OBITUARY: Dennis Howells MBE, 1939–2018


By Phil Marsh

DENNIS Howells, a railway signalling engineer and well-known owner of Hawksworth 0-6-0PT No. 9466, died on August 18.

He was 78, and had been fighting cancer.

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It was on holiday in 1955, when aged 15, he was on the footplate with his uncle Bill, a Swansea Paxton Street driver, and they stopped at a signalbox and he saw a telegraph linesman at work. “It was love at first sight,” Dennis said.

Dennis Howells on the footplate, where he was most at home. PHIL MARSH

He joined British Railway as an apprentice in the Watford technical department and retired 55 years later in 2010 as the lead signal engineer with the Network Rail enhancement group.

He remained working on the West Coast Main Line until 1992 when he was promoted to S&T engineer general for the Southern Region at Croydon.

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His other roles included deputy signalling engineer for the WCML upgrade, lead design and construction engineer East Anglia, and he was also involved in the Cotswold Line redoubling.

He became holder of the first Institution of Railway Signal Engineers’ senior engineer’s license and was a Fellow of the Permanent Way Institute and Institute of Railway Signalling Engineers. During the Ladbroke Grove public inquiry, he was called as an expert witness in signal sighting issues.

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