Southport Reporter (R) Online Nespaper for Merseyside

Read our Tracking & Cookie Usage Policy


Terms and Conditions

Southport and  Mersey Reporter -  Your free online newspaper service covering the Merseyside region - (Greater Liverpool).
Covering the news in and around Merseyside


Click on here to email our news room today!



Your free online newspaper for Merseyside
This website is licence to carry news from and UK Press Photography.



Latest Edition



Order Photos  Help Client Admin Advert Options

Updated news stories weekly.  Published online only, every Thursday,

Your online newspaper.   Your words.

Issue:- 17 October 2013

Obituary:- "Vale Alec Macdonald - Southport's last Shedmaster"
Written by Kenn Pearce

ALEXANDER (Alec) Macdonald was an 'old time' railwaymen for whom loyalty and a true passion for steam and railways resulted in 46 years' service, including becoming Southport motive power depot's final shedmaster.

Alec joined the LMS at Liverpool's Bank Hall shed on 5 November 1946, as a 16 year old apprentice fitter. Little did he realise it was the start of a journey that would lead to senior roles at sheds in North Wales, Lancashire and Merseyside, before witnessing steam's farewell at Southport and Speke Junction sheds.

"There was no sense in the 1950s that steam was on its way out; I viewed it as a job for life and that steam would continue (forever). In the '60s, however, it was a different thing."
he recalled in a 2011 interview.

As an apprentice fitter Alec learned to change gauge glasses, renew piston gland packing and renew brake blocks.

Finishing his apprenticeship in 1951, Bank Hall kept him on when many staff were 'let go'. After an engine driver's strike in 1955, Alec was asked if he'd do a spell at Walton-on-the-Hill shed. Some shed staff rejected such openings but Alec saw a golden opportunity to expand his knowledge and skills. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience and found a mentor in the running shed foreman, who told Alec he could do better if he got himself a transfer.

Alec also spent time on loan at Wigan 'C' shed in the early 1950s, filling in during staff shortages. "It was an interesting shed, situated on a slope and you had to be careful with locos to ensure their brakes were on or they might run away." he remembered.

Wigan 'C' had a batch of ex-Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway 0-8-0s and Alec was responsible for condemning the last one there:- "I heard a funny noise when it was coming on shed one day and upon inspection it was found the crank webs had shifted. All the expense of going through the works…it was eventually despatched to Horwich for scrapping."

Later, when Walton's chargehand fitter was about to retire, Alec saw a chance for further advancement and successfully applied for the position. Following this, he returned to Bank Hall shed for three months as assistant mechanical foreman.

In 1959, Alec applied for and won the Rhyl shedmaster's job taking up the North Wales appointment from Easter; he then deputised at Bangor until January 1960, before filling a temporary vacancy at Lees (Oldham) for 8 months, being in charge of the breakdown train.

Eventually Southport's shedmaster position became vacant and in June 1960 Alec secured the job. Beforehand British Railways sent him to Bolton shed to gain further experience.

"I didn't feel out of my depth due to the past experiences I'd had." he recalled when interviewed in 2011.

By early 1962, some of Bank Hall shed's engines were being transferred to busier district sheds and Alec asked for the unique Stephenson-link motion Black 5 No.44767 (a 'very strong engine' he recalled from his time at Bank Hall where it was often used on Leeds trains). Although Alec was bluntly told he'd get what he was given, to his delight he found his favourite loco transferred to Southport.

By the mid-1960s steam was in decline across the North West and inevitably Southport, with an allocation of 12 locos, was closed on 6 June 1966. Alec was saddened by the closure, especially with many men 'worrying about the future as they became redundant. (Alec avoided this fate due to an agreement that the railways provide him 'a job for life' instead of compensation, following a workshop accident in his teens in which he largely lost three fingers).

Following Southport's closure, Alec's experience took him to Speke Junction where steam survived for another 23 months, then a lengthy term at Birkenhead Mollington Street as train crew supervisor and, later, at Liverpool Lime Street, where he retired in 1992. Asked in 2011 whether he'd any regrets, Alec had only one; that he hadn't saved a steam loco when they were being scrapped in the 1960s.

Alec was always on hand to display his trains and play a part in model railway exhibitions and for over 30 years was a supporter of the Woodvale Rally, organising and running the rally's famous 'railway tent'.

Alec Macdonald passed away on Wednesday, 10 July 2013, and is survived by his wife Margaret, children Fiona, Linden and Ewan and grandchildren Tabitha, Tallula, Miranda, Finn and Len. He will be greatly missed by family and friends who will remember a 'man of steam' whose passion for railways was unrivalled.



Click on here to go back to this week's home page!

Our radio station phone in message line...   Call us now!

Click on this section to see last weeks edition of Southport and Mersey Reporter!

Sign up today for our daily email news service!

Sign up to our Daily Email News Service by clicking here now...

Southport and Mersey Reporter  July at  leading the way for local news.
We where the UK's first online only newspaper!

All email addresses and information is held under the UK's Data Protection Act.

Highlighted events that are taking place this month:-

If you have an event and want to get it noticed, let us know by emailing us to:-

Click on the event title displayed above to find out about lots more events, as well as dates & times!

Our websites in our online series.   Group navigation, information and useful none group links...
Southport TV - Our online video archive. Liverpool Reporter - Our online music station. Mersey Reporter - OUR HUB WEBSITE.
Southport TV Liverpool Reporter Mersey Reporter Formby Reporter

Add to Google

This is what the moon is doing tonight.  Click on to find out why.

See the view live webcamera images of the road outside our studio/newsroom in the hart of Southport.

Our live Southport Webcam.  To see click live, click on image.


Show us your location
Please sign our map and let us know where you are  from....


News Room Phone Number

(+44)  08443 244 195
Calls will cost 7p per minute, plus your telephone company's access charge. 

Calls to this number may be recorded for security, broadcast, training and record keeping.

This online newspaper and information service is regulated by IMPRESS, the independent monitor for the UK's press.

How to make a complaint

Complaints Policy  -  Complaints Procedure  -  Whistle Blowing Policy

© PCBT Photography & PBT Media Relations Ltd. - Southport Reporter® is the Registered Trade Mark of Patrick Trollope