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Last Updated: Friday, 3 September, 2004, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
End of line for railway lover
John Slater
Mr Slater came to Talyllyn up to 30 times a year
An enthusiast who volunteered for 50 years on the railway which inspired the Thomas the Tank Engine stories has had his ashes carried by steam train to a final resting place.

John Slater, who died aged 76 in July, was a devoted supporter of the Talyllyn Railway near Tywyn, Gwynedd.

Despite living in London, Mr Slater, who edited Railway Magazine, travelled every fortnight to work on the railway.

His ashes were interred near the line after a memorial service in Tywyn.

Mr Slater trained as an engineer in Manchester, where he learned of the Talyllyn narrow-gauge railway, and joined the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society in the 1950s.

He went on edit the quarterly Talyllyn News, which prompted a career move into railway publications, ending up as editor of Railway Magazines in 1970.

Author's visit

He never completely retired from the magazine, and continued working as a consultant as well as keeping up his regular trips to Tywyn, where he had a cottage.

During his time with the railway, he became an expert at making metal parts to join the rails together.

Train on Talyllyn line
His ashes were carried to a resting place next to the line
He was said to have encyclopaedic knowledge of the railway world, after devoting his life to the subject.

A memorial service was held at St Cadfan's Church in Tywyn for Mr Slater before his ashes were taken by special train from Tywyn Wharf Station to nearby Brynglas station.

The Talyllyn Railway was the inspiration for the popular children's stories Thomas the Tank Engine following a visit by the author Reverend Wilbert Awdry in the 1950s.

Richard Hope, director of Talyllyn Railway, said all the members knew Mr Slater.

"He was very much part of the landscape.

"He was here 20 or 30 times a year and put in an enormous amount of time and effort."

Mr Slater's nephew Patrick Scott told BBC Wales: "He would travel up and down by train.

"He never owned a car, never even learned to drive, but insisted on travelling everywhere by train.

"He never had a TV - he'd sometimes listen to the radio. "He spent his whole time typing manually on a typewriter article or whatever for magazines."

Facelift for 'Thomas' station
14 Mar 03  |  Wales


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