Richard Campbell - farewell Bonnie lad

Monday, 01 August 2016 08:08 Maurice Burns

It is with great sadness that the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group mourns the passing of one of its most active members and engineers when Richard Campbell passed away on June 16th 2016 aged 64.

Richard, third from left, in the thick of it at ICI, August 1997

Born in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne his parents moved to a house where the back garden was next to the East Coast main line at Chester le Street. Even from a young age he and his sister Sheila and brother Stephen would wave at the passing steam engines. They were the grubby Geordie railway children without the posh accents!

Leaving school at 15 he served an electrical engineering apprenticeship with N.E.I Parsons before joining their research and development group.

A total change of life occurred in 1974 when he decided to join the merchant navy, travelling the world with Texaco as an electrical engineer on oil tankers but after four years at sea, he came home and established a small engineering workshop and became self-employed doing machining work for preserved steam locomotives.

Richard had many other outside interests including Military vehicles and he was the proud owner of a Morris 1940 British army breakdown truck which he restored himself for public displays. He was also well known for his love of vintage Land Rovers, steam locomotive model engineering and his pride and joy a MGB sports car.

In the late 1970’s he joined NELPG and was quickly spotted as a member with a keen eye for technical detail when he carefully measured the Q6 side rods and found them different lengths on each side!

He loved Scotland and when steam operation from Fort William on the on the Road to the Isles started in 1984 he was one of the first to volunteer, initially helping Ian Storey with 44767 George Stephenson but later helped NELPG with the K1 No 2005. Not only was he a regular support crew member he was a Responsible Officer organising volunteers and doing locomotive maintenance for thirty years. He soon became a key part in the NELPG success story.

Soon his engineering skills, in particular his speciality of the complex work of axle box overhauls spread, so in addition to doing work on NELPG’s J27, Q6, Q7, J72 and K1 he did Ian Storey’s 44767 George Stephenson. After the Blue Peter Durham wheelslip incident in October 1994 he became deeply involved in helping to sort out the many complex issues of bent motion and new parts. The KWVR engines 41241, 78022, 90733 and City of Wells received Richards’s attention, as did engines 78018 at Darlington, 45025 and 828 at Aviemore in addition to many industrial engines at Aviemore and in the North East.

Richard had the pleasant knack of always looking cheerful and positive in the face of adversity, and always had a pleasant word for everyone he met. You always knew he was around as his distinctive cheerful dulcet tones could be heard above the most intrusive background noises!

He had planned to retire to his spiritual home in Scotland where most of his heavy machine tools had already been moved to Aviemore, but illness intervened.

At a packed St Georges church near Stanley, Co Durham where his many steam friends gathered Ian Storey, Vice President of NELPG, read the Eulogy where in his summing up described Richard as a “best friend” a view echoed by many who knew him.

Last Updated on Monday, 01 August 2016 08:22