Thursday, 29 March 2012

Women's wages on the LNWR - 1913

Browsing through's railway staff records can turn up some really fascinating documents. I recently found one that didn't actually contain the names of any railway workers. Instead, it was a 360 page file that was jam-packed with the London and North Western Railway's staff policies between 1865 and 1914. What initially caught my eye was a list of the wages that the company's employees received, and being interested in railwaywomen, I immediately looked for what the female staff were paid.

The document failed to list any of their wages, and all that was put were dashes, as shown above. While the range and average wages the male staff received were all listed, for example labourers received from 21 to 27 shillings per week and a engine drivers from 36 to 48 shillings, no such information were listed for the five positions women were employed in; as gatewomen, cooks, office cleaners, waiting room attendants and matrons (lodging-houses).

This says a lot about the status of railwaywomen before 1914. Apart from female clerks, who did receive pay scales, the positions above were given to women on the death or injury of their railwaymen husbands to support them. Therefore, these women had very low status' within the LNWR, and the company felt under no obligation to provide them with standard engagement conditions, pay scales or employees rights. Indeed, the pay they received would have been the lowest of any grade in the company and they could be dismissed without notice.


  1. I do believe women had to leave their jobs once they married,is a reason they were considered not worth mentioning on the records, thus the railway company didn't think female employees would stay long.

    1. Well, I don't think that that was necessarily so in all the cases, as many women in the positions above were widows. Indeed, I have found some examples where widows remained in employment for thirty years. However, if they were employed before marriage then they would definitely have to resign on becoming wed.

      I think part of the problem with looking at the subject is that because there were so many companies in the period, that different policies were adopted at different times and it is hard to say that female employee's existence was recorded in one way or another. I'd love to do far more work on the whole subject!