Yeovil mourns railway centre founder

By Cedric Johns

THE Yeovil Railway Centre and its operator the South West Main Line Steam Company are in mourning for the loss of founder member John Cornelius.

Born in 1939, John followed a career in the construction industry, but later changed direction in the 1950s by joining British Railways and trained as a signalman.

John Cornelius in the cab of Ruston 0-4-0 Yeo on May 11, 2004. JOHN CORNELIUS COLLECTION

When qualified, he worked at Western Region signalboxes at Somerton and Altheney, before moving to the Southern Region, working the level crossing at Axminster.

Changing grades, John became assistant to former Weymouth locomotive fireman Bill Walters who, after the end of steam, was appointed mobile operations manager for a section of the original Southern main line from Gillingham to Feniton.

Deciding that this involved too much legwork, John returned to signalling at Chard Junction, a position from which he later retired.

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