Leeds nostalgia: History repeats itself at train depot

ROLLING STOCK: Neville Hill depot in 1984.
ROLLING STOCK: Neville Hill depot in 1984.
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Staff at East Midlands Trains Neville Hill depot have pulled out all the stops to recreate a picture taken by the Yorkshire Evening Post 30 years ago to the day.

The picture was published recently in our regular nostalgia column and was spotted by staff, who noted that the train in the picture was still running.

Not only that, some of the staff shown standing proudly in front of it 30 years ago are still working there today.

On January 21 this year, staff gathered just as they did on January 21 1984 for a picture in front of Power Car 43049. History was most definitely repeating itself.

Project manager Simon Robert, 43, said: “It was the picture published in the Yorkshire Evening Post which created a lot of interest in the department, not least because the train in it is still running.

“In fact, some of the people who were in the 1984 picture were still working here, so we had the idea of trying to recreate the picture 30 years on. I think it’s probably quite rare to have the same train running with the same name plate and some of the same staff after 30 years. There was a real feel-good factor in the department following the original story and more now we have recreated the picture.

“The old and new pictures will now be hung on our wall.”

‘Neville Hill’, otherwise known as power car 43049, was officially named on January 21, 1984 at the Leeds-based depot.

The same power car is still in operation on the main line route to London with its original name plates still intact and it continues to be maintained at Neville Hill depot.

Five of the members of staff who were at the original train naming in 1984 helped other employees at the depot to celebrate the significant milestone.

Paul Corrie and Allan Gant, both quality inspectors, along with Brendon Conlon, HST cleaning manager, Dave Tinnion, engine supplier MAN technician and Steve Gorman from Northern Rail, who are all still based at Neville Hill, helped recreate the proud moment when the train was officially named.

Linda Wain, HST Fleet and depot manager for East Midlands Trains, said: “This is a great achievement for the team at Neville Hill. The last 30 years have seen so many changes and improvements to rail services and they should be proud that ‘Neville Hill’ continues to play such a significant role in the delivery of today’s railway.”

Brendon Coleman, 55, who was 21 when he joined the ‘railways’ in 1980, was on the original picture in 1984.

He said: “The joke among railway staff is that people come here as a stop-gap and end up staying 30 years.

“There is something about the railways which hooks people. It was nice to see the original picture and, although some of the people on there have passed away, a lot haven’t.

“When I started aged 21 I was a foreman’s time keeper at the Holbeck depot.

“It’s just one of those jobs which people like doing - if you like something, you don’t just move for the sake of it do you?

“Some people are nostalgic about the trains but I think if you work on them day in day out, you don’t feel that way as such. Some of the people who follow these sorts of things know more than we do.

“The HST was probably the best train ever built, it was made in the 1970s for the business market, it’s fast. It’s good this one is still running and it has created a talking point among the staff.”

Neville Hill was built by the North Eastern Railway at a cost of £132,971 and opened in 1904. The line from Leeds Central station to Neville Hill depot was electrified in the early 1990s.

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