Anthony W Deller, C. Eng, M.I.Mech.E. 1940 – 2016
It is with great sadness, that we have to announce the passing of Tony Deller, the Society’s President, after a long and gallant fight with cancer.
From an early age Tony acquired an abiding passion for the railways. How it started we will not know, but it lead him to join the Norbury Transport and Model Railway club and shortly thereafter to start his career in railway in August 1955 as an engine cleaner at Norbury Junction depot. Through his passion and talents, he progressed over the years into senior positions supervising and managing rolling stock and motive power maintenance in the south-east of England, and, later on, some time abroad, until his retirement in 1999.
From the mid-1950s to the late-1960s, Britain’s railways went through enormous change with the phasing out of steam locomotion and the reduction of the network and Tony decided to make a record of this change from his inside position, and he realised that photography would assist in doing this. So, at first with the family Box Brownie and then with rather more versatile cameras (a Coronet Flash Master and then an Agilux Agifold and then, when this was unfortunately lost, an Edixa Ediflex), he taught himself photographic skills and enthusiastically applied them to capturing everything he could about the railway system in the south-east and in other regions during holidays or trips. With his characteristic meticulous attention to detail he amassed a large collection of annotated photographs of a vanishing engineering heritage, thus as he said “turning a hobby into a lifetime’s work”.
His railway interest spread to include practical involvement with narrow gauge railways and with the Brockwell Park Miniature Railway, and, in the early 1960s, with a group creating an industrial railway museum at Brockham near Dorking. Much later he became notably involved with the Bluebell Railway. He married Jennifer in 1965 and so family responsibilities took up his time, as did his progressing professional career while he continued his photography. But, by 1967 steam locomotion had gone and with it Tony’s project, so his interest in photography declined.
However, in 1980 he joined West Wickham Photographic Society thus rekindling an interest in photography that had started in his early teens. He was very soon involved in the running of the Society, first as Print Competition Secretary and committee member, then Chairman and finally as President, keeping an avuncular eye on the newcomers now running it. He also took on responsibility as Webmaster in setting-up and running the Society’s web site. Throughout this time he turned his photographic knowledge and skills to many subjects and became consistently successful in both club and inter-club photographic competitions.
We take some comfort in the hope that the friendships and support the Society members provided was of some value throughout the ups and downs of Tony’s long treatment for cancer. We certainly valued his membership of the Society both as a friend and as a continuously committed participant. Our thoughts at this time are with Jennifer and their two daughters, Anne and Jane.
Tony will be sadly missed by all. He was a Family man, a Photographer and, particularly, a Railway man to the core and to the end.
As a postscript .....
During 1958, as a result of working with the Brockwell Park Miniature Railway, Tony was inspired to build his own steam locomotive. He used the design drawings for the full-size BR “Schools” class loco and tender to build a miniature replica to a 3½” gauge. Applying knowledge and skills from his work, he did everything for himself: scaled down and adapted the design, machined or fabricated all the parts from stock materials, assembled and painted everything, and engineered the necessary support systems for the building and testing.
On 26th September 2015 Tony was able to run his locomotive for the first time in its fully finished and liveried state and with passengers at Guildford Model Engineering Society’s track. While he said that the build was not a continuous process, this nearly 60-year span encompassed his whole adult life. What a feat of long-standing commitment, determination, immense skill, understanding and love (and probably at times some hate!) of the technology, and meticulous care for getting things as exactly right as possible this demonstrates. It is truly a fitting memento of the man and his working life.
Message from Jenny:
Jenny has asked for her thanks to be passed on to everybody in the club, for everything that has been done for her after the sad loss of Tony, especially for the reception. In her own words she was “Speechless for the effort everybody had put in, it was truly wonderful”. Jenny would also like to express a sincere thank you to Ann for organizing it all and to Bob for his kind words.
27th January 2016
The Page has been updated for the February trip.
2nd February 2016
Pan & Tilt:
The Page has been updated for January.