David Milton and Paul Fry: Loss Of Two Somerset and Dorset Railway Greats
The deaths of two of Somerset and Dorset Railways greatest champions were announced with great sadness recently; to lose any one person who supported the cause and stuck with it from the beginning is always incredibly sad, but to lose two within a few weeks of each other is devastating. Here we recall the lives and work of David Milton and Paul Fry.
David Milton was well known to rail enthusiasts in the South West as the “Voice Of Dorset” and lent his voice to commentating on rallies within the county, most famously at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, which is one of many such events held throughout the southern half of the country.
Perhaps his most noted achievement was the salvage and upkeep of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway 2-8-0 Locomotive Number 88 which was rescued at a cost of £2,500 from Barry Scrap yard, and originally used as a haulage train for coal and heavy goods and to collect parcels and deliver them to their rightful destinations. The train was finally released in July 1970.
David also held the distinction of being one of the only remaining members of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust (when it was originally names the Somerset and Dorset Railway Circle) who had been there since it’s incarnation in 1966. He at one time held the three positions of Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer. A well respected author of some note, he wrote many articles for the Trust’s Bulletin. He also produced a book entitled “A History of the Somerset and Dorset 7F 2-8-0s”. In the mid 1970s, David also worked with Donald Bradley on a publication entitled “Somerset and Dorset Locomotive History” and in 1975 a collaboration with RS McNaught brought forth the book “The Golden Age of Steam Locomotives of The Great Western and Somerset and Dorset Joint Railways”, which is still available for purchase from Amazon, link here.
It was during the 1980s at the time when the Great Dorset Steam Fair was held at Stourpaine Bushes that David was asked if he would consider commentating on the event, organisers were thrilled when he agreed and the tradition carried on along with colleagues Malcolm Fleet and the late Gerry Burr.
That David should have had an interest in the railways was of little surprise to anyone. His father was FW Milton who had himself spent his entire working life on the Somerset and Dorset Railways working most assiduously on the line between Evercreech Junction to Burnham-on-Sea, eventually becoming the Supervising Goods Foreman in Glastonbury.
David chose a career in Engineering and at one time owned his own steam locomotive engine. He was a popular and well respected member of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust and will be missed by all his friends and colleagues there.
He died at the age of seventy eight in Yeovil Hospital and leaves behind his wife, Barbara and daughter Jenni. His funeral was held in Yeovil on 4th April 2012 at St Leonard’s Church, Butleigh, near Glastonbury.
It is also with sadness we report the death of Paul Fry, who also passed away at the age of seventy eight this year. Also a notable author on railways and locomotives in Somerset, he wrote a book called “Railways Into Wells”, again which is still available for purchase from Amazon here, and is dedicated to the memory of his late father GWC Fry (known as Bob) who worked as a Guard on the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. He also, like David contributed many articles to the Bulletin journal and was a very well respected member of the Wells Railway Fraternity. He was also a trained member of the St John’s Ambulance and noted for his first aid skills.
Paul’s father “Bob” held the distinction (along with David Milton) of being one of the passengers on the last train from Glastonbury to Wells, the journey of which took place in 1951.
Just as with David, Paul’s contribution to the upkeep, promotion and support of The Somerset and Dorset Joint District Railway should not be underestimated. Both these characters will be very sadly missed and our thoughts and best wishes are with their families and friends at this sad time.
Article kindly supplied by Anna Redding.