Obituary: Henry Smith

Harry Smith worked for more than four decades on the railways

Harry Smith worked for more than four decades on the railways

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Tributes have been paid to a man who dedicated his career to the railways, performing many roles, most notably overseeing the re-signalling project after the electrification of the East Coast main line.

Henry Smith, known as Harry, was born in the Easter Road area and as a young man set his sights on carving out a career as a joiner.

However, towards the end of the Second World War he was offered a job with the London and North Eastern Railway, which ran the East Coast line and the route to Edinburgh.

Based at Waverley, his early duties involved delivering mail to signal boxes at different parts of the station.

Harry developed a fascination for the work of the signalmen in these boxes and began following in their footsteps at the lowest grade as a junior bookmarker.

He went on to become a signalman in his own right and very quickly rose through the ranks, eventually being appointed as a special class signalman at the Waverley East box.

Harry also served with Royal Engineers, working on the railway operating division, before returning to the employment of British Rail, which selected him for specialised signalling training.

Promotion soon beckoned as Harry was accelerated into the role of relief station master and performed other roles such as district operating inspector.

In 1983, he was appointed regional signalling and safety officer, with his main task being the overseeing of re-signalling when the East Coast main line was electrified, a project which began in the late 1980s and finished in 1990.

After more than four decades of hard work on his beloved railways, Harry decided to take up the offer of early retirement.

He died peacefully at the age of 84 on Saturday, July 21 at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, after a long battle with illness.

A funeral service was held at Uphall South Church, where he was a regular, last Friday.

His friend, Harry Knox, paid tribute, saying: “Harry was a railwayman in every sense of the word.

“He was passionate about his job and served British Rail well.

“He also lived for his wife, Rene, and their two daughters, Brenda and Janet, and was a faithful member of Uphall South Church, his long-time place of worship.”

Mr Knox said he was proud to call Harry his friend.

“Harry Smith was in every way a true gentleman for whom nothing was too much trouble,” he said.

“I consider it both an honour and a great privilege to have known him and worked with him.”

Harry was a beloved husband of Rene, a dearly loved father to Janet and Brenda, as well as a grandfather to Max, Colin, Kirsty and Finn.