RIP Bob Symes 1924 – 2015

It is with great sadness that the legend in the model railway world that is Bob Symes also known as Robert Alexander Baron Schutzmann von Schutzmansdorff (born 6 May 1924) has today passed away aged 90 after a short battle with Cancer.

BobSymesRIPLike many railway modellers of a certain age group I remember Bob from the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World and his own programmes he presented: Model World dedicated to the hobby of modelling, also on the BBC in the mid 1970s, and Model Magic. He also presented a series called Making Tracks in the 1990s. Making Tracks was a series dedicated to little-known lines and networks worldwide, and which specialised in steam operations.

I was lucky enough to have met Bob on a number of occasions firstly in my short trouser days admiring his large radio controlled railway models at a model railway show in Beaconsfield and lastly at the January 2011 Astolat show in Guildford. Bob was judging the competition for the best visiting layout in show and spent many minutes looking, very much at eye level, at Fisherton Sarum and no one was more surprised than me when he later announced the layout as best in show. I have just raised a beer in his memory in the engraved glass tankard that I received to commemorate the award.

RIP Bob Symes, a great inspiration to many modellers alike, the model railway layouts in the great upstairs have just gained another operator. My sincere condolences to all his family and friends.

Note: picture reproduced here with the kind express permission of, and is the copyright of,  Chris Nevard and Model Rail Magazine. It must not be copied or distributed in any manner (electronic, web or printed) without their prior written consent.

10 thoughts on “RIP Bob Symes 1924 – 2015

  1. I had the honour of meeting Bob Symes just the once at a Bristol exhibition; in the process thanking him for his work in promoting model railways. Initially surprised by the gratitude conversation ensured as we spend the morning strolling around looking at the exhibition.

    A true gentleman who will be sorely missed by many.

    Thank you Bob for your devotion to our hobby.

  2. He was a character, no doubt about it. He had a small 4mm layout that I saw at an Easter MRC show in the early 1960s. It was a simple tail-chaser, but so well disguised; technically excellent for its day and an idea much copied later.
    Who will forget the “SYMEK” (not necessarily with kindness) and the noise and smell it made? He pushed the boundaries and helped make railway enthusiasm and modelling an activity worthy of respect.
    Few like him; fewer every year.

  3. Yes, great shame Graham, great man too. I met him a few times when he visited the Great Cockcrow Railway at Chertsey on our annual Gala weekend. One of nature’s gentlemen. JC

    Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2015 20:02:47 +0000 To:

  4. I was only thinking of him on Saturday when I was attending the Calne Show. As a true gentleman, he was at home in any company. He was a truly gentle man.

  5. Muz, what a great bit of writing about a wonderful man. Alas, I never met him. I have sent a message to Radio 4’s Last Word programme suggesting they include him in Friday’s edition.

      1. Bob was pushed out by Leon Brittan, King Abdullah, John Bayley, and Anne Kirkbride, if he was ever in the running in the first place.

  6. I first met Bob when exhibiting at Brighton Modelworld and was reintroduced when exhibiting at the Astolat show in 2007. Chris Nevard took photos of Bob looking at my layout for the then fledgling Hornby magazine. A lovely man and gentleman full of enthusiasm for all things railway.

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