One man's campaign to save railway artefacts

One man's campaign to save railway artefacts

Some of the items on display at the railway exhibition

Derek Soames receives a National Railway Heritage Award on behalf of Settle Signalbox

Settle Railway Station

First published in News Craven Herald: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy Editor

AS part of the ongoing celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the saving of the Settle-Carlisle Railway, The Folly at Settle is displaying an important collection of memorabilia preserved by the late Derek Soames, who died last October.

Derek, a much-loved and highly-respected figure in Settle and far beyond, was associated with the railway for the whole of his working life, mainly as a signalman, and had an unrivalled knowledge of the line and its operation.

He was actively involved in the Settle-Carlisle Railway centenary celebrations as well as the subsequent fight to save the line.

In retirement, he was a regular volunteer at Settle Station signalbox, where he used his natural communication skills to the full in sharing his experience and stories with visitors.

During his working life, Derek became aware of historical "bits and pieces" stored, mostly unwanted, in odd corners, cupboards and lofts in railway buildings and destined for the bonfire or skip when these places were demolished.

He rescued little bits here and there as opportunities arose - and, while most of the items and documents collected were of little significance individually, together they offer a glimpse into a world of railway operation in days gone by.

Items of special interest in the display include a ticket, dated December 31, 1846, for the cutting of the first sod at Cleatop near Settle for the construction of the Little North Western Railway, a lookout man's horn, sounded as a warning to maintenance workers, a pay token can and tokens from Hellifield, a Midland Railway chair from Settle station and a brass milk churn label.

Anne Read, curator at The Folly, said: "We are very glad to have this opportunity of paying our own tribute to Derek and everything that he did to preserve and share the heritage of this area with others.

"We are deeply grateful to Derek's family for lending the collection to us and for all the additional help and information they have given and we hope that in this landmark year many people will come to The Folly to appreciate Derek's lasting legacy to the history of this greatly-loved railway."

And, to tie in with the exhibition and anniversary, Terry Hanson will give an illustrated talk entitled 30 Years of the Leeds-Carlisle railway from the Line Side at the Folly next Friday, August 29, at 7pm.

For further information, ring 015242 51388 or visit ncbpt.org.uk/folly.

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