Railway workers, some of whom have given their lives in the service of the industry over the last 150 years have got their own memorial, topped off by a Class 8F steam engine. The memorial is in celebration of their achievements from the 19th century through to the present day and was unveiled yesterday in front of nearly 1,000 onlookers.
The memorial, with the locomotive carved in black granite, was dedicated at the National Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire yesterday (22 May) in a service conducted by Rev James Lindsay of the Railway Mission. Sir Bob Reid, former chairman of British Rail, accompanied by Ian Dudson, Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, unveiled the memorial.
Sam Reed, vice president of the British Transport Pensioners Federation (BTPF), which has been campaigning for the memorial, said: “A national memorial to the memory of rail workers is long overdue. Whilst many lives have been lost in times of conflict over the years this memorial recognises much more than that. It is also to the memory of those killed in the construction of the railway, those who have lost their lives subsequently in tragic accidents and moreover to all those who have worked to provide the railway we enjoy today and for those who will take the industry forward in the future.
“We want this to be a place where people can come and reflect in quiet solitude, and pay their respects whether it be to loved ones, friends or simply the unsung heroes from across the industry.”
The locomotive rests on top of a plinth measuring approximately 2.7 metres wide by 2.3 metres high. As well as an inscription on the face of the plinth, the reverse features a montage of images representing the rail industry over the years. It includes men and women involved in everything from present day maintenance and customer service back to the days when British Rail owned ships and hotels, and even further back to when wooden carriages were washed by hand.
In addition to the montage, the plinth carries the coats of arms of the Great Western Railway Company, London North Eastern Railway, London, Midland & Scottish and the Southern Railway Company, the Lion Wheel of the British Transport Commission and the double arrow national railway symbol.
The memorial incorporates two stone seats and is situated just off the Arboretum’s Millennium Way, in sight of the Birmingham to Derby railway line. Close to the River Thame, it is an ideal location for peaceful contemplation.
The BTPF, which has approximately 17,000 members, was at the forefront of fund raising for the memorial and raised approximately £50,000 from individuals and industry partners.