Schoolboy founder steps down from footplate at 73


GREAT Western Society founder member Jon Barlow has retired from footplate duties at Didcot Railway Centre at the age of 73.

Jon was one of a quartet of 16-year-old schoolboys in 1961 who wrote a letter to our sister title The Railway Magazine proposing preservation of a Great Western Railway 14XX 0-4-2T.

It was Jon who actually volunteered to write the first letter, as he was the only one with access to a typewriter!

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Preservation pioneer Jon Barlow is seen during his last driving turn on GWR prairie No. 4144 on Sunday, September 23, with his billy can of tea keeping hot on the shelf above the firehole door. FRANK DUMBLETON

The cost of launching the organisation, which now runs Didcot Railway Centre and has assets worth several million pounds, was a threepenny stamp!

Jon’s letter was published in the August 1961 edition of The Railway Magazine, and donations started to flow in, enabling No. 1466 to be purchased in 1964.

The decision to adopt the name Great Western by the society, at a time when British Railways was intent on destroying all evidence of this potent brand, enabled the schoolboys’ initiative to grow and flourish. While Jon will be stepping down from the footplate, he was elected a member of the society’s board of trustees at its annual general meeting earlier in September. He will be helping to look after financial matters.

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