Tributes have been paid to Tom and Erika Salmon, of Ruswarp, near Whitby, who in the late 1960s were instrumental in the establishment of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway preservation society.
Mr Salmon, 87, was described yesterday as the ‘Father of the Railway’ by a spokesman for the popular heritage line.
“Without his vision the North Yorkshire Moors Railway would not be as it is today, the world’s most popular heritage railway, as it was Tom who called together the first meeting of the preservation society in their home back in 1967.”
Mrs Salmon, 86, died on Christmas Eve after a courageous battle against cancer. Her husband died on Christmas morning after a long fight with Parkinson’s disease. Both had been in Whitby Hospital.
Earlier this year the couple were honoured by the Railway when they met for a reunion at Ruswarp Station alongside a handful of the surviving founding members of the preservation group.
Railway general manager Philip Benham said: “Our thoughts and prayers are now with Tom and Erika’s family. The volunteers and staff of the NYMR could not be more grateful for all they both have done for the Railway.”
Wreaths in memory of the couple will be placed on the front of engines running on the line until Sunday, January 5.
A tribute to the couple was paid by their granddaughter, Natalya Wilson.
“Nana and Grandad’s passing has left a huge hole at the heart of our family and we all miss them dearly,” she said.
“They both loved the NYMR and Grandad was so proud of what they did for the railway right up to the very end of his life.
“Nana was instrumental in the railway as well. Grandad said he could not have done it without her support.”
Her grandparents met in Kiel, Germany, in the aftermath of the Second World War. Mr Salmon, who was fluent in German, was working for the Intelligence Corps. He met his German future wife through his Army work.
The couple returned to Britain in 1947 and married in Staffordshire. They established themselves in farming in Herefordshire and later moved to Yorkshire. Mr Salmon later worked in the Civil Service and Mrs Salmon worked at the Royal Hotel, Whitby.
They are survived by daughters, Nina and Wendy, and grandchildren Natalya and Karl, Sarah and Rachel. A funeral service takes place on Tuesday, January 7, at 11.30am at St Hilda’s Church in Sneaton, near Whitby.