Former top link steam and diesel driver Bernard Rainbow was reunited with an old friend at Didcot Railway Centre on April 2nd, when he was invited to the launch of 6023 King Edward II and given a ride on the footplate.
Bernard, who worked on the railway from 1949 to 1993, regularly drove and fired the Kings in the 1950s and 60s.
King Edward II, which emerged from Swindon works in June 1930, arrived as a rusty hulk at Didcot in 1990. Once deemed too far gone, on account of one of its driving wheels being cut through during its time in Barry scrapyard, the volunteers at Didcot have restored her to BR blue livery.
During the launch event Bernard, who went on to become chief locomotive inspector at the Severn Valley Railway, revealed that his wife, Margaret, had, in 1963, been allowed to drive a King on the main line between Leamington and Acocks Green, under Bernard’s strict supervision of course.
Margaret said: “I didn’t want to be a fireman, I wanted to start at the top!”