‘We have invited, unanimously approved and been honoured with the acceptance of Colonel Edward Cowan OBE, late of the Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) as Patron of the GCR Rolling Stock Trust. This is in recognition of the Trust’s fully restored and dedicated six wheeled MS&LR 1888-built carriage of the same type as those involved in Britain’s worst ever rail disaster at Quintinshill near Gretna in May 1915. Then a troop train carrying half of the Royal Scots Leith-raised 7th Battalion to Liverpool for service in Gallipoli was involved in a triple collision resulting in a catastrophic fire. Two hundred and fourteen members of the battalion were killed outright or burnt to death. The RST-owned carriage is therefore a fitting memorial to The Royal Scots who died in this disaster at the height of the Great War.
Several members of the Cowan paper-making family from Penicuik, near Edinburgh, served and died in The Royal Scots in the Great War. Edward, who joined the regiment from Sandhurst in 1959, had a distinguished career in Libya, Aden, the Radfan, Cyprus, Germany and Northern Ireland, completing his service as Defence and Military Attache to the former Yugoslavia, ending in 1990.
Railways have always formed a background to Colonel Edward’s interests, promoted by his father’s career with British Railways Eastern Region from 1948 as an Old Etonian signalman and station master. The latter was also a railway poet and model maker of ‘O’ gauge GNR, LNWR and MG&N carriages, some being made whilst serving in World War Two as an anti-aircraft gunner in the defence of Liverpool.
Colonel Edward has continued this modelling tradition in support of his eldest son, Major General James Cowan, who is responsible for the construction of a huge model of the Battle of Waterloo which will be exhibited at the National Army Museum in London from 20 to 23 October this year. Our Patron Colonel Edward is looking forward to visiting both parts of the Great Central Railway and the Nunckley Hill Rail Museum where the Trust’s 6-wheeler is on display.’
As Trust Chairman Richard Tilden Smith says: “We are not only honoured and priviliged to have such an enterprising Colonel with us, adding strength to our connection with The Royal Scots, but also to have the wisdom and involvement of a clearly very enthusiastic supporter. This will be much more than an exciting extension to our reaching out, also to our restoration aims and developments.”