Monday, 30 April 2012

"When greyhound or other large dogs are booked by a train..."

I found this interesting instruction in a Caledonian Rule book from 1863. If you would like to know a bit more about the transportation of dogs by rail in the Victorian era, I wrote a whole post on the topic last year. However, there seems to have been very little written on the topic, so I am open to expanding my knowledge on it.

When greyhound or other large dogs are booked by a train, and they can neither be placed in the carriage boots, nor chained in the van, they must be locked in the compartment  of a second or third class Caledonian local carriage, with their attendants and not where there are other passengers. If "booked through," they can be changed at the terminal station.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Waiting Room Weekly Round-Up

Well, it has been another week of hard work, and I am looking forward to sending some semblance of a draft thesis off tomorrow to my supervisor. The PhD is, gladly, getting there.

So here's the round-up:

Monday: Pictures of St. Pancras - 20th and 21st April
Tuesday: Which Railway Employees Suffered the most Accidents in 1888?
Wednesday: PhD Historiography Snippet - Forward Planning by Railway Companies
Thursday: GNR 'Conditions of Admission to the Service' for new clerks- 1856 - Part 1
Friday: 100th 'Waiting Room' Post - Some Favourites
Saturday: GNR 'Conditions of Admission to the Service' for new clerks- 1856 - Part 2

And don't forget my main Turnip Rail post - Defining the Early British Station Master

Lastly, if you haven't already please take a look at the my post from last week on an important project that I am involved it. - All comments welcome! - Archives, Artefacts, Amateurs and Academics - A Conference Report

Saturday, 28 April 2012

GNR 'Conditions of Admission to the Service' for new clerks- 1856 - Part 2

On Thursday I presented the first half of the Great Northern Railway's 'Conditions of Admission to the Service' for new clerks from 1856, which I found in a rule book for station masters. While that half dealt principally with wages, the second half was where potential clerks' conditions of service, qualifications and security were discussed, as follows:


7. A candidate as a Clerk will undergo a strict examination as to his qualifications, in proportion to his age; he will be required to show a good hand-writing, suited for accounts and correspondence, and that he has a competent knowledge of mercantile arithmetic; and he must be in a good state of health.

The candidate must, on attending at the Secretary's office to be examined, produce testimonials of character.

In the case of an Experienced Clerk; and of a Junior Clerk who has been before employed - 

      1. From his last employer.
      2. One from each of two housekeepers of undoubted respectability.

In the case of a Lad Clerk; and of a Junior clerk who has NOT  been before employed -

      1. From the head master of the school at which he has been educated.
      2. One from each of his two housekeepers of undoubted respectability.

The nomination, with particulars of the examination and testimonials, will be submitted to the directors on the candidate appearing before them, and who will decide whether he be qualified and a proper person to be appointed.

The name of a Clerk, on appointment, will be added to a list, from which he will be summoned in turn for duty as a vacancy occurs, provided he has in the meantime, given security; but should he, on being summoned, refuse or neglect to join, his name will be struck out of the list, and he cannot afterwards be re-admitted to the service.

A Clerk must, immediately on appointment, give security to the amount of two years' salary, or in not less that £100, through the medium of one of the undermentioned Guarantee Societies; and he cannot subsequently, under any pretence whatever, be allowed to change from the society first selected, viz:-

The Guarantee Society, 19, Birchin Land City;
The British Guarantee Association, 9, Waterloo Place, Pall Mall;
The Times Life Assurance and Guarantee Company, 32, Ludgate Hill;
The United Guarantee and Life Assurance Company, 36, Old Jewery, City;
The United Service and General Life Assurance and Guarantee Association, 20,                                                   Cockspur Street, Charing Cross

The Railway Company pays the premium in the case of a Clerk whose salary does not exceed 21s. per week with, or 25s. per week without allowances.

Friday, 27 April 2012

100th 'Waiting Room' Post - Some Favourites

I was going to pop up the second part of the entrance requirements for new Great Northern Railway clerks from 1856. However, I then noticed that this would be my 100th 'Waiting Room' post. Therefore, I thought it would be nice to list some of my favourite posts from the site. I have employed no rigorous analysis or criteria to choose the posts, they are just the five I liked the most:

23 January: Saving a Historical Railway Document for the Public
27 January: Thomas Wenham's Little Brown Book (1856 GNR Rule Book)
22 February: "The most desperate efforts to avoid the ladies" - Observing Station Activity (1868)
10 March: Extensive Frauds and Forgeries on the Great Northern Railway Company - 1856
23 March: "Terrible Collision at Hampton Wick" - Interview with the Signalman 

Many thanks to everyone for supporting the 'Waiting Room' over the last few months - it is very appreciated. Also, please remember that if you come across anything that might go well in the waiting room I am always open to submissions.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

GNR 'Conditions of Admission to the Service' for new clerks- 1856 - Part 1

As many of you are aware, I have a number of obsessions when it comes to railway history. Clerks are one, and rule books are another (Beer trains are also high on the list - naturally). Therefore, imagine the joy I had when flicking through my Great Northern Railway rule book from 1856, when I came a cross the 'Conditions of Admission to the Service' for all the company's new clerks. Two obsessions satisfied in one place - I couldn't ask for more. The first part of the 'conditions' were related to the clerks' pay, as follows:-


1.Candidates for employment can join the service only in one of the following classes, viz
           Experienced Clerk Class. - Nominated by the General Manager
           Junior Clerk and Lad Clerk Class -Nominated by the Directors in turn

2. Experienced Clerks. - A candidate as an Experienced Clerk must posses railway experience, or experience in other traffic equivalent thereto.
          The salary not exceeding £80 per annum, is fixed on appointment.

3. Junior Clerks. - A candidate as a Junior Clerk must have attained 18, and must not exceed 23 years of age.
The salary on appointment, and -

For the 1st Year is ...               ...                21s per week
     "      2nd           ...               ...               22s       "
     "      3rd           ...               ...                23s       "
     "      4th           ...               ...                24s       "
     "      5th, and until promoted                   25s       "

If employed in London, but during such employment only, 4s a week are allowed in addition to the salary.

A Junior Clerk is eligible for promotion only on a vacancy occurring, and upon the head of the department in which he has been employed, and the General Manager, recommending him as qualified to fill the same.

4. Lad Clerks. - A candidate as Lad Clerk must have attained 15, and must not exceed 18, years of age.

The salary on appointment, and -

For the 1st Year is ...               ...                10s per week
     "      2nd           ...               ...               11s       "
     "      3rd           ...               ...                13s       "
     "      4th, and until promoted                   16s       "

A Lad clerk is ineligible for promotion to be a Junior Clerk until he is 18 years of age, and then only upon a vacancy occurring, and upon the head of the department in which he has been employed, and the General Manager, recommending him as qualified to fill the same.

5. All Clerks, without reference to their standing in the service, are allowed 4s a week, in addition to their pay, when employed wholly on night duty.

6. Written application at the end of year of service must be made to the directors through the medium of the superintendent of the line, or chief of the department in which the Clerk is engaged, for the authorised increase of salary, and failing such application at the proper time, increased pay will be allowed only from the date of which it is eventually made. This rule applies also to the Police and Porters.


Part 2 to come on Saturday

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

PhD Historiography Snippet - Forward Planning by Railway Companies

The Midland Railway's St. Pancras Station
Numerous historians have touched on the lack of accurate forward planning in railway companies’ investment policies in the nineteenth century. Irving argued that in the 1870s the NER’s investment was higher than the line’s traffic demanded and in the 1880s only kept pace with it. Consequently, with traffic increasing rapidly in the late 1880s, investment policies failed by 1888 as network capacity was inadequate.[1] Hodgkins argued that Sir Edward Watkin’s attempted expansion of the small Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway in the1880s added lines that were ‘too much for it to digest’. Ultimately these extensions were expensive failures as they were 'not properly weighed up as investment opportunities.'[2] 

Channon’s study of the Midland Railway’s extension to London in 1869 provided the most detail on what decision-makers knew when formulating a major policies. He argued that those who made the decision, the General Manager and a small group of directors, could not be considered traditional ‘profit maximisers’ as their ‘knowledge of costs revenues, and alternatives was either too rudimentary or too incomplete to form the basis of accurate profit forecasts.’ Indeed, construction costs, especially in London, were particularly hard to predict.[3] Therefore, if Channon's assessment of the knowledge Midland Railway decision-makers' had is applied to the cases above, it suggests that those directing policy within nineteenth century railway companies possessed rudimentary information regarding the cost of, and potential revenues from, their ventures.

[1] Irving, R.J., The North Eastern Railway Company, (Leicester, 1976)  , p.166
[2] Hodgkins, David, The Second Railway King: The Life and Times of Sir Edward Watkin, (Melton Priory, 2002)  , p.486
[3] Channon, Geoffrey, Railways in Britain and the United States, 1830-1940: Studies in Economic and Business History, (Aldershot, 2001), p.107

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Which Railway Employees Suffered the most Accidents in 1888?

Accidents to railway workers were very common in the Victorian period, and most safety legislation was passed to protect the passenger, rather than the employee. A Board of Trade report on accidents in 1888 stated that out of the 346,426 individuals engaged in railway companies' Traffic, Locomotive, Engineering and Stores Departments,  346 were killed and 2,193 were injured. However, different grades of employee were affected to different extents, and the table shows the proportion of individuals in each grade who were victims of an accident (sorted by the proportionate fatality rate):

Clearly, individuals working  with the physical movement of rolling stock, the Brakesmen, Goods Guards and Shunters, suffered the greatest proportion of accidents.  Furthermore, both in terms of fatalities and injuries, station-based staff, such as Ticket Collectors, Station-Masters and Porters, were in the bottom half of the table. Thus, this evidence would suggest strongly (and let us face it, this probably didn't need pointing out) that where you worked on the Victorian railway affected your chance of being in an accident. The closer you were to a 'moving part', putting you at greater risk.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Pictures of St. Pancras - 20th and 21st April

As many of you are probably aware by now, on Friday and Saturday I was in Derby. As part of my trip I had to travel to and from the beautiful St. Pancras Station. These were some of the photos I took:

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Waiting Room Weekly Round-Up

This week I have been very busy with work. However, on Friday and Saturday I attended the Archives, Artefacts, Amateurs and Academics conference Derby run by the Historical Model Railway Society and the Business Archives Council. Some of my initial thoughts were given in Friday's 'Waiting Room' post. However, my full conference report is to be found on the main Turnip Rail Blog today.

So here's the round-up:

Monday: The First London and Birmingham Railway Advert - 1837
Tuesday: What Happened to Families Whose Houses were in the Railway's Path?
Wednesday: The Hole in the Wall - Victoria Station's Signalbox and Dickens
Thursday: The Membership of the Railway Executive Committee in World War One
Friday: Archives, Artefacts, Amateurs and Academics

And don't forget my main Turnip Rail Post - Archives, Artefacts, Amateurs and Academics - A Conference Report

Friday, 20 April 2012

Archives, Artefacts, Amateurs and Academics

As I write, I am on a train winging my way to Derby. Why, I hear you ask? I am attending an important conference entitled ‘Archives, Artefacts, Amateurs and Academics’ run by the Historical Model Railway Society (HMRS) and the Business Archives Council (BAC). Honestly, all the delegates are going into the unknown on this one.

The purpose of the conference is to explore issues surrounding railway archives. One thing I hope will be touched on is the inescapable fact that the average age of the railway enthusiast is rising and many are, sadly, passing on. Yet, the majority of these departing enthusiasts have, across a lifetime of dedication to the railways, collected large collections of archival material from the railways of the past. So, the conference is hoping to address the issue of what happens to these archives when these people pass on. Is there a framework that can be put into place? How do we avoid document collections being thrown in the bin by enthusiasts’ families who, through no fault of their own, have no knowledge of their value to railway and business historians? Additionally, how do we promote amongst the general public the idea that railway documents can be found homes and there are archives willing to take them?

Secondly, we will be discussing individuals’ personal document collections in the context of these archives. For example, how would the family of a deceased individual approach an archive to have the material stored? Would the archive even want the material? Indeed, when railway collections are accessioned into stock, how is this made known to historians? Therefore, the conference is not just bringing together railway enthusiasts and academics; it is also being attended by archive and museum professionals to get their input.

Ultimately, there is a lot of work to be done today and tomorrow, and I look forward to tackling some of these challenges. We don’t know what the product of the conference will be, but I am very sure that it will be the start of something big. Throughout the next two days I will be tweeting interesting points from the conference using the hashtag #AAAA2012. Please use it and hopefully what comes out of the conference will stimulate discussion and debate. Additionally, on Sunday I will post a full conference report from my perspective. So, get on board…

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Membership of the Railway Executive Committee in World War One

Herbert Ashcombe Walker
The Railway Executive Committee was the organisation that took over and operated Britain's railways in the two world wars.  In the First World War it consisted entirely of the railway industry's leading general managers and was the natural conclusion of eighty-nine years of the rise of its management class. Indeed, the directors of railway companies, which had dominated the organisation of the early railways, were not represented. In 1914 the members of the REC were as follows:

Herbert Ashcombe Walker (Chairman) - London and South Western Railway
Sir Sam Fay (Deputy Chairman) - Great Central Railway
Donald Alexander Matheson - Caledonian Railway
Francis Dent - South Eastern and Chatham Railway
Frank Potter - Great Western Railway
Sir Robert Turnbull - London and North Western Railway
John Audley Frederick Aspinall - Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
Sir Guy Granet - Midland Railway
Sir Alexander Kaye Butterworth - North Eastern Railway
Charles Dent - Great Northern Railway
William Forbes - London, Brighton and South Coast Railway

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Hole in the Wall - Victoria Station's Signalbox and Dickens

In the 1860s there was an outcry over railway safety and the fact that while technologies were available to improve it, the railway companies were reluctant, for reasons of cost, to introduce them. Having been involved in the Staplehurst accident on 9 June 1865, Charles Dickens thereafter took an active interest in the promotion of railway safety. Therefore, in 1866 his magazine, All the year Round, featured an article on 'The Hole in the Wall', an advanced signal box at Victoria Station. This used advance interlocking signals and points, so the control of both was controlled by one mechanical action, thus eliminating a degree of human error. The description inside the box was as follows:

"Bells ring, whistles shriek, hands move, and huge iron bars creak and groan apparently of their own accord, and certainly by agencies which are invisible. On the right-hand wall of the box, and on a level with the eye, are fastened four cases, which communicate telegraphically with the platforms of the station, with Battersea Park, and with Stewart's-lane junction; and the movable faces of these are full of mysterious eloquence. The furthest one strikes what seems to be a gong twice, and then, without waiting for a reply, bangs the gong four times; the needle hands of the others tick away with spasmodic vigour.... To the left of the window, and facing the entrance door, is an apparatus which I can only describe as terrifying. Composed of strong and massive cranks so connected as to form a consistent whole, and resembling a tangled agricultural harrow, or one of the weird instruments of torture which racked the limbs of schismatics in bad old times, it has secret springs, and bells, and joints, which creak, and act, and tingle with a sudden directness highly discomposing to a stranger. You look mildly at one of its joints, and have a question concerning its use on the tip of your tongue, when, presto! it gives a cumbrous flap, and becomes a staring red signboard, with "Crystal Palace up waiting," or "Brighton down waiting," staring you in the face."

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

What Happened to Families Whose Houses were in the Railway's Path?

I have recently been writing a talk on Dickens and the railways, and have extensively used his book Dombey and Son, in which he talks about the coming of the railway to Camden. Years later, in his publication All the Year Round, Dickens relayed the story of a man whose house had been destroyed when the line to St. Pancras was being built:

"There ain’t such a thing to let, suitable to a man of my means, unless I went miles and miles away from my work. No, sir, I should not like to live out o’town. I like the country as well as any man, and on a Sunday, if one takes a holiday, theyre ain’t a better way of spendin’ it, to my mind, than taking your railway ticket and getting right away from the dust and smoke. But it ain’t in nature to want to travel miles every day when your work begins at six in the morning…So I’ve had to take apartments, and me and my wife and the four children are crammed into two rooms, and pay more for them than we kept four for, when I’d a place of my own."

Indeed, when railways arrived in a locality, and housing was at a premium rents went up considerably, as the article later discussed in the case of Kensington.

"No small buildings have been built in Kensington for many years, and rents have increased so materially, that for two small rooms which were let for four shillings a week, five shillings and sixpence is now paid."

Monday, 16 April 2012

The First London and Birmingham Railway Advert - 1837

The London and Birmingham Railway was opened in its entirety on 17 September 1838. However, like most intercity railways of the age, prior to this date different sections of its line were completed as they were opened. Thus, this advert from John Bull on 5 November 1837 shows the services the company was providing between London and Tring, the line to which opened in late October that year. As with most railway adverts of the age, the reader was not treated to beautiful images or bright colours. Rather, they had to make do with simple text.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Waiting Room Weekly Round-Up

Pretty uneventful week railways-wise; more hard work, but then what changes. However, I have left the library in which I work after six and a half years - I have been manager for four. So, I am very sad about that.

So on with the round-up.

Monday: "Attempts to defraud companies" - Evasion of Railway Fares - 1849
Tuesday: The Career of an Engine Driver, 1840-1891
Wednesday: A Serious Charge Against a Station Master - 1888
Thursday: Examinations for New Railway Clerks - 1850s and 60s
Friday: "The first shock of a great earthquake" - Dickens and Railway Construction
Saturday: Wi' fine pair o' legs - A Railway Navvy's Ditty - 1858-59

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Wi' fine pair o' legs - A Railway Navvy's Ditty - 1858-59

For the navvies who built the railway, the work could be tiresome, monotonous and boring. Therefore, it is unsurprising they are known to have sung while they worked. This little ditty was recorded during the construction of the  Dartmouth and Torbay Railway in around 1858-1859.

I'm a nipper and a tipper,
I'm a navvy on the line,
I get me five-and-twenty bob a week,
Besides me overtime.
Roast beef and boiled beef,
An' pudding made of eggs,
An' in comes a navvy,
Wi' a fine pair o' legs!

Friday, 13 April 2012

"The first shock of a great earthquake" - Dickens and Railway Construction

In Dombey and Son, Dickens described the destruction of the fictional Stagg’s Garden’s in Camden as the London and Birmingham Railway built towards Euston in the mid 1830s. While Stagg's Gardens itself was fictional - the level of destruction was not.

‘The first shock of a great earthquake had, just at that period, rent the whole neighbourhood to its centre. Traces of its course were visible on every side. Houses were knocked down; streets broken through and stopped; deep pits and trenches dug in the ground; enormous heaps of earth and clay thrown up; buildings that were undermined and shaking, propped by great beams of wood. Here, a chaos of carts, overthrown and jumbled together, lay topsy-turvy at the bottom of a steep unnatural hill; there, confused treasures of iron soaked and rusted in something that had accidentally become a pond. Everywhere were bridges that led nowhere; thoroughfares that were wholly impassable; Babel towers of chimneys, wanting half their height; temporary wooden houses and enclosures, in the most unlikely situations; carcases of ragged tenements, and fragments of unfinished walls and arches, and piles of scaffolding, and wildernesses of bricks, and giant forms of cranes, and tripods straddling above nothing. There were a hundred thousand shapes and substances of incompleteness, wildly mingled out of their places, upside down, burrowing in the earth, aspiring in the air, mouldering in the water and unintelligible as any dream. Hot springs and fiery eruptions, the usual attendants upon earthquakes, lent their contributions of confusion to the scene. Boiling water hissed and heaved within the dilapidated walls; whence, also, the glare and roar of flames came issuing forth; and mounds of ashes blocked up rights of way, and wholly changed the law and custom of the neighbourhood.

In short, the yet unfinished and unopened Railroad was is progress; and, from the very core of all this dire disorder, trailed smoothly away, upon its mighty course of civilisation and improvement.’

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Examinations for New Railway Clerks - 1850s and 60s

By the 1860s if you wanted to be clerk on Britain's railways, and stand a chance of eventually joining the ranks of management, you had to undergo an examination to prove your abilities. However, different railway companies introduced examinations at different times. The first known company to introduce such testing was the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, who, under the General Manager, Edward Watkin, introduced them in 1854 as part of his management training scheme. The test was designed to train youths who were 'superior by education or birth.'[1] A year later the London and North Western Railway also introduced exams under the guidance of Richard Moon, one of the company's directors.[2] Furthermore, by 1861 all those in line for a clerical situation on the Great Western Railway also had to undertake a short arithmetic test.[3] Lastly, in 1860 the London and South Western Railway introduced exams for new clerks in ‘writing, spelling, copying and common arithmetic.'[4] The precise content of these examinations is unknown. However, I'd love to see one at some point to find out.


[1] Hodgkins, David, The Second Railway King: The Life and Times of Sir Edward Watkin, (Landybie, 2002), p.124
[2] Braine, Peter, The Railway Moon - A Man and his Railway: Sir Richard Moon and the L&NWR, (Taunton, 2010), p.99
[3] Unknown Author, The Hand-Book Guide to Railway Situations, (London, 1961), p.8 
[4] The National Archives, RAIL 411/4, Court of Directors Minute Book, Minute 1191, 2 February 1860

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A Serious Charge Against a Station Master - 1888

In the later nineteenth century the station master was seen as a respectable member of society who was usually beyond reproach. However, occasionally I find the odd individual that betreyed this image, such as this case from 1888 of the Great Western Railway's Station Master at Yarnton, near Oxford:

'Before Oxford City Magistrate this morning George Taylor Beavington, station master at Yarnton, and his wife were charged with stealing and receiving from a brake-van on the Great Western Railway, in transit from Charlbury to Oxford on May 31st, a post office mail-bag and contents, including a five-pound note. - The evidence showed that on being questioned by the Inspector the male prisoner admitted he had taken the bag. - Both Prisoners were remanded for a week.[1]

Naturally, Beavington lost his job immediately, and when the case was eventually heard by the Oxford Assize Court on 25 June he was sentenced to twelve months hard labour. The case against his wife was not proceeded with.[2]

[1] The North-Eastern Daily Gazette, Friday, June 08, 1888
[2] The York Herald, Tuesday, June 26, 1888

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

Monday, 9 April 2012

"Attempts to defraud companies" - Evasion of Railway Fares - 1849

It seems that attempts to avoid paying for fares was present all through railway history, as this snippet from the Ipswich Journal  from 1849 shows:

"Attempts to defraud companies of fares appear to become more frequent. During the past week three cases have occurred. On the Chester and Birkenhead, John Fitzsimon was fined 10s and costs for attempting to avoid the fare at Beddington Station. A greengrocer, who tried to travel free, and made his escape from Liverpool to Wolverhampton, by the London and North Western, was fined 40s. or, in default of payment, 14 days' imprisonment; and a young man who jumped out of a train without a train before it stopped at Reigate, was fined in a penalty 20s. and 14s. costs by the local magistrates."

Taken from The Ipswich Journal, Saturday, February 3, 1849; Issue 5726.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Waiting Room Weekly Round-Up

Felix Pole - GWR General Manager 1921-1929
Well, what a week I've had. Most of it was taken up by writing and editing my thesis, however, at the start I got some very good news about a book I may be writing after my PhD. I'm saying no more as I don't want to jump the gun - but I am very excited. So here's the round-up:

Monday: Great Western Railway Marriage Allowance - 1912-1920s
Tuesday: A sad tale - Simply becuase he didn't hear the train
Wednesday: From Labourer to London Bridge Station Superintendent
Thursday: Handel Festival at Crystal Palace - Handbill
Friday: Testimonial to a Railwayman - 1854
Saturday: Railways' Rising Costs in the late Nineteenth Century

And don't forget my main Turnip Rail post this week: 'Titanic' and the London and South Western Railway - An Intimate Relationship

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Railways' Rising Costs in the late Nineteenth Century

One of the major challenges to railway company profitability in the last years of the nineteenth century was the increasingly high cost of materials and fuel. Indeed, the London and South Western Railway, the subject of my thesis, was no exception and the three graphs below show how much it paid for rails per ton, track chairs per ton, Fish plates (that joined the rails together) per ton, individual sleepers and fuel per ton. All graphs indicate a steep increase in prices between 1894 and 1900.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Testimonial to a Railwayman - 1854

The increasingly professional early railways also saw the the development of a community spirit amongst railway workers. Indeed, this was exemplified by the testimonial, where groups of railway workers would present their colleagues with gifts to celebrate their long service or achievements. Indeed, this case, from 1854, is a prime example that shows how managers could be respected by their piers and subordinates:

"We have much pleasure in recording a gratifying tribute of respect and esteem which has been paid to Mr Ashbee, the worthy and efficient superintendent of the Gloucester branch of the Great Western Railway, by the clerks porters, and general servants on that portion of the company's line extending from Swindon to the junction with the Hereford, Ross and Gloucester line. The event to which we allude took place on Friday, at the Wellington Hotel, near the Great Western station, where a number of clerks and servants of the company, stationed between Gloucester and Swindon, assembled under the presidency of Mr Forbes, the manager of the goods department at Paddington. The testimonial consisted of a handsome silver teapot, sugur-basin, and cream-ewer, from the manufactory of Mr Mann, the Cross, and bore the following inscription:- "this tea services is presented to John Ashbee, Esq., as a token of the high esteem in which he is held by the men employed under him on the Gloucester branch of the Great Western Railway, Jan. 20, 1854"[1]


[1] Jackson's Oxford Journal, Saturday, January 28, 1854

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Handel Festival at Crystal Palace - Handbill

Before the advent of the railway poster, one of the ways nineteenth century railway companies advertised was through the printing and distribution of the humble handbill. The one above was produced in 1877 by the Midland Railway promote cheap excursion fares to London and 'Handel Festival' at Crystal Palace. I would really recommend enlarging the image to have a closer look, there's a lot of interesting detail.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

From Labourer to London Bridge Station Superintendent

London Bridge - 1856
I have got into the habit of looking at the social backgrounds of early railway managers.  Recently I came across Henry Anscombe, the superintendent at the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway's London Bridge station in 1864. Ascombe began his career with the LBSCR in March 1847 at the age of 37[1], and was listed in the 1851 census as being a porter[2]. However, he had come from quite a lowly background, and the 1841 census states that he and his father were labourers in his home town of Chailey in Sussex.[3] Early in his career he narrowly escaped death, and in 1848 he was knocked down by a train and had both legs broken. Yet, clearly this did not hinder his career, and at some point between 1851 and 1864 he rose through the ranks rapidly to command London Bridge Station. He was appointed the Brighton station Superintendent in 1876, and died while still in the company's service in March 1896.[4]

The social gulf between where Anscombe came from and where he ended up was huge. However, the rise he would have experienced was not have been uncommon for many early railway managers, and with formal hiring and promotional structures not yet established, the companies employed staff, at all levels, from a vast array of backgrounds. It is, therefore, unsurprising that for Anscombe such a rise was possible.


[1] The National Archives [TNA], RAIL 414/768, Register of salaried staff appointed 1836-1879, 1864 - 1879, p.1
[2] HO 107/1653/148, 1851 census, Sussex-Chichester St Bartholomew-District 1, p.16
[3] HO 107/1113/1, 1841 census, Sussex-Chailey-District 3, p.5
[4] The Standard, Monday, March 16, 1896, p. 3; Issue 22373.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A sad tale - Simply because he didn't hear the train

This, from September 1884, just made very sad...

'A man named John Ward, 90 years of age, was killed on Wednesday afternoon by an express excursion train running from Driffield to Brindlington. He was going over a level crossing about two miles from Driffield, and evdently did not see the excursion train, and, being very deaf, he did not hear the whistle. The driver put on the vacuum brake but failed to bring up his engine before reaching the old man, who was killed on the spot.'[1]


[1] The Derby Mercury, Wednesday, 24 September 1884

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

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Waiting Room Weekly Round-Up

Again, not a very eventful week. I've got my head down trying to finish the PhD, which is coming on well. Indeed, I may actually finish the draft by Easter - I hope. I'll probably let you know next week.

Monday: Staff at the New Basingstoke Station - 1905
Tuesday: Early Images of the Waterloo and City Line - 1898
Wednesday: 'Fined 20s., and 22s. costs, for fraudulently travelling'
Thursday: Women's wages on the LNWR - 1913
Friday: The Cost of a Room - London and North Western Railway - Hotel Tariff 1880s
Saturday: Robberies at Nine Elms Locomotive Depot - 1871

And don't forget this week's main Turnip Rail Blog - The Hours Victorian Railway Clerks Worked - 1856