Tributes paid to train death pensioner

TRIBUTES have been paid to a former railway engineer who died on a train along a stretch of track he knew “like the back of his hand”.

Josh Warwick

TRIBUTES have been paid to a former railway engineer who died on a train along a stretch of track he knew “like the back of his hand”.

Pensioner Geoffrey Humphrey was found in a carriage of the Peterborough to London Liverpool Street train between Ipswich and Manningtree on Tuesday evening.

The 78-year-old had been returning home after spending the weekend with family in Yorkshire and after visiting a niece in Lincolnshire.

The cause of his death is not yet known.

Mr Humphrey, who was born in Ipswich and lived in sheltered housing in Dovercourt, spent most of his working life on the railways in East Anglia and London, working on the footplates shovelling coal and re-laying tracks.

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He was a familiar face at Manningtree station, where he regularly caught the early morning train to the capital.

Mr Humphrey's youngest son, Toby, said his father loved to travel by rail, even in his retirement when he spent much of his time visiting friends and family across the country.

Toby, of Birch Drive, Brantham, said: “Dad would go everywhere by train. He'd buy a loaf of bread, make his sandwiches and then be out and about doing different things, visiting friends and family.

“He must have passed away between Ipswich and Manningtree, which was a route he knew so well. He was able to listen to the train's engine along that stretch and know instantly where we were and what bend we were on.

“He knew the banks and the gradients. He knew every inch of that line like the back of his hand.”

Toby, 40, who works at the Port of Felixstowe, said the family had found solace in the circumstances surrounding Mr Humphrey's sudden death.

“He passed away with a belly full of fish and chips, his favourite meal, and on the rail line he knew so well.

“Dad was always full of life and had enjoyed such a brilliant weekend. He had cataracts, a pacemaker and a knee replacement but that didn't stop him. He was so active.”

He added: “You can hear the trains going over the bridge from my home and to me, that's a permanent reminder of dad.”

After taking early retirement in 1986, Mr Humphrey dedicated much of his life to volunteering and charity work.

He ran the Brantham Scouts, helped out at Ipswich Hospital, worked with troubled youngsters through the Probation Service and raised money for good causes, including a children's hospice in Newcastle.

When a competition to find a name for the Harwich to Manningtree line was launched several years ago, Mr Humphrey contacted rail bosses to inform them of the track's original title - The Mayflower Line. The name was restored soon after.

Mr Humphrey, who leaves five children, three step children, 18 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, had just completed a memoir of his time on the railways, entitled Memorable Characters.

His daughter, Margaret Humphrey, said: “He always said it was the people he met on the railways and the funny stories surrounding them that he loved so much.

“And I know he enjoyed working with the Probation Service - he got a lot of joy from seeing people who had made mistakes turning their lives around.”

Mr Humphrey will be buried in Wrabness after a coroner has compiled a report into the circumstances surrounding his death.