On Saturday 13th April 2019 GWR opened the gates to it’s newly refreshed Long Rock Depot in Penzance Cornwall. We were invited along to see the depot and many exhibits on display during the charity event which raised funds for the RNLI.
We arrived around 9am to be greeted by a bitterly cold easterly wind blowing across the most distant GWR depot on the network. The wind was cold but as always with the GWR family, the reception was warm.
We dealt with the paperwork and off we went to the sound of Colin and Nick’s cameras clicking continuously. There were a large number of exhibits on display including many guests from the Bodmin and Wenford Railway and GBRf. A mix of steam and diesel to excite most of the crowd still waiting outside the gates.
Entry was delayed for the crowd as exhibits were still being positioned on site. Curtains were being set in front of name plates to be revealed and at this point the celebrity HST power cars were yet to appear. This was the final chance to visit these power cars at such an event and once the final celebration journey is completed on the 1st June it is unlikely that 43002 Sir Kenneth Grange and 43185 Great Western will ever be seen together again.
Neil hastily set up a live broadcast to our various channels and we were able to give an exclusive preview to our viewers before the excited crowd descended onto the rails which included the celebrity powercars being brought over the yard and into their display positions.
The first naming ceremony was that of a class 08 shunter or pilot as they are now often called. Freshly painted in black with a white cross the livery is a design of the Cornish flag and was to be named St Piran after the Cornish Saint who is also patron saint of tin miners. Very apt for this area and widely appreciated by all those attending the event.
The other naming ceremonies taking place were at either end of the GWR Intercity Express Train 802008, The first name to be revealed was in honour of Hayle born Rick Rescorla. Many were unaware of the name but as soon as you mention what he did and what he gave for others, everyone knows exactly who this fine man was.
Cornwall born Rick was the head of security at Morgan Stanley in the South Tower during the 9/11 attacks. He is credited with evacuating and saving the lives of some 2,700 people on that day. He was still inside the tower helping others when the tower collapsed, costing him his life. He was an inspirational man who had served in the military and been decorated with many honours during his service.
His widow, Susan gave a wonderful speech from the heart, sharing her memories with Rick’s precious Cornwall. The curtain was pulled to reveal the name and a silhouette of Rick with his fist in the air shouting Cornwall Forever in Cornish.
The other end of the train is named RNLB Solomon Browne who along with her crew was lost during a hurricane force storm on the night of 19th December 1981. For those of us above a certain age this is a story that will never be forgotten. Desperation as the coaster Union Star struggled with engines contaminated with sea water. Bravery, as the RNLB Solomon Browne set off with her eight crew. Hope, as 4 of the crew were taken on board the lifeboat and then tragedy as all eight crew and additional eight from Union Star were lost to the 100mph winds and 60 foot waves. I would suggest anyone who wants the definition of the word “Hero” reads the complete story.
In all the Long Rock open Day was a fantastic success with a wonderful charity benefiting. The naming ceremonies were all extremely relevant to Cornwall and all we can do is say hats off to the GWR organizing team led by Paul and Simon and huge thanks to the many staff and volunteers who gave their time freely to support this incredible event.