South Downs Light Railway

Meet our Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors are made up of members of the Railway that have been voted on to the Board at the annaul AGM.

Each Board member serves a term of 3 years, at which point they can either resign or stand for re-election at the next AGM.

Here's a selection of our Board members (more to follow hopefully!)

Paul Cowlin - Chief Mechanical Engineer

Paul was born in Horsham and educated at Chessworth School and Tanbridge House. He describes himself as an average student. He left school at 16 having done some work experience with Agated, corn and seed merchants in Horsham. He says he really wanted to work in a garage and be a fireman, like his father. He worked for a year at Horsham Police Station as a YTS employee and then started a 3 year apprenticeship with Gilbert Rice of Horsham, working in the truck shop.

After completing his apprenticeship Paul rejoined the Police and worked in the Horsham workshops. Currently he is managing the workshop at Godstone which looks after some 200 Police vehicles. The marked cars are Fords and BMWs but the unmarked cars are various makes. The workshop is responsible for routine servicing and minor and major repairs but does not do bodywork.

Pauls says that his interest in railways probably started when his father built a large OO-scale layout in the loft of the family home. His interest in larger scale railways was kindled when he worked at Gilbert Rice. Here he met a man who was a volunteer at the Lavender Line and the Bluebell. Encouraged by this man, Paul became a volunteer at the Lavender Line. He worked there, as a waiter, on the "Wine and Dine" trains on Friday evenings and, on the footplate on Sundays.

Through one of those tricks of fate so often influence our lives Paul met Aiden Favell when Aiden drove a bus full of visitors to the Lavender Line. Through Aiden, Paul met Chris Knibbs and was introduced to the Ingfield Manor Railway. He left the Lavender Line and continued to work at Ingfield until the break-up there which led to the formation of South Downs Light Railway in 1999/2000.

Paul has been a member of the committe and, subsequently, a director of the limited company from the outset.

Paul has been the Chief Mechanical Enginner of the Railway throughout. He has put all of his many engineering and other skills at the disposal of the Railway, not only in maintaining, repairing and improving the locomotives and rolling stock, but also, with Jerry Chivers and others, constructing buildings and laying and maintaining the track. He is an expert with a welding torch and an angle grinder!

He plays a full part on the roster in many roles. He gets great pleasure from driving Flying Scotsman which he co-owns with his son, Tom. Paul has made several improvements to the loco which is now a reliable and popular engine with our passengers espectially on two-train days.

Paul is a mostly quiet and self-effacing man who just gets on with things. He is an extremely valuable and much-respected member of our Railway. If there's a job to be done he's the person to ask.

Paul is married to Alison and has two childer, Charlotte and Thomas.

John Holmes - Treasurer

John was born and raised in the Ruislip area, North West London, living very near to the Great Western and Great Central Joint Railway Lines at South Ruislip. After 29 years in Ruislip, John moved to Pulborough where he met Janet in 1982. After a short engagement they married in 1985 and have remained as a strong partnership ever since. He has always had a passion for all things relating to Steam Locomotion. John believes that no-one ever develops an interest in Railways as a hobby - it is a passion which people are born with, and always remains as part of the metabolism. In addition to the real railways John is an active member of Worthing Model Railway Club and greatly enjoys railway modelling in OO gauge with particular interest in branch lines, and their working practices.

After leaving School (with a creditable scoop of 'O' Levels) John's first attempt at employment was in 1966 with British Railways London Midland Region as an Accounts Clerk for 7 years. The work had it's less dull moments, but John became restless for change, and so joined London Transport as a Revenue Auditor, beginning with the Underground Stations, then moving on to Bus Garages where he developed a huge interest in all aspects of bus revenue and daily operating practices. John's employment with London Transport ended in 1995. After 5 years of temporary contracts John landed a post with West Sussex County Council mainly as a Schools Finance, and contracted Police Finance auditor, where he was introduced to the South Downs Light Railway by Horsham Vehicle Workshop Manager Paul Cowlin. John worked for the Local Authority for the last 10 years, before taking retirement in 2010.

Shortly after retirement John visited the South Downs Light Railway and was directed towards the Society's greatest institution - the Old Gits Club which meets regularly every Thursday come rain or shine. The Old Gits Club has many secondary skills but it's greatest skill is putting the world to rights. In early 2014 John was approached by the SDLR Board to take over the role of Treasurer which he accepted, and has since maintained and ruled over the Society's Accounts and Santa Special Finances with a very firm Iron Fist!

John can always be found at the Lobby on SDLR days and, when not seeing to the finances, is happy to chat, and do anything that keeps the Society's trains on track.

David Costan

Dave was born in Shoreham by Sea where he was educationed, ending up at Shorham Middle School. Leaving school at 15 he got a job at the local Co-Op as a shop assistant. he recalls teh central cash office and the Lamson overhead 'cash railway'.

Dave's next jobs were in engineering. He started as a centre-less grinder but in 1965 he left that and joined the Army in which he served until 1974. Starting training at 17 Training Regiment RA based at Oswestry he became a driver/radio operator. He was posted in 1966 to 94 Locating Regiment RA based at Celle in Germany. There he became the assistant regimental signals instructor, and the assistant regimental instructor on AFV 432 (Armoured Fighting Vehicle) as well as a B1 driver.

After leaving the Army, Dave joined Southdown buses as a driver/conductor and then became a driver for a wholesale fruit and vegetable company. Doubtless inspired by that experience he became a self-employed greengrocer for 4 years.

In November 1986 Dave joined British Railways as an assistant technician in Signals and Telecom. He was appointed a team leader and test office in faults and maintenance. Leaving BR in May 2000 Dave joined the Westinghouse Signals Company as a team leader, mentor and assessor testing new signalling works. He retired in 2009.

Dave traces his interest in railways to his grandfather who was a railwayman who lived in a railway cottage at Shorham. Dave has long had an interest in model railways; he had a train set when he was 9. Now he is building a layout at home and another at Worthing Model Railway Club which he joined in 1982.

Dave joined the Railway in 2013 and has proved to be a very willing and useful member. As well as being rostered reguarly, (in fact he runs the roster) he works each Thursday on various electrical and signalling tasks and is ever ready to lend a hand. He has introduced his wife, Maggie, to the Railway. Dave and Maggie were married in 1971, they have three daughters and six grandchildren.

Asked what his ambition for the future was, Dave simply replies "to survive"!

Lee Cowlin

Lee was born in Horsham, West Sussex, as the second son to Yvonne and Malcolm Cowlin. Lee's elder brother is Paul Cowlin. As you will read, Paul followed Malcolm into the world of mechanics and this is where Lee became the black sheep of the family, as an interest in electrics/electronics soon festered.

An interest in trains was imposed at an early age with a large OO layout being created in the loft in the family home by their father, but this was eventually replaced by other interests such as racing 1/8th scale radio control stock cars. Much of the electrics of these hobbies were of great interest.

Lee attended school and though he had ability, his motivation was lacking, and as such heleft school with poor grades and a U in Technology. However, thanks to his Malcolm, Lee had a Saturday job working at a small TV/video repair shop in Horsham whilst at school. This led to a number of small electronic projects which proved invaluable when applying for an apprenticeship at British Aerospace (now BAE systems).

Lee completed the 3-year apprenticeship as an aircraft electrician. He also attended college for a total of 7 years gaining a number of qualifications in electrical and electronic engineering and also in micro-electronics.

Having completed a number of years "on the tools", the move was made into the office world and Lee became a support engineer providing 3rd/4th line support to the various Harrier operators world-wide.

After a number of years Lee then made the move into the IT industry (EDS Ltd) where, after working on several large projects (the Prison Service being probably the largest), Lee worked on a project for a system to be provided to the Royal Navy. This proved to be the seed for Lee's latest career move and he has since switched sides working directly with the Royal Navy.

Lee's latest role involves providing support to Front Line units and often requires travel to most parts of the world (although Australia does seem out of reach for the moment!)

The Railway has given Lee a much-needed avenue to vent his pent-up DIY skills since the are no further projects to be done at home. Lee is often found digging, building, painting or repairing much of the infrastructure for the Railway; a railway that provides great entertainment for the children of all ages that enjoy Steam.

Steve Johnson

Steve is an IT Manager for a large national healthcare supplies company. He is married with 3 children, one is currently studying at university, one working as a graphic designer and the third at school. When he's not sat in front of a computer at work, he is sat in front of a computer at home keeping this website up-to-date and looking good!

Steve has only been at the Railway since the summer of 2017, but in that time has learnt all of the roles involved with the Railway, from the ticket office, to the signal box, and from station master and guard to driving the diesel engines. He's currently passed out at Link 2 for driving the society's steam locos.

Steve is an active musician in his local church, playing both drums and euphonium in the music groups.

He's keen to hear any suggestions for improving the website. You can get hold of him via email here

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By phone: 07518 753784
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© South Downs Light Railway, 2018.

South Downs Light Railway Society Ltd
Stopham Road Station
Pulborough Garden Centre
West Sussex. RH20 1DS

A company limited by guarantee number 6426315

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