Frederick Heathfield, known to everyone as Jack, was born in 1873. He first entered employment with the SER in
1899 as a porter at Walmer station. In 1914 he transferred to Barham.
lived with his family at No3 Railway Cottages next door to Joe Fox the
he was honoured with a medal awarded by the SER’s St John’s
Ambulance Association and an inscribed clock for his courageous services
when he tended a badly injured woman who deliberately threw herself in
front of a train.
Jack added to the station facilities by
introducing his allotment and a "Lord Derby" apple tree to the
Up Platform. Chickens and turkeys were kept in the goods yard as well as
ducks which swam in a small pond specially dug for them. Even pigs were
located at the top of the railway land. At Christmas fowls and
vegetables were distributed to each family household.
retired in 1938 but when World War II started the Southern Railway was
short of staff - but Jack didn’t need to be asked twice offering to
return at a reduced wage in order to serve his country and railway
company – taking up his old life at the station he had become so
though the passenger services were withdrawn in December 1940 Jack was
kept busy with the vital goods traffic which was brought by the military
freight trains. On
alternate Sundays he also undertook level crossing duties at Elham.
Jack at Barham station in
with his daughters Ada and Kitty and two grandsons.
retired for a second time in June 1947 at the age of 74 - after closure
of the line. When a
reporter asked him how he kept so active jack replied “… by taking
to beer, "baccy" and a bike at the age of ten and keeping to ‘em…”.
Jack had bought his first bike – a penny farthing – for six
shillings on his tenth birthday.
lived out his days at Barham and passed away on 30th August 1955 leaving
three sons, two daughters and twelve grandchildren.