An engineering manager from South Shields, who has helped to keep thousands of Stagecoach North East buses on the road across the region, is retiring after almost 35 years in the industry.
62-year-old Alan Richardson, originally from The Nook and now living in Washington, has stepped down from his role at the South Shields depot on Dean Road after dedicating his career to engineering.
Alan began his career in 1972, when he joined the Tyne and Wear PTE in Byker as an apprentice at the age of 16. After completing his four year apprenticeship, Alan took up employment with the bus company as a fitter at the depot in South Shields in 1976 where he developed his skills in the bus engineering workshop.
In a break from the bus industry and to build on his engineering knowledge, Alan joined the Merchant Navy as an engineer, and in 1982 he moved overseas to work for a US company based in Siberia, where he was a specialist engineer looking after 200-tonne trucks at an open cast coal mine.
Three years later, Alan returned home and to the local bus company, now Busways, as a fitter at the Byker depot, before transferring back to South Shields after being promoted to engineering supervisor. A further jump up the career ladder to engineering manager saw Alan move to at Stagecoach North East’s Teesside depot in Stockton where he gained valuable management experience.
In 2014, Alan came full circle when he made a final move back to South Shields as engineering manager, where he was responsible for managing the depot’s engineering team, ensuring the highest standards and quality of maintenance for the depot’s fleet of vehicles and all aspects of health and safety.
Alan was influenced early on in his career by his father, with a family history in the engineering industry. He said: “My dad was a draughtsman so I have followed in his footsteps but working in a wider variety of roles. I found a way into the bus industry when a lot of people from school were looking to work in mining or shipyards at the time.
“There were no opportunities to go to university at the time, and I followed the advice of my careers teacher who said if you get an apprenticeship you will always be in work, and it has proved true. I have worked my way up the career ladder and really enjoyed my time here, especially the diversity of the people you meet. Having worked in a lot of the depots over the years, it is lovely to have worked with so many great people.
Alan has seen the role of the engineering department change over the years, with technology being the main development. He said: “Technology has got much better, with computers now playing such a big part in maintaining a bus, wifi, and digital developments such as contactless and smartcards. The whole industry as a whole is much more professional from when I first started, and it is now treated more as a focussed business and much more customer orientated.
“I will certainly miss the day-to-day running of the workshop, and the great banter I had with all the team and I wish them all the very best.”
Following retirement, Alan is planning on spending more time with the family, including travelling to Canada to see his sister and enjoying his hobby of maintaining classic cars as a member of a local car club.
Gary Chisholm, Engineering Director, Stagecoach North East, said: “Alan has been such a valued member of the team for many years and a ‘safe pair of hands’ for the company. People with Alan’s many years of experience are always difficult to replace and he will be missed by me and his colleagues. We wish him the very best for a long and happy retirement.”