Friday, 18 May 2012

"friendly, almost family" - The London and South Western Railway and the 1911 strike

In August 1911 all the railway companies of Britain were subject to strike action, as employees demanded better pay and conditions. Yet, the staff of one company, the London and South Western Railway, did not go on strike (except for two individuals). Naturally, the press speculated why this was so. A letter to the Telegraph from a company employee showed that the reasons lay within the family culture that had been fostered within the company over many decades:

'When the writer first joined the company, he was struck by the friendly, almost family, interest which the directors displayed in the staff. At the time Hon Ralph Dutton was chairman and Mr Archibald Scott was general manager. The chairman was a splendid type of high-minded gentleman, and the manager was distinguished alike for his business ability and for his sterling character, and upright, unselfish disposition. It is not too much to say that these two men laid the true foundations of the service...We have out little troubles, and, like the average Englishman, we sometimes grumble, but a general strike would be regarded as little less than treason.

[1] Faulkner J.N. And Williams R.A., The London and South Western Railway in the Twentieth Century, (Newton Abbott, 1988) p.189
[2] Letter to the Telegraph, reproduced in South Western Gazette, September 1911, p. 9

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