Tributes paid to local railway hero

FOND memories and loving tributes have been paid after a local railway giant passed away.

Members of the Gainsborough Model Railway Society started their annual general meeting on Monday evening with a moment’s silence in memory of their President Alan Pegler OBE FRSA, who passed away on Sunday 18th March at the age of 91.

Born on 16th April 1920, Alan was a member of the family who owned the Northern Rubber Company at Retford.

He first came into contact with the Model Railway Society in 1952 when it took part in an exhibition to mark the centenary of the Great Northern main line railway between Retford and Peterborough. The following year, Alan organised a special train trip with two locomotives brought out of the railway museum at York to haul it.

Model Railway Society secretary Mick Clapham knew Alan for over 60 years and travelled on that train as a teenager.

“The experience gave us the confidence to organise our own special trains a few years later,” said Mick. “Then when Alan bought Flying Scotsman from British Railways for £3,000 in 1963 we worked with him really closely on tours which took the locomotive the length and breadth of Britain over the next six years.”

Mick added: “He was a great lover of railways and was a very nice chap.”

Alan later established a successful career in the leisure industry, at different times being a lecturer on P&O cruise ships, King Henry VIII at a medieval feast in London and being the first train manager on the Venice-Simplon Orient Express.

Society chairman Richard Woods said: “Alan had become very much the elder statesman of the railway preservation movement, being awarded the OBE for his services to railway heritage in the 2006 New Year’s honours list.”

He continued: “Alan has been our President for as long as most of us can remember, and was a huge help to us at a critical time by standing guarantee for the bank loan which helped us to buy our premises in the early 1960s. Despite being increasingly frail and confined to a wheelchair, he continued to travel up to Gainsborough and join us at our annual dinner each autumn.”

Richard added: “I am sure Alan will be fondly remembered by his many friends in the railway preservation, and those who never met him, but have benefited from his saving both Flying Scotsman and the Ffestiniog Railwayin Wales.

“The Society’s thoughts are with his daughter Penny and her family.”