Just to introduce myself. My name is Shirl and I am a GWR enthusiast and big King Class fan. I am also volunteer support crew with 6024 King Edward 1, and occasionally go out with other locomotives such as Britannia, Braunton and Bittern. I have also volunteered with 71000 Duke of Glos and with 34067 Tangmere.
My addiction to steam started quite early. At the age of 5 years old I used to visit my grandfather in Plymouth, and from the end of his road we could see the line going to The Friary. I vividly remember that all play at the park would cease whenever a locomotive came by. Both me and my sister were fascinated even at that age.
A few years on and I remember standing looking over the wall onto the Friary, watching the activities on the shed there. A sight alas long gone.
Steam came and went, and for quite a few years there was no more input into my life. My sister however started to go out lineside once there were some steam charters starting to emerge, and I was persuaded to accompany her on one of these trips. We were to head back down to Plymouth, and to Hemerdon Bridge.
I had never been there before, and the sight that met me, awoke my slumbering love of steam! A King no less, slogging up towards me, the sound awesome. As she neared the bridge she let off a shrill whistle. I was hooked! This was my first encounter with 6024 and it was fantastic!
It wasn’t too long before I was hankering after getting a lot more close and personal, and I made a call to a member of the team to ask if there was any chance of me going and doing some volunteer work with her.
I turned up at Tyseley and was soon put to work under the tender. I was as happy as a pig in muck, and it soon became a regular thing. I hankered for more however. I wanted to become part of the support crew. I proved my allegiance to the locomotive by attending regular working parties, and soon I was sponsored by the society and obtained my PTS.
In 2007 I got married and as far as I was concerned there was only one way I wanted to leave for my honeymoon! My husband to be and I chartered the locomotive for a run from Paddington to Yeovil Steam Centre and return. She carried our specially made headboard ‘The Yeovil Betrothal’ and spent the afternoon with us at our reception in Yeovil Steam Centre, before we boarded for a stunning run back to Paddington behind her. Running from Newbury on the Up Main, and arriving in style at Platform 1. I was extremely black on arrival but couldn’t have been any happier!
My very first crew turn was on GB1 and I shall never ever forget the kindness of my fellow colleagues, who showed me the ropes on that great weekend.
I love nothing more than to be out behind our King, and eagerly look forward to her return to the mainline after overhaul.
Well that’s my steam trip so far in a nutshell! I am thinking of doing a locomotive profile on the King Class, so watch this space, and I hope you have enjoyed my first contribution.