Roger Bugler obituary

Other lives: Engineer with a lifelong interest in railways, in particular signal boxes

My grandfather, Roger Bugler, who has died aged 98, was an engineer and lifelong railway enthusiast. Although his career was in locomotive traction motor manufacture and sales, he was also interested in railway signalling and safety.

Roger was born in Kingsbridge, Devon, to Albert Bugler, a Lloyd’s bank manager, and Isabel (nee Harris), a homemaker. In 1942, after attending Clifton college in Bristol, he went to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, to study engineering. He expected to join the army after graduating but was instead seconded to industry and became a traction engineer. He had a single employer throughout his career, though it changed names: BTH (British Thomson-Houston), then AEI (Associated Electrical Industries), then GEC (the General Electric Company). Until 1960 he worked in Rugby, thereafter at Trafford Park, Manchester, until his retirement in 1989.

He met Doreen Harris in Rugby, when he was an apprentice and she was working on the shop floor, and they married in 1950, having spent months saving sugar and egg coupons for their wedding cake. By the time they moved to Wilmslow in Cheshire in 1960, the family was complete with two children, Hilary and Julian.

As a younger man Roger spent his spare time in signal boxes, and as an adult was a member of the Institute of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE). He and Doreen made many European friends through IRSE, as a result of much-enjoyed train travel around Europe.

Aged 50, he became a bellringer, the delight of his later life. He rang at his local church, St Bartholomew’s in Wilmslow, across the UK and abroad, wherever ringing took place. If he heard bells somewhere he would set off to find the tower and join in.

Roger was an avid reader — mostly the Guardian, daily, and technical papers related to his special interests, although he also loved detective stories. He was a singer and, as a bass baritone with perfect pitch and immaculate rhythm, he was an asset to many choirs.

He made wonderful marmalade and a mean roast dinner (as long as it was lamb), loved a sweet sherry; indeed, he had an extremely sweet tooth. He adored maps and map-reading and made sure his children did, too. He was pleased to contribute to the running of various organisations, including the Wilmslow Trust, his masonic lodge, and his parish church.

Doreen died in 1996, after which Roger travelled widely throughout his 70s and 80s, maintaining contact with family and old friends while making many new ones. He is survived by Hilary and Julian, and two grandchildren, Euan and me.

Mollie Arbuthnot

The GuardianTramp

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