By Phil Marsh
West Coast Railways’ steam inspector John Daniel has retired for the second time in his railway career after becoming what is thought to be the UK’s longest serving member of railway staff.
His first career lasted ‘just’ 51 years and after a break he joined West Coast Railways and completed another 11½ years.
WCR operations manager Andy Taylor presented John, who is now in his late 70s, with his second retirement certificate in front of around 60 members of traincrew at the Rugby Railway Club.
Although nobody counted, it was reckoned that over 2000 years of operational railway experience was at the gathering on March 14.
John Daniel’s first career ended after running the Virgin West Coast’s driving school – a far cry from starting out at Bedford engine shed on August 23, 1954 as a cleaner earning 42 shillings a week. But this fabulous career nearly ended on the same day as he walked to the shed, possibly in short trousers he said, to ask for a job to be told there were no vacancies and to come back in a couple of years.
Mr Daniel then told the shed foreman that his three uncles, all steam locomotive drivers, would be disappointed that he did not get a job. When the foreman realised the young John Daniel had three relatives working there, he immediately opened a drawer and gave him an application form and the railway career commenced.
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