Drivers past and present of First Capital Connect gathered to name a train ‘Driver Mick Winnett’ in honour of one of their number at a ceremony in Bedford station on Monday 6 February.
The widow of retired Bedford driver instructor Mick Winnett unveiled the name plate on a Class 319 unit berthed in platform 1A. Mick started his railway career in 1958 in the days of steam at Kettering as an engine cleaner before being passed out for firing duties.
He ‘fired’ on many of the turns allocated to Kettering including lodging at Toton with ironstone trains. When Kettering closed in 1969 he moved to Bedford where he was made a driver and in 1978 he became an instructor on all types of diesels that operated at that time.
He continued as an instructor until he retired in October 2007 almost 30 years later. Whenever a trainee was having difficulty it was always, ‘What’s Mick Winnett doing next week?’ This resulted in many having the benefit of his immense knowledge of both rule book and traction. He died in August 2011 after a battle with cancer.
FCC Operations Director Jackie Townsend attended Monday’s ceremony and said, ‘This was a very important occasion for First Capital Connect and colleagues and we were delighted to be able to name one of our trains after Mick. He was one of our most respected driver instructors who taught scores of trainees to a high standard. Without the likes of Mick and others who have followed in his footsteps, we would not be able to transport the 150,000 people we do every day.’
Bill Davies, a retired driver from Chapman Close, Kempston, was a close friend. ‘It was always a joy to have Mick as your instructor as he made learning a pleasure,’ says Bill.
‘He had a marvellous smile and dedicated his working life to the railway. When he died it was a spontaneous reaction of all the drivers at Bedford that we make this permanent reminder of him.
Now, when someone says ‘Where’s Mick?’ we can say, ‘He’s probably on his way to Brighton or on his way round the Wimbledon Loop.’ Mick Winnett leaves a widow Joan, son Peter, daughter Jane and grandchildren.