SDR's Alasdair Page awarded Young Preservationist of the Year
South Devon Railway special trains manager, fireman, guard and general volunteer, Alasdair Page, has been awarded one of preservation's top accolades, when he received the prestigious Young Preservationist of the Year 2015, on behalf of the Transport Trust by His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent at Brooklands Museum in Surrey.
His accolade went as follows:
Alasdair is 21, and has been a committed preservationist in rail and road transport for over a decade. His self-taught restoration skills are supported by a strong respect for heritage and authenticity.
He began volunteering at the South Devon Railway around the age of 10 and completed most tasks from cleaning to firing locomotives. In May 2012 he became a full time employee of the SDR, as Special Trains Manager, with responsibility for all aspects of the dining train operation. He also covers a number of the day to day operations, including railway operations duties with overall responsibility for running the railway on given days when the railway's manager is away. He is known for speaking up on issues of authenticity, and has won many victories regarding aspects of rolling stock and station infrastructure, which Alasdair believes should be presented as historically correct.
He recently formed, and became chairman of the Friends of Ashburton Station, a campaign group to safeguard the former (and potentially future) SDR terminus, under threat of redevelopment. In this guise, Alasdair is leading volunteers and working with various planning and funding bodies to plan a sustainable future for the site in preservation as a heritage facility.
Alasdair has collected, owns and maintains a fleet of five Land Rovers, spanning the evolution of the design from 1954 to 1982. His 1961 example is used as his daily transport. This was his first acquisition, aged 16, and was rescued from a field and rebuilt by Alasdair. Following a mechanical rebuild, he has painted and signwritten it as a representation of a British Railways Western Region ancillary vehicle, and it is regularly used in connection with the SDR - sometimes up and down the line on a flat-bed railway wagon!
Other Land Rovers in Alasdair's fleet include a Mk.1 pick-up, rescued from the garden of a lady in Exeter, and currently being rebuilt by Alasdair as a long-term project.
In 2012, Alasdair used his savings to buy a 1935 Rover car, which retains its original interior and has had only light repairs to the exterior. The originality was a strong draw for Alasdair, who aims to run and preserve the car in its current condition.
Alasdair has a 50% share in a railway brake van, which he has recently repainted and sign-written to complement locomotive L.92, the SDR pannier tank which carries its London Transport livery from later in life.
A growing interest in road passenger transport has seen Alasdair volunteering for the Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust, both for vehicle restoration work and as a conductor on vintage bus running days. He also volunteers as a conductor on the SDR's own Routemaster rail replacement bus service, and is planning to begin his PCV driver training in due course.
Alasdair has a strong artistic flare, and as well as undertaking all his own signwriting (and much of the same for the SDR), also produces paintings on a heritage railway theme.
An avid collector, Alasdair has amassed a diverse selection of signage and other predominantly railway-related artefacts, which even his mother has grown to love!
He is very personable, has a maturity beyond his years and the respect of the older generations of railway and road transport preservationists with whom he interacts.
Alasdair receives his award from HRH Prince Michael of Kent. Photo: Colin Billington.
Alsadair's BR liveried 1961 Series IIA Land Rover.