Monday, 20 February 2012

The Size of a Railway Company Boards

The number of directors that Victorian railway companies had varied from company to company. The factors determining the size of boards were dependent on a range of factors, including the intensity of the company's operations, the area it served and the external interests represented at board level. 

For example, the Great Western (GWR) and London and South Western Railways (L&SWR) had very different board sizes between the 1830s and 1915. In 1834 the GWR board had fifteen directors. However, the number fluctuated between sixteen and twenty-eight until 1878, when it stabilised at nineteen until 1922.[1] Yet, the L&SWR stabilised its smaller board size earlier in its history. It started with fifteen members in 1833, but consistently had twelve from 1860 onwards. Thus, the L&SWR had fewer men sit on its board up until 1915. Between 1834 and 1915 seventy-seven  men were L&SWR directors,[2] whereas for the GWR the total was 128.[3] Why the boards were different sizes is not entirely clear. However, it is suspected this was because the companies served different geographical areas, the GWR's being larger, and there were more vested interests involved in the GWR that had to be accommodated.


[1] Channon, Geoffrey, Railways in Britain and the United States 1830-1940, p.165
[2] The National Archives [TNA], RAIL 1110/281, 283 and 284, London and South Western Railway Reports and Accounts 1831-1922
[3] Channon, Railways in Britain and the United States , p.180

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