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Railway & Modelling Obituaries

Fred Berry Banbury & District MRC President


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Many will not know the name Fred Berry who sadly passed away on the 2nd of April following a valiant fight against deteriorating health over the past few years.


Fred was President and one of the founding fathers of the Banbury and District Model Railway Club; however his influence on our hobby went so much further than just his involvement with the club. As a friend of the late Guy Williams and Roy England Fred was involved with the latter in the early days of Pendon and some of his detailing on locos I believe can still be seen at the museum. 


He shunned publicity and was happiest at his workbench creating masterpieces of model engineering, he would frequently work through the night on a project with just a supply of hot drinks and cigarettes to keep him company.


On a personal note I first met Fred in my professional career at the onset of his long illness, Fred was in my care at the local hospital and recovering from a life threatening condition. I noticed him sat in bed reading through a railway magazine and got chatting to him, after a long absence from the hobby he rekindled my enthusiasm and would rather embarrassingly introduce me as the ‘The man that saved my life’ It was more like the other way round as Fred saved me from loosing interest in our wonderful hobby.


Over the last year with a major upheaval in the club and failing health Fred spent more time at home with his wife, but still found time to start work on scratch building an O gauge ‘Wainwright’ C class. 


On one of his final visits to the club he bought in a scratch built OO chassis of a GWR 28xx. He said to me ‘You may be interested in this’ and ran the chassis on the club layout, nothing unusual there one may think until Fred showed the view from the underside revealing a fully detailed working valve gear inside the chassis, a stunning piece of engineering even in his 80’s.


Fred was a true great in our hobby, the like of which we rarely see these days.


RIP old friend.

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As one of only 2 surviving founding members of the B&D MRC (my father being the other), i'm stunned to hear of Fred's death.

 

The 3 of us hatched the masterplan to start the club one night and posted a bulletin in the paper and in Trinder's shop window. A case of 'build it and they will come'.

 

Fred was a huge driving force with his knowledge, skill and friendliness. A perfect member for any club to have, and was Chairman for many a year.

His modelling was close to perfection and anyone that was lucky enough to see his 'Hook Norton' layout in N gauge can testify, he knew what he was doing in that department (even letting me run a 'big boy' USA loco round it one day).

 

I didnt see much of him in later years and i moved from Banbury in 2000, but i kept in touch with the club and its relevent clubroom moves and developments over the years through members i met at shows. (indeed i met 5 recently at Ally Pally).

 

He was always good for a laugh, a drink, and the quiz night i used to hold once a month (although he didnt know Gresleys first name, much to my ribbing :jester: )

 

There are few like Fred, and i for one shall miss him greatly, and i'm sat here now seeing his face with his goatee beard and tache in my minds eye, fag in hand and a broad smile.

 

Thanks Fred

Dave

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just quick update, I know that there are a lot of O gauge people who knew Fred. His funeral is on 30th April at Banbury Crematorium at 11am,there will be a short gathering at a nearby hostelry to chat and exchange memories ( The Plough)

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