A Chester tour guide’s 30 year love affair with a Welsh narrow gauge railway has culminated in the publication of his first book at the age of 69.
Graham Billington is more usually seen around the streets of the city as a guide on the popular open top bus tours, a job he has been doing for the last 12 years. He regards this as his second career, having retired after completing 24 years as the deputy headteacher of a Wirral primary school.
Retirement, he sees as the start of a new phase in life and now, perhaps, a third one beckons.
Many years of research have gone into the preparation of the book The Fairbourne Railway, A Centenary Of Steam, which has been published by Mainline & Maritime Ltd.
Graham volunteers as a guard on the railway, where he also serves as publicity officer to the Preservation Society. The book has been produced in a large format, being soft back and A4 and is in full colour.
The 88 pages trace the history of the Fairbourne Railway from its humble beginnings as a 2 feet gauge horse tramway back in 1895. The line was the brainchild of a Scotsman, Arthur McDougall of self raising flour fame.
It was converted into a 15-inch gauge steam railway in 1916 by model maker Bassett-Lowke and passed through the ownership of several luminaries, including the Peacock family from the Department store empire, Liverpool shipping magnate Aubrey Brocklebank, Servis washing machine industrialist John Wilkins and pop star John Ellerton. It is now a charitable trust supported by a Preservation Society.
Graham decided that now was the time to launch the book to coincide with this year’s centenary of the introduction of steam on the railway, which saw the return of the original engine, Prince Edward of Wales.
The book is available from the publisher and several narrow gauge railway bookshops including the Fairbourne or from the Fairbourne Railway’s online shop at www.fairbournerailway.com.