UKTram would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to one of the best-known figures in the light rail sector on reaching a landmark birthday.
Geoffrey Claydon recently celebrated his 90th birthday and remains one of the strongest advocates for heritage tramways, following a distinguished career that saw him play a key role in shaping the modern networks we see today.
James Hammett, UKTram Managing Director, commented: “Geoffrey has made a massive contribution to the sector over many years, as both a legal professional and an enthusiast, and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
“His work for the civil service on replacing archaic tramway legislation paved the way for the return of trams to a number of UK cities, while he’s also played a key role in preserving the rich history of the sector for future generations to enjoy.
“Following his 90th birthday we’d like to offer our best wishes and to say thank him for all his work across the sector, both as a professional who has helped secure the future of light rail and a champion for its heritage – work which we hope will continue for many years to come.”
The Chairman of UKTram’s Heritage Tramways Committee was born in Birmingham in 1930 and first fell in love with trams in 1939, when he used to visit his aunt in Wednesbury by tram.
In April of that year, he saw that buses had replaced the trams and couldn’t believe it when he was told that buses were the future. Even at that age he determined to spend the rest of his life in support of trams.
In 1944, he joined what is now the Light Rail Transit Association, the publishers of Tramways & Urban Transit, in due course serving that body as Chairman, President and now Patron. He was also an early member of the Tramway Museum Society, which operates the National Tramway Museum at Crich, serving for many years as Secretary and later as President.
For nearly five decades he considered himself as an enthusiastic amateur in the rail world, pursuing a distinguished career as a lawyer in the civil service that saw him rise to the position of Principal Treasury Solicitor and Legal Adviser, Department of Energy. Geoffrey was appointed CB in 1990.
In that year he was due to retire, but instead accepted the offer of taking on a five-year project to bring up to date railway and tramway legislation. At last he was able to combine his professional and personal interests – his hobby paid for at last! In this capacity, he was able to achieve the repeal of the infamous Tramways Act of 1870, which had done so much to hinder the development of tramways, and replace it with the more accommodating Transport and Works Act 1992, alongside much supplementary legislation.
On retirement in 1995, he was much sought after for his experience, becoming a member of the Fixed Track Section of the Confederation of Passenger Transport and a director of the Heritage Railway Association. In 2015 he became a director of UKTram, assisting in a major overhauling of its Articles of Association and he is currently a member of its Executive Committee.
Apart from writing many articles for the technical press, in 2000 he was contributing editor to Halsbury’s Laws of England on tramways and in 2006 he published British Tramway Accidents.
Over the years, he has also visited tramway systems across five continents to learn about a sector that has benefited so much from both his professional skills and his enthusiasm.
“Congratulations Geoffrey, and heartfelt thanks for all you have done for the sector over many, many years!” James added.