By Dennis Bradley, former Senior Conductor RAOC until 1978
On the 16th May 1978, our Colonel-in-Chief, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, made a memorable visit to the Corps at Bicester. The visit commemorated both Her Majestys’ Silver Jubilee as Colonel-in-Chief and the Diamond Jubilee of the award to the Army Ordnance Corps of its ‘Royal’ title.
One of the many noteworthy events on that day was the naming, by Her Majesty, of an engine of the Bicester Military Railway ‘CONDUCTOR’. As the Corps senior Conductor at that time I was asked to escort Her Majesty to the naming ceremony and to explain to her the historical significance of the appointment. This duty was duly carried out and the Colonel-in-Chief showed great interest in our antecedents particularly that the earliest record of the office of Conductor is contained in the Statute of Westminster 1327, and thought the history ‘fascinating’.
The route to the platform at Queen’s Halt (formerly Craven Hill and re-named to commemorate the occasion) was lined by seven other Conductors and Her Majesty stopped to speak to some of them.
My escort duty complete, the Queen named the train to much applause and enthusiasm of the watching crowd.
With the many derivatives of ‘escort’, including ‘lead’, ‘accompany’ and ‘conduct’, I think it can be said with confidence that on this auspicious occasion� our Colonel-in-Chief was well and truly ‘conducted’!
Afternote: For railway buffs the CONDUCTOR plates are original Bicester plates and as such will always remain there. The train named above was a 4-wheel DM ‘Vanguard’ number 253. The nameplates were removed in August 1988 and allocated to 4-wheel DM ‘Steelman’ number 276 on 19th August 1988. The CONDUCTOR nameplates were removed from this engine on its move to Kosovo and are now held in the stores of the Bicester Military Railway.
The Queens Visit to RAOC Bicester, 1978