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More from News
- Jim Walker has been keeping the clock ticking in Carnforth Station since 2004
- He was 'banned' from entering parts of the station after an alleged racist remark
- The 71-year-old says was discussing refugees entering the UK from Europe
- Station heritage trust said it was a 'very serious incident which could have involved the police'
A 71-year-old volunteer claims he has been banned from winding up the railway station clock made famous in the classic film Brief Encounter because of alleged racist remarks.
A family made a complaint about timekeeper Jim Walker when they overheard him speaking about refugees in Carnforth Station, Lancashire.
He has been 'banned' from entering parts of the station where he has been volunteering for 14 years and features in the 1945 romantic drama.
Mr Walker has been 'banned' from entering parts of the station, which features in the 1945 romantic drama after a member of the public made a complaint
Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in the 1945 classic film Brief Encounter
The former train driver said he was overheard discussing a newspaper article which compared Jewish children arriving in England in 1933 and the refugees entering the UK from Calais.
The 71-year-old, husband to Betty, said the migrants were 'incomparable' with the six-year-old Jewish children arriving on Kindertransport trains fleeing the Nazis.
Mr Walker claims the Carnforth Station Trust later decided to move the tools he needs to access the clock to an outbuilding not in the trust's control to enable him to continue his duties.
But Mr Walker has refused in protest against how he claims to have been treated.
The father-of-two said: 'I'm a supporter of free speech - it's part of our democracy.
'But now I'm the only man in Carnforth who's been told where he can and can't walk.
'They banned me from certain areas of the station but where the clock lies isn't one of them but you still need a ladder to get to the clock - it's 10ft off the ground.
'They were going to put the ladder in an outhouse for me and give me the key so I can still wind the clock - they can bu**** off.'
The Brief Encounter clock at Carnforth Station with Celia Johnson walking beneath
The 71-year-old, husband to Betty, said the migrants were 'incomparable' with the six-year-old Jewish children arriving on Kindertransport trains fleeing the Nazis
The clock was installed in the station in 1895 and was made by Joyce of Whitchurch.
It needs to be winded using a large key twice weekly.
When filming took place in 1945, the threat of air-raids hung over London so film crews moved up to the far north.
Mr Walker added: 'What they are doing is outrageous and all for expressing a point of view and quoting an editorial from a newspaper.
'It's absolutely unbelievable. 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 have been winding the clock twice a week for 13 years - now it is no longer possible.'
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.
The station is still an active railway station operated by Northern Rail and the clock hangs above one of the platforms.
Mr Walker, from Carnforth, 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 family cutting short their trip to the heritage centre due to 'loud offensive remarks' which used 'inflammatory and highly abusive' language.
The letter said: 'It is clear the visitor's version of events was a true and factual picture of what went on.'
Carnforth Station Trust chairman Peter Crowther said 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'.