Steam Railway (UK) - - NEWS | FOCUS -

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.

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