A STEAM engine enthusiast has been recognised by King Charles III with a British Empire Medal.

Peter Best has bought and restored an impressive 11 trains with his own money.

In addition, the father and grandfather is a former chairman of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and has participated in canal restoration, including a recent successful lottery fund application on behalf of the Cotswold Canals.

Peter, who was awarded a British Empire Medal in the King’s Birthday Honours List 2024, said he has loved trains since childhood.

“I started off as a nipper as a trainspotter, with a few breaks along the way for girls and beer and university and other things,” the retiree explained.

Asked why steam engines appealed to him, Peter said that he was drawn to their noise, smell and energy.

“When all is said and done, it’s a large kettle on wheels, using wood or coal and boiling water to provide the power,” the widower noted.

“But it’s the noise, it’s the smell, it’s the raw energy that the steam engine creates.”

Peter admitted that restoring trains is expensive, with his last train, the Black 5 steam locomotive, costing around £600,000 to restore.

“I am definitely down on them all, but some of them are less bad than others,” he said.

However, the steam engine fan said the financial loss was worth it for the joy provided to other people.

“I hope the award is because I’m quite open about wanting other people to enjoy my engines and seeing them operate, and I make them available to people so they can see and enjoy them,” he said.

Peter also said that he loves seeing young people enjoying his trains.

“It gives me huge pleasure and pride,” he reflected.

“I do honestly feel that I’m doing a good job as a custodian to hand them on in a good condition to the next generation.”

As to whether he will undertake another restoration, the grandfather remarked: “I have said I won’t do another one, but you never know.”