The Reverend W. Awdry, creator of “Thomas the Tank Engine” was once asked why there is a connection between clergymen and trains. He is supposed to have replied “The Church of England and steam engines are both the best way of getting you to your final destination.”
Peter the Vicar is a Railway Enthusiast, and every couple of months or so he shows railway and archive films in the Fellowship Room. They are not just for those interested in trains, there is lots of social history and memories too. Sometimes we have films on a particular subject or aspect of the railways, on other occasions we take a geographical area. We normally have two showings – 3 pm and 7.30 pm – and have tea/coffee, doughnuts and biscuits in the interval. There is no charge for admission, but we put a plate out for donations.
We had planned films on Saturday 28 March 2020 when we were going to visit the South of England. Then on Saturday 23 May we were going to commemorate VE Day and the end of the Second World War, but it looks unlikely we will be able to meet.
Peter’s first show in Darley Abbey (in autumn 2016) was largely autobiographical, ranging from his childhood in East Anglia (diesel units across the Fens in the 1970s) to his time in the North East (George Stephenson and other pioneers). The second show celebrated Night Mail, eighty years after the film was made, the third Women and Holidays, the fourth took us to Scotland, the fifth to Wales, and the sixth (on Armistice Day) had a Wartime programme. The first session raised £130 for the British Heart Foundation, the second £200 for Changing Faces, the third £200 for the Children’s Society, the fourth £250 for Action for Kids, the fifth £220 towards new curtains for the Fellowship Room, and the sixth £140 for Action for Kids. In January 2018 we started with snow and moved into summer – the pleasure of a summer holiday, by train of course. We raised £325 for the British Heart Foundation. In March we moved the freight, and raised £150 towards new chairs for the Fellowship Room. In May we enjoyed engineering work in the days when they didn’t close a major station for weeks, and raised £225 for the BHF. In September we looked at mail and parcels on trains and trams, and raised £200 for the BHF. In February 2019 we did a bit more about mail, and raised £160 for the BHF. On Saturday 27 April we had a Railway themed concert at St Edmund’s Church Hall and raised £220 for the Air Ambulance, and in May celebrated the Bicentenary of St Matthew's with 200 years of railways. Saturday 14 September took us back to East Anglia, £140 for the BHF. On St Andrew's Day (30 November) we had a Scottish programme, raising £225 for the Derby City Mission Night Shelter).
This picture shows a very young Vicar and his girlfriend on a Cambridge University Railway Club trip to the Cadeby Light Railway in 1983.