Monday, 2 April 2012

Great Western Railway Marriage Allowance - 1912-1920s

Usually in the front of many railway staff record books can be found the employment policies that the companies operated. Indeed, when browsing one such record book from the Great Western Railway (GWR) titled 'Locomotive and Carriage Department Female Clerks - 1910-1938', I discovered the development of the company's gratuity policy for when the company's female staff got married and were, like most jobs for women in the period, made to leave the service. The policy was laid down shortly after the company engaged its first female clerks in 1910, as follows:

'Maximum allowance £10 S.C.M. [Special Committee Minute] 254 of Sept 1912'

However, in 1922 it seems that the conditions under which the £10 was given were tightened up, limiting it to those who had served for greater than five years.

Sir Felix Pole
'Marriage Allowance - Applicable to women clerks who entered the service before 12th November 1920 provided they have 5 years service to their credit and leave the service for the purpose of getting married. (S.C.M. 670 of Novr 1922)'

Another circular on the matter was issued in 1925. Because of the Railways Act 1921, which merged Britain's 120-ish railways into four, in 1923 the GWR had absorbed numerous smaller railways. Clearly its management, and more specifically the company's General Manager, Felix Pole, took the opportunity to restrict the issuing of gratuities further, not allowing it to female clerks who had served on the newly acquired lines:

October 13th 1925 -  'Marriage allowance not payable to women clerks on amalgamated lines -Will you please note that the provision of the above minute are not applicable to Women Clerks transferred from the amalgamated or absorbed lines. - Yours truly, for F.J.C. Pole [General Manager] (sgd) H.C.A.'

Yet, the tightening up of the rules regarding the gratuity didn't stop there. In an effort to monitor them more closely, in 1926 Pole ordered that when they were given they should always be confirmed by his office.

August 5th 1926 - 'Marriage Allowance - With reference to Staff Committee Minute No. 670, will you please note in the future all recommendations for the payment of marriage gratuities should be submitted to this Office before the amounts are entered in the paybills - Yours truly, for F.J.C. Pole [General Manager] (sgd) T.B.H.'


[1] All information from  The National Archives, RAIL 264/261, Numerical register of female clerks: 1-724

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