Obituary: Alan Fozard 1937 – 2016

Alan Fozard, who was a founding member of the 5AT Project team, died on 11th Dec 2016.

Alan was a kind and modest man, a true gentleman.  Always cheerful, he possessed an outstanding intellect, which he applied throughout his life to achieve an interesting and successful professional career.  But it was steam railways and his family that Alan loved the most and it is as a railway enthusiast, loving husband, caring father and grandfather that he will be most fondly remembered.

He started his career as a lab assistant in ICI, Northwich, Cheshire, but then went onto study Chemistry at Bangor University.  After graduating, he started a PhD at Keele University, where he met his wife Carolyn in 1962.  After he was awarded his Doctorate he was invited to do research in Chemistry at Duke University in North Carolina.

Alan and Carolyn spent two happy years in the USA and on return to the UK; Alan’s next job was as a Lecturer in Chemistry at Wolverhampton Polytechnic.  He subsequently joined English Electric at Kidsgrove leaving in 1969.  With colleagues from English Electric, he founded and was a director of two industrial process-automation companies.  The business plan for the second company (Apoloco) was put together while he spent 6 months at Manchester Business School and the start of it was documented in a BBC television series, BUSINESS CLUB.

During this part of his life, Alan came to be seen as a spokesman for small, hi-tech British companies, and as part of a celebration of British entrepreneurs went to No. 10 Downing Street to meet Margaret Thatcher.

Alan’s eye for detail and sense of fairness was legendary within Apoloco.  So much so that he used to present the annual percentage profit made by the company to the staff to 4 decimal places so that no one would feel short-changed by the bonus scheme!  It was a happy company and opened a branch office in the USA. In 1996, following the sale of Apoloco to Instem, Alan retired.

From 1996 and up to 2001, Alan used his spare time developing ideas for a project to build a replica of the LMS Turbomotive to have a crack at beating Mallard’s 1938 steam speed record.  At the same time David Wardale was developing his concept of the “Super Class 5 4-6-0” outlined in the final chapter of his 1998 book “The Red Devil and Other Tales from the Age of Steam”.  Seeing parallels between the two projects, Wardale approached Alan and persuaded him to set aside his Turbomotive plans and take on what became the 5AT Project.  Alan accepted the challenge and built up the project team that he led from its inception in 2001 until its abandonment in 2012. 

Alan was able to combine his business experience and with his enthusiasm, perhaps not realising this would have as many challenges and frustrations as a full time job.

Many of us fondly remember being recruited by Alan at the interviews he held in his local pub.  While not as challenging as ‘The Apprentice’, they served to select a team of complimentary individuals who were willing tackle any number of problems.  Alan’s home at Salt became the centre of our activities with Alan and Carolyn’s upstairs room becoming the 5AT Board Room and Conference Centre.  Little did we realise that this would involve us in projects for not only the UK, but also Indonesia and Mexico, sadly none came to be.

The bonds that we formed in those days are still here today and when the 5AT Project came to an end, we wanted to continue as group using 21st Century Tools and Techniques on a machine that originated in the 19th century and was not perfected in the 20th century.

As we have stayed together as a group, this proved the worth of Alan’s recruitment process. This is our best memorial for him.

John Hind and Mike Horne attended his Celebration of Life and burial on the 21st of December in Salt.  As a measure of Alan, the church was full with standing room only.

John Hind – 8th Jan 2017