VIP Visitors join Clun Castle on it's final day of testing

Clun Castle’s final day of testing on February 26th became a VIP day with two very special guests. Leo Leeney, 94 years young, was a member of the team that built Clun Castle at Swindon Works in 1950 and he was invited to join the test train following a chance meeting with the engine in the Daily Mail.

Leo was reading his newspaper on the day in September 2018 when Vintage Trains gained its Train Operating Company status and there, on page 3, was ‘his’ engine. Leo immediately alerted his wife and daughter who had no idea that he had worked on Tyseley’s flagship locomotive. VT subsequently received a request for Leo and his family to come and see 7029 after 48 years and went one better by offering him a VIP visit to Tyseley Locomotive Works and a ride behind the locomotive on test – the first member of the public to do so.

Leo was conscripted into the Royal Engineers post WWII and was offered the opportunity to learn a trade as an apprentice – he chose Swindon Works where he would learn boiler making. He worked on the build of Clun Castle’s boiler and has vivid memories of being inside the boiler barrel, holding rivets as the rivet gunner on the outside joined the barrel to the smokebox. Whilst at Tyseley he met some of the team in TLW, including Bob Meanley, with whom he shared some of his experiences.

Then it was off to Hall Green station to join Clun and its train for a run to Stratford Upon Avon and back, including a VIP buffet lunch on the outward journey followed by tea and scones on the way back.

Vintage Trains’ MD Cath Bellamy congratulated Leo on his original work on Clun and presented him with a DVD showing Castles under construction at Swindon, a book about Clun’s restoration and a copy of a bookazine by Robin Jones, Editor of Heritage Railway magazine, on the history of Swindon and its railway works – Robin was in the party and was happy to sign Leo’s copy.

At the end of the run, it was clear that Leo had enjoyed a truly nostalgic experience and one that he would remember for many years to come.

Happy Days

One of my old rivets!

Presentation by Cath Bellamy, MD of Vintage Trains

Leo was joined on the test train by long standing Tyseley volunteer, Jeff Robinson. Jeff turns 90 years young in April and has been a regular volunteer at Tyseley for nearly 30 years. He still comes in one day and one evening a week. Jeff's trip was a complete surprise and one that his wife Mary had to keep secret right up to the day.

As a big thank you from Vintage Trains for his dedicated service, Cath Bellamy presented Mary and Jeff with a bouquet of flowers and Ray Bear, the Vintage Trains mascot, affectionately named after Ray Churchill, Vintage Trains' senior driver.

Jeff and Mary Robinson with Ray Bear