Carnforth Station clock stands still after '˜racism' row
Time is standing still at Carnforth Station after the volunteer who winds the famous clock was banned from the premises.
Jim Walker has been keeping the clock, which featured in the Brief Encounter film, running twice a week since it was reinstated 13 years ago.
However, he has been told he can no longer enter the station after a member of the public made a complaint against him over an alleged racist comment.
The 71-year-old has now been given a map which outlines areas of the station he is not allowed to enter.
Mr Walker says he was overheard discussing a Daily Mail article which referred to the age of young refugees entering the UK from Calais, and the comparisons being made to Jewish children arriving in England in 1939.
He said: “Carnforth Station Trust received a complaint from a visitor who wasn’t happy about me speaking to somebody about the issue.”
The solicitor’s letter sent to Mr Walker said the “serious complaint” followed a visitor cutting short their trip to the heritage centre due to “loud offensive remarks” which used “inflammatory and highly abusive” language.
Centre manager John Adams later investigated the incident – without speaking to Mr Walker – and reported back to the board, who agreed to exclude Mr Walker from areas of the station under the control of the heritage centre.
“It is clear the visitor’s version of events was a true and factual picture of what went on,” the letter says.
Mr Walker says the trust later decided to move the ladder he uses to an outbuilding to enable him to continue winding the clock, but he has refused.
“What they are doing is outrageous,” he said. “It’s absolutely unbelievable, it’s a violation of free speech.
“The first I knew about this was a letter from a solicitor put through my letterbox one night.
“I thought all these people were friends of mine but none of them have come to see me.
“I must be the only man in Carnforth who has a document saying where he can and can’t walk and all for expressing a point of view and quoting an editorial from a newspaper.
“I have been winding the clock twice a week for 13 years – now it is no longer possible.”
Carnforth Station Trust chairman Peter Crowther said the board was due to meet this Thursday to discuss the issue further, irrespective of whether Mr Walker attends.
He did not wish to comment further until after the meeting, but added that it was “a very serious incident which could have involved the police”.