Columb has been obsessed with trains since the age of 5. Living in Bewdley and working as an engineer in Droitwich, he spotted an advert in the Kidderminster Shuttle and attended the very first SVR meeting in 1965. He became the first Treasurer, set up the SVR's first bank account- the membership fee was £1 a year!
Columb was a regular on the early work parties, and after his stint as Treasurer, became an 'engine person', restoring engines and working at the Carriage Works. Columb also got involved in the acquisition of engines and recalls regular trips to a scrapyard in Barry, South Wales, to purchase engines- he has particularly vivid memories of bringing engine 4566 to Bewdley and its subsequent restoration.
Columb's involvement in the SVR spans more than five decades and all his memories are fascinating. He recalls each extension of the line, from Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade, then to Bewdley, then Foley Park and finally to Kidderminster. He recalls the controversial involvement of Gerald Nabarro, the public enquiry over the Bridgnorth By-pass, the restoration of stations at Highley and Arley, and the creation of signal boxes and loop lines.
He fulfilled a childhood dream of training as a fireman and then engine driver, and has vivid memories of the 'first' engines, many special SVR events, new services and VIP visits.
LISTEN TO COLUMB HOWELL
(TALKING TO JULIA LETTS)
In this extract, Columb relives exciting times working on feature films and commercials on the SVR.