Great British Railways - public support

Crewe at the heart of rail

Rail is at the heart of Crewe

Rail is at the heart of Crewe, and we asked local people to tell us why they believe Crewe deserves to be the location for the headquarters of Great British Railways. Here is a snapshot of some of the comments we received:

Miriane Ryder said: "I have a lot of family history here in Crewe as my great, great granddad came here in the 1830s. It would be fantastic if it comes here because Crewe is a railway town. It would be a wonderful hub and it would be the common-sense choice if it comes to Crewe"

Cynthia Williams said: “I am Crewe born and bred. I’m from a railway family and my grandson wants to work in the railways. I hope having it here would also bring more people to the town and create more jobs.”

John Edmonstone said: “My wife and I are visiting Crewe today but we’re from Sandbach. I’m in favour. The advantage for Crewe is its location - it’s so well connected to the rest of the country.”

Nathan Tice said: “I’m originally from Ohio but I live and work in Crewe now. I think it makes a lot of sense, as it would link very strongly to the heritage of the town, in particular with Crewe being a gateway to the north.”

Mark Beaven is chairman of The Railwaymen Supporters Society. He said: “To understand Crewe Alexandra as a football club, you also need to understand the history of the town itself. The name Crewe is almost synonymous with the railway, an industry that brought work, prosperity, and hope to many in the local area. It is an industry still held dear by many in the town and remains a source of pride for its residents. 

“Football fans pass through Crewe station every single weekend on journeys up and down the country. And even now, some 160 years since the first train reached the town, it remains at a strategic point in the network. 

“This close association with the railway was even reflected on the club badge by a ‘wheel’ up until 1997. The six spokes that made up the wheel signified the six train lines radiating from Crewe...Without the rail, Crewe the town, and Crewe Alexandra the football club, would not exist today, and the club badge acknowledged this fact.  

“Many of Crewe’s supporters, past and present, will have dedicated their entire careers to the railway. It is an affinity that holds strong and is unlikely to change. Any opportunity to strengthen that bond should be wholeheartedly pursued. After all, how many other football clubs are nicknamed ‘The Railwaymen’?”

Doug Kinsman
Doug Kinsman

Doug Kinsman, chair of Crewe Town Board, said: “Without the railway there would be no Crewe and equally without the proud and hardworking people of Crewe, the railway would not be what it is today.

“It’s unrivalled rail connectivity helps to unite people and communities locally, regionally and nationally. Crewe connects, it always has. Its location has all the elements necessary to deliver a multi-modal integrated transport hub to be at the very heart of delivering the regional growth ambitions of the country.”

Dhesi Jasbir, Principal/CEO at Cheshire College - South & West, Crewe campus said: “The history of the college has been interconnected with the history of British railways for more than 179 years. Cheshire College was established in Crewe in 1843 by the London and North Western Railway Company as the Railway Mechanics’ Institution. 

“Nowadays, the college provides apprenticeships and bespoke training to many large employers including Bentley Motors, National Grid, Cadent as well as hundreds of SMEs located in the region. 

“Selecting Crewe as the location of Great British Railways HQ will build on the railway heritage of the town, whilst also being a much-needed catalyst for regeneration that has significant socio-economic and health challenges. 

“A decision to locate Great British Railways HQ in Crewe will absolutely deliver the objectives of levelling up.”

Neville Chamberlain CBE, chairman of Cheshire Business Leaders, said: “On behalf of Cheshire Business Leaders I want to add our voice in support of that campaign. We believe that nowhere can claim a better case than Crewe. Moreover, we recognise that having such an important office located on our patch will bring significant economic and indirect benefits to the whole of ‘Greater Cheshire’.”

Marc Waddington, Senior Editor, Cheshire Live – The Crewe Chronicle’s counterpart website – said: “Rail is Crewe's lifeblood, and the town is fiercely proud of its railway heritage. Bringing the HQ of Great British Railways to this part of Cheshire will be a potential economic boost, and definitely a boost for Crewe's image as a railway town, both locally and in the wider UK.

“It will show there is a genuine commitment from government to levelling up areas that have not historically enjoyed the levels of investment other places have. But just as importantly, locating GBR here would be recognition of Crewe's proud railway history -  and that history can continue to be made here.”

Paul Colman, Chief Executive of South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “Crewe is a railway town. The town’s economy is strong due to excellent business conditions based largely on its outstanding connectivity

The hard-working people of Crewe have rail running through their veins and there isn’t an aspect of the town that hasn’t been influenced by the rail industry. Being the national headquarters for Great British Railways would reverberate across the whole of the community and be a catalyst for growth and prosperity.”

Rail really is in the blood of Crewe’s population.

Ollerhead Family circa 1912
Ollerhead Family circa 1912

Pete Edwards, board member of Crewe Heritage Trust, is one of the best examples of this rail heritage being passed down through the generations.

In 1896, his great grandfather John Ollerhead started working at Crewe Works and, in 1920, his grandfather and grandfather’s twin brother, Frank and Edward Ollerhead, also took up roles there, starting as apprentice fitters on the same day.  They were followed by older brother, Albert and younger brother, Ernest.

Pete’s father also had a 50-year career on the railways, ending up as a guard based at Crewe Station, while Pete’s first job was as an apprentice at Crewe Works in 1985. His skills and experience may have taken him around the world to Dubai, Krakow, Munich and Copenhagen but he was drawn back home and is currently Director of Rail Systems Engineering for Capita.

He is also an industry advisor and STEM ambassador at the UTC, passing on his knowledge to future generations of Crewe rail workers just as it was passed down the generations of his own family.

Pete said: “Crewe has always been central to the wider rail network since 1833, providing a unique pedigree of manufacturing, engineering and operations. In Crewe, Great British Railways can embrace putting people first, whether this is the travelling public, or facilitating the vast movement of freight through the Basford Hall freight facility.

“Connectivity through the ‘six legs of the Crewe network’, gives the opportunity for the interchange of the public and freight to all areas of the UK - itself a unique trait.

“The impassioned and embedded heritage that Crewe brings to the rail industry affords the town to be given maximum opportunity to thrive on its roots and develop the next generation of rail workers, SMEs, socio-economic development and education.

“This will also allow the town to once again be the epicentre of the industry and give people like me the chance to know that their family was part of that second generation or indeed, first generation.”

Page last reviewed: 10 March 2022