A memory for Geoff Willmott (Wickford).

 June 2012.

As a birthday gift Geoff’s wife, Jane, signed him up for a Steam Railway Driving Course. Here is the description of the day.

It was a Steam Locomotive Driving Course on the Kent and East Sussex Railway where Tenterden is the hub of the line but the course takes place a stop on at Rolvenden where the main works are based. It actually runs to Bodiam and beyond. It is run by volunteers as with most restored railways. There were eight people on the course and they were paired off taking it in turns with the wide variety of things the day involved. The itinerary reads as follows: 

 “The day starts at Rolvenden at 8.30am with an engineers breakfast – a large sausage egg and bacon roll. Due to modern regulations this is no longer cooked on the shovel! Following a safety briefing you will join your engine for the day already in full steam to commence the hands on part of the day. Careful and patient tuition is given to each participant by a knowledgeable instructor under whose guidance your confidence will grow throughout the day. A two-course lunch is provided (which turned out to be fish and chips and muffins) and at the end of the day you are presented with a certificate of achievement together with a souvenir T- shirt and mug. Usual end time is 4.30pm” . . . and it was.

The course also included a tour of the engine and repair sheds and most interestingly the signal box. The driver and fireman (Howard and Martin) were terrific enthusiasts with great personalities and helped make the day one to remember for a very long time. The signalman (Mr Cooke) had to pull eight levers for each journey up the line. . . . . each candidate had six turns (two as fireman, two as driver learning how to move off and stop smoothly and two buffering up to a carriage . . . . so he was busier than on a day when the trains run normally!


The Kent & East Sussex Railway is the country’s finest example of a rural light railway. The line gently wends its way from Tenterden – “The Jewel of The Weald” for ten and a half miles, through the unspoilt countryside of the Rother Valley, to terminate in the shadow of the magnificent National Trust castle at Bodiam.


And now some pictures taken on the day. Geoff is dressed in blue overalls and is usually seen with a great smile on his face.   (Click on the pictures to enlarge them)


Geoff Willmott




Geoff at the controls


Rolvenden Station




Geoff on the right


Geoff on the right


Geoff on the right



What’s this coming now?~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Passed! – Got a certifcate!


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5 Responses to (18)

  1. Jane says:

    This is just THE best day out for any steam train/railway enthusiasts

  2. Carol Ford says:

    Proper job – a great blog and a fantastic birthday present right up Geoff’s street :o)

  3. And some more Facebook comments.

    Belinda Brennand: Oh, bless him! I know that look only TOO well, Jane! Dave smiles like that whenever he’s playing trains – only NOT on the line he drives EVERY single day from Southend to Liverpool Street! That’s not something that would make even your Geoff smile, I’m afraid. Glad he had a super day though – where did he go? Has he been to the newly opened Epping – Ongar Railway? Dave went to its opening day a few weeks ago & had a fantastic time. He would highly recommend it, he says! ;0)

    Isobel Reynolds: Ah he does look like a little boy. So glad he had a nice time

    Jane Willmott: A certain person thoroughly enjoyed their surprise birthday present!

    Sue Glazier: Aww, lovely

    Clare Lissenden: Jane, your husband looks like a little boy, delightful xx

    Sue Moon: Yea he looks as though it was the bestest ever birthday x

    Jane Willmott: Ah thank you ladies…his little face says it all doesn’t it -looks more like 5 than 55. A very special day for a very special man xx

    Arthur Cox: So glad you had a happy day.

    Nicola Wright: Geoff looks so happy, guess he had a great day, a lovely present Jane. x

    Jane Willmott: He is still smiling now Nicola. He’ll never forget it and it was certainly one of my better decisions lol! xxx

    Carol Ford: Liked & shared fabulous x

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