Rob Bilsborrow

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Not all members would have known Rob. He joined only last year to be involved with the garden railway, but a combination of distance and latterly ill-health restricted his appearances.

My first visit to his spacious garden, complete with a large 45mm railway, prompted a suggestion to pitch a tent and stay there all summer. Hardly practicable of course, but devotees of the scale could not wish for a better place to steam up and run trains, or just sit and enjoy the spectacle. Rob had a liking for good-sized locos and long trains, so the roster included impressive entities such as an Accucraft Garratt and a Saxonian IIIK, complete with appropriate rolling stock.

Coal firing was also on the agenda, with a loco based on a Roundhouse Fowler. It is mainly Rob’s fault that more of my pension that I care to admit will shortly be diverted to acquiring something very similar.

He was a meticulous and skilful engineer, who enjoyed creating, modifying and improving his railway stock and the line it ran on (the Mossala Hill Railway). His workshop was named ‘Tindaloo Works’, a nod towards the Tindharia workshops on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, with a touch of curry thrown in. Rob’s own DHR Class B was in red rather than the usual blue livery, his justification being that it belonged to a fictional maharajah who ran it in his palace gardens.

Rob was ably supported by his wife Maria, who not only put up with Rob’s passion for railways but also tolerated with kindness and hospitality the regular invasion of both garden and kitchen by numerous 16millers.

His illness did not stop him negotiating for another large acquisition, this time a second-hand Aster Frank S, with his friend (another) Rob acting as power broker and potential delivery operative. Sadly it was not to be. But as Rob II said, ‘You can’t keep a good man down’. Quite so.

Some more photos are here.

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