RAILWAYMAN James Miller was described as the finest stationmaster Oxford ever had.

He was so popular that one of the carriage sidings at Oxford station was named ‘Miller’s Siding’.

He devoted his whole working life to the railway and consistently refused promotion to stay at his post in the city.

Every morning, except during the occasional holiday he was persuaded to take, he would be on duty at Oxford station from the early hours, and most evenings, he would return to see that all was well.

The only thing he hated about the job was wearing the tall billycock hat, the hallmark of every stationmaster on the Great Western Railway.

He described it as “of the bus conductor variety”, but wore it reluctantly to greet Royalty and VIPs on the platform.

Mr Miller joined the railway at Oxford in 1911 straight from school and the only time he was away from the industry was during the First World War which he spent almost entirely overseas with the Signals branch of the Army.

He worked elsewhere on the railway between the wars, but came back to Oxford as assistant stationmaster in 1941, as one GWR official put it, “to do a thundering good job of work”.

He was promoted to stationmaster at Newbury in 1945, but returned to his beloved Oxford as stationmaster in 1950. In 1961, he was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, and the award was presented to him by Transport Minister Ernest Marples at a ceremony in London.

When he retired a year later, there were many tributes to him for his half a century of service.

He was showered with gifts at a farewell reception at Oxford Town Hall attended by leading railway executives as well as many past and present colleagues.

Mr VH Lockey, who worked at Oxford station, said: “The carriage siding is already known as the ‘Miller Siding’ and we should all like to see it given that name officially so that his name will always be remembered by the railwaymen who will follow us.

“There has never been a greater railwayman than Jim Miller, whom we are all proud to call our friend.”

Another speaker at the reception, Mr NH Briant, operating manager at Paddington, described Mr Miller as “the best example of an efficient stationmaster I have ever known”.

He added: “He has never spared himself in doing what in recent years has become a very difficult job.

“He has the greatest respect and affection of the whole of the staff at Paddington and I don’t know anyone in the whole of British Railways who has been a better stationmaster.”

Mr Miller, who lived near the station in Botley Road, died in 1975, aged 78.