After 68 years of service, the man thought to be Britain’s longest-serving railway employee has done his last shift at Waterloo station.
Don Buckley, 82 joined Waterloo’s station team in 1953, aged just 14. He was supposed to go to Euston station to start a job there as a messenger, but arrived at Waterloo after jumping into taxi and asking to be taken to the big station in London.
Speaking in 2018, Don, who moved to London from County Kerry in 1952 after being sent to England to make a living, 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 remained at Waterloo until his retirement earlier this week. His last shift was as an employee of South Western Railway, and after all those decades of working at Waterloo station, his wage slip has had many different company names at the top.
Due to his long time with the railways though, he was also one of the few people still working in the industry with formal training to decouple a steam train.
Don, who was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Rail Business Awards two years ago, was given an official send-off at an event at Waterloo station on Wednesday 2nd June.
In recent years, he worked three shifts per week, helping visually impaired and disabled passengers around Waterloo station.