Network Rail and South Western Railway reveal Britain’s longest-serving member of railway staff.
In today’s now now now world of consumerism and fast paced transport , there is still room for that real hands on experience , one that started all those years ago with the ability to decouple a Steam train and ends with a smile and a enjoy your journey from a man who is still completed his journey every day at Waterloo Station and enjoying every moment too .
We catch up with Network Rail and Don Buckley, 79, who joined Waterloo’s station team in 1953 aged just 14. Due to start a job as a messenger at London Euston, Irish-born Don mistakenly ended up at Waterloo after asking a taxi driver to take him to the big station in the capital.
He remains working there today, 65 years later.
His incredible years of service means Don is one of the few people still working in the industry with formal training to decouple a steam train.
Don, who moved to London from County Kerry in 1952 after being sent to England to make a living, said: “I was very young and frightened when I came here all those years ago. I couldn’t get my own place to live. Everywhere was ‘room to let, but no Irish’.
“I was getting £7 a week and had to send a lot of that money home to my mother. It was hard back then but I loved working here.
“All the gentlemen wore bowler hats in those days, and everyone had an umbrella. I remember we used to have a cinema by platform one and I’d sneak-up and watch the kids’ shows on the Saturday.”
Don now works for South Western Railway helping visually impaired and disabled people make their way around the station, as well as providing his unmatched knowledge of the station to passengers needing directions or assistance.
Don said: “We’re here to help people wherever we can, I’ve made some great relationships with people I always see at the station – they always stop to say hello.” “Some of the people I’ve met here over the years are unbelievable. I once took Sir Stanley Matthews’ suitcase – he gave me four shillings. I helped carry lots of people’s luggage over the years. Roger Moore tipped me £10, and I took Alfred Hitchcock’s as well. I wasn’t too fond of him though because he had a very heavy suitcase full of books. When they were making that Bourne film here, they told me I couldn’t go up a flight of stairs, well, I did, and that young man Matt Damon opened the gate for me.
READ MORE IN THIS MONTHS NETWORK6 MAGAZINE – https://network6.org.uk/