Wednesday, January 21, 2015
RIP Bob Symes
Many will remember Bob from his TV work showing both models and serious engineering. He was a natural broadcaster whose demeanor and enthusiasm were perfect for explaining often complex projects. He really cared about the topic and it showed. More to the point, with that facial hair, he looked the part too - a proper Victorian engineer.
Nowadays, you have rent-a-gob presenters who can just about read an autocue as long as the words aren't too long, Bob could have whipped out some spanners and done the job properly.
They say you should never meet your heroes. Well, I met Bob and am happy to say he was just the same in person as he was on screen.
At the time, I was exhibiting Hellingly Hospital at Brighton Modelworld. Returning from a break, Bob was viewing the layout. I plucked up courage to start a conversation and quickly discovered he was not only familiar with the prototype (hardly a surprise in retrospect - an unusual railway near where he lived, he'd hardly miss out on that) but knew some aspects better than I did. I put down my inability to remember the overhead line voltage down to being slightly starstuck!
An accomplished modeller and engineer, Bob produced the sort of innovative work that made the country great. I remember reading about his efforts to build a real miniature diesel-electric locomotive. This wasn't an easy task involving much experimentation - not just a case of slotting a few bits together.
Sadly, the hobby has lost one of its great names. Let's just hope some of the people he inspired carry on his work in the future.
Bob Symes Wikipedia entry