Dave Oliver

Engineering Manager and Trustee

Steam has always interested me, mainly the engineering of how all that power is derived and delivered from coal and water. As a child I lived close to the Leicester to Nuneaton line and would spend hours ‘spotting’ usually the same engine doing the round trip, then occasionally would cycle to Nuneaton Trent Valley watch the men shunting goods wagons over the hump and dividing them up into different sidings whilst hoping to see a ‘Brit’ go through, never did see the Duke though.

My interest in the Duke came about because it’s different, unique, powerful and a marvel of engineering.

I have spent all my working life in agriculture, mainly on the arable side (although my father was a dairy farmer) as a tractor/combine/sprayer operator and agricultural engineer working over Leicestershire in a contracting business but now specifically on one farm. In agriculture the work can be very weather dependant so has to be got on with and seen through when the opportunity is there but has to be done “right” and if a machine has problems these have to be sorted usually on the spot, but still has to be done “right”. I would like to think I carry this ethic through to the Trust, any work we do we ‘get on with it’ when the opportunity arises and is done to a professional standard, in other words done “right”.

I joined the Trust in 2015, filled the form in to volunteer on the web site then was contacted and joined the support crew, becoming a team leader in 2017. This involves attending monthly engineering meetings with Tyseley Loco Works and the Engineering Liaison Principal; then liaising with him and organising/prioritising work we the support crew can do; being responsible on working party days for the work and safety of the crew and afterwards putting reports together. The work has become quite extensive as our role has developed but all made much easier with the great atmosphere and professionalism of guys and girls we have that make up the support crew. My theory being the more we can do the greater the financial saving on the overhaul.

The Duke was almost lost to us, its unique, different, powerful, a wonder of engineering and I long to hear his distinctive beat on the main line again. The passion amongst the support crew, membership and trust officers is infectious and rightly so. We owe it to the guys that saved and restored it to get it back out there doing what it was designed for and as a working engineering example for future generations so all the skills that go with it are not lost.

Updated February 2021