Tribute to giant of European steam

By Bill Parker

EUROPEAN steam railway heritage has been in mourning for one of its giants.

Andras Szendrey, who died on November 3 in Budapest aged 66, was a career railwayman who developed an interest in heritage and became director of MAV Nosztalgia, the Hungarian Railway’s heritage organisation, which he ran for 21 years.

Andras Szendrey in typical form entertaining passengers on the Machu Picchu train in 2009. BILL PARKER

He not only established one of the great railway museums in Europe, the Railway Heritage Park in Budapest, but created a stable of working steam locomotives and carriages second to none.

I first met him in the mid-1990s, when as a total stranger I was invited on the footplate of the 1917 Austro-Hungarian ‘Parrot’ 4-6-0 No. 109.109 steaming out of one of Europe’s great railway stations, the Eiffel-built Budapest Nyugati (Western).

This led to invitations to bring an English team to the Steam Engine Grand Prix held at the newly opened museum, and a conversation with Ray Mason returning from one of these Grands Prix led directly to GWR prairie No. 5521 coming to Wolsztyn in Poland for its anniversary event in 2007.

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