Death of Mehlika Seval – our Turkish friend

Many enthusiasts who were chasing overseas steam in the 1980s and early 1990’s will remember Meli – the Turkish girl who organized, and then led, our charter steam trains on TCDD metals from the legendary “Skyliner Express” of October 1983, onwards. Her determination and organisational ability when arranging the tours we ran as “World Steam Tours” with David Thornhill, were unsurpassed in the overseas steam railway tour business, and in fact she went on to become one of the most successful specialist tour operators in Turkey, taking small groups – mainly from the U.S. – to visit all the antiquities in her country, and indeed to other neighbouring countries in that part of the Middle East.

Sadly a little more than a year ago, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. It was operated on, apparently successfully, and she did appear to be recovering although her speech was painfully slow.  Sadly, however, the  improvement did not last, and she died in March 2017.

The picture shows her with her son (extreme right) and with railwaymen and one of their sons, at Egridir shed in 1984 when we were arranging “Skyliner II”



Mirpur Khas, Pakistan – new “shed shot” – but don’t get too excited!

The last tours we ran to Pakistan were in 2004 and 2005, to the Metre Gauge system based on Mirpur Khas, in Southern Pakistan not too far from Karachi. Broad gauge steam had finished by that time of course – our last trip there was in early 1997. But on certain days of the week, m.g. steam continued to the Indian border, to Nawabshah, and on the Jhudo loop.

But then the “main line” to the Indian border was converted to broad gauge, and the remaining two lines were abandoned, leaving the locomotives and some stock, “stranded” in Mirpur Khas shed.

One would assume that a quick deal would be made with a scrap merchant, so in 2009 I requested the owner of the Central Hotel in Mirpur Khas, to kindly nip down the road to the shed, and take a few photographs, to see if the engines were still there. They were indeed, as the captioned picture (right) shows. There was, of course, no immediate prospect of operating these locos. so I left it at that.

A couple of months ago, I wondered what would be the situation now, and so emailed my friend again to do the same thing – and lo and behold, everything is still as it was in 2009 (above, left), except for a little more vegetation, and curiously, SP127 (4-6-0) its chimney has been removed and placed in front of its smokebox. Otherwise, as far as can be determined, everything is in the same position today, in November 2017, as it was in 2009!



Death of Liz Brooks

Liz Brooks (actually Liz Allen since 2005, although everybody still called her Liz Brooks!) died on October 28th 2015, at Gatwick, returning from a Company conference in Guernsey. She had been suffering from cancer for some years.

Liz had been an invaluable part of Enthusiast Holidays since its inception (as “the Magic of Steam in Poland”) in 1975, her fluent Polish being of particular benefit when leading or helping to lead our groups in those days when railway photography was frowned upon in most Communist countries, and Poland in particular.

Later she would be found in such diverse places as Cuba, Eritrea, East Germany, Turkey, India and Pakistan – almost always getting her way for the group, whether it be permission to photograph steam, or getting concessions in hotels.

A dyed-in-the-wool tour operator, and a senior executive of the Travel Corporation, a major international travel group comprising Trafalgar Tours, Insight, Uniworld Cruises, Red Carnation Hotels and many other brands, Liz became interested in steam in its own right, and even – to a lesser extent – buses, often accompanying Vic on the first Sunday in May rallies to Brighton, filming out of the back of their old camper van en route!  So it was fitting that many of the mourners at Liz’s funeral on November 23rd., were conveyed to the church and to the cemetery by specially chartered RT8.

Her passing will leave a large void in her professional and her private life, and the international gricing scene will be less colourful without her!IMG_0228 (480x640)

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