|Geoff and Sheelagh
|Born in London, England, Geoff Cooke grew up in Bulawayo, the second city
of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). His first job was on the South African Railways
where he worked as a clerk in Natal. Recounting the year spent there has
amused many groups in the lounges of innumerable special trains. Returning to
Rhodesia, Geoff installed microwave radio systems across the country, often
built on the top of hills in areas of outstanding scenic beauty that entrenched
an interest in photography.
An interest in theatre lighting precipitated a career move when Geoff started a
company to give technical support to theatre, film and television. Hair-raising
experiences whilst working on political rallies and rock concerts in African
football stadiums added another chapter to a life that has been far from
mundane. His railway interests resurfaced when he researched a television
series to promote tourism to the newly independent Zimbabwe when he
concluded that it would be great to feature a steam tourist train that ran from
the historic city of Bulawayo to Victoria Falls via the Hwange Game Reserve.
The train did not exist, so Geoff persuaded the railway that the idea would
work and in 1986 the first privately owned safari train in the world was
launched. The train, called the Train de Luxe, competed with the finest in the
world. It was always great fun, particularly when Geoff or his wife, Sheelagh,
managed the tours themselves.
In 1999 Sheelagh and Geoff sold the train. Geoff once more wanted to do
new things which, of course, included the railway. He organised a steam
railway festival called Zimfest and started hosting group visits to southern
Africa. Recognised as one of Africa's leading authorities in tourist train
operations, Geoff has travelled on most of the continent's tourist trains, as
well as many that are not so famous.
Geoff and Sheelagh Cooke now live in Kidderminster, England, where they
can hear the steam whistles on the Severn Valley Railway from their garden.
From there, Geoff pursues his interest in trains around the world. Once Africa
is in your blood, it never leaves and Geoff continues to plan and host tours to
southern Africa, as well as other destinations. Working with a number of
rail-tour operators, he has hosted tours to Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland,
Russia, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and, of course, Zimbabwe.
|Geoff's Trains Limited is owned and operated by Geoff Cooke. One
of the few full time specialist rail tour operators who share their
passion for railways and knowledge of tourism to offer a personal
and knowledgeable tour service. With over 26 years in the business,
|Geoff and Sheelagh owned the Train de Luxe tourist
train that ran regular tours to Victoria Falls in
to buy Geoff's book that
explains how his interest in
trains resulted in his building
and operating the Train de
Luxe in Zimbabwe.
A light hearted story about a
career that has been anything