An 86-year-old former station master has been made guest of honour in Liverpool 70 years to the day since he began his career on the railway.
Russell Parsons was given a special behind-the-scenes tour by Network Rail at Liverpool Lime Street station and by train operator Northern at the Edge Hill depot to see how the modern-day railway works.
Mr Parsons started his career at St Helens Shaw Street station in the booking office on 16 May 1949.
Other than a short spell with the Royal Army Pay Corps between 1950 – 1952, Russell enjoyed 39 years working in the rail industry all over the country.
Recounting his memories of Lime Street itself, the 86-year-old told how he began working as a relief clerk in the operating department in May 1954.
Better known back then as the ‘Time Office’, it now forms part of the North Western Wetherspoons pub.
It was at Lime Street he took his rules and regulations exam to later become station master at several stations across the North West.
Russell Parsons, said: “I’d like to say a big thank you to Network Rail and Northern for making my day so special. When I originally got in touch about my railway anniversary I thought it would just be a quick trip to St Helens and that was it.
“You went above and beyond to make the day really special. Thank you.”
Russell began his celebrations at Lime Street, where he spoke passionately about his railway career and was fascinated to hear about some of the major changes made to the station in recent years.
Lime Street's two-year £140m transformation, between 2016 and 2018 as part of the Great North Rail Project, saw upgrades to track, platforms and signalling to boost capacity within the historic grade-II listed station.
Mr Parsons later travelled to Edge Hill depot where he was given a tour of one of Northern’s brand-new trains.
He also enjoyed a short journey on the Class 195, which will enter service in the summer, as it was moved around the depot.
Mr Parsons then boarded a newly refurbished Northern train heading for his last stop of the day – St Helens Central.
In the town where his long railway career began, Mr Parsons ended celebrating his milestone anniversary by speaking to booking office staff and was shown how the job has transformed in the past 70 years.
To read more about Liverpool Lime Street's £140m upgrade visit: www.networkrail.co.uk/liverpool-lime-street-transformed
Note to editors
Having taken some of his regulations exams at Lime Street in the 1950s Russell’s career included:
- Station master across the North West
- Assistant signalman inspector in Manchester and Wigan
- Parcel inspector in Manchester
- Head office inspector for rules and signalling for all of Scotland
- Chief inspector for Stoke division and later Birmingham division
- His final role was a signalling office job in Crewe, before he took early retirement in 1988