Network Rail and South Western Railway are celebrating the career of who they believe is the country’s longest serving rail worker as they mark the 170th birthday of Waterloo station.
Don Buckley, 79, joined Waterloo’s station team in 1953 and now works for South Western Railway helping visually impaired and disabled customers make their way around the station.
He moved to London from County Kerry, Ireland, aged just 14 after being sent to England to make a living.
Don said: “I was very young and frightened when I came here all those years ago. I couldn’t get my own place to live. Everywhere was ‘room to let, but no Irish’.
“I was getting £7 a week and had to send a lot of that money home to my mother. It was hard back then but I loved working here.
“All the gentlemen wore bowler hats in those days, and everyone had an umbrella. I remember we used to have a cinema by platform one and I’d sneak-up and watch the kids’ shows on the Saturday.”
He added: “Some of the people I’ve met here over the years are unbelievable. I once took Sir Stanley Matthews’ suitcase – he gave me four shillings. I helped carry lots of people’s luggage over the years.
“Roger Moore tipped me £10, and I took Alfred Hitchcock’s as well. I wasn’t too fond of him though because he had a very heavy suitcase full of books. When they were making that Bourne film here they told me I couldn’t go up a flight of stairs, well, I did and that young man Matt Damon opened the gate for me.
“The station has changed a lot while I’ve been here. There’s no more steam trains or anything like that, but it’s still the station I love and I think it’ll be fantastic when the former international terminal re-opens.”
“When I’m on holidays or when I’m off, I miss Waterloo,” he added. “It’s like losing a finger; like I’m missing a part of me. My daughters and sons say to me ‘dad, you’re getting old’ but I don’t listen. My wife says to me every day: ‘all you ever talk about is Waterloo, Waterloo, Waterloo’, but I can’t help it; Waterloo’s a part of my life and I’m happy.”
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