South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of Derek Robinson

Profile: Derek Robinson - (May/Jun 2001)

Derek Robinson admits to being a bit of a 'nut' - a special nut though - a steam nut.

This craze started in his early employment with the Southern Railway, first as a Junior Number Taker and then as a Booking Clerk.

His employment changed to new and varied areas; such as Solicitor's and Accountancy Clerk; a brief spell in the army (1945-1948), first as a Signaller in the Royal Sussex Infantry Regiment and later as a Sergeant in the RASC Indian Army Corps of Clerks; then after 1948 as Conductor and then Driver on the buses before becoming a Telephone Engineer with the GPO.

Throughout all this, Derek retained his love of steam. Born in 1927 in Battersea, he has also, since his earliest years, maintained loyalty to his boyhood interest of cycling. The two interests of steam and cycling are linked in a curious, but to Derek, unhappy way. For the man who contributed as Transport Minister to the switch in the 1960s from steam railways to motorway travel was, ironically, a CTC member - Ernest Marples.

The Robinson family moved from Battersea in the early 1930's to the newly developing suburban Worcester Park to live in Bridgewood Road. This road was to breed in the 30's, 40's and 50's a number of notable cycling families well known to most of us today: families such as the Braziers, the Powneys, the Robinsons, the Spearman-Oxx and Wilkins. Derek's first cycling memories are of his father taking him out on occasional Sunday rides; he has a special memory of the great achievement of riding all the way to Horsham.

Derek has also been a loyal member of the CTC for 48 years. He was a member of the Richmond Section between 1954 and 1959. In 1959 he married Mary Bartlett who is now behind his regular attendance with the Midweekers.

In the 1970s he and his daughter, Amy, joined the Family Section and he has memories of section members such as that great Family Section character, Syd Richardson and later, Helen Sharman (who also rode with the Midweek Section and who became a national figure as a pioneer woman in space exploration). Father and daughter rode an old Claud Butler USWB tandem.

Amy now rides her own solo as an independent and fully experienced club rider and she will be profiled in a future issue of the Sou'Wester. Derek's early railway work experience has enabled him to contribute to running this CTC DA and his favourite Midweek Wayfarers Section.

For Derek can be seen 'booking' Wayfarers in for the 'register' of attendees on Wednesday. His own record of consistent attendances on Wednesdays has earned him the DA Award for highest Attendances on Section Rides for a record number of five years (hotly contested with Ed Sharp). Derek enjoys riding with all the other 'oldies' (his words) in the Midweek Wayfarers, generally riding his Evans in its Post Office red livery.

Hopefully he will continue to steam around Surrey for many years to come.