Train Driver Retires After 50 Years on the Rails

Monday, 13 August 2012

London to Norwich Greater Anglia train driver John Hockley retired on Monday 13 August after completing 50 years service on the rails, to the exact day that he joined the railway in 1962.

John Hockley joined the railway on 13 August 1962, just three few days after his fifteenth birthday. Born and brought up in Dagenham, John comes from a family of dock workers, but decided to buck the family trend. As a lad he had always had an interest in trains and belonged to the ‘loco spotters’ club, enjoying trips to Kings Cross and Euston station, hence he made the decision to step up to the footplate.

John started work at Stratford Depot, once the biggest steam depot in Europe, as cleaner of locomotives, becoming a messenger boy a few months later. At this time he witnessed the historic transition from steam to diesel engines and in 1964 he qualified as a ‘fireman’ or ‘secondman’, by now working entirely on diesel engines.

In 1969 John had the thrill of working on the Royal Train on which HM the Queen and Princess Anne were travelling, for which he was given a memorable 15 shillings for his trouble.

On 13 February 1972 John fulfilled his boyhood ambition and qualified as a train driver, based at Ripple Lane Depot, Dagenham, he drove freight trains to destinations as diverse as Swindon, Southampton, and Peterborough.

In 1993 John transferred back to Stratford Depot, where he began to drive passenger trains on the Great Eastern mainline route between London and Norwich.  Soon after John and 20 of his fellow drivers transferred to London Liverpool Street station, from where he has continued to work on the Norwich services until today.

Andy Camp Greater Anglia’s Commercial Director said “John’s dedication to the railway is legendary, as is his enthusiasm. We all wish him a very happy retirement, but we will miss him, he is one of a kind.”

John Hockley lives in Dagenham, where he attends his local church, is a keen youth football coach and table tennis player. John is also a dedicated supporter of Manchester City Football Club, perhaps not an obvious choice for a lad from Dagenham, but having seen an inspirational cup final on TV in his youth he decided he could support no other club and attends their matches as often as possible. During his retirement John hopes to spend more time at the seaside and is looking forward to devoting time to his duties as a Grandad. He hopes to remain involved in the railway in some way, as he said the railway is “not a job it’s a way of life”.