MIKE GEORGE, FORMER EDITOR OF STEAM RAILWAY, DIES AT 77
Mike George, editor of Steam Railway during some of its early pioneering years, has died in the north of Scotland at the age of 77, writes HOWARD JOHNSTON.
Mike, so modest a figure that he did not even say farewell when he stood down in 1984 after 34 issues. He later made his mark as editor of the Banffshire Journal.
Older Steam Railway readers will recall Mike being at the helm during a remarkable time in railway publishing, when the magazine was pushing the boundaries in topical news coverage and features. It forced its competitors to raise their games to try and compete.
Mike George’s professional life began as a trainee reporter with the Lincolnshire Free Press.
His love of fishing led to a sub-editor’s job on Angling Times.
He spent some years working in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and upon his return in 1966 had the harrowing assignment of covering the Aberfan colliery tip collapse that cost the lives of 144 schoolchildren and teachers.
After returning to Britain, he became commissioning editor to Sporting Gun and Target Gun in Peterborough.
Mike’s unexpected transfer across the city to the Steam Railway office in May 1981
(to edit issue 13) came at a time of general staff upheaval, and the decision by the editor at the time, Peter Kelly, to concentrate on the launch of the company’s new ‘modern’ spin-off title Rail Enthusiast (now RAIL).
Mike gave now wellknown names the chance to stretch their legs, including photographers Colin Garratt and Bill Sharman, as well as giving new contributors their first chance to write features.
As quietly as he arrived, Mike left Steam Railway with issue 46 in March 1984, following the absorption of rival magazine Steam World (which had been closed six months before, after 33 issues by its owner, Business Press International).
Heading north to Moray, Mike was head-hunted to join the Northern Scot and worked at a number of publications before becoming editor of the Banffshire Journal. He also authored books on metalworking and shotguns.
After a stroke in 2012, Mike put all his remaining energies into local community life and visiting friends of his childhood. A humanist funeral took place near Buckie.