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Working Felines: Rail Station Cats 4



Railway Cats from Britain


This page was initially created with tales summarised from articles published in 2010 in The Cat, the quarterly magazine of Cats Protection, the UK's largest feline charity, and our warm thanks go to editor Francesca Watson, who wrote the original articles, for permission to use this material.

Rail and station cats come and go and it would be very difficult to keep totally up to date, thus many of the original accounts still reflect the position in 2010, but we have tried to update if possible and since then have also added a number of further entries as we became aware of 'new' cats.

Any corrections, expanded information or further new additions are welcome.


Entries are arranged alphabetically by station or railway/line name

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Jess, station cat at Andover, Hampshire
Jess, station cat t Andover, Hampsire

   ANDOVER STATION
Hampshire


The tuxedo cat at Andover is Jess; he previously lived nearby with a family and used to visit, but when they moved he kept returning to the station, so it was agreed he could stay there and now he's well looked after by the station staff (although contributions are accepted from passengers). He has a comfortable bed in the ticket office and apparently also his own travel card and rail pass.
       Another, quite similar black-and-white cat also visits the station and steals Jess's food! — but doesn't live there.


Old Bill, station cat at Blackfriars, London in the 1950s
Station cat Old Bill at Blackfriars, London - early 1950s

   BLACKFRIARS STATION
London


There are no cats now at Blackfriars, but half a century ago it was the haunt of Old Bill. He arrived as a frightened and bedraggled kitten, but with the care and attention given to him by station staff he grew into a fine black-and-white gentleman. A whip-round was held every week for some coins to keep him in food and milk; and it's said there was an old lady who passed through the station at about 1.30 most mornings and left him some chicken! He spent much of his day watching the world go by, just taking refuge during rush hours, but he was never seen to cross the road. However, some mornings he would be seen on the other side — he got there, like commuters, by using the underground subway. In 1953 he was aged 7, but we don't know how long he lived.


Railway cat Vandal, of the Bluebell Railway in Sussex
Railway cat Gizmo, of the Bluebell Railway, Sussex

   BLUEBELL RAILWAY
Sussex


This is a heritage railway in the southern county of Sussex. Vandal (pictured, top) appeared at the line's Sheffield Park terminus in 2000, not long after the previous incumbent, Lucky, had died (obviously a vacancy became known on the feline grapevine!). He gained his name from a tendency to leave chaos in his wake wherever he went, notably in the old and rather cramped shop where things tended to get knocked off shelves. He became calmer, but loved 'helping' the shop manager with her paperwork, regarding himself as a paperweight. He was also very good at persuading people that he was starving, so often got more than one breakfast! Towards the end of his life he was taken in by Bluebell members, so when he died in July 2010 he was in a home environment and not alone.
       There was another cat called Rioja, whose base was the locomotive shed; and at the next station down the line, Horsted Keynes, there were Oscar and Gizmo (lower left). Clearly this is a cat-friendly railway.
       In May 2014 it was announced that Gizmo had died at the age of about 18. Officially he lived in a nearby cottage, but he adopted the railway several years ago and it became pointless taking him back to his owners, as he simply returned at the first opportunity! He was a gregarious cat who loved being around people, and was never slow to let people know when he considered it was lunchtime, with fish and cheese being favourites. In his last couple of years he spent much of his time sleeping, with favoured spots in the signal box or at the Carriage and Wagon Works. Rioja had died before him, but we are not sure when.
Photo (Vandal): Tom Briggs
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Owen the Bromborough station cat, Wirral

   BROMBOROUGH STATION
Wirral


Owen is the ginger-and-white station cat here on the Wirral. In early 2016 he was reported to be 'well looked after and still going strong', but we don't have any further information about him.


Stan the Charlbury station cat, Oxfordshire Portrait of Stan the Charlbury station cat, Oxfordshire

   CHARLBURY STATION
Oxfordshire


Stanley, usually known as Stan, frequents the station and enjoys the attention of passengers — often sitting on laps — while they wait for their trains. Apparently a favourite snoozing spot is the change well below the ticket-office window, so people have to dig out their change from beneath his fur! His painted portrait is prominently displayed in the office.
Photos: Diz White


Harry the station cat at Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway, North East Lincolnshire
Harry the station cat at the CCLR, Cleethorpes, NE Lincs
Station cat Harry at the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway

   CLEETHORPES COAST LIGHT RAILWAY (CCLR)
North East Lincolnshire


Beloved cat Harry died in October 2015, run over by a car as happens all too often. He had turned up out of the blue at the Signal Box Inn, adjacent to the CCLR's Lakeside railway station, in 2006 and decided to stay. He frequented both the pub and the station, where he would be found either in the office or out on the platform overseeing operations. He had been known to venture up the line to the sheds and even, at times, to travel on the train to other stations! He kept an eye on the site and was well known for chasing away intruders, even foxes. Described as 'a unique cat', he was extremely popular with visitors and is sorely missed by all at the railway and by the licensee and patrons of the pub.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


XXX
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   DIDCOT RAILWAY CENTRE
Oxfordshire


Closed for regular service in mid-1965, this was a Great Western engine shed and stabling point that has now been converted and reopened as a museum and preservation centre concentrating on the former Great Western Railway (GWR). The centre has had a number of cats over the years, but all had passed away by the time Marmalade, very hungry, put in an appearance in about 2010. Her history is unknown, but after hanging around for a while she decided to stay and now runs the place! She was thought to be about 2 when she came, so is probably 8 or 9 in 2017. Her favourite sleeping place depends on whether the centre is open or not; if so she tends to avoid visitors by sleeping in the staff mess room, where she has her own chair and cushion. She usually stays around the Engine Shed area at other times, but occasionally wanders down to the Carriage Shed and Transfer Shed, or in good weather when the centre's closed she suns herself on the path by the Lifting Shop — and has been seen mousing in the picnic area. Marmalade's food and medical needs are taken care of by the centre volunteers.
Our thanks to the Didcot Railway Centre for sending images and information
DRC website | DRC at Facebook | DRC at Twitter | Marmalade at Twitter


   EAST LANCASHIRE RAILWAY (ELR)
Lancashire


Closed in 1980, restoration of the 12-mile (19-km) line from Heywood to Rawtenstall was started in 1991, and a long line of cats have helped volunteers in the engine sheds. Feral Dougie lives in the yard and is a 'bit of a grumpy boy', but has his own cat house. BoBo (originally BeeBee) came from Rochdale and is the mess-room cat, while Titch is Dougie's friend, also fairly wild but very talkative. He was hit by a car in 2009 and his back legs suffered, but he is now much improved. A small black-and-white cat arrived next, and as a name couldn't be agreed on, he's called No. 4! When three black kittens turned up it was felt they couldn't all be kept, so two were rehomed with one of the engineers. It was decided the third should stay as a 'spare cat', in case one of the others departed for whatever reason — so she is, logically, known as Spare. She's great friends with Titch.
Two very short YouTube clips of BoBo in 2009: Clip 1 | Clip 2.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Flickr | YouTube


Station cat Fanny at Gipsy Hill station, Lambeth, south London
Fanny the Gipsy Hill cat at the station, Lambeth, south London
Fanny the Gipsy Hill cat, south London

   GIPSY HILL STATION
Lambeth, south London


Since 2014 a tuxedo cat named Fanny had been hanging around the station, but she was not resident as her home is nearby. She generally appeared only for morning rush hour and the early trains — maybe attracted by the treats commuters gave her! She was very affectionate and often to be found purring and greeting people from her perch on top of one of the Oyster-card readers.
       In late July 2016 she was hit by a car and sustained serious injury; the driver couldn't have avoided her and did stop, but she was able to run off. She was found and taken to an RSPCA hospital, but her humans were wondering how they would fund an expensive operation on her diaphragm. They reckoned without followers of Fanny's personal Twitter account, who stepped in to raise funds and, astonishingly, within just an hour the necessary cash had been raised. The eventual sum raised was about £3000 (about 3900 US dollars), more than was needed, so the balance was donated to other animal charities.
       It took a little while for Fanny to recover, as she developed a persistent cough after her surgery, but we're delighted to say that by mid-September she was back 'at work'.
The Gipsy Hill Cat at Twitter


Memorial for Grantham station cat Shag, 2010
Memorial for Grantham station cat Shag, 2016

   GRANTHAM STATION
Lincolnshire


Station cat Shag was said to have been resident at Grantham for 'well over 17 years', thus arriving in 1983 or earlier, but we have little information about him and no picture. Apparently Shag was quite adventurous and, according to one report, was said to occasionally board a London-bound train and turn up at King's Cross, from where he would have to be returned! The cat was clever enough to look both ways before crossing rail tracks, but sadly was run over by a taxi on the station forecourt in September 2000; this was most unfortunate as he had become deaf and did not hear the vehicle approaching.
       Shag was clearly a well-loved cat and was buried behind platform 1, with a cat plaque and marker stone as his memorial. Since then there have evidently been some changes at the station, and Shag's memorial, from being in what seems to be a flowerbed setting in 2010 (top photo), is now cemented in behind the platform area (lower). We don't know if it was moved far or is in the same vicinity as it always was, but at least it still exists.
2010 photo: Alison Clarke at Flickr where it can be seen full-sized


Felix, station cat at Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Station mouser Felix, at Huddersfield station, West Yorkshire
Catflap installed for Huddersfield station cat, Felix
Felix - Senior Pest Controller at Huddersfield station

   HUDDERSFIELD
West Yorkshire


It was only after she'd been named Felix that it was discovered she's a female, but the name has stuck for the station cat at Huddersfield in Yorkshire. Born in 2011, she works for First TransPennine Express, has featured in the Huddersfield Examiner newspaper and become well known to the locals. She can often be seen greeting passengers wishing to buy tickets at the ticket office, and is also an active mouser, helping to keep pests away from the station, including pigeons. In 2012 she enjoyed a sojourn to Domino's Pizza, from where she had to be 'rescued', but more recently staff have managed to keep her away from the temptation of fast food!
       When new safety barriers were installed during 2013 to combat fare dodgers, Felix's free access to the platforms was compromised. The station management, much to their credit, installed a special VIP cat-flap so the much loved feline could go about her duties unhindered.
       In February 2016 her employers, TransPennine Express, gave Felix a promotion to Senior Pest Controller at the station, so she now has a smart hi-vis jacket and her own name card. There are a number of photos with a Daily Mail article, The Cat Controller, and she has a very active Facebook page, with thousands of followers worldwide.
       Many thanks to Paul Jackson, Station Projects Manager in Manchester, for letting us know about Felix. For other photos, thanks to the Huddersfield Examiner and Paul Burley at Twitter.
Felix at Facebook | Felix writing at the TransPennine Express blog: Feb 2016 and Mar 2016


Station cat Diesel, late of Inverness, Scotland
Station cat Diesel of Inverness, who died in 2009
Memorials to Inverness station cats, Diesel and Gasket
Station cat Hi-Vis, Inverness, Scotland

   INVERNESS STATION
Scotland


In the mid-1980s Inverness had a cat called Gasket (I), who appeared in the Maintenance Depot store and gave birth to kittens. She decided to stay and for several years kept down the pigeon population as well as the mice. A favourite spot was on the supervisor's office roof, from where she could survey her domain. One day she simply vanished, and staff were unable to find out what had become of her.
       More recently the station boasted two black cats, Diesel (pictured) and Gasket (II), who based themselves on Platform 6; beds and food were provided by well-wishers. Resident there for over a decade, they became known far outside their local area, and gifts and toys would arrive from far afield. One local resident said they knew the arrival and departure times of trains, when to be around and when not to be. When the rail franchise changed hands and a new Area Manager arrived, he declared that 'the cats must go', causing an uproar among station staff and visitors. Diesel took matters into her own paws by accompanying the new manager on his first station tour, and so delighted him that he changed his mind! Apparently the cats used to get left-over smoked salmon and other delicacies from the prestigious Royal Scotsman train when it came to the station.
       Gasket died in 2007 and Diesel was put to sleep following kidney failure in April 2009, with obituaries appearing in the local press. The cats are buried together in a favourite spot at the end of Platform 6, where they used to like sunning themselves, and there's a small shrine to their memory.
       Since March 2012, Inverness once more has a friendly railway station cat. A young female cat appeared at the station one day and has been named Hi-Vis by station staff, who have taken a liking to the ginger animal. A staff member began feeding her, and she has become a fixture with other workers and is starting to be recognised by passengers.
Photos: Jamie Martin (top), 'dnorse8603' and 'foxypar4' at Flickr, and BBC (2nd), Craig Wallace at Geograph and Angus McDiarmid at Flickr (memorials), Press & Journal/Sandy McCook (Hi-Vis).


Paul the station cat at Liverpool South Parkway Paul the station cat - Liverpool South Parkway station Station cat Paul - Liverpool South Parkway

   LIVERPOOL SOUTH PARKWAY STATION
Liverpool


Bengal cat Paul lives near the station and has been visiting it since 2010. His presence is enjoyed by staff and commuters alike, and he was given his own bed and some toys. He was in trouble in mid-2013 after biting a security guard — who had apparently stood on his tail or something — and was for a while discouraged from visiting. However, all seems to be well now, as in 2016 he wrote on his Facebook page that he really liked the cat igloo that had been placed in the station building for him!
Paul at Facebook
Short YouTube clip of Paul walking across the station concourse


Winston Churchill greets the Liverpool Street station cat, Bishopsgate, London, 1952

   LIVERPOOL STREET STATION
Central London


A well-known image of cat lover Winston Churchill bending down to stroke the Liverpool Street station cat — history does not seem to have recorded its name — in London's Bishopsgate, in May 1952.


Keira the cat, who frequented Livingston North station, West Lothian, Scotland
Keira the Livingston North station cat
Station cat Keira, Livingston North, near Edinburgh, Scotland

   LIVINGSTON NORTH STATION
West Lothian, Scotland


Livingston is a 'new town' about 15 miles west of Scotland's capital, Edinburgh, and Livingston North is one of two railway stations there. For some years, tortoiseshell-and-white (calico) cat Keira made it her business to hang around at the station and greet commuters; she didn't live there, but her owner Kirsty Hendry said, 'The station was like her second home and the attention she got was unbelievable. She was our cat, but we didn't realise just how popular she was until she passed away.' The moment a door was left ajar, adventurous Keira would be 'away again', said Mrs Hendry. 'It was almost as if she kept working hours, and she would head out at seven o'clock in the morning.'
       Sadly, in mid-October 2014 Keira, then aged 11, was hit and killed by a car on her way home from the station one evening. There was a tremendous outpouring of grief and tributes via her Facebook page from all her many friends at the station; 'Commuting will never be the same,' said one. A fund inviting donations for the local Cats Protection branch so that other, needy cats might benefit from her passing quickly and handsomely exceeded the target amount. There were many calls for a permanent plaque to be placed in her memory, and ScotRail, which runs the station, said it was working with the local team on ideas to commemorate the friendly cat.
Photos: Keira the Livingston North Station Cat at Facebook


Memorial plaque for station cat Hercules, Llandudno station, North Wales

   LLANDUDNO
Conwy, North Wales


Llandudno had a plaque to station cat Hercules who died in 1989, but unfortunately we have no further information about him. The station was completely refurbished in 2013, and it's not known if the plaque has been retained.


   LONDON UNDERGROUND

Thought to be Pebbles, station cat at the Barbican underground station, London Barbie the cat, at Barbican tube station, London Underground London's underground 'tube' network — longer even than the New York City subway — has had cats at some stations from time to time. At the Barbican station there was black-and-white Pebbles (we think it must be Pebbles in the picture, left, taken in 1990) who'd been adopted by staff and took up residence there. He became well known to commuters, and some remember him still, as his favoured spot when not on rodent patrol was on top of the ticket barriers. There he would sleep soundly, even through the busiest rush hours, oblivious to the noise of the trains below and the din and hubbub going on all around him, as tickets popped up next to his ears and travellers passed through the automatic gates on either side. He didn't seem to mind being stroked or admired, but apparently rarely bothered to rouse himself from his slumber! We aren't altogether clear on dates, but Pebbles frequented the station for over a decade till he died in May 1997, and for part of that time had a partner called Barbie who survived him (above right).

Tom and Jerry at the Arthur's awards, 1997 Cats Tom and Jerry at the Barbican tube station, London Underground, 1997 Station cats at the Barbican, London Underground, 1997 Pebbles and Barbie were due to receive a special Lifetime Achievement award at the 1997 Arthur's Cat Awards but were unable to attend — it's possible the ceremony took place shortly after Pebbles had died. Standing in for them were black kittens Tom and Jerry (right), who we believe had been engaged to learn and assume mousing duties at the Barbican when these publicity shots were taken. Our picture (left, PA/Ben Curtis) shows famous astronomer and cat lover Patrick Moore holding another category winner, flanked by TV presenter Fiona Phillips on the right and Wendy Turner (sister of Anthea) who are holding Tom and Jerry. We don't know when Barbie died or maybe took retirement, but have seen a comment that she was still alive and well in the first half of 1999, although she was kept out of the public areas of the station until night time. How the careers of Tom and Jerry progressed or what became of them is unknown — if any readers have information or a means of finding out, we'd love to know!
Pebbles photo: our thanks to Colin Barnard at Flickr where it can be seen full-sized.


Loughborough station cat GC, painted by Richard Piccaver
Loughborough station cat, GC
Mogus the cat, of Loughborough station

   LOUGHBOROUGH
Leicestershire


There were two felines at the Grand Central Railway station: GC and Mogus, although neither is there any more. GC — for 'Grand Central' or 'Ginger Cat' — just turned up one day on a train! No one knows from where or how he got there; but he checked out the station, wandered into the chairman's office, found a comfortable spot in the in-tray and went to sleep. He became station cat, and rail-magazine editor Brian Jones described him as 'a most exceptional cat, who displayed a better knowledge of how railways work than some of the rail enthusiasts I knew'. When he retired from station life GC went to live on the chairman's canal narrowboat, where he had further adventures. A webpage for GC gives access to an extensive gallery of delightful photos.
Painting: Richard Piccaver. Photo: Robin Jones
       The second cat was Mogus, who arrived in summer 1996 and took up residence in the locomotive shed, where he made friends with the superintendent. He was provided with a cat-flap in the mess-room door, and stayed for 13 years, making many friends. He used to catch pigeons, loved cheese, and each Christmas Day had a special turkey treat. He and GC were rivals, and each kept to his own territory. Eventually he developed liver and kidney problems and retired to the home of one of the volunteers, but despite the best of care he did not live long to enjoy his retirement.
Photo: Richard Piccaver
Website | Facebook | Twitter


   MANCHESTER OXFORD ROAD STATION
Greater Manchester


This large and busy station had seven cats (possibly as many as thirteen at one time), but three were adopted and thus four remained. Only Jumper condescended to meet passengers, while Tom, Jerry and Manx stayed behind the scenes. When staff posted a notice inviting people to donate cat food they were overwhelmed by the response; large numbers of tins were given, and Jumper was even given fresh chicken! Pest control was the cats' first duty, to keep the station rodent-free, while Jumper also chased off pigeons. By 2008 it seems Manx had left, although we aren't sure when this was, and in that year a staff member who fed the cats posted that Jumper lost a back leg in an attack one night by what was assumed to be a fox; it was feared that when she could be caught she might have to be put to sleep. Although the outcome of that particular incident isn't known, we later saw forum comments indicating that she was no more. As of 2013 we do not know if the station still has any cats.


   MIDDLETON RAILWAY
West Yorkshire


The oldest working railway, near the city of Leeds, had a much loved and friendly resident black cat called Smokebox. However, one evening in March 2009 she and her food dish disappeared. Two weeks later her 'kennel' was also taken. It's presumed she was 'catnapped', but sadly, nothing more was heard.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Flickr


Brian the cat at Northallerton station, North Yorkshire Brian the cat at Northallerton station, West Yorkshire

   NORTHALLERTON STATION
North Yorkshire


There's a black cat at this station on the East Coast main line, and one source mentions a 'friendly black cat' turning up at the station early in 2005, so if it's the same one it's been around for some years now in 2016. The cat's name is reported to be Brian and although he spends much of his time at the station, it seems likely — as happens at some other stations — that he has a home nearby.
Inner image: courtesy of martyn for 'tail up', and DarloRich2009 for the doorway shot - both at Flickr where they can be seen full-sized


Station cat Erica's ID card, Grosmont, North Yorkshire Moors Railway

   NORTH YORKSHIRE MOORS RAILWAY (NYMR)
North Yorkshire


Many cats have made their home at Grosmont on this railway over the years, either at the station or in the locomotive sheds. At present there are two residents, looked after by one of the fitters during the week and by the shop supervisor at weekends. Dink arrived as a tiny feral 'spitfire' of a kitten, needing to be handled with heavy gloves at first, but now she enjoys a stroke. Tortoiseshell-and-white Erica (pictured) was found sleeping on one of the steam engines in a siding; at one point her bed was moved to a diesel engine, but was moved back after she refused to use it!
       There have been other cats at Grosmont; some were rehomed elsewhere, but Brian Mooney died there and is remembered by a small cross outside the sheds marking where his ashes were buried — after a short service led by a vicar and reported in the local press.
Photo: Louise Mudd
Website | Facebook | Twitter


Railway cat Sausage - Perrygrove Railway, Gloucestershire

   PERRYGROVE RAILWAY
Gloucestershire


This narrow-gauge railway runs through farmland and countryside on the edge of the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. The image shows Sausage, the railway cat, inspecting the track; he turned up at the station in about 2006 and made it his home, becoming much loved by staff and visitors alike. He was even 'tolerated' by Molly, the railway's dog. Sausage liked to visit a nearby farm, and sadly that was his undoing, as he was run over and killed on his way there in December 2014. Another cat may be adopted in due course.
Website | Facebook and their post on Sausage's demise | YouTube


   PULBOROUGH STATION
West Sussex


The station used to have a beautiful ginger cat, much loved by staff and passengers, although we don't know his name. When he died he was buried in a little garden by the signal box, and a small headstone was erected. A black-and-white cat succeeded him, lived in the ticket office and would curl up in the filing trays to sleep.


Hector the station cat, Redruth, Cornwall
Hector of Redruth Station, Cornwall

   REDRUTH STATION
Cornwall


Hector appeared at Redruth station during March 2013 and since then has made it his home. He's a friendly cat and users of the station enjoy meeting him, although he doesn't particularly like being picked up. For a time he slept out on one of the platforms, and staff would often arrive in the morning to find him soaking wet — but for Christmas 2015 a generous local person donated a splendid 'house' for him, with all home comforts, so he now has a place to shelter at night from the unpredictable Cornish weather. When the station is open he also has a basket in the ticket office. His Facebook page has attracted many followers.
Hector at Facebook


Station cat Alfie, Rushden, Northamptonshire
Station cat Alfie, Rushden, Northants
Railway cat Alfie, from Rushden Historical Transport Society, Northamptonshire
The Mk1 Cat of Rushden station, Northamptonshire
The Mk1 Cat, former station cat at Rushden, Northants

   RUSHDEN HISTORICAL TRANSPORT SOCIETY (RHTS)
Northamptonshire


Founded in 1976, the Society is based in the former railway station — built in 1894 and closed to rail traffic in 1969 — in Rushden, a town in the English county of Northamptonshire. The station, which had fallen into disuse since the railway closed, has been lovingly restored and now houses a transport museum as well as the Society's social club, while the rails are in use again for a heritage railway with a variety of locomotives and rolling stock.
       Alfie (outer left) is the station cat: in fact he's both a club cat and a railway cat, and takes his duties seriously, as can be seen from his Facebook page. He arrived as a stray in 2010 and decided to make the place his home. He followed in the footsteps of an earlier feline, resident from 1997 until his death in 2006, known as the 'Mk 1 Cat' (inner) or simply 'the station cat'. Alfie is therefore sometimes referred to as the 'Mk 2 cat'!
Photos: Rushden Station Cat at Facebook
Website | Facebook | Alfie (Rushden Station Cat) at Facebook | Twitter | Alfie at Twitter


Station cat Brian at St Albans station, Hertfordshire
St Albans station cat, Brian aka Obama

   ST ALBANS STATION
Hertfordshire


A black-and-white cat first appeared at St Albans station, one of the busiest commuter stations in Britain, in 2013. Believed to be a stray and given the name Brian, he made the station his home, was fed and looked after by station staff and became very popular with them and with commuters. He had a box to sleep in, although he also liked to sit on a station seat, and was given his own cushion by a kind traveller. 'We would go out and get cat food and biscuits for him weekly, and with kind donations from our passengers as well, he never went hungry,' said a Thameslink staff member. He proved to be a very loyal and well-behaved cat at the station: 'Brian would follow us around the station and never went on the track or boarded a train, nor was he frightened by trains.'
       However, when taken to the vet early in 2016 to be treated for fleas, the cat was found to have a microchip and his owner was traced. It turned out that Brian — actually called Obama by his lady owner — was originally from London and had gone missing on a trip to St Albans with her three years earlier. She was delighted when the pair were reunited, and station staff said, 'We all hope Brian/Obama is settling in nicely back at home.'


   SIGNAL BOXES

Kipper, the cat at Rochdale signal box 1989-2008 Kipper, the cat formerly at Rochdale signal box Many signal boxes are now disused, but not so long ago some also had cats. ROCHDALE box acquired Kipper in July 1989, when he was found near the level crossing by a different box on the line. Signalman David Ingham at Rochdale signal box said that a rat catcher was needed there, so the little ginger ball of fur was transported by train (in an employee's pocket!) and delivered to Rochdale. He was said to have grown up as a rather unfriendly cat, perhaps as a result of going out to play one morning, being kidnapped and transported far away from home. After a year or so at Rochdale David moved on, and Rochdale box was taken over by relief signalman Stuart Mather, who recalls with affection the 'big ginger tom with the lovely white chest' and who kept cat food in his car boot for the cat! At one time Kipper was moved to another box further down the line, but made it clear he wanted to be back at Rochdale, so was returned on an empty train. He lived to a good age, but became ill and died in 2008 — then the mice started to return!

Marmalade, a cat who resided at Brewery Sidings signal box, Miles Platting, before transferring to Diggle Junction Kipper was the last signal-box cat in the area, but at one time there were Nelson at BAGULEY FOLD, Amoss at ASHTON MOSS NORTH and Selwyn at DIGGLE. There was also Marmalade (left), who was the resident signal-box cat at BREWERY SIDINGS when David Ingham started working there in the mid-1990s, but he was made redundant in summer 1998 when Brewery Sidings box closed. However, says David, 1998 was in the days when the railways still looked after their staff and arrangements were made for Marmalade to transfer to Diggle Junction box, the late supervisor Ian Gordon receiving numerous scratches as Marmalade fought against being put in the cat box for moving. He replaced Selwyn, who had recently died, at Diggle and remained until the mid-2000s, when a new signalman complained to management, and signal-box cats on his patch were made redundant. Marmalade was retired to Ainsworth, near Bury.

Kittens who turned up at the Brewery Sidings signal box in 1994 In the summer of 1994 a group of wild kittens appeared at Brewery Sidings, for which it's thought Marmalade might have been responsible. They were very timid, but would venture to the top of the signal box steps where a plate of food was left. They wouldn't come into the box except when someone appeared at the bottom of the steps, when they panicked.

Many thanks to David A Ingham for additional information, and also for permission to use images from his Flickr collection. Original full-sized versions (and many more of Kipper) can be seen via these search links: Kipper, Marmalade and kittens.

YEOVIL PEN MILL signal box in Somerset has Thomas, but as he also frequents the station platform next door, he can be found below in the alphabetical station entries.


JoJo the station cat at Southend Victoria, Essex
JoJo the station cat at Southend Victoria frequented the British Transport Police office
Station cat JoJo, Southend Victoria, Essex
JoJo, station cat at Southend Victoria station until 2016

   SOUTHEND VICTORIA STATION
Essex


Jojo arrived as a stray at the station in 2001 and soon made it her home, spending time between the nearby British Transport Police office and the station platform, where she would greet commuters. She became a much loved member of the team and was well known to regular travellers, with her own Facebook page. She was fed and looked after by the staff, and the local Cats Protection branch looked after her health needs. In summer 2016 she contracted cat flu and, sadly, as quite an old cat she hadn't the strength to fight it and by late July it was decided best to put her to sleep.
       Everyone at the station wanted her to be remembered, so an appeal was put out to the public for £200 for that purpose. The response was overwhelming, the target was met within an hour or so, and the eventual sum raised paid not only for the memorial plaque but for a donation of several hundred pounds to Cats Protection in recognition of their help for her over the years, and to help other cats in need. The plaque reads, 'Jojo: Booked off duty Friday 22 July 2016. Sadly missed.'
JoJo's Facebook page


Station cat Rabbit, late of Kirkby Stephen, Stainmore Railway Company
Quaker the station cat, Stainmore Railway Company, Kirkby Stephen East
Quaker the station cat, Stainmore Railway Company, Kirkby Stephen East
Oats, assistant station cat at Stainmore Railway Company, Kirkby Stephen East, Cumbria

   STAINMORE RAILWAY COMPANY
Cumbria


The line from Kirkby Stephen East (KSE), in Cumbria, closed in 1962, but in recent years the line has been going through the process of restoration. When work began on the station in 1998 a white-and-tabby cat, Rabbit (top), was already well established in the area and became something of a local celebrity, appearing in the press and on Radio Cumbria's website. She ruled over the volunteers' mess room, complaining bitterly if the fire went out, while outside she loved exploring and was often to be found helping working parties and supervising restoration work. After a hard day's work she liked to sleep on the warm engines — so an instruction was put on the engine start-up procedure to first 'check for cats'! Rabbit became increasingly frail and in November 2008 simply disappeared, with extensive searches failing to find her.
       Now the Chief Station Cat is Quaker (middle two), named after Darlington Football Club, whose players wear the same black-and-white livery. She turned out to be an excellent mouser, and runs a blog, Quaker the Station Cat where she reports on station news. In October 2012 she reported 'I am currently training a new cat at KSE who seems very nice. He is black and white like me and has been living in the yard for around 12 months. I have let him into the station and he seems quite suited for station life. If this cat proves to be suitable, passes the rules and regs and accepts orders from me, he will be employed on the KSE payroll. I am therefore appealing for more cat food for my trainee and I hope to give you all news of his progress in future blogs.' The new arrival was called Oates (bottom).
       It seems there's also another 'apprentice' cat, called Kiwi, who is totally black apart from a small splash area of white on the chest, so it isn't easy to spot him in the dark. Quaker thinks 'Kiwi will be easier to train, as he seems to listen to what I tell him and wants to learn the ropes before displaying himself to the public.' And there's a station dog, a shepherd dog called Pinza.
       KSE's Facebook page deals with all the railway news, and more photos of the cats (full sized) can be seen there and at Quaker's blog, although the latter hasn't been updated since mid-2015. Sadly Oates had to be put to sleep in February 2016; he lost the use of his back legs and, despite the best of care, gradually became weaker until he could barely move. He was thought to have been 10 or 12 years old, and although at the station for just 3 years will be much missed.
All photos © Stainmore Railway Co Ltd, with thanks to Dr Susan Jones.
Website | Facebook | Quaker's blog


Station cat at Thirsk, North Yorkshire Station cat at Thirsk, North Yorkshire

   THIRSK STATION
North Yorkshire


There's a three-legged tabby cat, name unknown, at Thirsk; he or she was still there in mid-2016, but whether or not as a resident is unclear. The cat seems to appear mostly in fine weather, but maybe has somewhere to retreat to at other times. One of the ticket-office staff is reported to keep it supplied with cat-food pouches.


Todmorden station cat, West Yorkshire
Todmorden station cat - possible name Dinky or Rodney

   TODMORDEN STATION
West Yorkshire


We have no background information about the ginger-and-white station cat, but he or she seems to be quite active around the premises and has frequently been pictured on social media. We have seen two different names quoted online for the cat, and don't know which (if either) is correct: Dinky and Rodney.
Lower image: courtesy of Ken Ward (for the cat jumping) at Flickr where it can be seen full-sized


Memorial for Jill, late station cat of Tonbridge, Kent
Plaque for Louis, late station cat of Tonbridge, Kent
Tonbridge station cat, Sapphie (or Saffie)
Station cat Sapphie at Tonbridge station, Kent

   TONBRIDGE STATION
Kent


This busy station on a commuter line to London had two beloved cats, Jill and Louis, who decided the place suited them. They based themselves either in the staff mess room or the shunters' lobby, to both of which they had access, and were well looked after. When they died (Louis in 2004, Jill in 2006), plaques were put up in their memory.
Upper two photos: Judith Johnson (Jill plaque), Francesca Watson (Louis plaque)

Eight-year-old black-and-white moggy Sapphire, usually known as Sapphie (or Saffie), was taken in as resident cat by the team at Tonbridge after her owners moved away from nearby. She had already been visiting the station for some weeks by then — in fact her owners said she wouldn't come home! She had quickly made friends with station staff and regular commuters — who give her lots of affection — and seems to find her new living arrangements to her liking. She has one bed and her litter tray in the managerís office, and another bed in the supervisorís office. She has a passion for flowing tap water, and finds the coconut matting in the café perfect for claw-sharpening!
       The station supervisor says: 'She's like our little extra helper. She makes herself known out on the platform and brings people together because everyone's talking about her, getting treats for her, feeding her, buying her new beds and all sorts of stuff like that.' (It sounds as though she'll need to watch her waistline!)
Sapphie's story is the first in a series of short films by Southeastern Rail tagged #AmazingJourneys, and it's available at YouTube


Caspar the cat frequented the Warminster railway station in Wiltshire

   WARMINSTER STATION
Wiltshire


From at least 2010, Warminster station in Wiltshire had a cat called Casper, who although he didn't live there but in a nearby home, spent a lot of time there and enjoyed 'meeting and greeting' travellers. Sadly he died in March 2016, having reached the grand age of 22.
Photo: Cat Party
See Danny Howell's Casper at Warminster Railway Station for a set of photos from May 2016, and also Casper ... Has Used Up All Of His Nine Lives.


Trooper, station cat at Waterloo, London

   WATERLOO STATION
Central London


We can't see him very well, but this is Trooper who was mouser and pigeon-chaser at Waterloo Station in the early 1980s. We have no details other than that the photo was taken during the rail strike of July 1982, so Trooper and the pigeons had the station virtually to themselves.


Memorial stone for Arthur, late station cat of Whitby, North Yorkshire

   WHITBY
North Yorkshire


Black-and-white Arthur turned up at the station in the 1960s, was befriended by staff and made it his home for the next 10 years. Although he had a lame back leg, it didn't curb his hunting activities and the station was kept rodent-free. When he died the staff, who had appreciated his friendship as well as his 'mouse work', buried him by the buffers at the end of the unused Platform 3, one of his favourite spots. A sandstone marker was placed, with the date 8.8.75 under the legend 'Morte d'Arthur'. Later the platform was demolished, but the stone was rescued and, although difficult to access, can still be found between the station and a new supermarket.
Photo: Harry Mead


Brian the station cat at Whitton, near Richmond-on-Thames, south London
Station cat Brian at Whitton, near Twickenham, south London
Brian the station cat at Whitton village, south London

   WHITTON STATION
Richmond-on-Thames, south London


The station in this London borough had a black-and-white cat that they named Brian; we're not sure when he arrived, or whether he made his home there or lived nearby, but in mid-2015 he was said to have been regularly meeting and greeting commuters for the past several months. He was often to be seen sunbathing on the platform and climbing over unsuspecting travellers. However, early in 2016 he seems to have disappeared; apparently there was some building work going on that could have upset him. Appeals were made for information and people were asked to look out for him, but as far as we know in late 2016 he hasn't been seen again.
Brian the Whitton Station Cat at Facebook
Lovely YouTube clip with many photos of Brian, accompanied by a song Station Cat (Note: it continues after the credits)


Wendy the Wivenhoe station cat, Essex Station cat Wendy at Wivenhoe station, Essex

   WIVENHOE STATION
Essex


This station had a feline presence in the form of Wendy, who adopted it as her home and, like many station cats, enjoyed having a fuss made of her by travellers. It isn't clear when she arrived there, but she was certainly around early in 2010 and at the time was thought to be quite an old cat. The following year, in October 2011, she was rehomed and went to live in Brightlingsea, but she seems to have gone missing from there about a month later and was not seen again.
Inner image: windowsill photo courtesy of Monika at Flickr where it can be seen full-sized
Facebook: Wendy the Wivenhoe station cat and Wendy Station Cat


Thomas the station cat at Yeovil Pen Mill, Somerset
Thomas (or Tom) the signal box cat at Yeovil Pen Mill station, Somerset

   YEOVIL PEN MILL STATION & SIGNAL BOX
Somerset


Thomas (or Tom) is a big black-and-white cat at Yeovil Pen Mill mechanical signal box, which is at the end of the station platform. One photo seen shows him fast asleep on the edge of the platform, from where he apparently had to be wakened and moved by a guard before a train could depart. A 2009 visitor was told that 'He also enjoys travelling on trains and has visited Castle Cary and Dorchester by hopping on. The guards all know him and ensure he returns safely!', and in 2014 someone else wrote, 'I believe (and stand to be corrected or backed up) that he has in the past caught a train to Bristol!'
       In early 2016 it was reported that he was 'a part-time bobby now and due for retirement', but he was photographed still very much at home in the signal box in August 2016.
\Lower image: courtesy of Adrian Falconer at Flickr (closeup), and the Widewanderer blog (Tom + signal box)



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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is now no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.


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