1922 – 2011
Brian Yates, who was Chairman of the ‘2857 Society’ from 1976 to 1979, passed away peacefully in January 2011 aged 89.
Born in 1922, Brian started work as a draughtsman in the late 1930's at Averys in Smethwick and later moved to the BSA in Small Heath, where as a Reserved Occupation during the 2nd World War his draughting skills were put to use designing gun parts and mechanisms. After the war he moved to Metro-Cammell, where he worked for many years designing bogies for coaches and wagons He also designed the tipping mechanism for the either-side tipping wagon used on PWay maintenance trains, and it was a source of pride to him that one of them currently resides on the SVR today! His final employment was as Chief Draughtsman at Wagon Repairs Ltd. which did exactly what the name said. Whilst Brian worked there he helped to get the company’s Chesterfield Works to restore and donate Esso tanker No. 2686 to the SVR in 1971, the Stoke Works to shotblast and patch the tanks and bunker for 4566 and also somehow persuaded them to undertake the shot-blasting and restoration of 2857’s tender at an unbelievably low price.
Brian was able to retire aged 60, and he enjoyed nearly 30 years of retirement, albeit mainly homebased for his final 4 years. He kept himself busy working on his large model railway, and as a founder member of the SVR he enjoyed travelling on the railway. He also had an interest in anything that was steam powered, such as traction engines (showman Pat Collins's engines in particular), beam engines etc., which involved trips to steam rallies and museums such as Beamish and the Black Country Museum.
Brian was married to his wife Kathleen for 66 years, and they had 2 sons, Nigel and myself Garry. Brian was always a Great Western man and both of us have carried on his railway interests. He started us off with Saturday morning trips to Snow Hill Station in the 1960s and we all went on numerous shed-bashing trips, mainly locally and to South Wales with friends he knew from Metro-Cammell who owned a car at the time. We also went on many Stephenson Locomotive Society (SLS) trips to places like Swindon Works, and some farewell to steam trips like the GWR County class behind No. 1011 County of Chester and farewell to the Kings behind No. 6018 King Henry Vl.
Brian's final trip to the SVR was in September 2007 when the line was severely damaged by floods, with many parts of the line washed away, and we could only travel from Kidderminster to Bewdley. After that he lost confidence in his ability to walk and became more housebound. Brian passed away peacefully in January 2011 aged 89, basically of old age, and his wife Kathleen died 4 years later aged 93, again of old age rather than any illness. I know he would be really pleased to know that 2857 is still looking splendid and making a regular contribution to the running of the SVR and other preserved railways.
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