Friday, 2 March 2012

'The Position of a Station-Master is not Arrived at in a Day.' - Promotion in 1889

The following short clipping is from an article entitled 'Station-Masters, by one of them', and was published in Chamber's Journal  in March 1889. Interestingly, it suggests that not only was advancement up the railway promotional tree more likley to be determined by who a railway worker knew, not on skill, but also that only a few were destined for the lofty position of General Manager. Personally, I find the latter point more plausible that the former, as while nepotism did go on, railway work by this time had become more professional than the author claims:

'The position of a station-master is not arrived at in a day. The average number of years for which a man has to work before he attains this post is about twelve. There are men, and many of them of great practical experience, who have been aiming at this position for twenty years or more, and have not reached it yet; and may never do so. It is the same on the railways as in the army, navy and the other professions : influence, to some extent, is almost indispensable; and though men of marked ability have risen in the railway service by virtue of their own merit, still these instances are few and far between. Soldiers and sailors cannot all be generals and admirals, neither can every railway servant become general manager. The French soldier is taught to believe he carries a marshal's baton in his knapsack; so might every railway man be taught that seal of a general manager is within his grasp. If honours are never attained, both services will profit by the energy displayed by the members in attempting to attain a position that is held by very few men within half a century.'

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