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28 October 2014
Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Inside Out - East Midlands: Monday 18th October, 2004

THE LAST OF THE RAILWAY KEEPERS

Great Central Railway entrance

He lives on a remote country lane. His only work colleague is a parrot. He possibly has the most isolated job in the East Midlands. He is the last railway keeper.

Michael Weston works on the Liverpool to Stanstead line.

A busy route it may be, as the train speeds through the countryside linking bustling cities. But spare a thought for the one man who opens the gates for a handful of people wanting to cross the track in Wyfordby, Leicestershire.

A remote residence

Michael Weston by level crossing
Michael lives and works on the railways

Michael lives on a remote country lane, used by few apart from a local farmer. His job is to open the gates for anyone wanting to cross the railway line.

Until April, Michael had to be alert 24 hours a day, for any traffic wanting to cross. Now he has TV monitors installed in his house and a pet parrot who also helps by squawking if anyone arrives at the crossing.

As one of the last railway keepers, Michael's job may soon become a piece of railway history in itself.

"They will put barriers in here one day, but nobody knows when"
Michael Weston

A popular film location, The Great Central Railway has restored and preserved the golden days of railway travel. But how long before the job of the railway keeper joins the annals of railway history?

A lonely living

Signal box interior
There are nine manned signal boxes on the Leicester - Peterborough line

As one of only a handful of gatekeepers left in Britain, it is unclear how long Michael's job will continue to exist.

Like signal boxes, which have become largely machine operated, the job of the gatekeeper may become a thing of the past.

If this is the case, then like the Central Railway at Loughborough, the gate keepers cottage will become a piece of railway history of a bygone era.

 

See also ...

Inside Out: East Midlands
history of The Great Central Railway

On the rest of the web
The Great Central Railway
Great Central Railway Society
Leicestershire Council - Great Central Railway
Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre
Central Railway
The great Central Railway photo tour
The Woodhead Site
UK Heritage Railways

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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