After 20 years’ service as stationmaster at the busy Westmorland junction of Oxenholme, near Kendal, Mr. Robert Raffels has retired, with the good wishes of colleagues, and hundreds of rail-users, to Tibicar-lane, Heysham.
At the age of 60, he has completed 46 years’ railway service and has maintained a family tradition. His father, the late Robert Raffels, spent 45 years with the old Maryport and Carlisle Railway, 32 as stationmaster at Curthwaite, Wigton and Carlisle (Crown), and it was in the stationmaster’s house at Curthwaite that Mr. Raffels was born.
Altogether these two Robert Raffels spent a total of 91 years working for the railway, 63 of them in the position of stationmaster.
Mr. Raffels started his career at the age of 14 in the parcels and booking office at Citadel Station, Carlisle, and worked in other departments in Carlisle before being transferred to the District Traffic Superintendent’s Office at Lancaster in 1896. He was appointed stationmaster at Glasson Dock in 1909., and two years later took up a similar position at Southwaite, near Carlisle. He spent several years as a relief stationmaster, occupying the position, temporarily, at nearly every station between Preston and Carlisle., and 20 years ago was appointed to Oxenholme.
He has a fund of reminiscences about railway incidents and passengers. People of all nationalities have changed at Oxenholme on their way to tour the Lakes, and Royal trains have frequently passed through the station.
Mr. Raffels told a colleague that with one exception he had been on the station on every occasion a Royal train had passed through in the last 20 years. The only time he missed, he said, was when he was on leave.
One of his most pleasant recollections was being introduced on the station to the King and Queen (then the Duke and Duchess of York) when they were visiting Kendal.
His worst experience was during the snow hold-ups early this year. “I have never seen anything like it.” He said. “We worked nearly 24 hours a day and it was an ordeal I would not care to repeat.”
Railways have changed since Mr. Raffels early association with them, for when he first started at Carlisle, seven different railway companies, The L.N.W., the Midland, North-Eastern, the Maryport and Carlisle, the Caledonian, the G. and G.W.,and the N.B. all ran into Carlisle.
One of this hardworking stationmaster’s few hobbies is collecting photographs, and he has a rare collection of snaps of engines, including modern “crack” locomotives and those of a type now obsolete.
Passengers having cause to change regularly at Oxenholme will miss the big, cheery official who always had a smile and a joke for evryone.
Lancashire Evening Post 07 May 1940