My early life was spent living in Morecambe and Lancaster, where I grew up with my younger sister (Maureen) and brother (Andrew). I went to Lancaster Royal Grammar School, and then on to St Edmund Hall, Oxford University, where I obtained my degree in Engineering Science in the summer of 1981.
In September of that year I joined the British Rail Signal & Telecommunications department, on the Engineering Management Training Scheme, based mostly in Leeds and York. Since completion of training I have had posts in the Doncaster area, York, Doncaster (again), Leeds and finally back to York, to work in what was then the Signalling Projects Group.
Privatisation came to us in December 1995, when we became Signalling Control UK, under the same ownership as Westinghouse Signals Limited. In 1998 we merged fully and became part of Westinghouse Signals, later becoming Westinghouse Rail Systems, then Invensys Rail. In May 2013 Invensys sold their Rail division to the German company Siemens, and we are now known as Siemens Rail Automation.
I normally work in the York office of Siemens, on the development, design and testing of railway signalling systems. Sometimes I work away from home, such as in 2012 when I spent several weeks at Chippenham testing new control systems for the Victoria Line in London.
I am a Chartered Engineer, a Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and a Member of the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers.
You will have noticed from the contents of this site that I'm also interested in railways outside work. I blame this on living next door to a train driver (known to me as Uncle Bill) when I was very young. I can remember him taking me and my father round the engine sheds at Lancaster (Green Ayre) - it was all steam in those days of course.
I have also developed a passion for travel (which goes well with an interest in railways) and have visited most countries in Europe. I have travelled overland across Asia four times, the first time being a York to Hong Kong journey in 1988, and the most recent York to Vladivostok and Beijing in 2006. Other holiday destinations of mine over the past 10 years or so have included Vietnam, Albania and the USA.
Nearer to home, I enjoy walking, particularly in hill and mountain areas. Living in York, I am well placed for the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales and the Pennines. In 2003 I started to 'bag' the Munros (Scottish mountains over 3000ft/914m - there are 282 of them) and completed this endeavour in June 2018. I also do some cycling, and a number of long-distance routes are described on this website.
About 20 years ago I started looking into my family history, prompted by many questions on where the name Armitstead came from, which I couldn't answer. I have traced back to my 6xgreat-grandfather, Thomas Armitstead, born about 1684, who was a yeoman farmer and lived in Bentham, Yorkshire. I have put details elsewhere on this site.
Musical interests include rock and classical. My teenage years during the seventies coincided with the high-point of prog rock bands such as Genesis and Pink Floyd, which set the direction of my musical tastes. Of current groups, I would name Radiohead, Muse, Arcade Fire and Elbow among my favourites.