Crewe Railway Stories: Five Generations of Family Rail Connections


Councillor Laura Crane, Vice-Chair Highways and Transport Committee at Cheshire East Council, tells us what an impact the rail has had for generations of her family in Crewe, all the way up to meeting her husband while they both worked for Network Rail.

The rail goes back five generations in my family, starting with my great-great grandfather Thomas Birch, who moved from Liverpool to Crewe to work on the railways in the 19th Century. His son Fred also worked on Crewe Station.

My great-grandfather Jack Hulme used to drive the railway omnibus from Sandbach town centre to the station and my grandad Roy Hulme used to work signal boxes around the Crewe area. He used to tell me all kinds of ghost stories about working some of the more remote boxes! His wife, my Granny Lily Hulme worked on Crewe Station during the way serving tea to soldiers passing through.

My mum Debbie Hulme worked in the supply chain in Rail House in Crewe for a while before working for Unipart Rail and I started at Network Rail in an IT role back in 2004, supporting the systems the run the railways so I always felt very close to the operational side.

My first role was on a helpdesk for the signal boxes and the control centres, and I worked on the railway until I got a cabinet position at Cheshire East and needed to prioritise that. I met my husband there too, and 8 years later we’re married with a child. We wouldn’t have met without the rail because he was from Stoke and came up to Crewe for work.

Rail has always been close to my heart because I was brought up above the newsagents opposite Crewe Alexandra’s football ground, which is right next to the station, and the railway is pivotal when you live that close to it. We’d hear all kinds of fascinating stories from the drivers who had just finished their shifts.

I’ve always felt that the railway is part of me, and I can’t imagine Crewe without it. Given our family history I think it’s so important that future generations have the opportunity to work on the railways.

Going back a couple of generations it was just assumed that someone in every family here would work on the railway in some form and that opportunity has been dwindling and we need to reenergise that.

The arrival of Great British Railways would give our kids, grandkids, great grandkids a future on the railway here in Crewe.