THE owner of one of Britain's smallest railway museums has died aged 63, following a long illness.

John Rathmell ran the Clerestory Railway Museum from an historic train carriage in his garden in Melton Avenue, Rawcliffe, York.

He used to open the museum to the public on certain days, with money raised from donations going to York-based charities, and he also raised funds for charity each Christmas with a festive lights display in his garden.

Mr Rathmell told The Press in 2009 how he started out just as a collector of railway memorabilia, but 'then things got out of hand' and he started the museum.

"I have always been interested in our local railways, and have spent lots of time collecting hundreds of items from around the country," he said at the time.

Among his collection was the shed plate for the engine, the St Mungo, and the numberplate for another A1 Pacific locomotive, the Kennilworth.

Mr Rathmell was also always willing to speak his mind on railway matters, branding a multi-million pound redevelopment of York's National Railway Museum “a waste of money” in 2010 after hearing it would involve the closure of the Great Hall to visitors for 18 months.

He hit out at his treatment by a rail company in the same year when, using a motorised scooter because of the condition neuropathy, a conductor refused to allow it on board a train from Liverpool to York because he did not have a company permit and risked stranding him in Liverpool.

Mr Rathmell was married to Helen, whom he met in the supporters' bar at York City football club, and had two daughters, Sarah and Lorna, and five grandchildren, said Sarah.

She said he was a Liverpool and York City fan and, when his funeral was held recently at York Crematorium, the Liverpool anthem You'll Never Walk Alone was played, and close family wore Liverpool scarves while grandchildren wore the kit.

As a York fan, one of his greatest moments had been the double triumph at Wembley in 2012, which he attended just after his illness was diagnosed.

Sarah thanked doctors and specialist nurses who cared for her father during his illness, and added that a number of items from the museum would be donated to railway museums in Scotland at his request.