Les Downey Obituary, Death – It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of a remarkable individual, Les Downey, on the 15th of September 2023, in Brisbane. Les’s legacy stretches far and wide, touching the hearts of many through his unwavering dedication to railway history and model railroading.
Les Downey was a prominent figure at the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) for over two decades, starting in the early 1970s. During his tenure, he led the rail team with passion and commitment, leaving an indelible mark on MOTAT’s history. His tireless efforts in organizing and guiding the team’s activities significantly contributed to the museum’s growth.
One of Les’s most enduring legacies was his meticulous documentation of New Zealand’s railway history through photography. His lens captured not only the grandeur of the rail scene but also the often-overlooked intricacies. This comprehensive photographic record has become an invaluable resource for rail researchers, restorers, and modelers alike. MOTAT is fortunate to house a substantial portion of Les’s collection, much of which is digitized and accessible on the museum’s Collections Online website.
Les Downey was not only a historian but also a beloved member of the New Zealand model railway community. He played a pivotal role in the creation of MOTAT’s Main Trunk model railway, leaving a lasting impression on enthusiasts and visitors alike.
As we bid farewell to this extraordinary man, we extend our deepest condolences to his family. Les’s dedication to preserving railway history and his selfless contributions to the communities he cherished will be dearly missed. He leaves behind a legacy that will continue to inspire and educate generations to come.
In the words of Paul F. Harris, “Rest in peace, Sir, and may your family, friends, and MOTAT family find solace in the memory of your remarkable life.” And as Peter Martin aptly puts it, “Your train has left the platform, but your spirit will forever ride the rails of our hearts.”