Saturday, 31 March 2012

Robberies at Nine Elms Locomotive Depot - 1871

On the 7 September 1871 the Locomotive Committee Minute Book of the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) recorded a crime:

Read report of Inspector Potter of 25th ulto as to Charles William a labourer at Nine Elms [Locomotive Works] having been detected in the robbery of some calico and some webbing belonging to the company, for which he has been sentenced by the magistrate to two months hard labour.
          Mr Beattie [the Locomotive Superintendent] to have 20/- to reward the person who gave information of the robbery and the Policeman to have 10/- reward.[1] 

Yet, this robbery was not the only one at Nine Elms in 1871, and only a month later the same committee book has the following entry:- 

Read report from inspector Potter of 21st ulto as to the robbery of some brass and white metal from the Locomotive Department at Nine Elms for which two men are to be tried at the next Newington sessions.[2]

Clearly, robbery at Nine Elms was a bit of a problem for Inspector Potter.

[1] The National Archives [TNA], RAIL 411/182, Locomotive Committee Minute Book, Minute 339, 7 September 1871
[2] TNA, RAIL 411/182, Locomotive Committee Minute Book, Minute 348, 5 October 1871

Friday, 30 March 2012

The Cost of a Room - London and North Western Railway - Hotel Tariff 1880s

I recently purchased this lovely little item from ebay, and have, after much judicious research (okay - 5 minutes on the internet), worked out that it is from the 1880s. What I found particularly amusing, and I have yet to fully understand, are the 'sitting room' charges, which were 'according to position.' Perhaps facing a window cost more? Also, what constitutes a 'plain' breakfast? I'm guessing just bread and tea.

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.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

'Fined 20s., and 22s. costs, for fraudulently travelling'

In my work I am always finding cases where people failed in their attempts to avoid paying for their travel. After all, it is only when they got caught that cases were recorded. This is from the London and South Western Railway's staff magazine, The South Western Gazette, from July 1901 (p.11):

'At the Westminster Police Court, in the 9th ultimo, E.G. Richmond, of 94 High Street, Tooting, was fined 20s., and 22s. costs, for fraudulently travelling, and 20s. and 2s. costs for giving a false name and address, or in default for one month's imprisonment. On the 6th of April defendant arrived at Vauxhall by train and attempted to pass the barrier by saying he had given his ticket up on the platform. He afterwards admitted travelling from Clapham Junction without a ticket, gave a false name and address, and eventually said he had travelled from Wimbeldon. It was ascertained he lived at 61, Effra Road, Wimbeldon. To avoid police court proceedings he left that address, but was traced to Tooting.'

I'd love to know how they traced him there...

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Early Images of the Waterloo and City Line - 1898

The London and South Western Railway, which terminated at Waterloo, had always dreamed of reaching the city since that station had been built in 1848. Therefore, when the Waterloo and City Railway was projected in 1892 the LSWR supported it heavily, even placing four of its directors on its board. The line opened on July 1898, and being the nation's second deep level tube it attracted much attention in the press. These pictures were found in an edition of The Graphic from 16 July 1898.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Staff at the New Basingstoke Station - 1905

Mr Prince - Station Master
In 1905 the London and South Western Railway opened their rebuilt and enlarged Basingstoke Station. This new station was a major step in the company's project of widening its main lines. Indeed, Basingstoke was a major interchange station, where the company's lines to Southampton and the West Country converged. Additionally, the Great Western Railway had its own station there, adding to the traffic. Thus, the newly rebuilt station had a large staff under the station master, Mr Prince, and the number of individuals in each position were listed by Railway Magazine in April 1905. Thus, the article gave a good idea how the staff of medium to large Edwardian stations were constituted. The numbers were as follows:

14 Clerks (goods and telegraph)
3 Station Inspectors
21 Shunters
3 Yard Foremen
9 Guards
3 Ticket Collectors
6 Parcel Porters
22 Signalmen
8 Porters and goods staff
41 Miscellaneous

Total: 130

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Waiting Room Weekly Round-Up

Hello all - I have little to report this week, apart from the fact that I am working hard to get my draft thesis in by Friday. It is going well, and hopefully I will have it finished on time. However, I it has rendered me a social hermit. But heck, that's what I signed up for all those years ago. Here's the round-up:

Monday: The Tale of Dare Devil Dick
Tuesday: A Brief Thought or Two On the New King's Cross
Wednesday: 'Calculated to lead to accidents' - The North Midland's Staff Policies, 1842
Thursday: "John! ARE YOU SURE YOU LOCKED UP THE HOUSE?" - 1913
Friday: "Terrible Collision at Hampton Wick" - Interview with the Signalman
Saturday: Travelling By Railway Without a Ticket - 1851 

And don't forget this week's main Turnip Rail Blog - The Social Backgrounds of Female Railway Clerks - 1875-1886

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Travelling By Railway Without a Ticket - 1851

It seems that ticket collectors encountered the same problems in 1851 as they do today...

'Joseph Haigh was charged with travelling from Swinton to Masbro' without a ticket. On the the 1st of March the defendant got out of the train shortly before it reached the platform at Masbro', and was making off when the porter saw him and brought him to the station. On being asked for his ticket, he pretended to have lost it, and when asked for the fare was exceedingly abusive. It appeared that this was the fourth time the defendant had attempted to impose on the railway by travelling without a ticket...Defendant said he took a ticket at Doncaster, but lost it on the way...In reply, it was stated that enquiries had been made at Doncaster, and it appears that only two tickets were issued by the train on that morning for Masbro' both of which came to hand, The Bench were of the opinion that the defendant had been guilty of wilful falsehood, and thought the case was one for the infliction of the full penalty of 40s and costs, or one month's imprisonment.'

From the The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, Saturday, April 05, 1851, p.6

Friday, 23 March 2012

"Terrible Collision at Hampton Wick" - Interview with the Signalman

On Monday 16 August 1888, a passenger train entering Hampton Wick Station on the London and South Western Railway was hit by a light engine that had been sent on the wrong line by the signalman. The accident caused the death of the driver, fireman and two passengers. The day after, the Pall Mall Gazette printed an interview with the signalman:

'A representative of the Pall Mall Gazette called on the pointsman, Thomas Parsons, this morning, in order to find out what explanation he had to give of the accident. he lives in a little cottage near the station. Parsons is a tall, burly man with a red beard and is about forty-one years of age. He stood with his wife and one or two children, and was evidently much affected at what had occurred.

"Can you given an explanation of your conduct in allowing the engine to run up to Hampton Wick on the wrong line?" asked our representative.
"I don't know as I can," replied the man despondently
"How long have you been a pointsman at Kingston Junction?"
"About seven years"
"And you have never had any accident before?"
"How do you account for this then?"
"It was a mistake on my part."
"But how do you account for the mistake?"
"It was a very busy time. I thought the driver of the light engine was going to the engine-shed having done for the day. I therefore fixed the points for another train from Waterloo. But instead of the driver going to the engine shed he shouted up to me saying, "I have got to go to Twickenham." "All right," I replied, "Look sharp!" I quite forgot for the moment that the points were wring. Of course he ought to have noticed that he was up the down line, and should have stopped."
"Could you see if he was sober?"
"He was quite so far as I was able to see"
"And yourself?"
"I was perfectly sober, having had nothing to drink since Saturday night"
"And had you had enough sleep?"
"Plenty, I came to work at five o'clock in the afternoon, but did not know how long I should have to stop. I suppose it would be till two. The night or rather morning before I got home at one, and had nine hours' rest before coming to work again. I also had a little nap before five o'clock."
"Did you see the accident?"
"It was dark, and it occurred round the corner the other side of Hampton Wick Station. I heard the crash: indeed, I was listening for it. I knew the engine was on the wrong line; but I found out too late to stop her. Some railway men came down and told me of the accident, I had to stop in the box till 3.30. On eof my mates remained there to keep me company."

Thursday, 22 March 2012


"Mrs Smith (to Smith who, starting for his annual "rest cure," is making a frantic rush for the train). "John! ARE YOU SURE YOU LOCKED UP THE HOUSE?"

Yeah, I never find Punch that funny, but as a worrier, I empathise.

[1] From Punch, or the London Charivari, August 13, 1913, p.155

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

'Calculated to lead to accidents' - The North Midland's Staff Policies, 1842

In the early 1840s the North Midland Railway paid its shareholders very poorly, there being no dividend in 1840 and only 3 per cent being paid in 1841. The shareholders rebelled and a number formed a committee to investigate cuts in the company's working expenditure. Joined by George Hudson, nicknamed 'the Railway King' because of his financial interest in so many lines, the committee recommended dramatically cutting the company's wage bill from £40,600 per annum to £22,800. Yet the directors, concerned with the safety of the travelling public, rejected the committee's report categorically. This put both parties at odds, and matters came to a head at a shareholders meeting in late 1842 where tempers were frayed and accusations made. Six weeks later, somewhat predictably, a number of directors resigned, only to be replaced by members of the committee, including Hudson.

Consequently, the company instigated one of the harshest set of staff reforms found in the early railway. A quarter of the drivers and firemen were fired without warning, and if any of the survivors protested they were dismissed also. Indeed, when in late 1842 one group of footplate staff sent a memorial to the board complaining about the changes, which would require them to work longer hours, they were fired on Christmas Eve. Furthermore, almost all of the staff suffered a reduction in wages.

But for the travelling public another danger loomed, and when drivers and firemen were fired for insubordination they were usually replaced by vastly less experienced men who accepted the company's new terms of employment. One individual who wrote to the Railway Times even argued that the newly employed drivers had been dismissed from other railways because they had found to be incompetent or even drunk. Thus, he had no hesitation in predicting there would be accidents, and there were. In early 1843 one passenger was killed at Cudworth when a luggage train went into the back of passenger train; and two freight trains collided in Derby. There is no doubt that the inexperience of drivers was a factor, and Edward Jenkins, driver of the luggage train, had only been on the footplate for three weeks.

The Board of Trade blamed the directors publicly for the accidents, citing drivers' long hours and poor pay as being a contributory cause. They criticised the fact that footplate crews for thirteen days out of fourteen had to drive nearly a hundred and fifty miles in each, stating that these conditions were 'too harassing for men and calculated to lead to accidents.' The report eventually forced the North Midland to provide drivers and firemen with additional rest periods and employ more experienced staff.


All details from Arnold, A.J. and McCartney, S. The Rise and Fall of the Railway King, (London, 2004), p.83-85

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A Brief Thought or Two On the New King's Cross

Yesterday I took a trip to see the the new Kings Cross Station concourse. Impressive is not the word. The grandeur, style and elegance the new construction possesses, while at the same time staying sympathetic to the existing structures, is quite a feat. Indeed, on entering one is hit by the new structure's Cathedral-like quality, and the immediate impulse is too look up and survey the lattice work, which can only be described as beautiful. My only minor quibble though is why the roof construction did not have more windows to let additional light in. As you can see from one of the pictures I took, even on a very bright Summer's day like yesterday, the inside was very shady on the lower level. Yet, this was a minor point and overall I was mightily impressed.

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Tale of Dare Devil Dick

In the 1870s and early 1880s the London and South Western Railway wasn't exactly known for the speed of its trains or their punctuality. Indeed, this made the company ripe for satire, Punch nicknaming the company's management the 'Wags of Waterloo.' This snippet from 1881 in the Sporting Times is a particular favourite:

‘The most humorous piece of writing in the world is to be seen on the South-Western Railway between Fulwell and Twickenham. It is on a board, and the quaint, incisive words are, “Speed not to exceed ten miles an hour.” Even people with urgent appointments, the keeping of which means life and death as they dodder up to town at the old Thames Valley speed of four and a half miles an hour, have to shriek with laughter when they read Archibald Scott’s great joke. People tell with bated breath how there was once and engine-driver, appropriately termed Dare Devil Dick, who got six miles an hour out of Thames Valley train, and was seen by a directors, and was sacked for furious driving, and was hired by the Midland and sacked for slowness, and now, having qualified on the S.W.R., is earning an honest livelihood by driving a hearse.’[1]

 [1]  The Sporting Times, Saturday, 29 October 1881, p. 1

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Waiting Room Weekly Round-Up

In all honesty, not much has happened in my week. But yesterday I turned 30 and that feels a little odd. I haven't got worked up about it, after all it is only adding one year. Indeed, as I mused in yesterday's post, I look forward to the next ten, and the rich fruits they may bring. Now for the round-up:

Monday: Boy Killed By and Engine - 1876
Tuesday: The Occupations of 10 Railway Directors in 1847
Wednesday: Hampton Court Station - Past (1912) and Present
Thursday: Britain's Most Profitable Railway? - The Salisbury and Yeovil Railway
Friday: The Other Victims of the Staplehurst Accident - 1865
Saturday: So I'm 30 today - Bring on the Next Decade!

Also, do not forget the main Turnip Rail Blog Post: An Early Railway Manager - A Perpetual Failure

You can also 'Like' Turnip Rail on Facebook here.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

So I'm 30 today - Bring on the Next Decade!

So I am 30 today. Well, to be precise, I was 30 at 12.02 - or that's what mother tells me. I was going to write a short piece about what I have learned over the last decade. But given my very self-critical nature it would just be a trawl through hundreds - and yes, it's that many - of mistakes. I should perhaps bear in mind that I have learnt a lot, gained wonderful friends and had many interesting experiences. Indeed, if I reflect some more on what has happened, I'd say that at the moment I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life - and that can't be bad.

However, there is one thing that has loomed large over my existence for the past five and half years - my PhD. Yes, I really did start in 2006. I remember telling people when I would finish it - "2012 - yeah, I'll be 30". It is quite weird to acknowledge that I'm nearly there now. I do not regret the choice I made back then. I'm not saying it has always been easy, and at the start it was quite difficult to learn a completely new field of academic history. But now, as I get to the end, I can see what a wonderful thing my PhD has been, and will be.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that I hope to write popular railway history books; especially as I have been writing a railway history blog for two years. Yet, two weeks ago I started to move towards this goal and acquired myself a literary agent. But the story just gets better. On the 2 April I take a big step and have a meeting with a very large and well-known publisher to discuss book ideas. But I couldn't have got this far without my PhD. The knowledge and interests I have acquired through it have pushed me forwards to pursue the career I wanted as early as 2002. Indeed, as I turn 30, and while finishing my PhD has taken longer than I thought it would when I was 20, everything in my life seems to be on course, and for that I am thankful.

So bring on the next decade of my life - I am sure it will be a good one.

I have the following ideas for books, and I would appreciate people's thoughts:
  • An edited collection of my blog posts.
  • The history of the Victorian station-master 1825-1914
  • The grim Victorian railway - exploring the horrible aspects of the 19th century railway
  • A history of the individuals who built and ran the railways - 1825-1914.
  • The social life of Victorian railway workers.
  • Victorian Railwaywomen

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Other Victims of the Staplehurst Accident - 1865

The fame of the Staplehurst Accident of 9 June 1865 stems from the fact that Charles Dickens was on the train, travelling back from Folkestone to London with his mistress, Ellen Ternan, and her mother. Naturally, in the wake of the accident Dickens' presence and his subsequent attempts to help the dying and the injured garnered much attention. This is entirely understandable. However, the ten passengers who were killed have largely remained anonymous. They were as follows:

Emma Beaumont - Spinster
Anne Bodinham - Wife of Frederick Bodinham, Solicitor
Charlotte Chaunhay-Faithful - Wife of Faithful, Judge at Bombay
Hannah Cundliff - Wife of Martin Cundliff, Hotel Keeper
James Dunn - Warehouseman
Adam Hampton - Surgeon
Hippolite Mercia - Cook
Amelia Rayner - Wife of Lloyd Rayner, Merchant
Lydia Whitby - Wife of George Whitby, Merchant
Caroline White - Spinster

A quick search of the census found the background of only one of the accident's other victims, Amelia Rayner. Amelia had been born around 1827 and lived in 1861 lived with her husband, George - listed in the census as being a 'General Broker' - in Toxteth Park, Liverpool. They had five children, Lloyd Jun. (6 years), Ellen A. (5 years), Maurice E. (3 years), Amelia May (1 year) and Hugh (5 months). Clearly Lloyd's business was successful, and the family were employing five servants, which shows the family's not inconsiderable wealth. Furthermore, it would seem from the 1871 census that George and Amelia had another son, Norman, who had been born in 1865, just before the accident. However, by 1871 Lloyd had found love again, and had married Anne S. Brown in 1868.

If you would like to know more about the Staplehurst accident, last year I wrote a post for the main Turnip Rail site HERE.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Britain's Most Profitable Railway? - The Salisbury and Yeovil Railway

In 1857 the London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) made probably one of the worst agreements a railway company ever did. The company had been given authorisation in 1854 to build a line between Yeovil and Exeter. However, another independent company, the Salisbury and Yeovil Railway (S&YR), had gained permission to open a line between Salisbury and Yeovil. Therefore, to be able to run trains to the West of England the L&SWR would need that company's lines. So, in July 1857 it agreed to lease the S&YR for twenty years from its opening throughout (1 June 1860), giving it 57.5% of the gross profits. After this time the L&SWR could purchase or lease the line for a set yearly payment based on the apportionment of receipts at the end of the agreement.[1]

Little did anyone know that the agreement would make the S&YR possibly the most profitable companies in the land. As the years passed, and without the S&YR having many overheads such as track or locomotive maintenance, its dividend slowly rose as the traffic grew, as follows:

The Opening of the Salisbury and Yeovil Railway - 1860
1861 - £4 7s 6d
1863 - £4 12s 6d
1865 - £5 5s 0d
1867 - £6 10s 0d
1869 - £6 5s 0d
1871 - £6 15s 0d

Indeed, this gradually worried the L&SWR's management, as it was paying increasingly large amounts of money to the S&YR. Thus, in 1872 it attempted to buy the company. This first bid, which offered the S&YR shareholders £150 of L&SWR shares for every £100 of S&YR, was rejected by the proprietors; The killer blow being a letter to them from another S&YR shareholder, Louis Henry Ruegg. He stated that with the L&SWR on the verge of opening new lines, the traffic passing over the S&YR, and the possible profits, were bound to increase still further. Indeed, the rejection of the L&SWR's offer was the smartest move the S&YR proprietors would make.

The S&YR's dividend continued to rise to £8 5s 10d in 1873, £9s 15s 0d in 1875 and 12 10s 0d in 1877. While dividends this high were commonly paid by some earlier railways, this was an astonishing return in the 1870s. Faced with having to purchase the S&YR at a very high price or leasing it for an massive yearly fee, the L&SWR resolved to buy the company again. The eventual sale cost the L&SWR dearly, and in early 1878 it exchanged each £100 S&YR share for £250 (5% preference) of its own.[2] Thus, right until its end, the S&YR's shareholders profited hugely from their company's relationship with the L&SWR.


[1] Williams, R.A., The London and South Western Railway - Volume 1: The Formative Years (Newton Abbott, 1968), p.87-88
[2] Ruegg, Louis Henry Ruegg, (Sherborne, 1878), p.50-56

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Hampton Court Station - Past (1912) and Present

The Station in 1912
I love Hampton Court Station - I must do, I live up the road from it. Opened in 1849, it was designed by William Tite in a style to match the royal palace it served. Nowadays though, I just wish someone would just do it up! No railway of the past would have allowed such wonderful architecture to fall into such disrepair.
The station a few years back.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Occupations of 10 Railway Directors in 1847

Last week, I revealed that I had finished putting the names Britain's 1300 railway directors in 1848 into a database. Eventually, I hope to look at the networks between them, who was the most influential individual and their backgrounds. However, for a bit of fun I though I would see if I could find out the backgrounds of ten in the database. For easy searching I selected directors with unusual names, then began trawling the census returns to see what I could dig up.

I found that four individuals were merchants, the most interesting being James Arbouin, director of the Royston and Hitchen, East Lincolnshire and Great Northern Railways, who dealt in wine. It is not surprising that merchants dominated my sample, as most research shows that early railway directors got involved for the benefit of their own businesses. Thus, those in trade and commerce flocked to the boards of railway companies, given the possibility of new markets opening up.

This was possibly the motivation for joining a railway's board for the two directors whose principal income was from industry. Isaac Badger, who sat on the South Staffordshire Railway's board, was involved in nail, glass and iron manufacturing. Two directors were involved in finance. For example, George Braithwaite Crewdson, a Kendal and Windermere Railway director, was a  banker. It was logical for companies to have bankers on the board as this gave the companies a link to easy capital. One director was listed simply as a lawyer and another as just a 'Magistrate.' However, three others, in addition to their principal source of income, were also magistrates.

Actually,  I can easily say that the occupations of those chosen for my little bit of fun actually correlate with past studies with larger sample sizes. Ultimately, I hope to do this with all 1300 directors -  but that may be just a pipe dream.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Boy Killed By and Engine - 1876

Sometimes being a historian can be very sad, as shown by this case of a boy killed on the railway. It is taken from the Bristol Mercury on the 22 July 1876:

'On Tuesday as the 12.20 express train from Bath to Bournemouth, on the Somerset and Dorset Railway, was proceeding on its journey some children were noticed playing on the line. One of them, son of a miner named Hall, attempted to cross the rails immediately in front of the train, and was knocked down. The accident was not noticed by the engine driver, but was observed by the guard. Inspector Ashford, who was travelling in the train at the time, proceeded down the line from Radstock Station in order to make inquiries as to the nature of the accident, and discovered that the boy, whose age was seven years, had been killed by a severe blow on the head from the buffer of the engine.'

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Waiting Room Weekly Round-Up

Well, it has been a very hectic week for me. On Monday I had the displeasure of having to re-interview for a job given my work is undergoing a re-structure. This was - to say the least - stressful. Yet, I can happily report that I managed to secure a position and that I can now get on with finishing my PhD and book, as well as start thinking about my future. Indeed, on this latter point I had some very good news on the same day that my job was confirmed - but that will have to stay secret!

I just want to thank all my followers on Twitter who have supported me through the very long run-up to the interviews, it certainly has been a very worrying period. So, on with the round-up:

Monday: A Bit of Edwardian Railway Satire
Tuesday: PhD Historiography Snippet: The Power of the Victorian Railway Chief Executive
Wednesday: Meet a Railway Luminary No 3: Myles Fenton
Thursday: Railway Directors in Parliament - 1847
Friday: 'The Railway Station; Or the Power of Kind Words' - 1864
Saturday: Extensive Frauds and Forgeries on the Great Northern Railway Company - 1856

Also, don't forget my main Turnip Rail Blog this week - Reducing Railway Industry Fragmentation in the early 1900s

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Extensive Frauds and Forgeries on the Great Northern Railway Company - 1856

One of the most massive frauds in British railway history was exposed in 1856 when a Mr Leopold Redpath was found to have seriously defrauded the Great Northern Railway, the company for whom he worked as Registrar. It was widely reported and the Daily News detailed the following (this is a shortened version of the full article):

'The Great Northern Railway Company have been defrauded of an immense amount of money, in consequence of the dishonesty of one of its principal officers. Up to a late hour last night it had been proved that his defalcations amounted to 150,000l. The report is that 180,000l will not cover the amount, but no accurate estimate can be formed until the auditors can make up a report, an operation that will occupy some weeks. As soon as a the accounts can be arranged, the result will be made up for the purpose of being submitted to a general meeting of proprietors.

Mr. Leopold Redpath, of 27 Chester Terrace Regents-Park, was, until a few days since, the registrar of Shares and Transferer of Stock of the Great Northern Railway Company. Although his salary was not extensive, amounting to something between 250l and 300l a year, he lived in a luxurious style in a fashionable house, had a box at the opera, was a habitué of the theatres, a Governor of Christ's Hospital, and of the Royal Anne's Society, and a subscriber and director of many of the most prominent metropolitan charitable institutions. There was scarcely ever a fashionable party, and operatic party or a gathering of the beau monde, in which the name "Leopold Redpath Esq." did not appear...

...A warrant has been granted for the apprehension of Leopold Redpath, who is still a fugitive from justice. He is described as being about 45 years of age, 5 foot 10 inches in height, with fair complexion, brown hair. he walks in a hurried or "jolted" manner. He dresses well, but not foppishly, and his general demeanour indicates a person of extremely quiet habits and good position in society.

The directors of the Great Northern Railway appear to have been acquainted with the expensive habits of their servant, and to have been aware that 300l a year could not have met his expenses. Singularly enough, a feeling prevailed that he filled his responsible office simply of a desire of having something to do; and this opinion was confirmed by the fact that he made large contributions to many religious and charitable institutions with which the metropolis abounds.'

Taken from: Daily News , Friday, November 14, 1856

Friday, 9 March 2012

'The Railway Station; Or the Power of Kind Words' - 1864

I saw this lovely image on eBay this week and and just had to have it to put on my wall. It comes from a periodical called British Workman, a socialist Christian publication, and was published on the 1 December 1864. I suspect the station is Willesden Green, as the posing of the image is very similar to a painting of that station that I have seen (but cannot remember where).

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Railway Directors in Parliament - 1847

George Hudson
Using an 1847 'Reference Book to the Incorporated Railway Companies of England and Wales', I have just completed the monumental task of inputting into a database the names of the 1300 railway directors listed. Why I did this is something to be explained at another time (although I did it largely out of curiosity). However, it has allowed me to see how many railway directors were in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Alderman, in his book The Railway Interest, which details the relationship between parliament and the railways, puts the number of directors in the House of Commons in 1847 at eighty-six.[1]

Yet, it seems that Alderman must simply have counted the number of times 'M.P.' was observed in the Bradshaw's guide he used to acquire this figure, rather than considering that some directors sat on the board of more than one company. For example, the notorious George Hudson was Chairman of the Eastern Counties, Midland, York and North Midland and York, Newcastle and Berwick Railways, as well as being a director of the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Railway. Nevertheless, he can only be counted once as the M.P. for Sunderland.

Consequently, my figure for the number of railway directors in Parliament is clearly more accurate. In 1847 the actual number of M.P.s who were directors was sixty, or 9.15 per cent of the 656 M.P.s that had been elected in 1845. Fourteen of these were also sitting in the House of Lords and overall the railways were represented in that chamber by forty-two individuals. Therefore, in 1847 102 individuals constituted the 'Railway Interest.'


[1] Alderman, Geoffrey, The Railway Interest, (Leicester, 1976), p.25
All other information: Glynn, Henry, Reference Book to the incorporated railway companies of England and Wales, (London, 1847)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Meet a Railway Luminary No 3: Myles Fenton

An interview with Myles Fenton in Chums magazine from 1898 was suitably titled, 'From Office Boy to General Manager'.[1] Indeed, this adequately described the career of one of Britain's most well-travelled general managers. Born in 1830, Fenton started his railway career on the Kendal and Windermere Railway in 1845 as an office boy in the Secretary's Office.[2] In 1847 he moved to the East Lancashire Railway as a audit clerk and, after much graft through the ranks, was made its secretary in 1856, becoming the youngest individual to hold the post in Britain. Chums states that thereafter 'One cannot follow him in all his many changes, nor describe every seized opportunity that came within his grasp'. However, he worked in later years for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire, South Western and Great Eastern Railways.[3] In 1865 he was appointed general manager of the Metropolitan Railway, taking up the same position on the South Eastern Railway in 1880. Finally, when this company merged with the London, Chatham and Dover Railway in 1899 to become the South Eastern and Chatham Railway, he was made a director.[4]  While general manager his fame was largely overshadowed by the controlling force behind the Metropolitan and South Eastern Railways, Sir Edward Watkin, who was the chairman of each.[5] But despite this, Fenton was a respected and influential chief executive throughout his later career. He died on 14 March 1918.[6]


[1] Chums, 20 April 1898, p.550
[2] Strand Magazine, 9 (Jan 1895), p.9 
[3] Chums, 20 April 1898, p.550
[4] The Times, March 15, 1918, p.12
[5] Hodgkins, David, The Second Railway King: The Life and Times of Sir Edward Watkin 1819-1901, (Landybye, 2002)
[6] The Times, March 15, 1918, p.12

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

PhD Historiography Snippet: The Power of the Victorian Railway Chief Executive

Naturally, as companies expanded physically the management class grew to coordinate the increased operations. Studies have shown how this, in some cases, brought it into conflict with directors which Wilson and Thomson called ‘trustees of investors’ proprietorial rights.’[1]  Amongst early railway managers, London and North Western Railway General Manager, Mark Huish, had a reputation for being ‘unscrupulous, dictatorial and Machiavellian’ in his control of company policy between 1846 and 1858. Yet, while Gourvish argued that none of Huish’s contemporaries had his ‘predominance in railway affairs’, he also made the case that ‘Huish was not the company’s sole policy maker and he did not possess the ‘dictatorial’ influence so often ascribed to him.’ Indeed, he encountered the resistance of the directors to delegate power to salaried officials[2] and in 1858 his resignation was forced upon him as he could not satisfy the director’s requirements regarding inter-company diplomacy.[3] Lastly, on his resignation his successor, Cawkwell, had far greater controls placed on his freedom of action by the board.[4]

Indeed, this case shows that whether managers controlled or influenced policy were two different matters. Clearly, by the 1860s the influence of senior managers, verses those of directors, varied within different companies. Decision-making could become heavily influenced by chief executives, a small group of directors, or both. When Channon examined the building of the Midland Railway’s main line to London, opened in 1868, he argued the decision was formulated by a small number of directors who were influenced heavily by the General Manager, James Allport.[5] Furthermore, Gourvish argued in respect of the railways managed by Watkin and Forbes that ‘company strategies are usually presented in terms of either the directorship of a managing director or of one or two active directors.’[6]

Despite Cain arguing that by the 1870s Chief Executives were ‘the single most important decision-makers in the industry,’[7] the reality was that different managers continued to have varied levels of control over  company policies after 1870. In his study of Edward Watkin, chairman of the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway (1864-1894), South Eastern (1866-1894) and Metropolitan Railways (1872-1894), and James Staats Forbes, chairman of the London, Chatham and Dover (1873-1898) and Metropolitan District Railways (1872-1901), he wrote of two railwaymen who remained in control of the companies’ policies, even when promoted onto their boards. Nevertheless, there were attempts by the SER board to oust Watkin in 1878-79 and 1885-86. [8]

Sir George Gibb
Furthermore, despite Watkin dedicating a large portion of his time to railway work, he was unable to directly control the three companies he was managing director of, relying on the senior executives at each to run operations; Myles Fenton at the SER, William Pollitt at the MS&LR and John Bell at the Metropolitan.[9] Hodgkins even described how Pollitt and Bell had a long standing rivalry which would have made a proposed link between the MS&L and Metropolitan Railways in the 1890s difficult,[10] and suggesting that even under Watkin’s domineering leadership these chief executives had the status and influence to direct their railways’ policies.

As late as the 1890s management’s ability to influence and control policy was different from company to company. Irving argued in his study of the North Eastern Railway (NER) that when Gibb became General Manager in 1891 he almost completely controlled company decision-making, dominating the staff and board, and allowing him to drag the company ‘to a position where it was acknowledged by experts to be a model on which successful railway management might be based.’ Nonetheless, on his departure in 1906 a vacuum was left and that thereafter the new General Manager, Butterworth, did not have the handle on company affairs, allowing the board to reassert its position at the heart of company policy.[11] Furthermore, Klapper’s portrait of Sir Herbert Walker’s administration of the London & South Western Railway from 1912 is one that highlights the primacy of the General Manager in policy, rather than the directorate.[12]

[1] Wilson, John F. and Thomson, Andrew, The Making of Modern Management: British Management in Historical Perspective, (Oxford, 2009), p.57
[2] Gourvish, T.R. Mark Huish and the London & North Western Railway, (Leicester, 1972) , p.167-182
[3] Gourvish, Mark Huish and the London & North Western Railway, p.257-260
[4] Gourvish, Mark Huish and the London & North Western Railway, p.177
[5] Channon, Railways in Britain and the United States, 1830-1940, p.107
[6] Gourvish, T.R. ‘The performance of British railway management after 1860: The railways of Watkin and Forbes’, Business History, 20 (1978) p.188-189
[7] Cain, P.J., ‘Railways 1870-1914: the maturity of the private system,’ in Freeman, Michael J. and Aldcroft, Derek H. (eds.) Transport in Victorian Britain, (Manchester, 1988), p.112
[8] Gourvish, ‘The performance of British railway management after 1860’, p.188-189
[9] Gourvish, ‘The performance of British railway management after 1860’, p.191
[10] Hodgkins, David, The Second Railway King: The Life and Times of Sir Edward Watkin, (Melton Priory, 2002)   p.609
[11] Irving, R.J., The North Eastern Railway Company, (Leicester, 1976)  p.261-264
[12] Klapper, C.F., Sir Herbert Walker’s Southern Railway, (London, 1973)

Monday, 5 March 2012

A Bit of Edwardian Railway Satire

In 1902 Sam Fay became the General Manager of the ailing Great Central Railway. This cartoon from the April 1906 edition of the new and staff-run Great Central Railway Journal, which was originally published in 1904 in the Railway Service Journal, shows how many of the staff felt about the reforms that Fay brought to the company to turn it around - 'Brushing Out the Old Ideas.'

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Waiting Room Weekly Round-Up

It has actually been a quite quiet week for me with regard to my railway work. I had some revelations about management practice being transferred from the London and South Western Railway to the Midland and South Western Junction Railway - but that is it really. All I'm really doing is working very hard to get a draft thesis finished by the 29 March. Also, unpleasantly, I have my re-interview for a job tomorrow, so I am revising for that - not fun.

So, I suppose I'll just get on with the update.

Monday - The Hours Train Drivers Worked - 1892
Tuesday -Steam on the Underground in 2012
Wednesday - A Drowned Express Train - 1875
Thursday -"gentlemen residing at different points" - Railway Directors in the 1850s
Friday - 'The Position of a Station-Master is not Arrived at in a Day.' - Promotion in 1889
Saturday - "Begs to Acknowledge Receipt" - The Importance of the Railway Form

And do not forget this week's main Turnip Rail post - The Refreshment Rooms of Spiers and Pond - The Station Refreshment Room after 1870 - Part 2

Also, remember, if you like what I write then you can 'like' Turnip Rail on Facebook - HERE

Saturday, 3 March 2012

"Begs to Acknowledge Receipt" - The Importance of the Railway Form

One of the hidden stories of the nineteenth century railway companies is their development of standard forms. Clearly, this isn't that much stimulating of a topic, and to my knowledge there is only one book that looks at how railway stationary was evolved, and even then it focusses on the American railroads.

But this is important area of British railway history that should not be ignored. If we consider that in the early years of the industry most railway company stationary constituted simply lined books and letters, the development through the decades of standard forms and record books tailored to individual departments' needs was a business innovation. Shown on the left is a form that was sent by the London and South Western Railway's Good's Manager's Office in 1901 to confirm that a letter had been received. The main feature to note is that within the standard, pre-formulated text there are spaces where the company's clerk could write the relevant details. Indeed, like many others the railways produced, this form meant that those sending out large numbers of receipts did not have to write out great tracts of text each time and, therefore, their use would have sped up business processes.

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.'

Thursday, 1 March 2012

"gentlemen residing at different points" - Railway Directors in the 1850s

In 1868 Herbert Spencer wrote an essay entitled 'Railway morals on railway policy.' Looking back on the thirty three years of railway history that had passed, he assessed who exactly were running these new corporations as it was a matter of interest to the public. After all, railway directors and managers at the time were the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of the mid-Victorian period, steering the destiny of the maturing railway industry. Spencer noted that up to the 1850s directors were mainly:

‘...gentlemen residing at different points throughout the country traversed by railways they control; some of them landowners; some of them merchants and manufacturers; some of them owners of mines and shipping. Those in close proximity to it gain either by the enhanced value of their lands or by increased facilities for transit for their commodities. Those at more remote parts of the main line, through less directly interested, are still frequently interested to some degree: for every extension opens up a new market for either produce or raw materials.[1]

To what extent each of these economic groups sat on railway company boards in the 1850s is unclear. However, the economic character of different British regions clearly would have been evident in the business interests of the directors of the railway companies running through them.
[1] Spencer, H., ‘Railway morals and railway policy’, in Essays: Scientific, Political and Speculative, II (1868), p.286-287, quoted in Cain, P.J., ‘Railways 1870-1914: The maturity of the private system’, in Freeman, Michael J. and Aldcroft, Derek H. (eds.) Transport in Victorian Britain (Manchester, 1988), p.113-114