It is my sad duty to report that Jack Buckler passed away on 8th August aged 94 following a stroke.
Jack would be known to many as the Designer and
builder of his very famous 5"g Sweet Pea. He first approached Blackgates Engineering in the mid 1970's to see whether castings could be obtained for a model he was building for his friend Dr.Jackson. This was the
beginning of the long association between Jack & Blackgates and subsequently "Sweet Pea" was born as a commercially available design. It used to irritate Jack when people said this was a model of Reverend Teddy
Boston's Pixie Locomotive, which it was not. He followed this design with a 3 1/2" g version (Sweet Violet) and a 7 1/4"g (Sweet William). Many hundreds of "Sweet Pea " have been built and it is rare to see two that
look the same.
An Annual rally is hosted by clubs around the country, starting with the first at The Leeds Club at their Eggborough site in 1993. Jack was often in attendance and was extremely proud to see his
offspring performing on the track, and there can hardly be a track anywhere that hasn't seen an example.
The design was published as a series of construction articles in "EIM" and this was followed by a book a few years later.
Jack was an electronics engineer by profession, but a Steam man by inclination. For many
years he operated his own electronics company with his younger brother Peter.
I first met him when an invitation was extended to interested parties to visit a 2 foot gauge line near Leeds, this turned out to be
about 230yrds of single track line running from the rear of Jack's house and along the top edge of a valley. This was designed and built by Jack and his friend the late Dr Roger Jackson, his GP. They frequently
steamed a quarry Hunslet Locomotive called "Allan George",that they successfully bid for in 1965 when the Penrhyn quarry railway was dismantled. Together they rebuilt the Loco (it took 5 years to restore) and ran
the Howden Clough Light Railway with a small band of helpers until it all got a bit too much for them. The Railway helpers were often rewarded with a glass of Jacks (very potent!) home brew. The Railways trucks and
Loco's were sold to the Teifi Valley railway in Wales in 1983. Today the only trace remaining is a Girder bridge built by Jack and Roger.
Jacks intention was to lay
a 5"/7 1/4"gauge track in place of the 2'-0" gauge but this never happened. A Garret type of Sweet Pea was on Jacks drawing board for some time, and he even had the two chassis well on the way. He took great delight in solving technical problems and spent a great deal of time designing an articulated joint for the steam pipe to the cylinders. Typically, Dr Jackson (Roger to his friends) was not impressed and commented that a flexible pipe connection would have been easier.
Jack will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
By Phil and Jacquie Owen (Blackgates Engineering)