Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Career of an Engine Driver, 1840-1891

In 1894 Strand Magazine carried an article about numerous engine drivers, asking questions regarding their careers and any accidents they had throughout them. One of the interviewees was John Dear, who served had served the London and South Western Railway for fifty-one years. His career, which was judged typical of LSWR drivers, was described as follows;

'John Dear, seventy-five years of age, said he began his career on the railway in 1837. After a short experience on the London and Birmingham Railway, he joined the South Western in 1840 as fireman, becoming a driver about 1842. He continued driving until about 1884, when he was made inspector for the Windsor station, having to look after the engines and men, which position he held until 1891, when - to use his own words - "in consequence of ill-health the directors kindly granted me a pension, as they do all their old servants."

Dear continued: " I ran a passenger train between Nine Elms (the London terminus at that time) to Southampton till the end of 1849. Then on the opening of the Windsor branch (in 1850), I shifted to Datchet; and when the line was completed I ran between London and Windsor."[1]

Indeed, Dear's staff record, which has him down as 'N' Dear, states that he joined the company in May 1840, was appointed Locomotive Foreman at Windsor on 23 January 1884 on 45 shillings per week, and was pensioned by the company's Engineering and Stores Committee on 1 March 1892.[2]


[1] Story, Alfred, 'Engine Drivers and their Work', Strand Magazine, 8 (1894 -July) p.279
[2] The National Archives [TNA], RAIL 411/530, various locomotive and carriage and wagon depots, register No.5

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