Bench for Wigan rail worker unveiled

A popular Wigan railway worker now has a permanent memorial in the station where he worked for many years thanks to his colleagues.

Sunday, 20th October 2019, 1:45 pm
The unveiling of the memorial bench to John Mitchinson at Wigan Wallgate station, following a fund-raising effort by his former colleagues in the rail industry and in the RMT union
The unveiling of the memorial bench to John Mitchinson at Wigan Wallgate station, following a fund-raising effort by his former colleagues in the rail industry and in the RMT union

A bench has been unveiled to conductor John Mitchinson at Wigan Wallgate following a fund-raising effort by his former colleagues in the RMT union.

John, who was a familiar and much-liked face at Wallgate during his three-decade career in public transport, died in 2016 aged just 53.

His former colleagues at work and in the union struggled to find information about his final resting place so decided they wanted to have something to remember him at his place of work.

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A total of 32 train employees and union members pulled on their walking boots for a tough hike from Southport to Wigan, a route John had previously done to raise money for Wigan and Leigh Hospice.

Their footsore achievement brought in the £640 needed to put the bench and plaque in the town centre station.

RMT Wigan branch chair Steve Shaw said: “It’s fantastic to have the bench and something we are all proud of doing.

“When John died we didn’t know what happened to his ashes and there was no bench or plot for him at the crematorium, so I came up with the idea of having the bench and we put in place the fund-raising walk.

“John was a popular character at work, a lifelong railway worker. It was the only job he ever did. He was also a 30-year member of the RMT.

“He was very much liked. I never heard anybody have a bad word to say about John.”

The unveiling ceremony at Wallgate was attended by members of the committee for the RMT Solidarity Fund, which helps workers either in hardship or taking part in industrial action.

Steve says he hopes the John Mitchinson Memorial Walk from Southport to Wigan will now become a regular fund-raising event.

Rail workers made their way along the Lancashire canal towpaths, battling blisters and rain, before finishing at The Anvil pub.