New bench will be dedicated to Wigan rail worker

Railway staff swapped tracks for towpaths as they completed a gruelling walk in memory of a popular Wigan employee.

Friday, 21st June 2019, 10:43 am
Walkers at the start of the trek to Wigan

Members of the RMT transport union who work in the borough trekked from Southport back to Wigan in a fund-raising effort for well-known conductor John Mitchinson.

Other news: Jobs appear safe as four-star Wigan hotel is flogged off by debt-ridden parent companyJohn worked on the railways for more than three decades and was a much-liked and familiar face at Wallgate station before he died in 2016, aged just 53.

His colleagues are now raising money to buy a bench and plaque for him and get it installed in the station, with the funding drive so far having raised around £700.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The walk was a tough challenge, with less than half the group managing the full distance, as the hikers made their way across Lancashire along the canal towpaths.

Those who battled the blisters and kept on track were rewarded with a well-earned pint at town centre watering hole The Anvil, which served as the finish line for the

walk.

RMT Wigan rep Steven Shaw said: “John worked on the railways for 35 years.

“He was very popular in the station, having worked in Wigan from the British Rail days through to privatisation.

“Everyone knew him and he was also a popular character in the Springfield area where he lived.

“He died suddenly and had no remaining family so his colleagues at Wigan decided to do this walk to get a bench and plaque to remember him by.”

The walkers are now hoping to order a bench this week so it will be in place at Wallgate soon.

If the funds from the hike do not cover all the costs the rest of the money will be met through the Wigan RMT Solidarity Fund, which was established for train employees during the long recent series of train strikes.