UK’s first Black train driver who faced backlash gets plaque in his honour
When Wilston Samuel Jackson became Britain’s first black train driver he faced a furious racist backlash from some colleagues.
But he went on to have a successful career and now a plaque celebrates his achievement.
Jamaican-born Wilston arrived in London in 1952 and started in train maintenance before working his way up to managing the boilers.
After work he would study for his driver exams, hoping his application would not be blocked as had those of many other aspiring black train drivers.
When he got the job some white colleagues tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent white people working under him.
Two years later he broke his legs as his train crashed after a signalman mistakenly gave a green light.
Later he moved to Zambia to teach train drivers.
As his plaque was unveiled at London’s King’s Cross station, daughter Polly said: “My father was so proud of his work, despite the many challenges he faced.”
Network Rail boss Andrew Haines said: “His incredible service (is) made even more remarkable by the obstacles he had to overcome.”
Just 10% of Britain’s train drivers are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, union Aslef said.
Its chief Mick Whelan said: “We are incredibly proud to have had Wilston as one of our own.”