A sprightly group of former railway workers deserves town’s highest recognition says former Swindon Works photographer Roy Nash.
The Mayor of Swindon Ray Ballman wants to know of Swindon’s special people, children or adults, who have displayed courage or have become a community champion, an inspiring teacher, a neighbour who is always there, or a team of people who have pulled together for community good.
Nominations are being invited for the awards ceremony in April where the coveted Pride of Swindon will be given to 15 people who will receive a small enamel lapel badge depicting the 19th Century inspiration of Swindon’s growth and success, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Roy’s nomination is for a diminishing number of veterans with a direct link to IK Brunel, a team of former workers who were made redundant when Swindon’s railway works shut in 1986. They continue working voluntarily at Steam Museum polishing and presenting the locomotives in the best possible light.
Roy, 84, worked in the British Rail drawing office but during the last ten years before redundancy he was given the freedom to roam with his camera recording men and women in The Works, as well as photographing VIP visits as works manager Harry Roberts desperately tried to drum up contracts to keep the factory open.
He said: “I read about Pride of Swindon in the January Link. It’s about time the men who keep the spirit of Swindon’s railway heritage alive for today’s generations were recognised.
“I used to photograph them at work, sometimes in hot, stinking and dangerous environments. When you consider they left school aged fourteen or fifteen and they’re now in their 60s, 70s and 80s, they’ve committed their lives to one industry which was so important to Swindon’s wealth.
“Even though they lost their jobs they were completely dedicated to their craft, they’re worth their weight in gold in keeping alive Steam Museum’s link to the past. My nomination is about Swindon having pride in its workers.”
Retired railway pals pictured below, from left Ted Abear, 81, Ed Houghton, 66, Jim Starley, 79, Chris Elia, 61, in front of Caerphilly Castle, built in 1923. Not pictured, Keith Ward, Brian Ferney-Hough, David Floyd. Photo top and below: Roy Nash