Tom is Cornwall’s newest steam locomotive driver

Tom Blight received an early Christmas present on December 15, when he was passed out as a fully-qualified Bodmin & Wenford Railway steam driver.

Tom, 24, from Roche in Cornwall, joins the select group of volunteers nationwide who have achieved this milestone before their 25th birthday.

The responsibility of being in charge of a steam locomotive weighing up to 80 tons, pulling a 150 ton train, with up to 200 passengers on board, on the steep BWR gradients, does not seem to phase him.

Tom (left) on the footplate of GWR pannier No. 4612 at Bodmin General with traction inspector Tony Hallworth after passing his practical exam on December 15. BWR

Known to all his friends and colleagues as ‘Blighty’, Tom’s credentials are impressive. He started volunteering at Bodmin aged 16, and quickly showed his enthusiasm and aptitude as a trainee fireman.

As soon as he was old enough, he became an apprentice engineer in Loughborough, which led to him becoming part of the support crew for A1 Peppercorn Pacific No. 60163 Tornado.

He was on board the train when the locomotive achieved 101mph between Darlington and York in 2017 (as reported in issue 228), and in June that year he was with the team that brought Tornado to Cornwall.

He moved on to the Severn Valley Railway as a boilersmith, and is now employed at Bodmin in a similar role.

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