Steve Davies MBE appointed new Trust Chairman

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust is delighted to announce that Steve Davies MBE has been appointed as Chairman.

A former Colonel in the British Army, Steve has been a lifelong railway enthusiast, and is involved in a significant number of heritage railway projects both on a professional and voluntary basis. His Army career saw him serve in a wide variety of countries, many on operations. He rose to become the Commanding Officer of his Regiment.

Steve enjoyed two tours in the Ministry of Defence in London engaged at the military/political strategic level, and his final military appointment was as Chief of Staff of a Division with responsibility for military planning across almost half of the UK. It was whilst on secondment to the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces that he exercised his personal initiative to create the Country’s National Railway Museum, in close cooperation with His Excellency President Kabbah, which continues to thrive today and with which he remains closely associated as President of the British Charity The Friends of The Sierra Leone National Railway Museum.

On retirement from the Army, Steve subsequently served as Director of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester – site of the world’s oldest surviving railway terminus (circa 1830) – then as Director of the National Railway Museum in York, during which time he devised, negotiated and implemented the repatriation of class A4 Pacifics No. 60008 Dwight D. Eisenhower and No. 4489 Dominion of Canada  from North America to take part in an Award-winning exhibition marking the 75th anniversary of No. 4468 Mallard achieving the World Record for Steam Traction of 126 mph.

Steve, who lives in North Yorkshire, is the Founder and Managing Director of The International Railway Heritage Consultancy Limited which provides a one-stop-shop for railway heritage organisations internationally, in order that they might access the skills they need to support their respective operations.  Amongst its many projects, Steve’s company is supporting – Pro Bono – the extension of the Bala Lake Railway, and was heavily involved in planning and delivering a Channel 4 TV programme focusing on carriage restoration.  Last year he advised the government of Nigeria on improving the Railway Museum in Lagos, including an assessment of the potential to return British-built ‘River Class’ 2-8-2s to working order for main line use.  Steve joined the Board of Trustees of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust in October 2019.

Commenting on his appointment, Steve said, “It’s a great honour be appointed chairman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust. I’ve worked closely with the organisation for many years and was delighted to welcome Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall on board The Royal Train to the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester, hauled by Tornado, on my final day as Director. I look forward to working with the other Trustees, Staff, Volunteers and Supporters to deliver on the Trust’s promises – keeping No. 60163 Tornado operating successfully on the main line, completing the construction of No. 2007 Prince of Wales, starting work on Gresley class V4 No. 3403, and expanding the Trust’s base in Darlington.  I have always been attracted to exciting, ambitious and very professionally delivered projects and organisations, and in that respect I know I am going to feel very much at home with The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust.

“I have been a lifelong railway enthusiast and enjoyed the privilege of growing up in the 1960s in Darwen in the industrial heartland of Lancashire, bearing witness to the final years of main line steam. My grandfather was a driver at Lower Darwen Shed (24D) and I undoubtedly derived much of my interest and passion for the subject from him. My subsequent Army career also provided me with the opportunity to explore railways at an international level, and fond recollections of cabbing locos in the Berlin area during the final days of Deutsche Reichsbahn steam, discovering working steam in former Yugoslavia, and establishing the now-thriving National Railway Museum of Sierra Leone, are never far from my mind.

“Subsequently I became Director of the National Railway Museum, and was lucky to be able to make a contribution to the gathering of all six surviving A4s to commemorate Mallard’s epic world speed record for steam traction, bringing considerable pleasure to many. I am, therefore, by nature attracted to prestigious and ambitious projects, which is why I am so thrilled to have been invited to become Chairman as I cannot think of any other organisation in British – nay, international – railway heritage whose objectives, excitement, uniqueness, prestige and ability to deliver precisely what our covenantors donate their hard-earned cash for, can match what we stand for and achieve. Thirty years ago, we were looked on as an oddity. Now we represent steam’s best hope of still operating on the main line thirty years from now.

“There is something exhilarating and reassuring in equal measure in building brand-new steam locomotives, designed from the outset to be compatible with the contemporary railway network, and our business model is stable, sustainable and efficient thanks to the money we receive from our supporters, and the long hours given to our organisation by our many volunteers.

“These are challenging times for the whole of our country and railway heritage is not immune from the privations of an increasingly difficult economic situation. I and my Council colleagues are already taking the necessary steps to protect the Trust from the worst effects of the situation, and I believe that we are well placed to weather the storm. But I would be doing you a disservice if I gave the impression that it will be easy – it won’t be.  Your continued support will give us the resources and thinking time we need to steer the ship through these choppy waters; better still – and I know these are difficult times financially – perhaps this is the moment to make that extra contribution you may having been putting off for another time?”

The Board of Trustees, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, added, “We are delighted announce the appointment of Steve Davies MBE as the Trust’s fourth Chairman. Steve is an internationally recognised and respected leader in the world of heritage railways and we are honoured that he has agreed to serve as Chairman of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust. Steve’s vast knowledge and experience will help us to continue to transform our organisation as we move towards the completion and operation of our second new main line steam locomotive, the commencement of the project to build our third, and the development of our facilities in Darlington.”