Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Meet a Railway Luminary No 3: Myles Fenton

An interview with Myles Fenton in Chums magazine from 1898 was suitably titled, 'From Office Boy to General Manager'.[1] Indeed, this adequately described the career of one of Britain's most well-travelled general managers. Born in 1830, Fenton started his railway career on the Kendal and Windermere Railway in 1845 as an office boy in the Secretary's Office.[2] In 1847 he moved to the East Lancashire Railway as a audit clerk and, after much graft through the ranks, was made its secretary in 1856, becoming the youngest individual to hold the post in Britain. Chums states that thereafter 'One cannot follow him in all his many changes, nor describe every seized opportunity that came within his grasp'. However, he worked in later years for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire, South Western and Great Eastern Railways.[3] In 1865 he was appointed general manager of the Metropolitan Railway, taking up the same position on the South Eastern Railway in 1880. Finally, when this company merged with the London, Chatham and Dover Railway in 1899 to become the South Eastern and Chatham Railway, he was made a director.[4]  While general manager his fame was largely overshadowed by the controlling force behind the Metropolitan and South Eastern Railways, Sir Edward Watkin, who was the chairman of each.[5] But despite this, Fenton was a respected and influential chief executive throughout his later career. He died on 14 March 1918.[6]


[1] Chums, 20 April 1898, p.550
[2] Strand Magazine, 9 (Jan 1895), p.9 
[3] Chums, 20 April 1898, p.550
[4] The Times, March 15, 1918, p.12
[5] Hodgkins, David, The Second Railway King: The Life and Times of Sir Edward Watkin 1819-1901, (Landybye, 2002)
[6] The Times, March 15, 1918, p.12

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