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Harry Wilson, famed York Deltic driver, passes away

Back in the cab where he belongs - Harry Wilson enjoys the memories of years driving 55013 The Black Watch and, of course, all the others. This was at Scarborough on August 19 2023.

It is with regret and sadness that we heard today, Sunday April 7, that the former York Deltic driver, Harry Wilson, had died. He was a month short of his 101 birthday.

He was renowned amongst Deltic aficionados for always being prepared for entertaining them – posing for photographs, chatting on platforms and doing his best to provide exhilarating runs when at the driver’s power controller.

He was in exceptionally good health for his age and to use his own words “I’ve got all my marbles, you know”. He put this longevity down to what he ate – oily fish, particularly kippers, olive oil and potato skins, amongst other healthy foods. In fact his family recently moved him from a particular nursing home in York to another as the expensive care available at the former was not needed as he was so active and mentally alert!

He started his BR career at Belle Vue, Wakefield, before moving to Low Moor shed, Bradford, finally ending up at York when Low Moor closed its door to steam traction in 1967.

He took to the Deltics like a duck to water and always thought they were masters of the job.

He recalled his first Deltic driven was 55015 Tulyar and it was the intention and hope of the DPS to invite him to Barrow Hill to start up Tulyar but it was known the odds were against the volunteers to make this happen.

However, we did make it happen for this veteran driver on August 19 2023 when he revelled in returning to the cab of 55009 at the buffer stops at Scarborough, having ridden on the train from York on the King’s Cross-Scarborough ‘Harry Wilson Centenarian’. It made his day and so many people on the day shook his hand and thanked him for all the pleasure he had given them over all the decades. 55009 was disguised as long-scrapped sister 55013 The Black Watch, his favourite Class 55, and 55009 still carries this identity today.

Harry had three daughters – Diane, Lindsay and Joanna. All of us in the DPS offer our thoughts and condolences to them and their families. Harry Wilson touched so many lives during his many years and we will remember for him with so much affection. What a legend. The headboard ‘Harry Wilson Centenarian’ will go on display at the DPS depot with photographs of that memorable day which gave him and so many of us so much pleasure and fond memories.

Surrounded by well-wishers, Harry Wilson doffs his driver's cap to the many photographers at Scarborough before the return journey.

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