Tuesday 1 Aug 2006
BIG WULLIE THE LOCKING FITTER SAYS GOODBYE AFTER 50 YEARS
- Region & Route:
Scotland’s Railway: Scotland
One of Scotland’s longest serving railwayman - William Downie, better known to his colleagues as ‘Big Wullie the Locking Fitter’ - has clocked off for the last time after 50 years service. Based at Perth station, William is the last “time served” locking fitter in Scotland.
William started with the railway on 10 September, 1956, as a 15-year-old apprentice in Perth, building the locks in the signal box that were essential to the safety of every train on the railway. It was a time of steam engines and tracks were moved manually with levers and gears.
Since then he has worked at many other sites in Scotland, mainly on the east coast, as well as England. He was also pleased to be the last man to maintain the Borders line, which was closed in 1969. Working on that line was one of the most enjoyable jobs he had in his career.
William described the changes he has seen during his time with the railway. When he started, everything was mechanical, whereas now “it’s all buttons on panels, with no levers,” he said. “There’s much more emphasis on safety now, too.”
He has now been based for over 20 years in Perth, his original home. For this reason, and to honour his exceptional commitment to the railway, Network Rail has unveiled a plaque at Perth Station. The plaque recognizes him as “The Last ‘Time Served’ Locking Fitter in Scotland”.
“He’s the last of his kind, which is sad to see,” said Richard Lungmuss, Network Rail’s director of maintenance in Scotland. “His colleagues will miss him greatly, but we wish him the best for his retirement.”
A retirement party was also held for him in July, and he described himself as both “chuffed” and “honoured” by the attention from Network Rail. His last day at work is August 1st.
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