Rail enthusiast who strove to save Stretton signal box dies age 76

Ian Dormor, who has died aged 76, was a railway enthusiast and specialist in historic landscapes who became involved in many aspects of life in Church Stretton after moving to Shropshire.

Church Stretton railway enthusiast Ian Dormor.
Church Stretton railway enthusiast Ian Dormor.

Among a wide variety of local roles he was a prime mover in a project to save the town's historic Victorian signal box, and he put his printing background to good use for the monthly magazine, Stretton Focus.

For years he edited the newsletter of the Offa's Dyke Association, so was already well known to members when he became chairman of the association in 2004.

He is survived by wife Lorna, children Nicholas and Rachael, and four grandchildren.

Ian Dormor by the Church Stretton signal box shortly before its demolition

Explaining their move to Shropshire from Bedale in Yorkshire, Mrs Dormor said: "He was already involved with the Offa's Dyke Association, and it was an area he liked."

Within about a fortnight of the couple's arrival in the county he landed the post of Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty landscape conservation officer.

"He was particularly interested in the countryside and archaeology, and helped run digs when we lived in Surrey," said Mrs Dormor.

"He was a trustee of Caring For God's Acre (a churchyard conservation charity) and was on the civic society in Church Stretton."

Dr Dormor – he was an academic doctor - was secretary of Strettons Railway Society, of which he was a founder member when it was set up in 2007, and secretary of Church Stretton & District Rail Users' Association.

And, with Derek Askew, he was behind a £50,000 project to restore the 1870s railway signal box in Church Stretton which was dismantled by Network Rail in 2009 and given to the community so it could be rebuilt in the town’s park as a reminder of the town’s railway heritage.

"It never came to anything, and he was very disappointed about that. I think it's in bits at Oswestry, last I heard," said Mrs Dormor.

He was secretary of Church Stretton Tree Group, and also involved in the Malcolm Saville Society which is dedicated to the author best known for a series of children's books set in Shropshire.

Dr Dormor started off as a master printer in the Surrey area, where he set up a successful business called Express Typesetters.

However, there was a sharp change of direction – he went to university at the age of 45.

Dr Dormor worked for many years as a consultant and visiting lecturer at the University of York, where he was a Fellow in the institution’s archaeology department.

His doctorate from the University of Leeds was awarded for his research into the history of woodland management in the Yorkshire Dales.

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