Chris N Crofts
26 December 1936-2 February 2017
Our longstanding railway modeller and researcher Chris Crofts sadly has taken his leave of us and made his final journey to join his maker. Chris was a school teacher by profession, teaching chemistry and biology, based, no doubt, on his degree from Cambridge University. After taking early retirement, his wide range of leisure interests included pot-holing and fell-walking, becoming an accomplished chef, and so entertaining family and friends. He also actively participated in amateur dramatics and played the piano accordion. Mention must also be made of Chris's sartorial elegance and style; always being extremely smartly dressed with a check shirt inside a plaid tweed jacket, along with a silk handkerchief in the breast pocket, plus corduroy trousers resting above a pair of highly polished brown brogue shoes, and a broad smile on his face.
Quiet and unassuming with a dry sense of humour, Chris was a fund of knowledge on all things railway wagons. Since he first took an interest in railways in 1943, his primary interest was the Midland Railway's Dore to Chinley line in LMS days. Behind that softly spoken Derbyshire accent lay a man dedicated to finding out all things railway wagons, the results of which were freely made available to enquirers. As a member of the Manchester Model Railway and Scalefour Societies, his thirst for knowledge of such matters was driven by his desire to make accurate models to fine scale. This led to his delving into the archives, most notably those of Charles Roberts, the wagon builder, and the workings of the coal trade. As a consequence of his efforts, Chris became renowned throughout the railway enthusiast's world as an authority on both the Midland Railway and the LMS, along with private owner wagons in England and Wales, leading to his being appointed as a steward to the Historical Model Railway Society for both Private Owner and LMS wagons.
As well as numerous articles in the HMRS Journal, in 1987, a seminal series of four articles in the Model Railway Journal entitled 'Scratch building model wagons' reached a wider audience. He started off by examining the prototype in some considerable detail, before going on the explain how he made accurate models of them. The next year he expounded on 'The operation of Private Owner wagons', in the same periodical. Reverting to the HMRS Journal in 1998/9, four instalments were devoted to analysing the LMS mineral wagons. Should he approach one with a mischievous grin on his face, it would be to gently point out your model wagon had some detail that was not quite right. He may not have had books published in his name or a model railway layout of his own, but Chris was a great enabler contributing to other peoples' projects. He was always helpful to those who sought his assistance and self-effacing when acknowledgement was made to his contribution.
The funeral service was held on Tuesday, 28th February 2017, at 12.00pm at Great Longstone Parish Church, Bakewell, Derbyshire. After the service, there was a reception held within 'The White Lion' a public house some two minutes' distance from the Church.
Peter Tatlow (President of the LMS Society) 16.3.17