Engine driver Terry’s 50 years at Audley End Miniature Railway
- Credit: Audley End Miniature Railway
This month marks half a century since engine driver Terry Hartga began driving locomotives at Audley End Miniature Railway.
In the Autumn of 1970 Hartga, then aged 21, replied to a job advert in a Cambridge newspaper for a driver at the railway opposite Audley End House.
Terry got the job and since then has helped more than 25 people complete their diesel and steam training to drive locomotives around the 1½ mile circuit.
He has even played Father Christmas at the railway during the festive season, supported by wife Sue and daughters Joanna and Helen.
“When I started driving here in 1970 my role included station master, carpark attendant, guard, ticket collector and we were lucky to have 50 people travelling around on a Sunday - now it’s over 100,000 in a year,” he said.
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“I’m now able to pass on my skills by introducing the younger generation to the joys of driving.
“Little did I think that in October 1970 I’d be still driving 50 years later and what a strange year 2020 would be.”
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Over the years the line has grown from ¾ mile to just under 1½ miles and the engines have got bigger to cope with the extra coaches and passengers.
Terry said he was honoured to drive the engine ‘Lord Braybrooke’ that pulled the coffin of the owner of the railway, 10th Baron Braybrooke, thereby fulfilling his final wish.
He also remembers seeing mature trees crashing down over the line during the great storm of 1987.
“My highlights must be walking around the track first thing in the morning with the 9th Baron Braybrooke and listening to his tales of the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War as well as driving current director Amanda Murray around the track on her wedding day,” he added.
“It’s certainly nice to be told by grown-ups, with their own children, that they travelled on the line with their parents when they were younger.”
Amanda Murray, Audley End Miniature Railway director, said: “Terry has been the backbone of the business and is such a lovely man.”