Dr Anthony Frank (Tony) Marchington (2 December 1955 – 16 October 2011) was an English biotechnology entrepreneur and businessman, famous as the co-founder of Oxford Molecular, and the former owner of Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman.
Born in Buxton, Derbyshire, he was raised on the family farm in Buxworth. He passed his motorcycle test at the age of 16, having learned to ride his father's 1914 Bradbury motorcycle and sidecar combination.
Association with Walter Hooper
While at Oxford, Marchington befriended and later lodged with American Walter Hooper, the last personal secretary of the writer C.S. Lewis. Through this relationship, Marchington: shared a lectern with Hooper in 1975 in North Carolina; co-wrote the script of Through Joy and Beyond, the 1977 documentary life of Lewis; and created the Lewis bonfire hoax letter, sent to Christianity and Literature in 1978.
In 1988, he started several companies in the areas of intellectual property, drug discovery and biotechnology. As these expanded, in the same year, under his tutor Professor Graham Richards, Marchington co-founded Oxford Molecular Ltd. (later to become Oxford Molecular Plc.). Worth £450 million at its peak, it was eventually sold for £70million.
A former member of the Department of Trade and Industry's Competitiveness Advisory Group, from 2000 Marchington's entrepreneurial activities included: running Marchington Consulting, based at the Sheffield Bioincubator; CEO at Savyon Diagnostics; and co-founded, as chairman and director, Venture Hothouse Ltd. From 2010, Marchington was CEO at Oxford Medical Diagnostics; leading the development and application of advanced proprietary methods of gas analysis; and in particular, the development of breath analysis for the screening of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Buxworth Steam Collection
A steam fan from a young age, aged 22 Marchington bought his first steamroller from haulage contractor and scrap dealer Ted Eansworth in Chesterfield. The collection that he started with his father eventually became the Buxworth Steam Group, which comprised a full working Victorian Funfair, and raised revenue through offering them for hire:
- 25 traction engines, including the famous showman's engine The Iron Maiden, which starred in the film of the same name.
- Two matched pairs of ploughing engines
- Two steam wagons
- Six steamrollers
- Road locomotive, built in 1900, which was the first armour-plated vehicle in the world
- Steam fire engine
- Seagoing steam tug
- Victorian fairground rides: 1893 Steam Galloping Horses, a Helter skelter, a Ferris wheel, cakewalk, a 1925 set of German-built Chair-O-Planes
- Wall of Death, with 1930s Indian motorcycle
Marchington's Buxworth Steam Group was the star of the 1985 BBC documentary 'A Gambol on Steam', which featured his first steam rally in the group, hosted at Lyme Park, and featured exhibits from names such as Fred Dibnah in addition to his current collection of a 1904 Fowler D2 steamroller and his pair of Fowler BB1 ploughing engines ('Fame' and 'Fortune') and was one of the largest rallies of its time.
LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman
In 1996, Marchington bought the famous LNER steam locomotive Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman at a cost of £1.5M. After a three-year restoration which cost an additional £1M, she returned to steam in 1999. She made an appearance on Peak Rail in summer 2000, together with most of the Buxworth Steam Group collection.
In 1997, Marchington purchased LNER Class A4 4464 Bittern from the family of Geoff Drury, which he also based at the Southall Railway Centre. However, after the completion of the £1 million over-budget restoration of Flying Scotsman was complete, he sold Bittern in 2000 to Jeremy Hosking, who moved her to the Mid-Hants Railway in Hampshire in January 2001, for a major restoration. Despite this, the ownership of both Bittern and Flying Scotsman meant that he is still the only ever private owner to own two Gresley Pacific class locomotives.
With Flying Scotsman's regular use on the VSOE Pullman, in 2002, Marchington proposed a business plan, which included the construction of a 'Flying Scotsman Village' in Edinburgh, to create revenue from associated branding. After floating on OFEX as 'Flying Scotsman Plc.' in the same year, in 2003 Edinburgh City Council turned down the village plans, and in September 2003 Marchington was declared bankrupt. This resulted in the sale of most of the assets of the Buxworth Steam Group, including The Iron Maiden to Graeme Atkinson, who displays the engine alongside a collection of other engines and fair organs as part of the Scarborough Fair Collection, at his holiday park in Lebberston, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire.
At the company's AGM in October 2003, CEO Peter Butler announced losses of £474,619, and with a £1.5M overdraft at Barclays Bank, stated that the company only had enough cash to trade until April 2004. The company's shares were suspended from OFEX on 3 November 2003, after it failed to declare interim results.
With the locomotive effectively placed up for sale, after a high-profile national campaign it was bought in April 2004 by the National Railway Museum in York, and it is now part of the National Collection.
Marchington met his second wife Caroline after he and his father offered her a lift on their steam engine to the Devonshire Arms, Peak Forest, the local public house on the A6 road, where they were staying that night. The couple had two children, and family homes in Buxton, Derbyshire and Oxfordshire. He also had two children from a previous marriage. His passion for vintage restoration continued with his family for the rest of his life, even post the sagas of Buxworth Steam Group and Flying Scotsman.
After meeting Jim Daniel, the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, at a dinner of Brasenose College members, Marchington was initiated as a Freemason at Oxford-based Apollo University Lodge 357 in January 1991. He was passed and raised and the following year, and went in the chair in November 1996. Marchington celebrated his joining the Freemasons with the commissioning of a set of limited edition mugs, with the square and compass on one side and the Flying Scotsman on the other. Marchington became: a Knight Templar; joined the Order of the Red Cross of Constantine; Mark Masonry; Royal Ark Mariners. He was elected a Provincial Grand Steward and was Oxfordshire’s Assistant Provincial Grand Master.
After a long period of treatment, Marchington died of cancer at Buxton's Cottage Hospital on Sunday 16 October 2011.
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- 38th Great Dorset Steam Fair, 2006 – Official Programme. Ian Allan. August 2006. p. 12.
- Scott, Andrew (June 2004). "How we saved the Flying Scotsman". Railway Magazine 150 (1238): 14–19.