Contents Listing - Articles & Features in this issue
icture of the past-with warts and wrinkles:
When we were in our teens, in the 1930s, our talk of railway personalities was confined to the contemporary or immediately past locomotive engineersa€Churchward, Collett, Gresley, Stanier, Maunsell, and so on. Few of us, as we recollect it now, knew or cared much about the men who had built and developed railways in the previous century. With the youth of today it is very different. The immense growth of railway literature and the transformation of railways by modernisation have combined to kindle a wide interest in railway history. Men like Edward Watkin and Sir Richard Moon and their activities have become as familiar to the present-day enthusiasts as Gresley and his products. But in general it is a romantic picture of the railway past that our modern historians paint. The cunning maneouvres of the railway magnates as they sought to expand their empires and foil their rivals' plans for aggrandisementare unravelled with handsome turns of phrase as though it were all a rather. rumbustious and highly entertaining game of chess which did no harm to anyone, except local worthies who lost money in some particularly impractical scheme for a new railway. While plot and counter-plot were played out by the top people, their engineers and architects were happily absorbed ip turning out colourful trains and handsome structures to delight us in retrospect a century later, and their zealous operating staff in performing prodigies of hard work which serve as a handy yardstick for criticism of present standards. A new book. The Railwaymen by Philip S. Bagwell (Alien & Unwin, 70s), which is a lengthy and copiously documented history of the National Union of Railwaymen, provides in its opening chapters a badly needed balance to this rather roseate view of railway history. In fact, the railwayman on the ground of 100 years ago, it is obvious, was mercilessly exploited and worked in appalling conditions. One even begins to doubt whether some of the much-applauded feats of endurance by bygone railwaymen, usually painted by modern authors as born solely of burning zeal for the job, were not prompted more by simple fear of the consequences if the performer did not strain himself to fulfil to the uttermost what his employers regarded as a fair stint of work. Consider the fate of the Eastern Counties Railway locomotivemen of 1850, recounted by Mr. Bagwell, who were ultimately provoked to threaten resignation by the iron discipline of the company's Locomotive Superintendent, J. V. Gooch. They told the E.C.R. directors that they would not put up with such punishments as a fine of 2s 6d for each driver (the weekly wage, it must be remembered, was then no more than 20s or so) of a double-headed freight train which sustained a failed drawbar, the repair of which entailed only 3d expenditure on a new cotter. They petitioned for Gooch's dismissal, which was refused. Instructions were given that the enginemen themselves should be encouraged to go. Replacements were soon found from other companies, and a "" black list "" of the men who had resigned was circulated to other companies to ensure that they would obtain no further railway employment. But the most revealing account of early railway working conditions in Mr. Bagwell's book is found in the quotations from a series of articles published in the Daily Telegraph of 1871. Describing a guard's life at the time, the newspaper wrote that it was "" quite the ordinary and common thing "" for a guard to be on duty 90 hours a week and "" by no means rare "" for him to do 100 hours, while occasionally he might be called upon to do 110 or 120. The journalist who wrote these pieces was told by a Leeds guard that, when the latter had once been required to take a train to London after finishing 18 hours' work, he had gone to his superintendent to enquire just how many hours he was expected to put in for his meagre pay. "" That's our business "", he was told. "" You've got 24 hours in a day like every other man, and they are all hours if we want you to work them.""
PRE-GROUP1NG LOCOMOTIVES IN THE NOTTINGHAM AREA - Norman Harvey
RAILFAN EXCURSIONS IN NORTH AMERICA - B. D. Whebell THE "GENERAL" STEAMS AGAIN - Edison H. Thomas HISTORY OF G.W.R COACHES 1923-1947: PART V - M. L J. Harris MEMORIES OF RAILWAYS IN THE CHELTENHAM AND GLOUCESTER AREA: PART 1 - C. B. Thornton SCOTTISH "SOU-WEST" REMINISCENCES - Cecil Allan THE NARROW GAUGE RAILWAY MUSEUM AT TOWYN - James C. Boyd THIS MONTH'S CENTENARIES: THE BUNTINGFORD BRANCH OF THE EASTERN REGION - J. Spencer Gilks LIGHT RAILWAY NOTES - W. J. K. Davies LETTERS BOOK REVIEWS CLUB NOTES FRONT COVER: S.R. Pacific No. 34040 Crewkerne climbs Hatton Bank with one of a dozen excursions run from Southampton to Birmingham and hauled throughout by locomotives of this class on April 27 in connection with the F.A. Cup Semi-Final.
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