Mr ‘Wolsztyn Experience’ Dies
My younger brother – the lad - Howard Jones MBE aged 71, passed away on Sunday 25th June with heart failure. Perhaps it was because he had given so much of his heart away to keeping steam alive on scheduled services and to the enthusiasts that enjoyed and revelled in driving and firing steam on the main line and on Polish narrow Gauge.
It started in 1995 when, through Steam Railway Magazine, a weekend jaunt took a plane load of enthusiasts to Poznan, and in 1996 The Wolsztyn Experience was formed. It was his off-piste way of ensuring that plan A, B or C worked that he will be remembered by enthusiasts throughout the world.
Howard leaves behind his lovely Polish wife, Alexandra Sikucinska (Ola), who has spent her time this year looking after Howard at home and in hospital, because as well as his heart problem he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
He leaves behind his daughter Hannah in the UK, her husband and two grandchildren.
Howard did not wish for any religious service and in Poland the cremation was held very quickly and took place on the 27th June. Howard wanted a celebration of his life so the first of 2 wakes has been organised it will be held at the Foxfield Railway “The Premier Industrial Railway” on September 30th. Friends of Howard and any Wolsztyn Experience or ex-Steam Breaks clients are welcome to attend.
So that the correct number may be catered for, you need to book your ticket by emailing or ringing Nigel Fitt, the Wolsztyn Experience administrator, on 01842 860436, email: email@example.com before 7th. Sept so that
catering can be organised.
If anyone would like to speak or contact me, my details are Tel: 01628 524876 email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The payment for your commemorative ticket is £30 and is payable on arrival at the Foxfield and covers the coal, steaming, buffet and a donation to the Foxfield; this will help the costs of track renewal on the section down to the colliery.
The Wolsztyn Experience will supply wine for a toast to Howard and all that he has achieved.
The timings are as follows; - we meet at Foxfield Railway Station, Caverswall Rd, Blythe Bridge, Stoke-on-Trent ST11 9BG for coffee at 11.00. The funeral train will depart to the Summit Station at 12.00, your carriages consist of the normally museum kept Victorian Midland Railway Special Salon and the North Staffordshire 4 wheeled loop line coaches
which are the usual service vehicles.
On arrival at the Summit station the train backs out of the station; we all gather on the platform whilst the engine uncouples, Howard’s ashes are placed in the firebox and the loco storms past everybody showing his ashes into the sky like shooting stars and we reboard the train and return to Cavershall road at 13.30 for the buffet toast and speeches. The Foxfield bar will be open to purchase drinks throughout our stay.
Those wanting to visit the colliery can be guided in their own transport for a visit during the afternoon. There are two footplate courses available during the day for £500; this includes the Wake ticket though one has already been
sold. If you are interested contact Nigel Fitt.
We are hoping to arrange the second wake in Wolsztyn at the depot, when the loco has returned; if the powers agree a commemorative plaque to Howard and what he achieved will be placed on the depot wall. We may be able include a trip on a service train with a photo opportunity and then gather for a meal in a restaurant. While the Wolsztyn Experience as
such closes on August 31 st . This page will stay on line for any further information.
Trevor Jones 8 th July 2023
So many well-wishers have contacted Nigel Fitt ‘who from 2012 has looked after the WE bookings’ that myself and the railway press thought you might like to read a small selection or part of their quotes.
I feel very lucky to have had the privilege of meeting him as someone who made people's dreams literally come true. Those people are rare indeed.
It takes a special person to risk everything and build a company which has had such a positive impact on so many peoples’ lives. Not only the likes of you and I who wanted to experience the thrill of being on the footplate, but also more recently supporting the many Ukrainian refugees. ..........Aaron Telfen Singapore
I can’t think of how to describe how much Howard had an impact on me over the years and look at what he achieved. If you can let me know when the funeral is, even if it's just to send flowers, or maybe donation to whatever please let me know. Please do whatever you can - I'm running out of words really ..........Charles Bennie.
I was deeply saddened to hear the news of Howard’s passing this morning. I always think of the Jones brothers as part of the small group of my better friends. I owe them so much.
It was meeting Howard and Trevor on the first ‘Steam Railway/Steam Breaks’ Readers trip to the Harz in December 1993 that turned my life around. I was going through a rough time in my personal and business life, and that trip started me making railway films professionally. I couldn’t wait for the next trip.
I must have been on over 25 ‘Steam Breaks’ trips to Germany, and then onto Poland and Wolsztyn with the starting of the W.E. Through this I have made many great friends.
Over the past 30 years I have travelled all over the world making railway films with a new life in the north Highlands and it’s all down to that first trip with the Jones brothers. Thank you, Howard.......... Michael Field.
It was with great sadness that I heard of Howard's passing. My most sincere condolences go out to you and the rest of the family. To say the least, Howard was a unique person whom over the years I got not only to enjoy his company but respect his ability. He was the right man in the right place at the right time.
What can I say but that I will miss his wit and his uncanny ability to make lemonade out of lemons. He was the
quintessential showman who made sure that no matter what the show would go on. - The coffees in the shed, the dining at restaurants, the trips around the Wolsztyn area, as well as the train rides will never, ever be forgotten. ..... Peter Gores USA
What a shock. This is terrible news. Such an amazing personality - all that he achieved. Our thoughts are of course with Alex / Ola, but equally with you Nigel, with Trevor and everyone in the Wolsztyn Experience community......... William Wright
I cannot remember how I discovered the Wolsztyn experience but it must have been the first- or second-year Howard and Trevor set the idea up. During the week I was there Howard suggested I become a trustee of the then trust fund set up to run the experience.
I had recently retired from a career with British rail and I said to Howard, I would give it some thought. Before the end of the week Howard with his imitable powers of persuasion I was signed up and became the last of the original trustees.
Looking back over these past 25 years or so that decision was certainly value for money.
Mave and I became very good friend with Howard and Ola and have had many happy times both in Poland and the UK with them. If Howard rang me and answered by saying "is that my man in the North " I always
knew he had a new idea brewing If it was ‘Hi Bob’ - this was a social call.
When he was taken ill, he had a scheme on the go and I was instructed to find out costing, now unfortunately it will never come to fruition.
For quite a few years in the early days the late David Leyland who was also a good friend of the" Experience" and I gave the drivers and shed staff a week’s holiday at our homes; for many it was their first
trip out of Poland and they didn't quite know what to expect. Theses visits created friendships which are still strong to this day.
Through Howards hard work I met many people from all over the world and had numerous discussions putting the world to right in the Bar at number 4A. When things didn't quite work out as planed Howard would ensure to his best ability that everybody got something out of their visit and went home happy
It is truly a sad time and I am sure Howard will be missed both in Poland and England but I don't think he will ever be forgotten.......... Bob Gibbens Foxfield Railway
Howard Jones with Parrot & Polish Driver Kazimierz Koscainski on the footplate of Pm36-2
Piekna Helena at Poznan station awaiting departure of The Pirate special train to the Baltic Ocean 01/06/2002
Howard and Driver Marek Rybarczyk also deceased at Gniezo awaiting departure to bring Pt47-112 back after overhaul on a freezing day 26/01/2005.
The 3 Amigos Trevor, Howard and Phillip the three Jones brothers behind the bar at the Wolsztyn house
above a model of a Ty2 made from card 17/06/2017
Howard Jones had a life well lived and to the benefit of all those around him. Well done you RIP
Unfortunately it is with sadness we announce the closure of the business
"The Wolsztyn Experience" on the 31st August 2023