Peter Knottley 1923-2005

It is with deep regret that I announce the passing away of Peter Knottley, who enthusiastically supported and contributed to the Locomotive & Carriage Institution since he joined in April 1989.

Peter was a keen rail enthusiast, especially on all things Southern and recalled as a young boy spending many happy hours on Platform 5, later renumbered platform 9, of Clapham Junction with many like minded youths. He attended Emanuel School, perfectly sited for the railway enthusiast pupil just south of Clapham Junction station boarded on one side by the South Western mainline and on the other by the Brighton mainline. Peter recollected the thrill of seeing an Exmouth Junction King Arthur passing through on its way to Waterloo on Summer Saturdays ,normally not seen east of Salisbury.

Peter was always a most enthusiastic member of the Institution and soon after he joined almost solely produced the very professionally presented series of annual reports for a number of years in the early 1990s. The annual reports included photographs on every page, most of which where his and Peter even managed to partly subsidise their cost by obtaining advertising support. The annual reports were in many ways the forerunners to the Institutions Newsletters today. A copy of the 1992 Annual Report is available on the archive section of this website.  Peter later wrote a number of articles on the Institutions visits and lectures for the Newsletters.

Peter had a very keen interest in the works of Oliver V.S. Bulleid, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Southern Railway from 1937. Peters first encounter with a Bulleid Merchant Navy was on New Malden footbridge; he had heard that the same train each evening was worked by one of the class and cycled there in eager anticipation one dark wartime evening; fortunately as soon as he saw the steady lights of the engine in the distance giving away that the engine had electric lights not oil, he realised that his trip was not in vain and Peter recalled the excitement of seeing 21C3 "Royal Mail" thunder by. Later, Peter corresponded a few times with Bulleid himself and in one of the letters, Bullied acknowledges their common following of the Catholic faith. Peter enjoyed many journeys hauled by Bulleids Pacifics including a number in preservation. In the article "Faster Than You Think"  Peter relates enthusiastically about a trip behind 35028 Clan Line from Waterloo to Bristol in March 1998.

In the late 1930s Peter worked for a short time with the Southern Railway at Waterloo General Offices, though the rest of his career was spent in private industry. This, however, was not without a railway connection as for many years, including way past normal retirement age, Peter managed the accounts for Designplan Lighting Ltd., based near Sutton, Surrey. Designplan where, and still are, a major supplier of lights for the railway industry, particularly vandal resistant lights on station platforms.

As well as his interest in railways, Peter was also a very keen cyclist and in earlier years cycled over much of Europe, with grand trips from the UK right across Europe, with sometimes Peter leading cycle touring parties. All his cycle rides, however long or small, were recorded in ledgers, which show that journeys of over 100 miles a day where not uncommon. Peter was a great supporter of the Moulton Bicycle and corresponded with the bikes designer Dr Alex Moulton CBE also the inventor of the suspension for the first mini and the hydroelastic suspension for a number of BMC cars. Peter had a number of Moultons over the years and had even ordered a new Bridgestone Moulton Bicycle shortly before his death to fulfil his dream of cycling away from his nursing home. It is reported that Peter was one of the highest mileage Moulton riders ever.

Peter wrote for "Cycling" magazine as well as writing a number of books on cycling, including "Cycle Touring in Europe" and "Cycle Touring in Britain and Europe" both in 1975 and "Half Way Round" in 1982 recounting a trip by his friend Colin Martin on an epic cycle journey Britain to Australia. Characteristically, Peter met his friend in Villach Austria enroute to Australia and cycled with him through rocky tracks across Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and on to Istanbul, before returning home, with his bike, on the Orient Express! Peters interests in cycles and railways complemented each other some of his early rides were to view trains at Wimbledon, including seeing ancient Adams 0-6-0s of 1880s shunting in the West Yard, but later Peter would take his bike to and from many long cycle rides by train in Britain and Europe. Peter was dismayed by the lack of cycle space provided on British Rails new sprinter trains introduced in the 1980s and purchased a Brompton folding cycle, which could be carried on any train, to get round the restrictions.

Sadly Peter suffered a stroke in 2001 and for the rest of his life lived at the St Francis Nursing Home in Littlehampton. Despite what must be a very frustrating environment, he was still cycling just before the stroke, Peter did not complain, and still enthused about Bulleid, the Southern and past adventures. His room was turned into a true rail enthusiasts den with floor to ceiling shelves of railway books and videos.

Those of us who have been fortunate to have known Peter will not forget his enthusiasm, his great respect for others, his great store of knowledge on all things Southern and other railway matters and that he was always a perfect gentleman. You will be missed.

Tom Chaffin

February 2005

If you have enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in:

The extensive and illustrated 1992 Annual Report produced by the late Peter Knottley

Clan Line

"Faster than you think....." an article by Peter Knottley, long-time contributor to the Locomotive and Carriage Institution, on a run by Clan Line down the South Western Main Line.  From the December 2001 Newsletter.

1992 Annual Report

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