Howard Hammersley ‘Mr Dalesrail’ Dies

Posted on - 7th February, 2015 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - History, People, Preston Railway Station, Transport
Howard Hamersley 1938 - 2015

Howard Hamersley, fondly known as Mr. Dalesrail 1938 – 2015

One of Lancashire’s leading ramblers, local historian, conservation activist and the father of the Dalesrail train excursions died Monday 19th January¬†after a short stay in hospital.


Howard Hammersley and his team introduced thousands of walkers from Preston and Lancashire to the pleasures of riding the scenic Settle and Carlisle railway and exploring the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbrian countryside. Howard’s meticulous planning and monitoring of the Sunday summer Dalesrail trains allowed many to visit Hadrian’s Wall, Appleby, Wensleydale, Barnard Castle and Carlisle. His careful statistics and train reports often meant he was better informed than some train managers – vital for lobbying for improved services.

Howard was also a leading organiser for the Rail Rambler excursions which, until the 1990’s, took Prestonians to hard-to-reach places like Whitby, Nottingham, Worcester or Llandudno. His day job was Head of Strategic Marketing and Planning for Baxi Heating Ltd. in Bamber Bridge where he worked with Bryan Gray. Howard helped to arrange Baxi’s sponsorship of David Hunt’s authoritative ‘History of Preston North End’ he secured Baxi’s archives and wrote the standard history of the unique firm. He was a member of the West Pennine Moors Area Management Committee which, working with the NW Water Authority and, later, United Utilities, has helped to conserve and promote the West Pennine moors between Blackburn and Bolton.

Howard was a very knowledgeable local historian, place name expert and social and railway historian. He was a graduate of Leicester University’s famous geography department, led by W.G. Hoskins, Britain’s leading historic geographer. His grasp of railway history – and politics – was encyclopedic. Many will miss his cheery enthusiasm, energy and deep learning worn lightly.

Howard Hammersley (2nd from left) on Carlisle Railway Station joining an excursion party with Aidan Turner-Bishop leading

Howard Hammersley (2nd from left) on Carlisle Railway Station with his very good friend Aidan Turner-Bishop

Howard attended Chadderton Grammar School – he was involved in the Debating Society (or rather ran it) and the Historical Society – he represented his school at cricket – he was opening bat for his team. At the weekends he enjoyed visiting engine sheds around the country. In his spare time at university (there was not much) he was involved doing field courses at the weekends. He and a group of friends went walking – no doubt Howard was leading and map reading.
After university he got a job at Baxi Heating Ltd., a company whose values he believed in and it is where he spent all of his working life. He began on a graduate scheme where he had to have experience of the shop floor Рbuilding boilers. He learnt economics and statistics. Above all he wanted to return to live and work in Lancashire, where he grew up, and have access to the Lake District, fields, mountains etc., which he loved.

We are grateful to Aidan Turner-Bishop for his kind help in contacting Howard’s family.

Howard’s funeral will take place at Carelton Crematorium at Stocks Road , Blackpool , FY6 7QS, on Tuesday, February 17th at 1.00 pm.
The family request no flowers but donations can be sent to hammersley   Opening this will take you to a page related to Howard and a means to make a donation.

Have you travelled on a Dalesrail train and did you meet Howard? Let us know in the comments below.

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