Full steam ahead in memory of railway stalwart Julie

A steam locomotive will carry a wreath on the smokebox in memory of a woman who devoted her life to railways and died at the age of 62.
Julie at work on Haworth Station in 1992 (Photo: Chris Bates)Julie at work on Haworth Station in 1992 (Photo: Chris Bates)
Julie at work on Haworth Station in 1992 (Photo: Chris Bates)

Julie Bates, née Carter, moved to Lincolnshire in 2016 with her husband Chris – a volunteer guard at Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (KWVR) for 41 years and at the Lincolnshire Light Railway (LCLR) in Skegness since they moved to Horsington, near Woodhall Spa.

She died on holiday in Aruba in the Dutch Caribbean and a celebration of her life will be held in the Bay Horse Inn, Oxenhope – her home village and the terminus of the KWVR, for whom she worked from 1990 as their first administration employee.

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Julie also volunteered as a pixie on Santa Specials on the KWVLR and with platform and general duties on the LCLR.

She moved from the KWVR to Birmingham in 1994 to marry Chris and after working in the University of Birmingham administering a master’s degree course in occupational health, she joined the Rail Section of the erstwhile Centro passenger transport authority.

There her ability to acquire batteries for Bardic lamps and her understanding of emergency procedures for single line working, vacuum brakes and railway terminology was a distinct advantage.

Julie later became the administration manager of the Midland Metro Extension in Birmingham and then the National Co-ordinator of the tramways’ trade body UKTram, covering modern and heritage tramways in the UK, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland.

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She was a regular attender at Christmas functions in Buckingham Palace for members of the Diplomatic Corps through her husband’s role as the Overseas Representative of the world’s most remote inhabited island, Tristan da Cunha, and accompanied him to meetings in some of the world’s most isolated islands.

She enthusiastically joined in travels with him on railways throughout the British Isles and Europe and as far – most recently to steam heritage lines in the Eastern USA and to Australia, New Zealand and many locations in Europe.

Former KWVR colleague Jim Shipley, writing in the most recent issue of the KWVLR magazine Push and Pull, described Julie as having a personality “that could shape mountains, let alone a mere railway office”.

“With her can-do attitude, the volunteers immediately took to Julie”, he wrote.

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“Her sense of mischief and humour was legendary and infectious.

“Julie was a genuinely wonderful lass who was as unpredictable as she was loveable and reliable. Her path through life was not always a smooth one, but she came through smiling and her passing was both cruel and untimely”.

Julie was cremated in Aruba and her ashes are buried in the churchyard of All Saints Church, Horsington after a memorial service which raised £1,400 for the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance. As well as her husband, she is survived by her brother David Carter, sister Jill Buckley and stepson Robert Bates.

The celebration of her life will be at 2 pm on Saturday, June 8. It is expected that the steam locomotive on KWVLR services will carry a wreath on the smokebox that day .

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