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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 72 - March 1993

North British Locomotive Society Ltd - Roger Enskat

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North British Society in Bid to Tighten Control

Steam preservation newcomer the Quainton based North British Locomotive Society has, almost exactly one year after the arrival of its 117-ton Class 25NC locomotive from South Africa, undergone a major shake-up on its Executive Committee in mid-term.

After a stormy Committee Meeting on November 11th, NBLS Chairman, British Airways jumbo-jet pilot Nick Newport sent in his resignation, closely followed by the resignation of NBLS founder and Hon. Secretary, GEC-Marconi Test Manager Ken Livermore.

Treasurer Olive Edwards was left "holding the fort" until the NBLS Committee's following meeting on December 6th at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, when former Rhodesia Railways fireman Eddie Pepperrell of Kingston, Surrey, was elected Interim Chairman, and freelance engineering designer Roger Enskat of Finchley, North London, Interim Secretary.

Far from being tom asunder by resignations from two key positions, the "re-shuffled" Executive Committee bas already taken the first steps towards ruthlessly tightening control over both Society funds and restoration work.

The Engineering Sub-Committee has been disbanded and will re-form, possibly with two Co-ordinators in control instead of one Chairman. Time spent working on the Society's ex-South African Railways locomotive, No. 3405, will now be more effectively used.

Eddie Pepperrell's son Maurice resumes his former position as Safety Officer, and all Committee members are looking forward to the challenge of fulfilling the original aims and objectives of the NBLS.

Says Interim Secretary Roger Enskat: "We want to get into a position where people are climbing over each other to give their money to the NBLS, confident that our projects are worthwhile and well-managed."

The South African Scene - and a Product You May Wish to Buy

It is with considerable dismay that I view recent trends in South African transport.

How many years ago is it since British Railways became "British Rail" (whatever that means), adopted an ugly, semi-meaningless logo (no doubt bringing revenue on a large scale to certain faceless "consultants"), and introduced truly boring and tasteless liveries for their coaching stock? Well, however many years ago it was - and most people reported that the service to travelling public and freight customers alike still went down as fares and freight charges went up - South African Railways have caught up with this gimmickry at last.

Apart from jumping on the "Let's dump steam" bandwagon - which won't bring the tourists - SAR have changed their name to "Spoornet" and have introduced an equally ugly and meaningless logo, together with hideous, dirt-enhancing coaching liveries, none of which is going to bring the slightest benefit to end users..

Can you imagine the conversations?
"Hello, Bill, back from South Africa?"
"Yes, John, had a great time - travelled all over."
"Did you hire a car?"
"No, I travelled by Spoornet."

Whilst "Spoornet" has a comprehensible meaning in Afrikaans ("spoor" means track or trail, and "spoorweg" means railway), in English it conjures up visions of a biologist closely following a wild animal with a device to catch its droppings before they hit the ground!

Fortunately, something has been salvaged from this situation and turned to our advantage. "NBLS brand" spoornets are to be mass produced at our state-of-the-art automated industrial complex at Milton Keynes, and sold to intending safari-goers, thereby raising money for our Society and doing something for The Environment ("Keep Your Jungle Tidy").

Even as you read this, pre-production prototypes are being developed and tested as a prelude to full-scale production runs of a complete range of spoornets, from "ground-squirrel" micro-size to reinforced, power-assisted "elephant" size. Patent rights have been applied for, and royalties may be expected from listening agreements with manufacturers in Iraq, Somalia, and Haiti.

And you thought I didn't have a head for business!

Where is Stella Steyn?

You may have heard on the "grapevine" of our plan to have President Steyn Mine's Mikado locomotive, Stella Steyn, moved as soon as possible to a place of storage at Kimberley (where the diamonds come from!) prior to her joining a steam railtour going to Cape Town in mid-1993. She would then be shipped to Southampton from Cape Town, unlike No. 3405 which was shipped from Durban (on the east coast).

Personally, I prefer the Welkom-Kimberley-Cape Town route because, if there is any possibility of the locomotive spending any time in storage, she would be stored in a dry climate; whereas the route across the Drakensberg to Durban takes you into humid Natal (I should know, I lived in Pietermaritzburg for 3 years) which is not so good for ferrous metals!

On contacting Spoornet (formerly South African Railways) by phone in November, I also enquired about opening an account with them. Ah, I would have to telephone another number (probably in the same building, though). So I made another expensive international telephone call, to be informed that it would be better if I applied in writing. As it was urgent, could I send a Fax? Yes. So I sent a Fax. More than a week later, back came a Fax reply: it would be better if I telephone. Grrrrr!!!

By then it was too close to South Africa's lengthy Christmas and New Year holiday period for me to travel out there to act as "Owner's Representative", as (i) I would have had to pay "High Season" airfares, and (ii) most of the friends and relatives to whom I would look for accommodation would be about to leave on their own holidays.

So, to answer the original question, "Where is Stella Steyn?": she is still at President Steyn Mine, Welkom.

But at least she's secure, and not going rusty!

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The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1993 and so does not reflect events in the 20+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

North British Locomotive Society Ltd - Roger Enskat - Quainton News No. 72 - March 1993

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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Page Updated: 01 December 2017