In 1950 Leo helped build Clun Castle: now he rides behind it!

FOR 68 years, Leo Leeney kept a very dark secret all to himself.

During his five years with the Royal Engineers, Leo served a three-year apprenticeship as a boilersmith.

That work would see him labouring inside the blackest interiors of brand new boilers, riveting them, with only a pair of earmuffs to drown out the deafening din.

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Flanked by footplate crew Alistair Meanley (left) and driver Ray Churchill (right), Leo Leeney stands in front of Clun Castle at Stratford-upon-Avon. ROBIN JONES

His apprenticeship as a sapper was served at none other than Swindon Works, on the locomotive production line.

And one of the boilers he helped to build in 1950 was none other than that of WR 4-6-0 No. 7029 Clun Castle.

Leo completed his apprenticeship, and ended up with a career in the metal pressings industry, yet he never told his wife Valerie or their daughters Bev and Lisa about the years that he helped make railway history at Brunel’s great works.

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Read more and view more images in Issue 252 of HR – on sale now!

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About the Author

Sam Hewitt