Matthew Brown Kerr Jr was a loving father, husband, brother and uncle. He had lived his life for just 63 years having been born 17th September 1943 and passed away 17th April 2006. He had had cancer for a few months and managed to stop his terrible habit of smoking but was too late. The week before he died the Kerr family had been on holiday in Falkirk and then just the day before he was running his railway just like any other day. In the morning of his last day he wasn’t well, in fact he had caught pneumonia. He was taken into hospital about noon and then Mum and I left him in an awful state for the last time. Shortly after we returned home we were informed that he had died. That was the end of one man’s brilliant life. His life which I am about to tell.
Matthew had been born into a family which owned a railway in his hometown of Arbroath. When growing up he didn’t quite see eye to eye with his father (Matthew Kerr Sr). Matt then moved out to go and work on the railways. Starting off as a porter in Inverkeilor station he then worked hard to get his best job on the railways which was working as a signalman at Dunbar. He often told me the story about him having to stop the Flying Scotsman; her driver wasn’t pleased at all. Dad then went to Dundee College of Education to study History and Geography. He then went on to teach at Montrose Academy and his final position before he died after teaching for 33 years was principal teacher of guidance. Matthew had married twice in his life and had always hoped to have children; luckily after a long wait I was born. He was so happy and didn’t care about the fact that he was 52 years old when I was born. Before I was a week old he had taken me down to the railway. I loved him; he was special to me as most dads are. Luckily his interest of railways was passed on to me and if it hadn’t been then KMR wouldn’t be here today.
Around the time when dad died my Mum and I received so much support, something you need when you have to make a decision that could change my future. The decision was made to keep the railway going and until I was of age, my mother Jill Kerr would run it for me.
After Matthew died, he received lots of honours. He had a plaque put in place at Arbroath Railway Station which was station donated by Scotrail (See picture below). Also in 2010 he had a street named after him which is located in Kirkton Industrial Estate and named Matthew Kerr Place. At KMR we had a tree planted and a park bench put in place opposite the railway’s fence looking in. This was donated by his colleagues, friends and family.
Now as I run a lot of the railway I look back on what Dad wanted and I will try to keep it that way, but without him the railway is just not the same and something very important is missing. The reason being is that Dad was the railway.
Miss you, your loving son John.
The photograph above, taken in June 1993, was Matt’s favourite photo of the line and he is driving “Firefly” which he described as his “Dream Machine”, being very easy to drive and keep in steam.
The photograph to the right is a favourite of Jill’s, Matthew’s wife, taken on a foggy day in June 1999 with Matthew doing what he enjoyed best – taking a full train of passengers for a trip behind a steam locomotive.
The photograph on the right shows John Kerr and his mother Jill at Arbroath Station on 18th September 2006. On that day John unveiled a plaque erected in honour of his father by Scotrail.
The plaque will remind travellers using the station of the service Matthew gave to the railway where he was employed as a porter and then a signalman. It will also bring back memories of the enjoyment passengers old and young have when journeying on his railway at West Links Arbroath.
The plaque is shown in greater detail below: