Bob Symes

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Robert Alexander Baron Schutzmann von Schutzmansdorff
Bob Symes Vienna 2008.jpg
Bob Symes Vienna 2008
Born (1924-05-06)6 May 1924
Died 19 January 2015(2015-01-19) (aged 90)
Other names Bob Symes
Occupation inventor and television presenter

Robert Alexander Baron Schutzmann von Schutzmansdorff (6 May 1924 – 19 January 2015) was a British inventor and television presenter. He was known as Bob Symes, and sometimes credited-as Robert Symes-Shutzmann or Bob Symes-Shutzmann.[1]


Descended from an Austrian aristocratic family, Symes became a familiar face to British TV audiences of the 1980s through his appearance on shows such as Tomorrow's World.[2] Symes also presented his own Model World programme dedicated to the hobby of modelling, on the BBC in the mid 1980s,[1] and co-presented (with Mary-Jean Hasler) a series called Making Tracks in the 1990s for the BBC. Making Tracks was a series dedicated to little-known lines and networks worldwide, and which specialised in steam operations. Perhaps uniquely, episodes were not filled with background music, thereby allowing viewers to listen to trains running without distraction.

A lifelong railway enthusiast, Symes once looked after a private railway used for gathering timber on his family estate. His other activities included helping to set up private railways in Switzerland and Wales and attempting to establish The Border Union Railway Company in 1969, to restore, maintain and introduce new services along the recently abandoned Waverley Line between Edinburgh and Carlisle.[3][2] Around the end of the Second World War, Symes married Monica Chapman who later became Producer of the BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs and Your Concert Choice,and they had a daughter Roberta. In January 2007 he married Sheila Gunn (now Sheila, Baroness Symes Schutzmann von Schutzmansdorff), then Works Manager at Boston Lodge, on the Ffestiniog Railway. His interest in railways also included model railways such as Gauge 1; he had a gauge 1 railway in his garden that was created in 1980. Many years later, a 10¼ railway was also built in his garden. He was also the president of a Guildford-based model railway circle called Astolat MRC. He stood unsuccessfully for Parliament in Mid Sussex as a Liberal candidate in February and October 1974.[4]

Symes was also instrumental in setting up the Institute of Patentees and Inventors. Until its closure on Easter Monday 2014, he was also patron of 'Hospital Radio Lion' based at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford. He and his family moved from Guildford, where he had spent many years to Wales in August 2014

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Television and Radio, Model World". The Times. 15 July 1987. p. 23. 
  2. ^ a b "Fast track to the Scottish Borders". BBC News. 18 June 2002. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "Business Diary". The Times. 28 August 1969. p. 19. 
  4. ^ UK General Election results: February 1974. October 1974. Retrieved 20 January 2015.

External links[edit]