The South Devon Railway Enthusiasts' site

GWR “2251” class 0-6-0 carries a wreath in memory of David Rouse
who was instrumental in saving the loco
Photo © Sarah Ann Harvey 2013
David Rouse and SDRA Chairman Ted ParrottPhoto © EG Parrott 2009

Richard Elliott former General Manager of the South Devon Railway writes:
“David was an ardent enthusiast with an encylopaedic knowledge of everything Great Western. His career was mainly on the railways but he also spent some time ‘on the buses’ National Service saw him based on the Longmoor Military Railway after which he returned to BR as a fireman and later a driver. He spent quite some time based at Newton Abbot which meant he was familiar with most of our local lines.”

“He was very much a facilitator when it came to preservation. In the 60s he was instrumental in finding various interesting railway vehicles that warranted preservation and through his contacts seeing that someone did buy them. One important survival in the carriage world was of the sole surviving GWR Dreadnought carriage found languishing in Cornwall in the early 60s. The Dreadnought's were early examples of corridor coaches without a clerestory roof. They were 70’ in length and were used on such expresses as the Cornish Riviera from the 1900’s. Thus 3299 survives at Didcot, although still awaiting restoration. The story goes that he had to sell his house to buy the coach - and then live in it!”
“But his most important railway memorial is Collett 2251 Class 0-6-0 No 3205. This was saved entirely as a result of an appeal started by David. It was bought out of service from BR Western Region and is now in the care of the 2251 Fund, of which David was the principal Trustee. 3205 arrived at Buckfastleigh on October 2nd 1965 on the first day that privately owned rolling stock started to arrive on the formative Dart Valley Railway - now the South Devon Railway. After a couple of years it moved on to the Severn Valley Railway where it remained for many years. During this time it hauled the very first train on the re-opened SVR. Later it moved South to the West Somerset Railway where it performed for several more years. Now it finds itself on the South Devon Railway where it started life in preservation and is now one of the mainstays of our services.”
“David spent many happy years following 3205 and when he retired from BR he became a regular driver on the WSR until he was forced to stand down due to ill health. He made several visits to Buckfastleigh to see the engine and we were able to arrange for him to have several footplate trips on the loco. Regrettably, increasing infirmity meant that this was not possible for the last year or so of his life which saw him confined to a wheelchair.”
With his passing we have lost a great friend of GW preservation and a great fount of knowledge and stories of how things were in the heyday of steam. Our sympathy goes to all his family. There was a large railway presence at his funeral in Yeovil on 3rd May, consisting of friends and colleagues from the several lines with which he has been associated, including, of course. ourselves at the South Devon Railway.

Ted Parrott, South Devon Railway Association Chairman writes:
“It was with great sadness that I was made aware of the funeral of a very old friend, David Rouse, which took place on Friday, 3rd April 2013. The picture of David was taken on 5th April 2009 at Buckfastleigh, on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the South Devon Railway. David had been transported to Buckfastleigh by his good friend, Paul Johnson, who had collected him from his home in the Yeovil area.”
“My friendship with David started by meeting him on the wall opposite Newton Abbot shed, where all the loco enthusiasts (spotters) of the era would congregate and jockey for seats amongst the stones atop the wall. There were at times as many as two hundred of us there, all swapping notes and stories about what we had seen, and smiling when we found that we had had the good fortune to make a rare cop from perhaps the Shrewsbury or Llandore sheds.”
“David would invariably appear with his much older house companion, Jim Maxwell, who was himself an ex-Laira driver. At this time David was a fireman at the Newton Abbot depot, and I well remember being fortunate enough to be on the then platform 3 when David appeared on the footplate of Clun Castle with a train heading for Kingswear. After having a word with his Driver, David ‘smuggled’ me aboard the footplate, and after advising me to ‘keep down’ as we passed firstly the West Box and later Aller Junction box. I enjoyed my first ever footplate ride for the six mile trip to Torre, on the then favourite engine 7029.”
“This would probably have been around 1955, before I was called up into the RAF, and was posted for a while to Credenhill, near Hereford. Often dressed in full uniform, I would walk into town, and gaze through the railings into the shed there, noting the numbers of the locos on shed, and later writing a letter to David about my sightings. When he attended our SDR 40th Anniversary Gala, he brought some of these letters with him, to show me, telling me how he had valued them of our friendship, for all these years.”
“Later in life, David and Jim Maxwell moved to occupy a cottage in Penrhyndeudraeth in North Wales, and for a while worked on the Ffestiniog Railway. Somehow he became interested in women, and moved around the country a bit, and we lost contact with one another, until I became active with the SDR, and learnt that David had a share in engine 3205. Eventually we were put in touch with one another again, by my wife Lesley contacting the Herald Express Railway Photographer (and near neighbour) Peter Gray, who provided the necessary details.”
“Farewell David – the railway movement has lost a very valued member of their fraternity – a man who had a wealth of knowledge of railway rolling stock, and in particular coaches – mainly of the GWR style.”

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© South Devon Railway Association 2013

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