We have been advised that Mr Esmond Lewis-Evans passed away on the 5th August 2017 at the age of 90.
For the benefit of younger members (!), Mr Lewis-Evans was the proprietor of the then SouthEastern Steam Centre (SESC), which occupied the site of the former Ashford MPD. This was the home of ‘4 Cor’ 3142 between April 1973 and February 1976. Mr Lewis Evans was, to put it politely, unpredictable at times and relationships with him were not easy. Those who were members of early preservation working parties there will recall these difficulties. Problems even extended to an attempt to prevent 3142’s departure to Wansford, by summarily lifting a section of track. Fortunately for the SEG, it was part of the wrong siding!
However, credit must be given for the fact that the SESC also provided a home for other preserved locomotives and rolling stock, notably the SER class ‘01’ No. 65 (bought by
Mr Lewis-Evans from BR in 1963). It is also to his credit that in 1996, he arranged for this locomotive to be moved to the Bluebell Railway, where it remains on extended loan. Amongst other items that were also at the SESC while 3142 was there were various Pullman cars, some of which now run in the VSOE, coaches from ‘4 DD’ unit 4902, ‘Merchant Navy’ class No. 35028 “Clan Line” and French CF du Nord De Glehn compound No 3.628. The latter locomotive subsequently operated with 3142 on the Nene Valley Railway.
After the SESC closed in May 1976, Mr Lewis-Evans relocated his own rolling stock to a farm near Sellindge, where much of remained for a number of years. ‘4 DD’ MBS 13003 remains there, and it is perhaps ironic that SEG ‘4 Cor’ coaches 10096, 11201 and 11825 are in store there now as well!
It has to be said, finally, that without Esmond Lewis-Evans, many historic railway items might not have survived and the SEG might not have had its first home for 3142