"I feel so lucky": London Waterloo employee retires aged 82, looks back on lifetime's service

  Posted: 07.06.21 at 16:47 by Ellie Brown

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An 82-year-old railway worker in South West London is retiring after almost seven decades of service at London Waterloo station

Don Buckley is believed to be the UK's longest-serving railway employee and joined the team in 1953 aged just 14 years old.

68 years later, Don has witnessed historic Waterloo events, won a lifetime achievement award and helped countless people access services at the station.

The well-loved railway worker was still working three shifts per week when he retired on Wednesday 2 June.

Most recently, he was helping impaired and disabled passengers around Waterloo station and providing unrivalled London knowledge to customers needing directions around the city.

Don started working at London Waterloo by coincidence. When he was 14 years old, he travelled from County Kerry, Ireland, jumped in a taxi and asked the driver to take him to “the big station in London."

Fancy a flick? Waterloo cinema back when it was in operation (Credit: Ken Roe via Flickr)

He expected to be taken Euston, but instead arrived at Waterloo and found a job as a station message boy.

Throughout his years of service, Don witnessed the last steam train leave Waterloo, saw a historic 1930s cinema in action at the station until its closure in 1970, and was there when the great train robber Buster Edwards set up a flower stall outside the station in 1975.

In the 21st century he saw Waterloo transformed into a film set as blockbusters the Bourne Ultimatum and Skyfall were filmed there.

Reflecting on his time at the station, Don said: “I have loved working at Waterloo for all these years.

"The station may have changed a lot since the 1950s, but it’s still such a special place and I feel so lucky to have had so many wonderful experiences working here.

You raise me up: the old lift at the station, pictured in the 1980s (Credit: SV1XV via Flickr)

“The people are what make the station special and I will miss my colleagues and customers immensely.

"While all good things come to an end, Waterloo will always have a very special place in my heart."

London Waterloo Regional Manager at South Western Railway Chico Coulibaly said: “Don is a well-respected and much-loved member of our team.

"His wealth of knowledge about the railway, Waterloo and London is unrivalled, and he will be dearly missed by colleagues and customers alike.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank Don for all his years of service and the significant contribution he has made at Waterloo.

Memory lane: the station in 1975! (Credit: Hugh Llewelyn via Flickr)

"We wish Don all the very best for his retirement.”

Photo credits: Hugh Llewelyn , Ken Roe , SV1XW , GI-L , and RachelH_

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