Obituary: Stephen Royston, 64

Stephen Rostron was a multi-talented character with a passion for mechanics and steam engines. Picture: comp
Stephen Rostron was a multi-talented character with a passion for mechanics and steam engines. Picture: comp
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Stephen Rostron, a property services manager, has died aged 64.

Born in London on July 8, 1950, Stephen was brought up first in Bristol and then, from the age of five, in Edinburgh.

He was educated at Edinburgh’s Trinity Academy and Aberdeen University where he got a 2:1 honours degree in economic history.

He then went to work in a technical role for Scottish Gas in the Capital. He had originally wanted to be an engineer like his father and he remained fascinated by how everything worked – a man of “many parts”, as his friends quipped.

His passions included steam trains, a romance sparked by his geography teacher mother who pointed out trains puffing past when they lived in Bristol. The enthusiasm was fuelled when, aged five, he boarded the Flying Scotsman to move to Edinburgh with the family.

And it was manifested again later in life when he received a small inheritance and decided to buy himself a model sit-on steam engine and track on which he could travel round and round the garden.

But there were many other enthusiasms. Travel, music and food were high on the list. Stephen was also an accomplished cook.

Absorption of informational titbits was also a special talent. His widow recalled at his funeral that he could read or hear something once – in a book, online, on the radio or TV – and file it away so that it would later reappear when someone said: “What does such-and-such mean? or “How does the universe work?”

“He had a store of information covering everything from particle physics to 18th-century agriculture. If you wanted to know something you asked Stephen. If you wanted something mechanical fixed Stephen would either do it or know how it should be done.”

On leaving Scottish Gas, he joined Scottish & Newcastle, which – to those who knew him and his taste for beer – seemed ideal.

He was involved with the sale of the brewery site at Holyrood where the new Scottish Parliament was then built.

But his key role was about fitting out new premises – all the desks, computers, filing cabinets, chairs and stationery. Most enjoyably challenged by the refurbishment of the building at Edinburgh’s Ellersly Road that became the company’s then headquarters, he sourced the boardroom furniture, commissioned artwork installations and set up a contract for all the office furniture from a Swedish company, which required frequent visits to Sweden.

He and wife Hazel were married in Edinburgh and lived in the Capital before moving to Dirleton, East Lothian, where they spent 12 years.

Deciding they wanted to live somewhere “a bit muddier”, they took off again – for Birnieknowes near Cockburnspath – before settling in their latest home back in East Lothian, near Stenton.

Stephen died at home on February 17, with his family by his side, after a brave battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Hazel and sister Susan.