Heritage railway enthusiast Bob Hitchings MBE made his final journey on board one of his beloved trains at Bitton today.
Bob, who died on 16th April, aged 69, was a stalwart of Avon Valley Railway and received his honour from the Queen in 1997 for his voluntary service to the heritage attraction, as well as for his role as Quality Assurance Manager at Remploy, where he worked for 37 years.
His last train ride was on a train pulled by a diesel locomotive and mourners joined the coffin for the journey up and down the line before going on to a service at Westerleigh Crematorium.
Conducting proceedings was local Methodist minister Rev Chris Spencer, who is the railway’s chaplain.
Bob lived with his wife Olive in Stoke Gifford and was one of the team who began the restoration of the Bitton Station in 1971 following the Beeching cuts.
Geoff Clark, Avon Valley Railway’s vice chairman, said: “Although, often not in the best of health, he was always there picking up and pushing forward projects just when required for over 40 years.
“When the chairman of the Avon Valley Railway Company resigned, Bob stood in for a short period which turned into several years.”
Bob was instrumental not just in the restoration of the station but also the extension of track towards Oldland Common and then later Avon Riverside, as well as the building of the new buffet. He also headed up the team which brought the engine Black Five 45379 back to Bitton in 2011 for the annual gala.
Geoff said: “It’s a fitting tribute that his final journey should be on board one of the trains which are so key to the success of Avon Valley Railway.”
Bob’s family asked for family flowers only, with donations to the Stroke Unit at Southmead Hospital.