Derek Shepherd

It is with huge sadness that the Manchester Transport Museum Society announces the death of our long standing Deputy Chairman Derek Shepherd today the 1st of November.Born in Bolton on the 12th of November 1930 he died after a short illness, just two weeks before his 90th birthday, an event he had been so looking forward to.Derek lived a long, full and packed life, one that would take so long to chart to do true justice to, so we offer this as a flavour of our friend and mentor. Others I’m sure will know more of Derek from other sides of his family and Church lives and will wish to offer their own thoughts and thanks, while we offer our condolences to his family and friends. A Tramwayman through and through, his connections with his beloved trams in his home town led to him starting to help out with the Tramways Department in Bolton during the dark days of the Second World War, along with friend Alan Ralphs both then teenagers. By the end of the war, these chores including shunting trams around the shed and even driving trams up into the town centre when the need arose. Something unthinkable in todays world, but clearly they did what was needed when the times required it. His first job was as a Trolley Boy on the trams, duties he indeed carried out on the towns last tram in service on 29th of March 1947, surely one of the very last young men to fulfil that role on Britain’s tramways. This gave him an active career on the tramways of the area lasting 75 years, an amazing feat. After further studies and National Service, a long career in the electricity generating industry saw him retire as the Power Station Manager for Kearsley Power Station, which of course had its own internal electric railway and where various trams were seen to run ‘on test’ in later years. A member of the local tramway pressure group from a young age, something that saw him attending meetings in the Briton’s Protection pub in Manchester during the war – by tram of course, as far as was still possible. He went on to be an early member of the Tramway Museum Society at the National Tramway Museum in Crich, only not being a founder member as he was in Germany on National Service at the time, and a founder member of the local MTMS and was in the thick of both societies efforts to set up their respective museums over the following decades. However the need to have a preserved Bolton tram was too strong and led him along with a small group of others to seek out one of the remaining tram bodies from a local farm. Over the following 18 years it was restored to its former glory, before arriving in Blackpool on 23rd July 1981, where it has run with great success ever since – a testament to his and the rest of the team’s hard work and dedication. Not one to sit back having done that, he was active in many other local museums such as Science and Industry Museum in Manchester with the National Electricity Gallery and was at the heart of the various tramway projects around the centenary of Blackpool’s tramways in 1985. Indeed many of the visiting trams that ran there that year did so with his help. This was something that led to him being honored as President of the TMS the following year in recognition for that work. It also led on to the creation of the Bolton Trams Company, set up to carry out further tramcar rebuilds from 1987 until 2002. With us within Heaton Park, he was always there, driving us forward, planning the next development of the tramway and having the vision for where the society should be heading, to keep us growing. A dedicated husband to Julie, father to his 5 children and a grandfather to 8 and great grandfather of 2 he was also a lifelong committed Christian. These things ran deep through his life and led to his fatherly hand on all of us he helped to develop a love of tramways. A great mentor for those willing to listen to his deep fund of knowledge, fascinating tales of times past and wealth of experience from having been there, done that and getting the job done, both to keep the trams running and the lights on in homes and industry, in what feels like another world to us now.

Thank you Derek for so very very much Ding Ding, Right Away Driver and Rest in Peace my friend.

One Reply to “Derek Shepherd”

  1. Just to add to Derek’s notable achievements, he was also fundamental in the early 1980’s, in helping to set up the working steam railway at, what would become the Greater Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (Liverpool Road Station). As a senior representative of the Electricity Board, he arranged the acquisition of an 0.4.0 Battery locomotive, which I believe is still in use there, as well as other items on extended loan, such as RSH 0.4.0 saddle tank steam locomotive “Agecroft No. 3”. Once these were on site he oversaw the initial development of public train rides, arranging volunteer staff training/examination and the establishment of the running line there. Derek was massively enthusiastic, knowledgeable, helpful, personable, approachable, sincerely interested in everything which came his way, and will be greatly missed.

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