1944 – 1st March 2017
Jon Preston came to prominence in the 2857 Society with the job of paining the engine in 1979. After his sad loss on 1st March this year, his funeral service was a real celebration of his life, thanks to his twin brother Paul and the family in arranging such an appropriate commemoration.
Jon's funeral took place on the morning of April 1st at a well filled Haycombe Crematorium, Bath. Jon made an impressive entrance in a beautifully decorated coffin including a GWR roundel at the end and panorama of an unrebuilt Bulleid Pacific and set of red cream stock along one side, with Jon's trademark red, white and black paddle steamer ‘Waverley’ woolly gricing hat placed on the top, another preservation scheme about which he was passionate. The pall bearers entered in step with the sounds of a slowly moving GW two cylinder engine, pausing and stepping back as a similar loco backed up before the soundtrack of a GW engine approaching and passing by filled the Crematorium. We exited to "The Runaway Train" by Michael Holliday!
I first met Jon in 1979 whilst at Newport to see 6000 "KGV". He asked if I was "chasing the engine" and unknowingly joined a world of "phot-spots", "grices", Bartholomew's roadmaps and his Vauxhall Viva. I was astonished at the number of times we overtook 6000 and eagerly awaited the next grice. Jon soon persuaded me to join the SVRA and to help with the repainting of 2857 at Bewdley, a task which I thoroughly enjoyed right until the lead-in to the 1985 Newport freight.
Those gricing the Welsh Marches route will remember the convoy of cars accompanying every move by the variety of main line-passed steam locos of the 1980s. Jon tried hard to get us to each location with great banter. We debated the "cutting embankment" after confused map reading, and were amazed as Jon produced a screwdriver on string to wave over magnetic coils in the road at red traffic lights in the hope to set them swiftly to green! The verdict is out on how effective it was but it added to the fun.
Jon's acquisition of car registration JON444W enabled all to identify him easily. Driving was spirited, with Jon pronouncing "He who hesitates is lost" and we often arrived at locations with seconds to spare. Jon undertook pruning to improve overgrown locations, but where this was not an option he produced giant plastic buckets from his car for us to stand on, hence the "bucket shot"! On the way home Jon would pronounce it a "good grice" and we'd look forward to the next occasion. He remained loyal to 35mm film to the end.
Jon certainly taught me how to paint a railway locomotive, and paint 2857 we did in all weathers at Bewdley rock siding up until 1985. He was a true gentleman with a kind and caring nature, spending much time publicising the SVR and was for many years chairman of the Bristol SVRA branch. With Jon's passing we have lost a true friend of railways and classic transport. Returning to locations that we visited in days gone by I find happy memories flood back where Jon added to the occasion. Jon, may you rest in peace.
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