Noel Playfair: funeral details for much-loved stream train driver

Details have been announced for the funeral service of well-known Carrickfergus train driver Noel Playfair.

It will be held in Mulhollands Funeral Home, Carrickfergus, on Wednesday, January 25, at 10.00am followed by committal at Victoria Cemetery.

A driver for Translink, Noel became unwell while on duty on Monday (January 16) and later passed away at Craigavon Area Hospital.

A notice on the Funeral Times website said he was a loving partner to Rachelle; devoted dad of Daniel, Tyler, Ben and Sam and also Gemma, David, Christopher and Rebekah; and a loving grandfather.

Noel in conversation with the Queen and Prince Philip in June 2016. Photo courtesy of Charles Friel

“Will be sadly missed by the entire family circle.”

Many tributes have been paid to Noel who considered his career highlight to be the occasion in June 2016 when he drove the train which carried Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on a journey from Coleraine to Bellarena.

A stalwart of the Whitehead-based Railway Preservation Society of Ireland, he was NIR’s only qualified stream train driver and was greatly respected by colleagues after over 40 years of commitment to rail transport.

Great Sadness

Noel on RPSI duty. Photo courtesy of Charles Friel.

Dr Peter Rigney, RPSI chairman, said: “It is with great sadness that we learnt of the death of our great friend and colleague, Noel Playfair.

“For the past couple of decades Noel really was Mr Steam NI, ever available to help the Society operate its annual programme of steam trains - often at personal cost and inconvenience.

“He was always willing to step in - for example, firing on our steam trains to Rosslare and Maynooth when there was difficulty rostering a full crew in Dublin.

“Noel Playfair was a professional engineman and a great friend to and supporter of the Society. He will be greatly missed. The RPSI expresses its sincere condolences to his family and friends."

Noel and RPSI colleagues on locomotive No.85 in 2014. Photo courtesy of Robin Morton.

Meanwhile, an online fundraiser in memory of Noel organised by friend and colleague Robert Ramsay has exceeded the original £5,000 target with almost £6,000 now raised.

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Donations in lieu of flowers, if desired, are also invited to The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland, Whitehead Railway Museum, Castleview Road, Whitehead BT38 9NA.