Many engine owners know the history of their engines, research over many years by many people has left us with fantastic archive of engine information available from the Road Locomotive Society and other sources. A connection with the working days of an engine is rarer, many firms and families have vanished into the mists of time and many former engine yards are now housing estates
One area of engine history where the link between preservation and the original owning families is at is strongest is on the fairgrounds. A strong core of the original steam operating families remain, albeit in different forms to which they existed over a century ago
Occasionally the link is rekindled, a few years back our current president Keith Honour returned to Cambridge Midsummer Fair with his Burrell ‘Margaret’. He spent a few days generating alongside his organ before a brief trundle around the ground one morning. Many relations of Henry Thurston (the engines original owner) appeared to have photographs taken with the engine. One of the last was Pat Thurston Snr together with Frank Sedgwick. The Photo appears below
Sadly Pat Thurston passed on earlier this month. His family were keen to get one of the original Thurston engines along to his wake together with a fairground organ. Pat was the son of William Thurston (II), himself the son of another William Thurston (I) , who was in turn the son of the firm’s founder Henry Thurston (though he is not the Henry Thurston who owned ‘Margaret’).
Two engines survive that worked under William (I), these being Foster 14153 ‘Admiral Beatty’ which resides with Russell Cook in Wolverhampton and Burrell 2668 ‘Britannia’ owned by James Davis of High Wycombe. The family favoured a call to James Davis, who was happy to oblige and bring Britannia back to the area where she once worked. An organ was also sourced, coincidentally from Keith Honour (the aforementioned owner of ‘Margaret’)
The wake was held at the Marriott Hotel, Huntingdon, ‘Britannia’ and the organ arriving well ahead of the funeral party. With the engine in steam and the organ playing, the family and assembled guests began to arrive. The wake was well attended – a testament to a popular and well respected showman. It was clear from the reaction of those present that the family appreciate the link with their history as strongly as ever, as does the engines owner and crew. Many photos were taken of various family members posing with the engine and many stories told from the depths of peoples memories, some going back to the working days of steam, though not all are perhaps suitable for publication!
A selection of photographs taken by Clive Flack appear below