Retired Metro drivers relaunch their careers at Beamish Museum

Retired Metro drivers Ian Jefferson, Michael Bushby and Bob Blackburn at work at Beamish Museum
14 September 2023

A group of retired Metro drivers have taken a step back in time to relaunch their careers at Beamish Museum. 

The trio – who drove trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro for over 30 years – have found a new lease of life playing the role of miners at the world-famous open air museum in Country Durham. 

They are starring at the Beamish colliery, providing visitors with an immersive experience of life down the pits in the early 1900s.

The former drivers – Michael Bushby, Bob Blackburn and Ian Jefferson – are used to working below the ground after driving trains through the iconic tunnels beneath Newcastle and Gateshead for so many years. 

And now they are going underground again, showing visitors around Beamish Museum’s Mahogany Drift Mine, recounting the harsh realities of working in a mine in North East England in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

It was Michael Bushby who began working at Beamish first after retiring in 2021 following 33 years at Metro. 

Ian and Bob both took inspiration from his switch to the museum and were lucky enough to both get positions there when they applied. 

Michael, 60 , of Felling in Gateshead, said: “I really enjoy my role at Beamish and it’s been amazing that I’ve been joined there by two of my former driver colleagues from Metro.

“It all came about when we had our annual get together. I told the guys all about what I was doing at Beamish and they were intrigued. They came to see me at the drift mine and it all went from there.

“Ian applied and he was successful, and then Bob decided to give it a go and he was also lucky enough to get a role there too. We’ve all been re-united at Beamish working as miners and in the 1900s pit village. 

“I love working with people and I love local history, so the job is absolutely ideal for me. It’s fantastic to be able to be there and bring local history to life. The harsh reality of life working in a mine is something I never tire of telling people about. 

“I love the school groups as it gives me the chance to pass on our heritage to future generations. We also get a lot of international visitors, and I’m proud to be able to tell them all about our region’s industrial heritage.” 

Bob, 67, of Long Benton, said: “After seven years of being retired it’s great to be back working once again with my good friends Michael and Ian.  We all share the same enthusiasm for keeping the history of North East England alive through our work at Beamish, where you get the chance to live and breath the proud heritage of our region.” 

Ian, 66, of Consett, said: “I retired from Metro after 30 years of driving in 2022 and I had always wanted to so some voluntary work in later life.

“I have a keen interest in history, and after I went to see Michael in his new role at Beamish I was inspired to get involved. I was captivated by the mining village and the museum in general. 

“I saw a chance to give back to my local community so I applied to Beamish for a role there. I was honoured to get the opportunity to work at the museum with my two former Metro colleagues.”

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