The Nene Valley Railway (NVR) has said a sad goodbye to Paul Foxwell, who tragically passed away recently following a short battle with cancer. ESP’s Marc Hernandez reports…
Paul was only 33, but over the last five years Paul had become one of the railway’s most skilled, dedicated and popular volunteers. I knew Paul all too briefly (we bonded over a mutual appreciation of all things James Bond) and in 2012 when director John Glen presented the NVR with a commemorative plaque as part of the ‘007 days of Bond’ tour it inspired us both.
Paul was the driving force behind the NVR wagons group first long term project and best kept secret: To restore one of the Bond wagons that had been used as part of the Octopussy Circus train, and recreate the ‘atomic bomb’ wagon. The one that James Bond chased down the tracks in a Mercedes, leapt onto, fought on top of and climbed through the roof hatch into!
The following blog was kept to track progress of the work and gives you an idea of the time, effort and energy Paul together with Tim and Phil put into the project.
Paul hadn’t been born when it was originally transformed in 1982 by a team of film technicians but as a kid I can remember it being used (minus its circus signage) for the Santa special a month or so after filming had finished.
I was 9 years-old during that Indian summer of ’82 when Octopussy was filmed for 6 weeks over Sept/Oct. I got to play around the border crossing set during the school holidays before and after and when the film was released the following year, it had a charity premiere at the Peterborough Odeon on the same day as my 10th birthday! I’d seen bond films on TV before, but to be taken to see my first at my hometown cinema as a birthday treat and sit in the audience with many of the local extras and the legendary Desmond Llewelyn (Q) who attended, well that sealed my fate. I was a Bond fan for life after that!
Over the last decade I’ve written the ‘ESP-ionage’ files for ESP Magazine, celebrating the Bond films and their links to the NVR and beyond.
Good Friday 2016 was the last time I saw Paul at the NVR. I was there with him, Phil and Tim to get some photos of the Bond wagon in the sunshine in order to complete the finishing touches to it (namely getting permission from Eon to display the circus train signage).
“Leave it with me” I told Paul and the others.
A few weeks later I got a text from Tim telling me the tragic news that Paul had terminal cancer which left everyone at the NVR devastated.
One of the finishing touches I wanted to add to the Bond wagon was a photo of Roger Moore on the inside of the roof hatch, looking like he was peering in, just like he’d done in the film when the wagon had been transported to Pinewood.
I spoke to Paul about this on that last good Friday and I could see him thinking it was another of my crazy Bond fan ideas, but while Paul was being treated in hospital, I ordered a colour photo of Roger Moore peering in through the roof hatch and at a private signing bondstars.com kindly arranged for James Bond himself, Sir Roger Moore to autograph the photo with a personal message. Tim took this to show Paul in hospital and it raised a smile to know 007 was looking in.
Before Paul passed away we were also able to get the go ahead for the circus train signage. (And all being well this will be in place on the wagon for next summer to mark the 35th anniversary of the Octopussy filming on the NVR).
Having the atomic Bond wagon at Wansford station in a static capacity for people to have their photo taken next to means there will always be a little bit of ‘Karl Marx Stadt’ for visitors to enjoy, and it’s largely down to Paul Foxwell for making this happen.
At the end of Yarwell Tunnel (used in the Octopussy scene to switch wagons and the shoot-out between 007 and soviet troops) there’s a small memorial garden. On the weekend following Paul’s death in honour of our friend, the loco at Nene Valley carried a wreath which was then laid in the memorial garden at Yarwell Junction at the end of the day.
The NVR engineering staff turned out in force to pay tribute and I hope when others see the fantastic work Paul put into restoring an iconic item from one of the best loved Bond films they’ll help us continue his work.
A memorial fund has now been set up in order to complete another project Paul conceived.
The ‘Express Freight’ Project Fund – to raise money for the restoration of the NVR van train. He worked tirelessly so he could realise his dream – for the world to see an express freight van train run again and everyone at NVR are determined that we can realise this.
With three vans now virtually complete we need only £5000 to complete another seven. These weren’t used in Octopussy but the ‘Express freight’ was a project Paul was passionate about bringing to fruition and one that the NVR wagon group are now devoting our efforts to.
Octopussy holds a special place in my Bond scrapbook of memories and I’m so grateful that Paul helped create a few more. For everyone that will visit the NVR in the coming years he leaves behind a lasting legacy.
Marc Hernandez & the NVR wagons group