A Steamy Confession

A Steamy Confession

I have to confess that I am in danger of becoming a certain type of clergyman.  One that has an interest and involvement in steam trains.  Now that's out it has to be said that it is not all that surprising.  Firstly, as a teenager, living close to the East Coast main line I joined a group of friends to became a "train spotter".  Granted, this was not in the age of steam but of diesel. I can still remember a sense of satisfaction when I had seen all of the Class 55's, the Deltics go through Rossington. Secondly, of all the Churches to be associated with in Doncaster, St James' is the original Railway Church of Doncaster, built to minister to the spiritual needs of the rail workers coming originally from Boston, Lincolnshire.

So what is the steam connection I am being drawn into?

There is a project where a group of rail enthusiasts have got together to build a replica of the steam train Cock O' the North which was originally built in Doncaster. This is exciting in itself but the excitement increases with the proposed building of a rail heritage centre in Doncaster.  This will be within a new complex that will comprise of a new library, a new museum and a new archives which will be built next to the Council house where the old girls school was.  The frontage of the school will be kept, giving the complex a distinctive feel.  The Heritage Centre itself will be on the lower ground floor where the Cock O' the North will be displayed on a semi permanent basis next to a number of possible locomotives that will be loaned to Doncaster.  

So why do I think that this is an important project?

It is both an art and science project.  The engineering that produced steam trains also produced something that was aesthetic, pleasing to look at.  It is also good to remind people and inform younger generations that this is what Doncaster was known for.  That trains were built here.  To forget where we have come from is in some way to forget something important about ourselves and the place where we live.

Choosing the Cock O' the North as the train to rebuild is a statement in itself.  It appears to me to be a symbol of regeneration and pride in the area.  The North with its industrial heritage is important as is the hope that the North can once again flourish.  Heritage is one area that can help regenerate economies which is one good reason to support projects like this.

Being involved gives an opportunity for God to be involved too and as a Church we can bring God's blessing to it.  It brings increased opportunities to engage with people in our communities.  Could you pray for the success of this venture and how we engage and work with others in our locality who share our interests.

I have also recently obtained a copy of a CD release of an album that was released in the early 1980's.  It is the Alarm's Declaration.  On the bonus CD there is the track which is an old familiar folk song Bound For Glory.  You may know it as This Train is Bound For Glory.  Definitely a song that fits this theme.  We are on a journey that will ultimately take us to the place of glory.  The questions that we need to ask ourselves is do we have a ticket for the journey and who else have we invited to join us on the journey? 

Rev Mike Parnell. 28 March 2018


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