Jack Ray 1916 – 2012

The latest issue of the Gauge ‘O’ Guild Gazette carried the news that Jack Ray had peacefully passed away five days after his 95th Birthday.  I had the pleasure of meeting Jack when he came to Leeds one weekend to photograph and record a commentary for a slideshow about our G & J Shortline which Jack wanted to include in the Gauge ‘O’ Guilds collection.

At the time my father and I were erecting the layout in the Foyer of the Yorkshire Post building for a week long ‘airing’.  Jack efficiently and unobtrusively set about photographing the layout whilst we dealt with the trials and tribulations of unpacking, assembling and getting to run an extensive collection of locomotives, rolling stock, accessories and scenery.  Every now and then Jack would diplomatically enquire if it was possible to move this or arrange that for a particular shot, always prepared to patiently wait whilst we assembled the necessary items.

Once the shooting was over we retired to my parent’s house where mum had prepared a most welcome supper during the course of which Jack entertained us with his stories of other Guild slide shows he had produced.  After supper we decanted to the lounge where Jack had set up small recording studio and for the next hour or so he expertly interviewed my father and I about the G & J.  This would then be edited later to provide the accompanying commentary to the slide show.

Some weeks later through the post a personal copy of the slide show, commentary tape and notes duly arrived.  Most impressive it was too, in my view as good as any professional.  Over the years our copy of the slide show has been shown at and appreciated by all sorts of meetings, not all of them railway orientated.

On my bookshelf are the books that Jack wrote; ‘A lifetime with ‘O’ Gauge’ and ‘Model Railways and Their Builders’.  Both books are written in a most enjoyable style and have been read and re-read many times.  What struck me about Jack was how easy he was to get along with and how passionate he was about ‘O’ gauge.  His philosophy of wanting to record for posterity as many of the different layouts as practical before they disappeared was spot on as, like in our case, the G & J no longer physically exists.  However, as with so many other layouts and their builders they live on in Jack’s slide shows and for that I am eternally grateful.

Thank you Jack.