. He continued to volunteer as a fireman and subsequently driver during his summer vacations for the next three years. He even appeared in the film Railway With A Heart of Gold during the sequence where locomotive No.3 derails. Tom Rolt in his book Railway Adventure stated that he `could imagine no catastrophe of fire, flood, or sudden death dire enough to make John show any excitement or quicken his normal pace …. he was to prove a most valuable addition to what might be called the `permanent staff''. John was also a keen and competent photographer and took some interesting pictures of the Talyllyn in both black & white and colour. He also photographed other railways both in UK and overseas. His subsequent career included working for London Transport, British Railways and finally 28 years as General Manager of the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway from 1972. In later years he was actively involved with the Heritage Railway Association. He travelled worldwide, photographing and travelling on huge variety of railways.He did not volunteer the Talyllyn Railway again, but remained a life member, and was a regular visitor to the line, attending both the Narrow Gauge staff get-togethers and other special Talyllyn Railway events. He was present to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of that first `preservation' train on 14th May 2011, when he posed on No.2 Dolgoch at Rhydyronen as he had done on the inaugural train sixty years before.Current chairman of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, Jane Garvey, commented: `It is sad that we have lost another direct link to the earliest days of the Preservation Society and their efforts to save the Railway for future generations. We, and indeed the whole railway preservation movement, owe a huge debt of gratitude to John, and those like him, for their commitment to the Railway in those early years, without which we would not be here today. It was a privilege to have him as our guest of honour for the Railway's Diamond Jubilee celebrations as the world's first preserved railway, but it is a pity we will not be able to welcome him to our 150th Anniversary celebrations next year.'
    Ian Drummond (Press Officer)


    John Snell was one of the very first pioneers who set the foundations for the Railway Preservation movement that we have today, very sad to hear of his passing. Alan
     
  2. Neil_Scott

    Neil_Scott Member

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    He also wrote a book called 'Jennie', a fictional tale based on numerous Welsh narrow gauge railways. A real favourite of mine as a child.
     
  3. Reading General

    Reading General Well-Known Member

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    Another pioneer gone. RIP and thanks.
     
  4. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Met him when he was involved with the RHDR. A thorough gentleman. RIP.
     
  5. StoneRoad

    StoneRoad Member

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    I met John a few times - mostly around 15" lines - a real gent, and he patiently answered my questions.........
     
  6. sche

    sche New Member

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    I knew him at the RHDR back in the late 70's early 80's....he always had time for everyone! I remember chatting with him on the way to Dungeness once from New Romney. Quiet, thoughtful, patient and committed. RIP.
     

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