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Then steam happened!. In a weak moment, to the horror of the local community, Roger bought a big red Burrell steam traction engine. When trying to reverse it with wooden living van into a gap between other engines at a rally field, a short man with a flat cap on the next engine helped guide him in. It was Fred Dibnah of chimney felling fame. With a wink wink, and a nod nod Fred gave this rookie to the steam fraternity a bit of friendly advice. Saying that a proper engine man would never have loads of back smoke chuffing up the chimney, and the safety valve blowing off steam. Roger obviously wanting to make a big impression for his grand entrance to the rally field had shoveled lots of coal into the fire so she was belching out tons of black smoke and getting the steam pressure right up so the safely valve was blowing a plume of steam high in the air.
 

They became lasting friends, Roger using Fred
in the ‘Right Said Fred’ series of beer commercials.
In later years when Fred was sadly dying of cancer,
he asked Roger if he would arrange his funeral for
him. With a Victorian eye for detail Fred listed out exactly what he wanted. A cortege of traction engines,
his coffin to be hauled by his engine and a brass band to head the grand affair. He especially wanted the engines to sound their whistles as his coffin was lowered into the ground. When his old friend Peter Froud was buried some years earlier all the engines blew their whistles and Fred had been greatly moved by this act of fellow engine men!
Roger arranged the funeral exactly to Fred’s wishes, even steering his beloved roller Betsy at the head of the cortege on that dull wet and very sad day in Bolton.

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Born in Manchester within shouting distance of the Town Hall and a duck stride from the Bridgewater canal, Roger vehemently claims to be a true Mancunian, although his parents  at the time were only in the city for a short time before returning to London where they had a book shop and one in Brighton.

Roger’s down to earth Dad, a bit of an adventurer at heart was from Manchester and it was with him that young Roger identified with. His mother he considered was a bit of a cut glass Sussex, but it was she who did her best to make sure that her erstwhile son had a good education, appreciated the arts and good literature. As soon as of reasonable age he was packed off to a public school of high repute which he recalls was the most anarchical and miserable time of his life. A heavenly release came in the form of being expelled with two other boys for being caught at night in the dorm of an adjacent girls school.

He was then sent to a local school where he played wag getting a job at a zoo. A big lad for his age and in those days they didn't bother too much about checking credentials. His head master just shook his head and laughed telling his exasperated mother, who said she could do nothing with her son, that young Roger would never be destined for a mundane life.

Biography

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Copyright © 2011 Roger Murray

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