Restored steam locomotive to haul memorial train from King’s Lynn today

British India Line is set to haukl the special train in memory of Nigel Dobbing Picture: Bob Green

British India Line is set to haukl the special train in memory of Nigel Dobbing Picture: Bob Green - Credit: Archant

A restored steam locomotive will haul a special memorial train from King's Lynn today.

Nigel Dobbing (centre) with members of the Railway Touring Company team Picture: Railway Touring Co

Nigel Dobbing (centre) with members of the Railway Touring Company team Picture: Railway Touring Company - Credit: Archant

British India Line, built in 1945, will head a steam special arranged as a fitting farewell to Nigel Dobbing, a leading figure in the heritage rail industry, who died in October.

The train is due to leave King's Lynn for Melton Mowbray at 9.54am. Approximate timings are that it will pass through Watlington at 10.06am, Downham Market at 10.14am, March at 11.05am, Peterborough at 11.29am, Grantham at 12.07pm, Nottingham at 1.03pm, Loughborough at 1.24pm and Melton Mowbray at 1.48pm.

The return trip will see the train depart Melton Mowbray at 3.16pm and then pass through Oakham at 3.31pm, Peterborough at 4.01pm, Ely at 5.11pm, Downham Market at 6.06pm and King's Lynn at 6.45pm.

Organised by the King's Lynn-based Railway Touring Company as a tribute to Mr Dobbing, who established the company in the town 22 years ago, the private train will take around 80 members of his family, friends, colleagues and people who supported him over the years, for a steam journey to celebrate his life and achievements.

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A love of steam, inspired by the locomotives which operated close to his childhood home in Melton Mowbray, drove Mr Dobbing's entrepreneurial vision to organise mainline steam excursions, both in the UK and worldwide, at a time when steam on the mainline was almost a thing of the past.

A stop at Melton Mowbray will include the unveiling of a memorial plaque in the station waiting room.

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British India Line is an appropriate locomotvie to haul the train according Mr Dobbing's former colleague and friend of many years Kelly Osborne, who is now managing director of the Railway Touring Company.

'Nigel had been eagerly waiting for the completion of British India Line's restoration and had arranged for this historic locomotive to haul a leg of The Railway Touring Company's annual Great Britain steam tour in April 2018, on which he planned to travel,' she said. 'Unfortunately, due to ill health he was unable to take that journey, so we are very pleased it is to haul this train in memory of Nigel and we thank David Smith of West Coast Railways for making this loco available and enabling this journey to happen.

'We would also like to thank Graeme Pratt from Govia Thames Railway who has secured our departure from King's Lynn.

'Nigel's passion and determination has given so many people the opportunity to experience steam travel through the steam charters he devised, so Sunday's train is one of the best ways for us all at The Railway Touring Company to say goodbye and pay our respects to him.'

Friends and rail enthusiasts have paid tribute to Mr Dobbing.

John Holwell knew him from their childhood in Melton Mowbray and shared his enthusiasm, watching steam hauled freight trains in action, train-spotting and visiting loco sheds together.

He said: 'The Railway Touring Company has operated ground breaking tours in the UK and worldwide. The development of the Great Britain steam rail tours was Nigel's idea and only someone of his vision and calibre could have carried that forward. Nigel will be sorely missed but his legacy will survive and generations to come will be grateful for his pioneering work in running steam hauled rail services.'

Friend Ray Mason said: 'Nigel built up The Railway Touring Company to be the world's leading tour operator using mainly steam locomotives. Often pioneering, Nigel ran tours where others didn't. They were successful, incredibly interesting and often historic events – either a 'first' for 30 to 50 years or a final visit before a system closed, dieselised or was destroyed in a civil war.

'Thank you Nigel for establishing The Railway Touring Company and safely conveying thousands of travellers, enthusiasts and adventurers to countries far and wide.'

The Railway Touring Company urges anyone who plans to come out to see the train to follow safety guidelines and to do so from a safe viewing point.

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