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Retirement of Don Clarke

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Big Al, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    DBS driver, Don Clarke, will be in charge of the British Pullman on Saturday August 3rd as his last run before his retirement. It is fitting that an ex Nine Elms man should end his career with an ex Nine Elms locomotive and Clan Line is the obvious choice.

    Make no mistake, we will be losing one of the gentleman professionals in Don. Always prepared to talk to the traveller and always ready to demonstrate enginemanship at the highest level of its art. Given the enjoyment I know that he has given to many steam enthusiasts, it would be good if perhaps we could capture any memories or comments on this Forum. So I'll kick off with three that come to mind for different reasons:

    July 9th 2012 with 35028 on the End of Southern Steam special. Milepost 70.5 to Milepost 3 on the SWML covered in 68 min start to stop with speed sustained at between 70 and 77 from Steventon to Wimbledon - i.e. for 47 miles.

    April 25th 2009 with 60163 on the Top Gear special. Kings Cross to Grantham, start to stop, in under 96 minutes for 105.5 miles including an effortless assault of Stoke.

    May 20th 2012 with 61994 on the Cathedrals Explorer. Having driven the engine for the first time on the positioning move up to Inverness, he then took her to Kyle in style with a minimum of 19 over Fraggle Rock (as he called it) and some sparkling running over this challenging terrain.

    Thanks for some great runs Don. (Some say he is the only driver who gets off every locomotive as clean as he gets on it!)
     

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  2. KentYeti

    KentYeti Guest

    My only run behind Don, so far as I know, was that July 9th 2012 effort with Clan Line. But of course as he is an ex Nine Elms man so who knows if he was ever up front for me in the 1960s!

    A masterpiece in enginemanship on July 2012 in keeping so close to the current speed limit for so long.

    All the very best to you Don.
     
  3. hatherton hall

    hatherton hall Member

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    I think there will be a lot of praise for the steam work of Don Clarke, and as I have posted on "What's Going On", he is one of the best and it is incredible to think that he is now at retirement age. Yes, he could continue but as most of his DBS work is on diesels and the steam work probably only accounts for 5% of his weekly work, he clearly feels now is the time to go. He has been quoted in the railway press recently that his passion is for steam and so he is probably glad to not to have to inhale those diesel fumes again!

    He will be missed and I for one, look forward to shaking his hand at Shalford or Victoria station tomorrow.

    He could of course follow in the footsteps of Colin Kerswell and Geoff Ewans and try his hand at inspector work. Don't be surprised if he does!

    Nick
     
  4. Foxhunter

    Foxhunter Member

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    Don has my greatest respect and admiration, always courteous, willing to impart knowledge and careful with machinery, I have enjoyed some terrific turns with him. The best part is that he leaves his son to fill his shoes and I wish Jim every success firing and driving steam on the 'big railway':

    [​IMG]
    Jim and Don with 60163 on 07.07.13

    Foxy
     
  5. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Bristol 030811 007.jpg

    Don on Clan Line with the British Pullman. The right man: the right engine.
     
  6. green five

    green five Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for some great runs Don. I had the privilege to be on the 9th July 2012 run with 35028. I, like many others who travelled on it went up to the cab of 35028 at journeys end to shake Don's hand and offer him a big heartfelt thank you. A wonderful trip.
     
  7. dan.lank

    dan.lank Member

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    One heck of a clean loco too!
     
  8. thickmike

    thickmike New Member

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    Known Don a long time and lost touch with him - entirely my fault.
    As a fireman, Don and his mate, whose name I don't remember, held the record for a while for the fastest "Deltic" start out of Basingstoke with 34026 Yes Tor - 6:28 to passing Hook with 8 on plus 3 vans. It's been great to see his work lauded these past few years - he was always going to be an elite engineman.
    Best wishes on your retirement, Mike
     
  9. ian14

    ian14 New Member

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    Just a few hundred yards and one final whistle to go for Don Clarke on the return to London Victoria this afternoon: (Have also posted these in the What's Going On thread for Clan Line today)

    Journey's End 1

    Journey's End 2

    Journey's End 3
     
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  10. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Journey's End 3

    A lovely final image with Don as alert as ever and Jim still keeping an eye on things inside the cab and firebox.
     
  11. London Bridge

    London Bridge New Member

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