A History of Inland Transport and Communication in England/Chapter 28

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[ 405 ]

CHAPTER XXVIII

RAILWAYS A NATIONAL INDUSTRY


Having seen the part that railways have played in helping to develop the industrial interests of the country in general, we may now consider (1) to what extent the railways themselves constitute a national industry, and (2) various conditions relating thereto.

The latest available statistics as to the number of all classes of railway servants connected with the working of railways, and including, as I understand, both salaried and wages staffs with the exception of heads of departments, are to be found in "Returns of Accidents and Casualties" as reported to the Board of Trade by the railway companies of the United Kingdom for the year ending December 31, 1910 [Cd. 5628]. These figures give a total of 608,750 persons, classified as follows:—


NATURE OF EMPLOYMENT. No. of Persons
employed on
31st Dec., 1910.
01. Brakesmen. (See Goods Guards.)
02. Capstan-men and Capstan-lads:
(1) Men 1,421
(2) Boys 140
03. Carmen and Van-guards:
(1) Men 18,382
(2) Boys 6,604
04. Carriage-cleaners:
(1) Men 6,572
(2) Boys 286
05. Carriage and waggon examiners 3,811
06. Checkers:
(1) Men 9,112
(2) Boys 77
07. Chockers, Chain-boys and Slippers:
(1) Men 288
(2) Boys 271
08. Clerks:
(1) Men 61,361
(2) Boys 9,044
09. Engine-cleaners:
(1) Men 13,912
(2) Boys 4,267
10. Engine-drivers & Motormen 27,330
11. Firemen 25,419
12. Gatekeepers 3,543
13. Greasers:
(1) Men 943
(2) Boys 753
14. Guards (Goods) and Brakesmen 15,339
[ 406 ]15. Guards (Passenger) 8,239
16. Horse drivers 1,159
17. Inspectors:
(1) Permanent-way 1,029
(2) Others 8,603
18. Labourers:
(1) Men 54,981
(2) Boys 1,333
19. Lamp-men and lamp-lads:
(1) Men 1,655
(2) Boys 418
20. Loaders & Sheeters 4,274
21. Mechanics & Artisans:
(1) Men 78,389
(2) Boys 8,294
22. Messengers:
(1) Men 1,124
(2) Boys 2,468
23. Number-takers:
(1) Men 1,252
(2) Boys 671
24. Permanent-way-Men 66,305
25. Pointsmen 708
26. Policemen 2,130
27. Porters:
(1) Men 53,388
(2) Boys 4,501
28. Shunters 13,281
29. Signal Fitters and Telegraph Wiremen 3,905
30. Signalmen 28,653
31. Signal-box lads 1,894
32. Station-masters 8,684
33. Ticket-Collectors and Examiners 3,904
34. Watchmen 1,151
35. Yardsmen 1,299
36. Miscellaneous:
(1) Adults 33,620
(2) Boys 2,563
————
Total 608,750


The foregoing table serves to show the great extent of the railway industry from the point of view of the number of persons directly employed therein, and it also suggests a great variety in the occupations or grades of those employed. In the latter respect, however, the information given fails to offer a complete idea of the actual situation, since over 36,000 men and boys (that is, persons under eighteen years of age) are, as will be seen, classed as "miscellaneous."

Whatever the further variety in the particular occupations included under this head, it is certain that the railway service affords employment for a greater range and diversity of talent, skill, ability or effort than probably any other single industry or enterprise on the face of the earth. From the general manager to the railway navvy, and from the chief engineer, working out intricate problems calling for a high degree of skill and scientific knowledge, to the boy who helps in the unpretending but necessary work of cleaning the engines, there is opportunity for almost every possible class or type of labour, whether skilled or unskilled.

Over and above the employees, of all grades, concerned in [ 407 ]"the working of railways," as here shown, there is a very considerable body of men employed by the railway companies in the building of rolling stock, the making of rails, in the provision of many other requirements, or in the doing of much other work, necessary in the construction, equipment and operation of their lines. The smaller companies are content to buy their rolling stock, and they mostly have repairing shops only; but the larger companies have their own locomotive, carriage and waggon works in which a very considerable volume of employment is afforded to mechanics and labourers who would hardly come under the ordinary designation of "railwaymen" proper; while in this respect the companies concerned may be regarded as not only providers of transport but as, also, in effect, engineers and manufacturers.

In order to give the reader some idea of the extent of the employment afforded by these subsidiary branches of what is still actual railway work, I give on the next page a table—for the data of which I am indebted to the companies mentioned—showing the actual or the approximate number of men employed in the leading railway works of the type in question; though it should be added that the figures relate only to the particular works mentioned, and do not include men who may be engaged in engineering or productive work elsewhere on the same company's system.

Information as to the extent to which the railway companies of the United Kingdom in general afford employment in the directions here in question will be found in the "Census of Production (1907)" [Cd. 5254], issued in 1910, included in these returns being three tables which are given under the heading "Railways (Construction, Repair and Maintenance of Permanent Way, Plant, Rolling Stock, etc.)," and relate to (1) output; (2) cost of materials used; and (3) number of persons employed.

[ 408 ]

COMPANY. WORKS. WHERE SITUATED. NO. OF
PERSONS
EMPLOYED.
Great Central Locomotive Gorton 2512
Gr"at Ce" Carriage and waggon Dukinfield 1741
Great Eastern Loco. and carriage Stratford, E. 4578
Gr"at Eas" Waggon Temple Mills, E. 618
Great Northern Loco., carriage and waggon Doncaster 6000
Great Western Loco., carriage and waggon Swindon 11,700
Lancashire and Yorkshire Locomotive Horwich 3850
Lanc"shire and York" Carriage and waggon Newton Heath 1960
London and North-Western Locomotive Crewe 9000
Lon"on and Nort" Carriage Wolverton 4000
Lon"on and Nort" Waggon Earlstown 1800
London and South-Western Loco., carriage and waggon Eastleigh 3600
London, Brighton and South Coast Loco., carriage and waggon Brighton 2035
Lon"on, Brig"ton and So"th Co" Loco., carriage and waggon Lancing 129
Midland Locomotive Derby 3988
Mid" Carriage and waggon De" 4300
North-Eastern Locomotive Gateshead and Darlington 3953
North-" Carriage and waggon York and Heaton 2932
North-" Waggon Shildon 1161
South-Eastern and Chatham Locomotive Ashford, Kent 733
South"Eastern and Cha" Carriage and Waggon Ash"ord, K" 1211
Caledonian Loco., carriage and waggon St. Rollax, Glasgow 2695
Glasgow and South-Western Locomotive Kilmarnock 986
Gla"gow and Sout" Carriage and waggon Barassie 269
North British Loco., carriage and waggon Cowlairs, Glasgow 2297
Great Northern (Ireland) Loco., carriage and waggon Dundalk 576
Midland Great Western (Ireland) Loco., carriage and waggon Broadstone Station, Dublin 549


[ 409 ]It is shown that the total value of all goods manufactured or of the work done by railway companies' employees in construction, maintenance and repair of permanent way, works, buildings, plant, rolling stock, etc. (such values being sums representing only the actual cost of manufacture or work done, and made up of wages, materials and a portion of the establishment charges), amounted for the year 1907 to £34,703,000. The details are grouped under seven different heads, as follows:—


Value.
£
I. Engineering Department (New Works, Repairs, and Maintenance):—
Permanent Way 9,346,000
Roads, Bridges, Signals, and Other Works 2,686,000
Station and Buildings 1,749,000
Docks, Harbours, Wharves, and Canals 745,000
————
Total—Engineering Department 14,526,000
II. Locomotive Department:—
Engines, Tools, &c. (Construction and Repairs) 7,917,000
Buildings (New Works, Repairs, and Maintenance)—not included under Head I. 175,000
————
Total—Locomotive Department 8,092,000
III. Carriages, Waggons, &c.:—
Carriages (Construction and Repairs) 4,454,000
Waggons (Construction and Repairs) 3,701,000
Road Vehicles for Passengers and Goods (Construction and Repairs) 272,000
Buildings (New Works, Repairs, and Maintenance)—not included under Head I. 33,000
————
Total—Carriages, Waggons, &c. 8,460,000
IV. Waterworks (Repairs and Maintenance) 155,000
V. Electric Works:—
Buildings and Lines (New Works, Repairs, and Maintenance) 148,000
VI. Steamboats (Repairs) 323,000
VII. Other Productive Departments:—
Lamps and Fittings for Lighting Purposes 150,000
Saddlery and Harness 32,000
Tarpaulins, Waggon Covers, &c. 345,000
Clothing 19,000
Printing 69,000
Hoists and Cranes (if not previously returned under Head I.): Construction and Repairs 303,000
Gas manufactured for Companies' use (not included under other Heads) 286,000
Electricity for Stations, &c. 128,000
Telegraphs and Telephones 481,000
[ 410 ]Buildings (not returned under other Heads): New Works, Repairs, and Maintenance 92,000
Provender 308,000
Iron and Steel Manufactures 178,000
Grease 115,000
Trucks, Barrows, &c. 39,000
Other Manufactures and Work Done 454,000
————
Total—Other Productive Departments 2,999,000
————
Grand Total—Goods Made and Work Done 34,703,000


The cost of the materials used was £17,600,000. Deducting this amount from the total of the foregoing table, there is left a net sum of £17,103,000 to represent wages and establishment charges; though it may fairly be assumed that a good deal even of the £17,600,000 which stands for cost of materials was on account of wages previously paid for the procuring or the preparation of those materials by other than non-railway servants.

The total number of persons employed by the railway companies in the manufacture of the goods or in the execution of the work comprised in the statement was 241,526, in the proportion of 232,736 wage-earners and 8790 salaried persons. This figure of 241,526, however, is not necessarily to be added to the 608,750 previously given as the number of railway servants connected with the working of railways. There is nothing to show to what extent the two tables overlap, though overlapping there obviously is, since the first table includes 66,305 permanent-way men, while the second table evidently includes the persons employed on permanent-way work, since the value of that work is put down at £9,346,000. On the other hand, some classes of servants included in the Census of Production returns are excluded from the Railway Accidents return, so that although the exact number of persons directly employed by the railway companies of the United Kingdom cannot be stated, it must be somewhere between 608,750, the total of the one return, and 850,276, the sum of the totals for both returns.

All the figures thus far given relate to work done by persons directly employed by the railway companies themselves; but there is, in addition, a vast amount of work done for the [ 411 ]railways by independent companies or manufacturers. Taking, for instance, railway-carriage and waggon-building factories in the United Kingdom, providing for the wants of the smaller companies at home or for railway companies in the colonies or abroad, I find from the Census of Production that this particular phase of "the railway industry" (for it must needs be regarded as included therein, notwithstanding the fact that a few of the items relate to tramcars, horse vehicles, etc.), led in 1907 to an output of goods made or of work done valued at £9,609,000. The items are:—


£
Railway carriages for passengers, and parts thereof 1,676,000
Railway waggons, trucks, etc. 5,340,000
Parts and accessories of railway carriages and waggons, not distinguished 129,000
Railway wheels and axles complete 771,000
Tramcars and parts thereof 572,000
Vehicles for goods, horse-drawn 75,000
Machinery and accessories 135,000
Iron and steel manufactures and structural work 174,000
Other products 93,000
————
Total value of goods made 8,965,000
Repair work (including repairing contracts) 644,000
————
Total value of goods made and work done 9,609,000


The number of persons engaged in these railway-carriage and waggon-building factories when the census in question was taken was 28,193, namely, 26,492 wage-earners, and 1701 salaried staff.

When one tries to form some idea of the further volume of employment that results from the supply of the thousand and one necessaries which even the most enterprising and independent of railway companies must still procure from outside manufacturers, makers, growers or providers, it is obvious that the railways, both as an industry in themselves and in their dependence, in endless ramifications, on other industries concerned wholly or in part in supplying railway wants, must provide more or less employment for an army of workers vastly in excess even of the aforesaid 600,000 or 800,000.

In many respects the railway service proper—that is to say, the particular branches thereof which deal with actual [ 412 ]transport, as distinct from construction and manufacture—offers features that are unique in their way, even if they do not, also, bring about types of workers of a class distinct from those to be found in the majority of other industries.

In the latter dependence is being placed more and more on the efficiency of the machinery employed, and the person of greatest importance to them is the machinery-inventor or the machinery-improver. The one who works the machine may require to have a certain degree of skill or dexterity in carrying on the necessary process, but the more nearly he can approach the perfection of his machine and become, as it were, part and parcel of it, the greater will often be his degree of success as a worker. In his case the personal equation hardly counts. He is merely the penny put into the slot in order that the figures may work, and any other man, or any other penny, that fulfilled the requisite conditions might be expected to produce the same results.

In railway operation great importance must certainly be attached to the efficiency of the machinery, or of the system; but final success may depend to a very material extent on the efficiency of the unit. Everything that human foresight and railway experience can suggest may be done—both in the provision of complex machinery and in the drawing-up of the most perfect rules and regulations—to ensure safe working; yet the ultimate factor in grave issues on which safety or disaster will depend may be a worker who has either risen to, or has failed to meet, a sudden emergency. In this way, not only does the individual unit count, but the individual unit in railway operation may be the Atlas upon whose shoulders the railway world does, in a sense, rest. A blunder in an ordinary factory or workshop may involve no more than the spoiling of a machine or the waste of so much material. A blunder on the railway may involve a terrible loss of human life.

Railway operation is thus calculated to give to the workers engaged in transport a keener sense of responsibility, and to develop therewith a greater individuality, than any other of our national industries. The railway man concerned in operation requires to be capable both of foresight and of initiative. It is said of a certain railway in India that a telegraphic message was one day received at head-quarters from [ 413 ]a station down the line to the following effect: "Tiger on platform. Send instructions." In England there is no probability of railway-station platforms being taken possession of by wandering tigers; but if anything equivalent thereto, in the form of a sudden and dangerous emergency not provided for by rules and regulations did arise, the officials on duty would be expected to show alike resource and energy in meeting the circumstances promptly and efficiently, so far as they could, instead of waiting to ask the district superintendent or the superintendent of the line for instructions.

Independently of the ever-present dangers of actual operation, to which I shall revert later on, the fact of having to deal with such varied types of humanity as are met with on the platforms of a busy railway station, under conditions ranging between the extremes of amiability and irritability, must also tend to sharpen the wits of the average railway worker, and make a different man of him than he would be if he were to spend his working days in feeding a machine in a factory with bits of tin or leather to be shaped into a particular form. Nor, whether the railway man be concerned in passenger traffic, in goods transport, or in checking claims and accounts in the general offices, must he fail to be ever on the look-out for those who, though they may be the most honest of men in the ordinary affairs of life, never scruple to defraud a railway company when they can.

Another factor tending to differentiate the railwayman from the ordinary industrial worker is the sense of discipline—and the consequent subordination of each unit to an official superior—which must needs prevail if a great organisation is to be conducted, not simply with success for the shareholders, but with safety for the public. The maintenance of effective discipline is obviously essential to the safety of railway operation, just as it does, undoubtedly, further help to form the special type of the railway servant.

The development of the same type is being fostered to an ever-increasing degree by the special training which junior workers undergo with a view to making them, not only better fitted for the particular post they already occupy, but qualified to succeed to higher positions as opportunities for their advancement may arise.

A railway manager is not alone concerned in the working [ 414 ]of his line, and in the doings of his staff, day by day. He looks forward to the requirements of the line and to the constitution of the staff at least five or ten years hence, and he wants to make sure that, as the experienced men around him are lost to the service, others will be at hand equally, or even still better, qualified to take their place. He further realises that in an undertaking in which, notwithstanding its magnitude, so much depends on the unit, that unit should be encouraged, and enabled, to attain to the highest practicable stage of efficiency.

This tendency is leading to results that are likely to be both far-reaching and wide-spreading. It is a matter not only of giving to railway workers, and especially to those in the clerical and operative departments, a higher degree of technical knowledge, but, also, of rendering them equal to responsibility, of fostering their efficiency still further through their social, physical and material well-being, and of retaining them for the railway service notwithstanding (in the case of the clerical staff) the allurements of traders who look upon well-trained goods clerks, especially, as desirable assistants in the counting-house, and seek to attract them with the offer of a somewhat better wage.

The training and the higher education of railway workers have undergone important developments alike in the United Kingdom, in the United States, in Germany, in France, and elsewhere.

In the early days of the railway the most eligible person for the position of general manager was thought to be some retired naval or military officer, accustomed to controlling large bodies of men; and the first appointments were based on this principle. But experience soon showed that in undertakings where technical, commercial and economic considerations were all-important, the real recommendations for leading positions were to be found, rather, in proved capacity and in thorough knowledge of railway operation and management.

Under the company system, as it prevails in the United Kingdom and the United States, railwaymen, of whatever class, are now generally taken on as boys, are trained for the position to which they are found to be adapted, and rise to higher posts according to capacity and opportunity—for these must needs go together. In this way it is not unusual for the general [ 415 ]manager on an English railway to have started as an office boy. Many a head of department to-day entered the service as junior clerk, and worked his way up to his present position; there are station-masters who began as ticket clerks; there are guards who gained their first knowledge of railway work as station porters, while engine-drivers are recruited from firemen, and firemen from engine-cleaners.

For details as to what the American railway companies are doing in the matter of "Education for Efficiency in Railroad Service" I must refer the reader to a bulletin written by J. Shirley Eaton and published, under this title, by the United States Bureau of Education. Here I can do no more than reproduce the following extract, giving in brief Mr Eaton's view on the general situation as he finds it on the other side of the Atlantic:—

"Railroads, as a whole, through a representative body such as the American Railway Association, should in a comprehensive way take up the matter of the education of railway employees. As they now have committees devoted to standards of construction, maintenance, and operating practice, they should also have a standing committee, of a character to command confidence, who should sedulously foster a closer relation between the railroad and educational agencies. This could be done by roughly grouping railroad service into classes according to the requirements of service, indicating the efficiency required in a broad way, and studying the curricula and course of experience leading up to such efficiency. Such a body should officially gather all railroad literature and accumulate the nucleus of a railroad museum. In various ways the teaching force of educational agencies, training toward railroad employ, could be drawn into study and discussion of the practical everyday problems of railroad work. The large public policies involved in railroad operation are to-day left to the doctrinaire or accidental publicist, when they should be a subject of study and effective presentation by the highest grade of trained experts which the associate railroads could draw into their service. On the other hand, such a standing committee could stimulate and guide the practice of railroads in their methods of handling and instructing apprentices. Between the instruction and practice in the service on the one side, and the instruction outside [ 416 ]the service on the other side, they could foster a closer relation, making them mutually supplementary. In developing approved plans for recruiting the service they would necessarily indicate the lines of a more direct access than now exists from the various schools to apprenticeships in the service, and suggest the best methods by which such apprenticeships would be gradually merged into the full status of regular employ at the point of special fitness."

On this side of the Atlantic the railway servants' education movement has assumed two phases—(1) secondary or technical education of junior members of railway staffs in mechanics' institutions or kindred organisations, created or materially supported by the railway companies, and already carried on during a period of, in some instances, over sixty years; and (2) a "higher education" movement, of a much more advanced type, developed since about 1903, and conducted either in special classes held at the railway offices or in connection with a University, a mechanics' institution, a local educational body, or otherwise.

It is impossible in the space at my command to give a detailed account of what every railway company in the United Kingdom is doing in these directions. Some typical examples must suffice.

To begin with mechanics' institutions and other kindred bodies, these are by no means purely educational in their scheme of operations. They include many social and recreative features which, in effect, should play a no less important part than educational efforts in promoting the general efficiency of the railway worker by helping to give him a sound body, a contented mind, and a cheerful disposition as well as more skilful fingers or a better-cultivated brain. In the United States, judging from what Mr Eaton says on the subject, all such "welfare" work as this, though carefully fostered, is regarded by the railroad companies as a purely business proposition; and he does not attempt to credit them with any higher motive than regard for the almighty dollar. Here, however, while there has been full recognition of the financial value of increased efficiency, the companies have, also, not failed to realise their moral obligations towards their staffs. Hence in seeking to promote the welfare of their employees they have been inspired by motives of humanity, [ 417 ]goodwill and honourable feeling in addition to, or even as distinct from, any pecuniary advantage the shareholders themselves might eventually gain therefrom.

Crewe Mechanics' Institution dates back to 1844, when the Grand Junction Railway Company provided a library and reading-room, and, also, gave a donation for the purchase of books for the men employed in the railway works then being set up in what was, at that time, a purely agricultural district. In the following year this library and reading-room developed into a Mechanics' Institution, the primary object of the railway company being to afford to the younger members of their staff at Crewe greater facilities for acquiring theory in classes at the Institution to supplement the practical knowledge they were acquiring in the works, though the benefits of the Institution were also to be open to residents of Crewe who were not in the company's employ. The management was vested in a council elected annually by the directors and the members conjointly; and this arrangement has continued ever since.

Larger premises were provided in 1846, in which year the Grand Junction combined with the London and Birmingham and Manchester and Birmingham Companies to form the London and North-Western Railway Company. The classes were added to from time to time until they covered the whole range of subjects likely to be of service to the students. Beginning, however, with the 1910-11 session, the art, literary and commercial classes which had been held at the Institute for sixty-four years were transferred to the local education authority, the Institute retaining the scientific and technological subjects. In addition to the ordinary work of the classes, the more recent developments of the "higher education" movement have led to systematic courses of instruction—extending over four-year periods—in (1) pure science, (2) mechanical engineering, (3) electrical engineering and (4) building construction. An Institution diploma is given to each student who completes a course satisfactorily. Visits are, also, paid to engineering works, electrical generating stations, etc. Most of the teachers are engaged at the Crewe works, and the instruction given is thus of the most practical kind.

One feature of the Institution is the electrical engineering laboratory, provided by the directors of the London and [ 418 ]North-Western Railway, who have further arranged for a number of apprentices to attend at the laboratory one afternoon every week to receive instruction, their wages being paid to them as though they were still on duty in the works. There is, also, a mechanics' shop, with lathes, drilling machines, etc., electrically driven.

Since 1855 the directors of the London and North-Western have given an annual donation of £20 for books to be awarded as prizes to successful students employed in their locomotive department and various other prizes and scholarships, including Whitworth scholarships, are also awarded. The Institution is affiliated with the Union of Lancashire and Cheshire Institutes, the City and Guilds of London Institute and the Board of Education, each of which bodies holds examinations and awards prizes and certificates. The library has now over 12,000 volumes.

In addition to the reading-room the Institution has coffee, smoking and recreation-rooms. Special attention is being paid to the social side of the Institution's work through the appointment of a "Teachers' Committee for Social and Recreative Development," the particular purpose of this committee being to organise sports and entertainments and to secure the formation of a literary society.

At Wolverton there is a Science and Art Institute at which many classes are held, and, although none of these are directly under the management of the London and North-Western Company, as at Crewe, the very successful and numerous courses in engineering subjects and railway-carriage building conducted by the committee of management, working in connection with the Bucks County Council, receive the active support and encouragement of the company's directors.

Science, commercial, art and domestic economy classes are also held at the L. & N.-W. Institute at Earlstown, where definite courses of instruction, in groups of subjects, and extending over at least two years, are given.

The Great Eastern Railway Mechanics' Institution, established in 1851 at Stratford New Town, has made generous provision for the education, recreation and social life of employees of that company resident in London, East. The Institution comprises a library of 9000 volumes; reading-room; baths (patronised by 10,000 bathers in the course of [ 419 ]the year); a large hall for lectures, entertainments, balls or concerts; and a billiard-room, three quoit pitches and a rifle range, the last-mentioned being the gift of the Great Eastern directors. Science, art, technological, commercial and other evening classes to the number of over forty were held in the Institution during the Session of 1910-11. Among the subjects taught were: machine construction, applied mechanics, mathematics, electrical engineering, heat-engines, motor-car engineering, rail-carriage building, drawing, book-keeping, shorthand, physical culture, the mandoline and the violin; while still other classes included an orchestral class and ladies' classes in "first aid" and "home nursing."

A series of practical classes, in connection with the same Institution, is also held during working hours in the Great Eastern Railway Company's works at Stratford. Arrangements are further made to extend the usefulness of these classes by visits to engineering works and electrical generating stations. Examinations are conducted in connection with the Board of Education, the City and Guilds of London Institute and the Society of Arts, and prizes, certificates and scholarships are awarded to successful students. The total number of students attending the various classes in 1910-11 was 958. The Institution at the end of 1910 had 1471 members, of whom all but 79 were in the employ of the railway company.

In 1903 the directors of the Great Eastern Railway Company gave a further proof of their appreciation of the educational work thus being carried on by granting to employee-students in the locomotive, carriage and waggon department who could fulfil certain conditions leave of absence with full pay for one or more winter sessions of about six months each, in order to afford them increased facilities for taking up the higher branches of technical study. Opportunities are also given to such students for visits to manufactories, works in progress, etc. Of the twenty-one students who had taken advantage of the arrangements in question down to the end of 1910, four had obtained the University degree of B.Sc. (Faculty of Engineering); four had passed the intermediate examination for the same degree; two had obtained Whitworth scholarships, and five had been awarded Whitworth exhibitions.

[ 420 ]Clubs formed in connection with the Institution include an athletic club, a rifle club, a quoit club, a cricket club and a football club. Concerts, illustrated lectures and various entertainments are given in the Institution during the course of each session.

The Midland Railway Institute at Derby, also going back to 1851, had a membership in 1910 of 2621. Classes in French and shorthand are held, but technical subjects are not taught, special facilities in this respect for the company's staff being provided by a large municipal technical college in the town. The Institute has a library of over 17,000 volumes, a well-stocked reading-room, a dining hall, a restaurant (for the salaried staff), a café (for the wages staff), committee rooms and a billiard-room; while the various associations include an engineering club (which holds fortnightly meetings during the winter months for the reading and the discussion of papers, and, also, pays visits to engineering works), a natural history society (which holds indoor meetings and organises Saturday rambles), a dramatic society, a fishing club, a photographic society and a whist and billiard club.

A Mechanics' Institute and Technical School opened at Horwich in 1888 was mainly due to a grant of £5000 by the directors of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company and to the gift of the "Samuel Fielden" wing by the widow of that gentleman, for many years a director of the company. In October, 1910, there were 2224 members, of whom all but 53 were in the employ of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company. The leading features of the Institute include a dining hall, reading, magazine and smoke-rooms, a library of about 13,000 volumes, a lecture hall with seating accommodation for 900 persons, the Fielden gymnasium, a miniature rifle-range, class-rooms, and chemical and mechanical laboratories.

Science, art, technical, commercial and preparatory classes are conducted at the Institute in connection with the Board of Education, London, and the instruction given includes a continuous course of study designed to enable engineering students to make the best use of classes of direct service to them. The special arrangements thus made comprise a preliminary technical course (extended over two years), a mechanical engineering course (five years) and an electrical [ 421 ]engineering course (four years). The classes of the Institute (exclusive of those for ambulance work) were attended in 1910-11 by over 500 students. Examinations are conducted by the Union of Lancashire and Cheshire Institutes, the Royal Society of Arts, the City and Guilds of London Institute, and the Board of Education, and numerous prizes and exhibitions are awarded.

Useful service from an educational standpoint is also rendered by the Institution's engineering and scientific club, at whose meetings the papers read and discussed have been on such subjects as "Prevention of Waste in Engineering," "Evaporation and Latent Heat," "Electric Motor-cars and their Repairs," etc. Other affiliated societies or clubs include a photographic society, an ambulance corps and a miniature rifle club (also affiliated to the National Rifle Association and the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs). Popular lectures are given on six Saturday evenings during the winter session.

Other railway institutes are to be found at Swindon (Great Western Railway), at Vauxhall and Eastleigh (London and South-Western Railway), at York and various other centres on the North-Eastern Railway, and elsewhere.

I pass on to deal with recent developments of the higher education movement in the railway service as operated (1) by the companies themselves, or (2) by the companies in combination with outside educational authorities.

The Great Western Railway Company, on the recommendation of their general manager, Sir James C. Inglis, inaugurated at Paddington station in 1903 a school of railway signalling, designed to offer to the employees of the company a definite means by which they could acquire technical knowledge of railway working and management. The classes are conducted by the company's signalling expert, and the instruction given is based on the object lessons afforded by a model railway junction, furnished with a complete set of signalling appliances on the standard lines as laid down by the Board of Trade requirements. The experiment was so complete a success that similar schools, provided with similar models, have since been set up at various centres throughout the company's system.

In the "Great Western Railway Magazine" for November, 1911, it was announced that a revised circular dealing with [ 422 ]these classes was then in course of preparation, and that it would include the following clause, setting out an important amendment of the scheme:—

"In order to maintain the value of the certificates awarded and the standard of efficiency of certificate holders, each holder will in future be invited to sit for re-examination before the expiry of five years from the date of his certificate. Endorsement certificates will be awarded to candidates who successfully pass the second and subsequent examinations. This step is felt to be desirable having regard to changing conditions and developments in connection with modern railway working. The date of the last certificate will be taken into account in connection with appointments, promotions, etc."

Other classes at Paddington, controlled by the chief goods manager, afford instruction in railway accounts, and enable the clerical staff to gain a better insight into matters connected with the receipt, transport and delivery of goods, and, also, the preparation of accounts and statistics both for the Railway Clearing House and for the company's audit office. Shorthand classes are also held.

Annual examinations take place in connection with all these various classes, and the students passing them receive certificates which are naturally taken into account when questions as to advancement arise. On the occasion of the distribution of certificates on January 14, 1910, the chief goods manager, Mr T. H. Rendell, said that facilities for gaining information on railway subjects were far more numerous to-day than they were forty years ago, when he joined the service. "Continuation classes of any kind," he proceeded, "were then conspicuous by their absence, and practically the only classes of this kind were those held at the Birkbeck Institute, which he attended, though he had to pay a substantial fee in respect to each subject taken. Formerly there was no organised method of acquiring knowledge of railway working, and they learnt to do right chiefly by being blamed for doing wrong."

The London and North-Western Railway Company established block telegraph signalling classes in 1910, the instruction given being facilitated by a complete working model of a double-line junction, fitted with signals and [ 423 ]interlocking; a set of standard block instruments and bells; an electric train staff apparatus for single line working, and various diagrams. The lectures, given in the shareholders' meeting-room at Euston by the company's expert in signalling, were attended by students representing nearly all the different departments on the station, and the results of the examinations subsequently held were so satisfactory that the company have since established similar classes at various other centres, in addition.

To ensure the general efficiency of their clerical staff the London and North-Western Company hold (1) an educational examination which a boy must pass before he enters the service; (2) a further examination, at the end of two years, to test the clerk's knowledge of shorthand, railway geography and the railway work on which he has been engaged; and (3) an examination before the clerk's salary is advanced beyond £50 per annum, it being necessary for him to show a thorough knowledge of shorthand, and to write a paper on such subjects as block working, train working or development of traffic.

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company have also established, at their head offices in Manchester, a School for Signalling, the complete equipment with which it is furnished including a full-sized lever frame. Instruction is given free both to the head office staff and to the staff at the stations within a radius of twelve miles. Special lectures, also, have occasionally been given to the staff in the chief engineer's department by that officer's assistants. Another feature of the educational work of the Lancashire and Yorkshire is the sending round to the various locomotive sheds of what is known as an instruction van. A full description of this van will be found in the "Railway Gazette" for January 22, 1909.

The Great Central Railway Company, to meet their requirements more particularly at the head offices and in connection with their Continental business, adopted in 1908 a scheme designed to enable them to secure the services of a certain number of young men with higher educational qualifications than were usually possessed by those who previously presented themselves for junior clerkships. The company accordingly offer six positions annually to members of the existing staff, under twenty-five years of age, who display the highest standard of knowledge and ability in a competitive [ 424 ]examination, the successful candidates in each year being promoted to an advanced scale of pay, and taking a "higher grade course of training," which, it is thought, should fit them to hold positions of responsibility in the future.

This higher grade course consists of periods of work, varying from three to twelve months, in eight of the principal departments, viz. the engineering, locomotive-running, goods, traffic, rolling stock, stores, marine and general manager's departments. The entire course covers a period of four years. During his stay in each of these departments the student is required to pursue a course of reading in the theory of the work in which he is engaged in that particular section; he is given an opportunity to acquire practical knowledge of the work; he must report at the end of every month to the head of the department on the progress he has made, and, on leaving any one section, he is to send an essay to the general manager, showing the knowledge he has gained. Heads of departments or sections are also required to submit confidential reports to the general manager on the ability displayed by the student while under their supervision.

The North-Eastern Railway Company have an elaborate educational system which resolves itself into (1) preliminary tests; (2) Part I., and (3) Part II., of a secondary examination. The subjects for examination in Part I. of the secondary examination are—(i) Regulations for train signalling by block telegraph and general rules and regulations; (ii) goods station accounts; (iii) passenger station accounts; (iv) shorthand and typewriting or practical telegraphy. Those in Part II. are—Railway subjects: (i) Railway operating; (ii) railway economics (general); (iii) railway and commercial geography of the United Kingdom; (iv) law relating to the conveyance of goods and passengers by railway. Other subjects: (v) Mathematics; (vi) commercial arithmetic and book-keeping; (vii) methods employed in import and export trade of Great Britain; (viii) French; (ix) German. Instead of examining candidates in Nos. v, vi, vii, viii and ix the company will, as a general rule, accept certificates of proficiency in these subjects of recent date obtained at various specified examinations elsewhere. Each candidate is required to pass in railway operating and three other subjects, one of which must be (ii), (iii) or (iv) of the railway subjects.

[ 425 ]It will be seen that while the subjects for Part I. cover the practical work at a station, those for Part II. deal more with the principles of railway operation. To assist clerks in preparing for these tests the company have issued several brief textbooks; they have arranged for the delivery of series of lectures; they are utilising railway institutes for the purpose of instruction, and they offer facilities for the circulation of standard works on railway subjects. The company also conduct at various centres railway block-telegraph signalling instruction classes fully provided with the necessary apparatus, examinations being held and certificates awarded.

Coming next to what is being done by educational bodies working in connection with railway companies, reference should first be made to the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Railway transport is a subject in which the authorities of the school have always taken great interest, and in the session of 1896-7 a course of lectures on railway economics was given at the school by Mr W. M. Acworth. On this occasion the Great Western Railway Company paid the fees for members of their staff to attend the course. When Mr Acworth gave a further series of lectures in 1897-8, the Great Eastern Railway Company also paid the fees for members of their staff who desired to attend. In 1904 seven of the leading railway companies gave a definite guarantee which allowed of a more elaborate system of railway instruction being organised at the school (now one of the schools of the University of London, as reconstructed in 1900). Under the scheme in question a complete course of instruction is given in the "History, Theory and Present Organisation of Transport," leading up, if desired, to the degree of B.Sc. (Econ.), with honours in transport. The course is under the general supervision of a "Committee of Governors on Railway Subjects," consisting of five prominent members of the railway world. The lectures are as follows:—

(A) Courses on railway subjects:—

1. Railway economics: operating (20 lectures).
2. Railway economics: commercial (20).
3. Economics of railway construction and locomotive operation (20).
4. The law of carriage by railways (20).
[ 426 ]5. The consolidation of English railways (4).

(B) Courses on subjects useful to railway students:—

1. Accounting and business methods. Part I. (30).
2. Accounting and business methods. Part II. (30).
3. Methods and applications of statistics (15).
4. Mathematical methods of statistics: elementary (15).

Examinations are held, and certificates and medals are awarded to successful students.

The School of Economics has, also, in its library, a collection of works on transport questions which it believes to be the best of the kind in existence. It comprises no fewer than 12,000 books, pamphlets, plans, reports, etc., and, as over 5000 of these were presented by Mr Acworth, the name of the "Acworth Collection on Transport" has been given to this unique and invaluable mine of information on everything appertaining to railways and transport at home or abroad.

With the University of Manchester the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company (in addition to what they have done in other directions, as already mentioned) made arrangements in 1903 for evening classes on railway economics in the interests of their staff, and these classes have been continued ever since. They are in three-year cycles, and students who go through a complete course have the advantage of receiving, from thoroughly qualified teachers, instruction in the following subjects: Railway geography and railway history of the United Kingdom and of other leading countries; economic analysis of the railway business in relation to other businesses; motor power and rolling stock; goods traffic; passenger traffic; theory of freight rates; accounts; Government in relation to railways; and railway law.

The directors of the Lancashire and Yorkshire pay the fees for any members of their clerical staff within a radius of twelve miles of Manchester who desire to attend these classes, and at the close of each session they grant to three of the most promising of the railway students scholarships which are tenable at the University for a further three years, and allow of attendance during the daytime at the classes in political economy, organisation of industry and commerce and accounting.

It was in connection with the scheme here in question that [ 427 ]Mr H. Marriott, now chief goods manager of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, delivered the excellent course of lectures which, republished by "The Railway Gazette," under the title of "The Fixing of Rates and Fares," has become a recognised textbook on that subject.

In 1907 the directors of the same company arranged with the Victoria University, Manchester, for the delivery of a series of University Extension Lectures on railway economics at the Burnley Grammar School, paying the fees of any member of their clerical staff within a radius of twelve miles of Burnley who wished to attend. The subjects chosen were "Organisation of a Railway," "Goods Traffic," "Passenger Traffic" and "Economics," and each subject extended over three lectures.

In the autumn of 1911 arrangements were concluded between the North-Eastern Railway Company, the University of Leeds and the Armstrong (Newcastle) University for the giving at those Universities of courses of evening lectures on a variety of railway subjects, the company undertaking to pay half the fee for all members of their staff who might wish to attend.

Finally I would mention, in this connection, that, by arrangement between the Midland Railway Company and the University of Sheffield, a course of 40 lectures on economics, to extend over two years, was begun at the Midland Railway Institute, Derby, on October 11, 1911, by Mr Douglas Knopp, the special purpose of the course being to afford to members of the Midland Railway staff an opportunity of studying, free of expense to themselves, the economic features of modern industrial and commercial problems, including transportation.

Literary societies and lecture and debating societies, formed by various railway staffs, are another outcome of the aspirations of railwaymen for wider knowledge and increased efficiency. The Great Western Railway Literary Society, established in 1852, is one of the oldest institutions at Paddington. It has a library of 10,000 volumes and various social off-shoots. Another typical institution, the Great Western Railway (London) Lecture and Debating Society, founded in 1904, serves a useful function in affording opportunities for the reading of papers by heads of departments or other [ 428 ]qualified persons on subjects likely to be of practical service to members of the staff. It was before this society that the paper on "The Government in Relation to the Railways of the Country," referred to on page 352, was read by Mr F. Potter, chief assistant to the general manager of the Great Western Railway.

Apart from the educational, literary or social organisations directly associated with particular railway companies, there are other bodies formed mainly by experts or workers in particular departments of railway construction, maintenance or operation who, whatever their position or attainments, find they are not yet too old to learn, that in the railway world there is always something new, and that advantages are to be gained by themselves from an exchange of views, opinions and experiences, apart from the benefits they may confer on juniors in helping them to advance their knowledge on technical questions. These associations are certainly to be classed among those which promote the "higher education" of the railwayman, though they may also serve various other purposes, social, provident, etc.

Among organisations of this type the Permanent Way Institution, established in 1884, and incorporated in 1908, occupies a leading position. It seeks to promote among inspectors of way and works a more thorough knowledge of all technical details connected with the discharge of their duties, and it publishes for the use of members, and persons qualified to be members, "information which may be likely to encourage and exert interchange of thought, especially with a view to create a friendly and sympathetic feeling between members and such other persons in their duties and labours, and for mutual help of members in the discharge of the same." Sections are formed in important centres throughout the United Kingdom, and the reading and discussion at the meetings of the sections of short practical papers by members, dealing mainly with matters appertaining to their employment, is regarded by the Institution as an important phase of its system of technical education. The sections are kept well supplied with literature, reports, and communications affording good material for discussion at their meetings, "and much benefit," says a prospectus issued by the Institution, "has been derived for the members from this interchange of ideas [ 429 ]with men in similar capacities in other parts of the world, whereas the former isolation and rare opportunities for intercourse frequently caused narrow-mindedness, prejudice, reservation of manner, and the natural loss of much useful information and experience to both employer and employed."

Summer meetings, held in a centre where there are features of special interest to railwaymen, are another valuable means for the exchange of ideas between members of the Institution, for enabling them to gain fresh experiences, and for promoting social intercourse. These summer meetings have developed into "conventions" lasting a week each, and they are spoken of as having been "of untold benefit to those participating in them." The Institution has, also, various beneficent funds.

The Association of Railway Locomotive Engineers of Great Britain and Ireland is a body whose members have, for a number of years, held two meetings annually—in London in winter, and in the country in summer—for the discussion of matters of interest to railway engineers and to railway companies generally.

The Institution of Signal Engineers (Incorporated) includes in its objects "the advancement of the science and practice of signalling by discussion, enquiry, research, experiment and other means; the diffusion of knowledge regarding signalling by means of lectures, publications, the exchange of information and otherwise; and the improvement of the status of the signalling profession". Only railway signal or telegraph engineers, superintendents in charge of railway signalling, telegraph or kindred work, and qualified engineers in Government service are eligible for full membership; but other officers engaged in technical work in engineering departments are eligible for associate membership, while in the autumn of 1911 the Institution was considering a scheme for student membership and the offering of annual prizes to members of the student class for papers and essays on technical subjects.

The Association of Railway Companies' Signal Superintendents and Signal Engineers was formed in 1891 with the object of affording facilities for the discussion of signalling questions by the chiefs of signalling departments on the railways of the United Kingdom. Two meetings are held each year at the Railway Clearing House.

A very useful purpose in developing the higher education, [ 430 ]not alone of railway workers but of the ever-widening circle of those who are interested in railway work, is being served by the Railway Club, which is established at 92, Victoria Street, London, S.W., and has, also, various provincial centres, with district representatives in Birmingham, Huddersfield, Lancaster, Glasgow and Newhaven. Founded in 1899, the club is designed to afford opportunities for bringing together all who are concerned in railway questions in general; though some of the members specialise in locomotive problems, others in traffic problems, and so on. At the London head-quarters there is a club room well stocked with railway papers, and here, also, the members can find a comprehensive library. In the same building monthly meetings are held for the reading and discussion of papers. Some of these are of a technical character, appealing only to experts; but subjects of more general interest are also dealt with, the programme for the 1910-11 session including papers by the Rev. W. J. Scott (president) on "Railway History: 1860-80," and by Mr E. J. Miller (hon. secretary) on "Belgian State Railways." Meetings are also held in the provincial centres, and visits are paid both there and in London to railway works, running sheds and other places of interest. The utility of the Club is greatly enhanced by the publication of its excellent little organ, "The Railway Club Journal."

From the details here given it will be seen, not only that the movement for increasing the efficiency of the railway worker, by furthering his training in railway and cognate subjects, has undergone great and varied expansion, but that railway operation and management are coming more and more to be regarded as a science, and one that, with its many problems and complexities, calls for prolonged study, effort and experience on the part of those who would attain to perfection, or even to exceptional knowledge and skill, therein.

Nor should the said details fail to excite a more sympathetic feeling on the part of the trading and travelling public towards railway workers who find they can attain to greater proficiency, and acquit themselves better of their responsibilities to the public, as well as to their company, by undergoing as much of this training, or by securing as much of this advancement in the technicalities of railway work, as their powers may warrant or their opportunities allow.

[ 431 ]One may further anticipate that, as the various tendencies here in question are developed, there will, not only inside but outside the service, be a greater disposition to adopt the view of the American authority already quoted in his suggestion that "the large public policies involved in railroad operation are to-day left to the doctrinaire or accidental publicist when they should be the subject of study and effective presentation by the highest grade of trained experts which the associate railroads could draw into their service." When this latter result is brought about, whether through the higher education movement or otherwise, not only will the railway service be rendered still more efficient, and not only will even greater advantages be conferred on the country, but the position of the railway interests themselves should be strengthened on questions of State control in regard either to the principles of railway policy or to the details of railway operation.

Recreation and physical culture, as part of the general scheme which aims at promoting the efficiency and the personal well-being of railwaymen, are fostered in the railway world by the athletic clubs formed by the staffs of the various companies, with more or less official countenance and support, and whether in connection with mechanics' institutes or otherwise. These clubs favour, not only athletics proper but cricket, football, tennis, hockey, bowls, harriers, swimming, angling, etc. They are supplemented by a London Railways Athletic Association, which brings together the members of the different clubs in friendly rivalry, while the various gatherings and competitions have an excellent result—apart from the other advantages they confer—in fostering that social life of the railway service which tends so much to its widespread popularity.

Mention should, also, be made of the musical societies, the horticultural societies, the rifle clubs, the chess clubs and other organisations. The staff or society dinners, the outings, the smoking concerts and the presentations to retiring colleagues help still further to promote feelings of comradeship, mutual sympathy and goodwill not always to be found to anything like the same extent in commercial undertakings of other types. Such sentiments as these continue to be fostered, indeed, after the service has been left, the Retired Railway Officers' Society having been formed, [ 432 ]in 1901, "for the purpose of bringing together those who in past years have held executive positions in the railway service of Great Britain, the Colonies or India, and for the renewal and keeping up of former friendships on the part of gentlemen once associated, in official relations, either on the same or on different railways." The objects of the society are exclusively social and friendly.

Sobriety being a virtue especially desirable on the part of those to whom so vast a number of the British public daily entrust their lives or limbs, temperance is encouraged in the railway service by the formation of Railway Temperance Unions for all the leading lines. Each union has numerous branches, and the various unions constitute, in turn, a federation known as the United Kingdom Railway Temperance Union. This movement receives much practical encouragement from railway directors and chief officers, and an active propaganda is carried on. In some places the local Temperance Union provides a Temperance Institute where the men employed at a station or in a goods yard can take their meals in comfort or spend their leisure time.

The present membership (1911) of the Temperance Union in connection with the London and North-Western Railway Company is 22,172, spread over 19 districts. The members of the same union in 1905 numbered only 4777.

Thrift in the railway service is facilitated by means of savings banks. One of these, the Great Western Railway Savings Bank, states in its nineteenth annual report that in 1910 it had 6385 depositors, who paid in a total of £109,166, drew out £69,828 and had £495,504 to their credit at the end of the year. The bank pays 3½ per cent on deposits up to £1000.

Nor are still higher things overlooked. For over forty years it has been customary for workers in the Midland Railway locomotive department at Derby to meet in one of their mess-rooms at breakfast-time, and, while having their meal, take part in a short religious service conducted by one of their number, a harmonium being provided as an accompaniment to the singing. On the day preceding the Christmas holidays the service is devoted entirely to Christmas carols or appropriate anthems.

A distinct advantage offered by the railway service is that, [ 433 ]subject to the ability and good conduct of the individual, employment once obtained with a railway company offers a tolerable assurance of permanent and regular work. Railway companies do not run the same risk of becoming bankrupt, and of having to wind up their business, that ordinary commercial companies do, and though slackness of work may, indeed, lead to unavoidable reductions of staff, or to reduced time, in the locomotive and carriage works, the full staff will be required on the railway itself to keep it going, whatever the amount of traffic. Should the traffic fall off, and become non-remunerative, it is the shareholders who will suffer rather than the railway servants engaged in the running of trains.

This fact is of the greater importance because there may be in the railway service certain actual disadvantages, thus referred to in the "Report of the Departmental Committee on Railway Agreements and Amalgamations," issued in May, 1911:—

"The contention of the railway servants as to the specialisation of their industry and the peculiar difficulty they find in changing their employment has a substantial foundation as regards many classes of railway servants. Men leaving one railway can seldom rely upon obtaining employment on another, except in the lower grades, as the companies usually have their own men waiting promotion. The value of a railway servant often consists largely in a special skill which is of no worth in other employments."

On the other hand, the Departmental Committee recognise that "one of the main inducements to compete for admission to the railway services is the strong presumption of the permanence of employment during good behaviour"; and they further say that "while it would seem that the rates of pay to all ranks in the railway service do not compare unfavourably with those given in other commercial and industrial occupations, the railway companies undoubtedly profit in the quality of their services by the large range of selection they enjoy owing to the competition for situations under them."

On the subject of railwaymen's wages, various considerations arise which tend to make any general assertions, or even carefully prepared "averages" in respect thereto, of little real value.

[ 434 ]The range of employment, from unskilled to highly skilled, is so great in the railway world that to lump together all the different grades, and then strike a so-called "average," which gives too high a figure for one large body of men and too low a figure for another, must needs be far from satisfactory.

General averages are further reduced by the inclusion therein of a large number of boys. The table given on pages 405-6 shows that the total number of railway servants employed on December 31, 1910, was 608,750; but in this total there are no fewer than 43,584 boys (including signal-box lads), and their wages, as boys, must needs reduce the average of the wages paid to the adults. If, for example, we add together the six shillings a week paid to a boy of fourteen or fifteen employed as engine-cleaner and the thirty shillings a week paid to a certain grade of signalmen, we get an "average" of eighteen shillings a week for the two; but no one could argue that this result would give a real idea of actual conditions.

Then the average for the United Kingdom is below the average for England and Wales because of the inclusion in the former of the wages paid in Ireland, where the scale is distinctly lower than is the case of England and Wales; whilst the inclusion in the figures for England and Wales of the wages for numerous small and none too prosperous lines gives a general average below what would be the actual average on the lines of the leading English companies.

Subject to these considerations, I reproduce from the Board of Trade "Report on Changes in Rates and Wages and Hours of Labour in the United Kingdom, in 1910," two tables which give the average weekly earnings of railwaymen in (1) the United Kingdom, and (2) various parts of the United Kingdom separately. The figures are based on information supplied by twenty-seven railway companies, employing over 90 per cent of the total number of railway servants in the United Kingdom; they relate to workpeople employed in the coaching, goods, locomotive and engineers' departments, exclusive of clerical staff and salaried officers; and they refer to actual earnings (including overtime), and not simply to rates of wages. The tables are as follows:—

[ 435 ]

I. United Kingdom
Period to which
the figures relate.
First week in
December:—
Number
employed in
selected week.
Amount paid in
wages in the
selected week.
Average
weekly earnings
per head.
£ 0s.00d.
1901 440,557 551,114 2500
1902 448,429 559,179 24011¼
1903 448,321 557,819 24010½
1904 445,577 557,820 2500
1905 449,251 568,338 2500
1906 457,942 582,207 2500
1907 478,690 618,304 25010
1908 459,120 574,059 25000
1909 459,444 582,782 2500
1910 463,019 596,342 25009


II. England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland
ENGLAND AND WALES. SCOTLAND. IRELAND.
Year. Number
Employed.
Average
weekly
earnings
per Head.
Number
Employed.
Average
weekly
earnings
per Head.
Number
Employed.
Average
weekly
earnings
per Head.
0s.00d. 0s.00d. 0s.00d.
1901 378,121 2500 43,710 2300 18,726 19005
1902 383,883 2500 45,240 2300 19,306 1900
1903 384,465 2500 44,922 22011½ 18,934 19005
1904 380,610 25007 45,216 2300 19,751 1900
1905 384,321 25010¼ 45,399 2300 19,531 1900
1906 391,661 25011½ 46,407 2300 19,874 1900
1907 412,804 2600 46,416 2300 19,470 1900
1908 395,271 2500 44,809 2200 19,040 1900
1909 394,928 25010½ 45,147 2300 19,369 19011
1910 397,715 2600 46,105 23003 19,199 20007


Whatever the precise amount of the remuneration received, allowance must be made for various subsidiary advantages of the railway service.

Free uniforms or clothes are given to various grades, the recipients thereof on one of the leading lines including station-masters, district police and traffic inspectors, platform inspectors, yard inspectors, passenger guards, ticket collectors, foremen porters and foremen parcel porters, foremen shunters, brakesmen, shunters, signalmen, parcel porters, vanmen and [ 436 ]boys, porters, sergeants and policemen, telegraph messengers, sleeping-car attendants and corridor attendants. Passenger guards, for example, get a summer coat and vest every two years, winter coat and vest every two years, summer trousers every year, winter trousers every year, topcoat every three years, mackintosh every four years (main line) or every three years (local line), belt (main line) when required, cap every year, and two neckties every year. The amount which a man saves by the supply of this free clothing naturally adds proportionately to the actual value of his position.

On many of the lines the companies have provided for their workers a considerable amount of cottage accommodation, with gardens and allotments, charging rentals which yield little more than a nominal return on the capital expenditure.

The Glasgow and South-Western Railway Company have organised, at Cockerhill, a model village for the accommodation of the principal section of the locomotive staff employed in the engine-sheds there. Purchase of land and construction of buildings involved the company in an expenditure of £70,000. To-day the village has a total population of 700 persons. Each tenant gets three large rooms and a kitchen for a rental of £13 a year, plus local rates, which amount to about 17s. a year. Attached to every house is a plot of ground where the tenant can grow his own vegetables, or cultivate his favourite flowers. The centre of social life in the village is the Railway Institute, a commodious building erected by the company, and still maintained to a certain extent at their cost. Administration of the affairs of this Institute is entrusted to a General Committee of thirty-two of the tenants, elected annually, and having different subcommittees, each of which takes charge of a particular phase of the work. The Institute has a hall (reserved on Sundays for religious meetings of a strictly non-sectarian character), reading and recreation-rooms, library and baths. The village also has a fire brigade, a children's savings bank, and a committee for the organisation of ambulance work.

A rent club, the subscription to which is one penny a week, ensures for its members the continued payment of their rent in the event of their being absent from work on account of sickness. Still another advantage offered to the tenants is [ 437 ]that of a season ticket between Cockerhill and Glasgow for themselves or for members of their household at the nominal charge of five shillings a year.

One of the latest developments in connection with the housing of railway companies' workers has been on the Great Eastern Railway, the chairman of the company, Lord Claud Hamilton, saying at the half-yearly meeting on July 28, 1911:—

"We have been asked by a portion of our staff to do something for them in respect of cottages, for although in some districts they can obtain adequate lodging, in other districts it is exceedingly difficult to obtain, at a reasonable rent, the decent accommodation which they require. Now that our prospects are improving, we have settled as from the 1st of July to spend £10,000 a year on cottages for our workmen. It is not a large sum, but it is as much as we can afford, and I must tell you we can only expect to get, at the most, 2½ per cent interest on that money. But although that is a low rate of interest, and not remunerative, the extra comfort, satisfaction and happiness which these men and their families will derive from healthy and adequate accommodation repays us, I am sure, indirectly, over and over again in their more willing service to their employers."

Railwaymen have, again, exceptional opportunities for getting cheap holidays. In addition to the regular holidays given to members of the salaried staff, most of the grades of the wages staff who have a certain period of service to their credit get from three to six days' holiday a year, with pay. In some cases the railway company provide special trains enabling their employees in some railway colony—Swindon, for example—to take a holiday en masse, the said colony becoming, temporarily, a deserted village. The free passes given to members of the staff are sometimes available for travel over the lines of other companies as well.

The concession, also, to railway servants of what are known as "privilege tickets" enables them and their families to travel at exceptionally low rates. These tickets are granted so freely that the number issued by one company alone during the course of a single year has been nearly 800,000.

Provision for the railwayman's old age is assured by [ 438 ]superannuation funds in the case of the salaried staff and by pension funds in the case of the wages staff.

The whole question in regard to the standing of these funds was investigated by a Departmental Committee which was appointed by the Board of Trade in 1908, and presented its report [Cd. 5349] in 1910. It was the position, more especially, of the superannuation funds that gave rise to the uneasiness leading up to the appointment of this Committee. The earliest of the said funds was started by the London and North-Western Railway Company in 1853, and other companies followed the example thus set, the Committee reporting on, altogether, fifteen superannuation funds brought to their notice. At first no doubt was felt as to the stability of the funds; but when the railway companies, with a view to maintaining the efficiency of the service, enforced the retirement of officers at the age of sixty-five, or in some cases at the otherwise optional age of sixty, heavier demands were made on the funds at the same time that the benefits were being increased. Actuarial investigations disclosed substantial deficiencies, and some of the companies sought to cover these by abandoning actuarial valuations altogether and guaranteeing payment of claims out of their revenue, this being in addition to the ordinary contributions which, in one form or another, all the companies were making to the funds. A certain want of uniformity followed, and the Committee now made various recommendations in regard to the future working both of the fifteen superannuation funds and of seventeen pension funds applying to the wages staff.

There is no need here to enter into the details of the actual or proposed arrangements. Suffice it, therefore, to point to the existence of these funds, with their accumulated reserves of close on £11,000,000, as designed to assure the future of nearly 300,000 railwaymen, over and above whatever salary or wage they may receive while in active employment.

The Railway Guards' Universal Friendly Society was established in 1849 to encourage thrift and to provide, among other benefits, permanent pay for life to disabled members and annuities for the widows and orphans of deceased members. The total amount expended in relief down to the end of 1910 [ 439 ]was over £358,000, and there were then 250 members and widows in receipt of life allowances amounting to £4758 per annum.

Further provision either for railwaymen themselves in times of distress or for their widows and orphans is made through various organisations which are supported by the contributions alike of railway servants, of the railway companies and of the general public.

At the head of these excellent bodies stands the Railway Benevolent Institution, which attained its jubilee in 1908. The objects in view, as summarised by Lord Claud Hamilton at the fifty-third annual dinner on May 4, 1911, are: (1) To grant permanent annuities to railway officers and servants in distressed circumstances; (2) to grant permanent pensions to widows in similar circumstances; (3) to educate and maintain orphan children between six and fifteen years of age, and then give them a start in life; (4) to give by gratuities and by contingent annuities temporary assistance until permanent relief can be secured from the funds of the Institution; (5) to grant gratuities from the casualty fund to injured servants and to widows of deceased servants; (6) to enable officers and servants to insure their lives in the best approved companies on special terms; and (7) to relieve distress whether arising among subscribers or non-subscribers.

No fewer than 157,000 railwaymen of all classes are subscribers in one form or another to the funds of the Institution, which, apart from amounts given as gratuities, conferred its benefits in 1910 on 2,672 annuitants and children, the total outgoings for the year under all heads being £55,396. To particularise only one phase of this varied activity, the number of children—mainly orphans of railwaymen killed in the service—who have been educated in the great Railway Orphanage at Derby (a branch of the Institution) has been over 2000.

Another leading railway charity, the United Kingdom Railway Officers and Servants' Association, founded in 1861 to grant assistance in time of distress and necessity to railway officers and servants, their widows and orphans, held its jubilee festival on April 28, 1911, when Viscount Castlereagh, M.P., who presided, announced that since the establishment of the Association the relief afforded had been as follows:—

[ 440 ]

£0000s.00d.
Annuitants 51,233013000
Sickness 100,411007006
Widows and members, at death 58,956000000
Orphans 4,595003000
Special grants 9,390011000
——————
Total 224,586014006


Of great advantage, also, to railway workers is the Railwaymen's Convalescent Home, opened at Herne Bay, Kent, in 1901, with its recent extension in the form of a similar home at Leasome Castle, Wallasey, Cheshire, to which, by permission of King George, has been given the title of "The King Edward VII Memorial Convalescent Home for Railwaymen."

The London and South-Western Railway Servants' Orphanage was originally opened at Clapham, in 1886, for children whose fathers, at the time of their death, were in the employ of the railway company. Since July, 1909, it has been located in a commodious range of buildings erected at Woking, Surrey, for the purpose. From the time the orphanage was first opened over 400 children have been admitted to its benefits.

Thanks to a generous benefaction left by the late Mr F. W. Webb, locomotive superintendent of the London and North-Western Railway Company, the railway colony at Crewe is acquiring an orphanage which will accommodate twenty girls and twenty boys, the construction cost being estimated at about £16,000, while a further sum of £35,000 will be available for the purposes of the endowment of what has, appropriately, been named "the Webb Orphanage." In appreciation of the value of the services rendered by Mr Webb to the company, and as an indication of their sympathy with the institution, the directors of the London and North-Western Railway Company have subscribed £1000 towards the funds of the orphanage.

In addition to such support as they may render, directly or indirectly, to the recognised railway beneficent organisations, the railway companies of the United Kingdom contribute to various other institutions and associations, of various character, not directly controlled by them, and not for the exclusive benefit of their servants. Such contributions are reported to the Board of Trade, which issues an annual [ 441 ]return on the subject. Among those for 1910 were the following:—


£00s.00d.
Hospitals, infirmaries and dispensaries 7,832010006
Convalescent homes and nursing associations 440017000
Ambulance, medical, surgical aid and truss societies 308001000
Benevolent and friendly societies, orphan asylums, etc. 790019000
Mechanics', seamen's and fishermen's institutes 1,278014000
Church funds 1,365017008
Missions 340006006
Schools and technical institutes 1,137018000


These contributions are made by the railway companies not so much, presumably, from motives of ordinary philanthropy, but in return, more or less, for benefits derived, or that might be derived, from the institutions in question by members of their staffs.

Adding these further subsidiary advantages to the educational, social and recreative facilities offered by the institutes, societies and clubs already spoken of, it will be seen that there is more to be taken into account in regard to the railway service in general than the question of wages alone, and especially so when the statements concerning wages are based on "averages."

Having seen what are the advantages of the railway service, we may pass on to consider some of its possible disadvantages.

A return issued by the Board of Trade in August, 1911, gives the latest available information as to the once much-discussed question of railway servants' hours of labour. The special interest in this subject lies, of course, in the fact that if men engaged in the movement of trains work excessive hours the risk of accident is increased; and the Board of Trade are authorised, under the Act of 1889, to call for particulars of the hours of labour of railway servants.

At one time the returns published were presented in such a way as to make the position appear much worse than really was the case, even after allowing for unavoidable delays from fog, snowstorms, floods, fluctuations in traffic, and breakdowns or other unforeseen mishaps which have been, and must needs be, contributory causes of prolonged hours of duty. Thus, if an engine-driver, having taken a train to some distant station, returned home comfortably seated in a third-class carriage, he counted in the official returns as being on duty, [ 442 ]as though he were still undergoing the strain of driving the engine instead of being occupied, perhaps, in smoking his pipe, or having a doze.

Following on protests by the railway companies, the returns are now published in a form less open to criticism, while the agitation raised has also led the companies to make further efforts to prevent the occurrence of excessive hours of labour as far as possible. The return for May, 1911, dealing with 109,041 servants in certain grades (guards, brakesmen, enginemen, signalmen, examiners), who worked during that month a total of 2,740,693 days, shows that the number of days on which the men were on duty for periods exceeding twelve hours by one hour and upwards amounted to 14,813, or only .54 per cent of the total days worked.

One of the greatest drawbacks in the railway service lies in the risks of accident. The extent of these risks is shown by the General Report of the Board of Trade on Accidents on Railways of the United Kingdom during 1910.

From this I find that the number of railway servants killed in "train accidents" in 1910 was nine, and the number injured was 113. Of these, eight were killed and 109 were injured in the work of running trains; and the proportions of these last-mentioned figures to the total number (76,327) of engine-drivers, firemen and guards employed on December 31, 1910, were: killed, one in 9541; injured, one in 700. Considering that the number of miles run by trains on the railways of the United Kingdom in 1910 was 423,221,000, the figures given as to injuries or fatalities to railway servants through actual train accidents do not constitute a bad record. They suggest, rather, both the extreme care with which the railway servants concerned discharge their duty and the effectiveness of the precautions taken in the interests of themselves as well as of the travelling public.

Excluding train accidents, the numbers of accidents to railway servants due to the "movement of trains and railway vehicles" in the same year were: killed, 368; injured 4587. The number of railway servants exposed to danger from the movement of railway vehicles being 331,296, the proportion of accidents to number employed was: killed, one in 900; injured, one in 72.

When these last-mentioned figures in regard to injured are [ 443 ]compared with the averages for earlier years, there appears to be a substantial increase; but a "Note" thereon is given in the official returns to the following effect: "An order of the Board of Trade on the 21st December, 1906, required non-fatal accidents to be reported whenever they caused absence from ordinary work for a whole day (instead of absence preventing five hours' work on any of the next three days). This alteration caused a large apparent increase in the number of non-fatal accidents in 1907 and later years." The details in regard to the killed afford, therefore, safer guidance if one wishes to see whether the various appliances, precautions and regulations adopted by the railway companies to ensure the greater safety of those of their servants who are exposed to danger from the movement of railway vehicles are having the desired effect. Turning to Table X in the official returns, I extract therefrom the following figures:—


YEAR. PROPORTION OF KILLED
TO NUMBERS EMPLOYED.
1885-1894 (average) 1 in 501
1895-1904 (ave" 1 i" 665
1905-1909 (ave" 1 i" 879
1910 1 i" 900


Here, therefore, we have distinct evidence of improvement in the element of risk in railway operation.

A third group of accidents to which railway servants are liable relates to those that arise in the handling of goods, in attending to engines at rest, or in other ways not connected with the movement of trains or of railway vehicles. Here the figures for 1910 are: Killed, 36; injured, 20,305. "The number of injured is large," says the return, "but the proportion of serious injuries is smaller than it is in the case of railway accidents proper, and it will be seen that the proportion of killed to injured is relatively low." The proportion of killed, in this third group, to the average number of railway servants exposed to risk was one in 12,546, and the proportion of injured was one in 22. A considerable number of accidents in railway goods sheds and warehouses which at one time were included in the returns of accidents in factories are now included in the returns of railway accidents.

Liability to accident, whether grave or slight, lends additional importance to the encouragement given to [ 444 ]railwaymen by their companies to acquire a knowledge of "first aid" and general ambulance work. Ambulance corps or classes are now not only general but highly popular throughout the railway system. Instruction is given by qualified teachers; certificates, vouchers, medallions or labels are presented to those who pass the examinations held, and not only do competitions for money or other prizes take place between teams representing the various districts of a single company's system, but an Inter-Railway Challenge Shield is annually competed for by the picked experts of the various companies, the winning of this shield being regarded as conferring a great honour on those who achieve the victory for their company.

I have here sought to give a comprehensive survey of the railway service, as a national industry, alike from its economic and from its human side, conveying some idea—even if wholly inadequate—of its extent and widespread ramifications, and showing the various influences, educational, social and otherwise, that are eminently calculated both to create a "railway type" and to give to the service characteristics that distinguish it in many respects from any other of our national industries.

While not being, perhaps, actually an ideal industry—and there are very few workers, of any rank, who would be prepared to admit that their occupation in life was absolutely free from drawbacks—the railway service offers, as we have seen, many advantages. It is, in fact, really a "service," and not simply a means of employment. One might regard it as the equivalent of a civil service operated on commercial lines. Workers in all of the many classes or grades "enter the service," as they are accustomed to say, when they are young, and they generally do so with the idea of spending their lives in it, and retiring on superannuation allowance or a pension in their old age.

Railway managers, too, want workers who come to stay. In the United States women typists are being gradually got rid of on the railway because they so often retire at the end of two or three years and get married, the experience of office work they have gained in that time being thus lost to the company. Consequently American railway managers are now showing a preference for male workers who will regard [ 445 ]the service in the light of a future career rather than in that of a temporary employment.

That the railway service is a popular one is shown by two facts: (1) the invariably large surplus of candidates over available vacancies; and (2) the long-service records of many of the railway workers.

In regard to the former of these points, it will suffice to say that the chairman of one of the leading English railway companies has stated that in 1906 the number of applicants for appointments on the staff of his company alone in excess of the number for whom places could be found was over 19,000.

As regards long service, instances of from forty to fifty years' work for one and the same railway company are so common that they hardly call even for passing mention. More exceptional was the case of the worker on the Great Western whose father had served the company for forty-one years, and who himself retired at the end of forty-two years, leaving a son who had then been with the company twenty-three years—a total of 106 years for one family, during three generations.

In another instance four generations employed successively on the Great Western showed a total of 147 years; but even this record is surpassed by that of a Cardiff family. The founder of the dynasty joined the Great Western in 1840. He remained with the company forty-two years, and left with them two sons, of whom one served forty-five years, and the other forty-two years. Each of these two sons had five boys, and all ten followed the example of fathers and grandfather in becoming servants of the same company, keeping their positions for periods ranging from six to thirty years. The fourth generation is represented by four members, one of whom has already been with the company for over ten years. The total service of those members of the family who were still working on the Great Western a year or two ago was 147 years, and the aggregate for the four generations was then over 800 years. Each of the workers concerned has been employed in the locomotive department.

Notwithstanding the general popularity of the railway service, agitations and strikes have occurred from time to time; though down to 1907 most of these arose in connection [ 446 ]with questions of conditions of labour in regard to particular lines of railway.

In 1907 an agitation was promoted by the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants in favour of what was called a "National All-Grades Programme" of demands for higher wages, reduced hours, etc.; and there was a further demand that the negotiations in respect thereto should be carried on through the officers of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants. The companies declined to grant the concessions asked for in the "Programme," alleging that to do so would involve them in a wholly impracticable increase in their working expenses. It was subsequently stated that acceptance of the "Programme" would have increased the expenditure of the companies by between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000 per annum; that the cost to the London and North-Western Railway Company alone would have exceeded £500,000 per annum, equal to 1¼ per cent of the company's dividend; that on the London and South-Western it would have been equal to a two per cent dividend on the ordinary stock; and so on with other companies in like proportion.

In the result the demand for the concession of the "Programme" became subordinate to the demand of the A.S.R.S. for "recognition"; but this, again, was refused by the railway companies on the ground, not alone that the membership of the society included only a minority of the men qualified to join but, also, and more especially, because "recognition," involving the carrying on of negotiations through the union leaders, would, it was argued, lower the standard of discipline in a service where considerations of the public interests, and especially of the public safety, made it a matter of paramount importance that a high standard of discipline should be maintained.

Threats of a general railway strike caused much alarm, and led the Government to intervene. The negotiations carried on at the Board of Trade were based mainly on the possibility of arranging some system of conciliation by means of which further disputes would be avoided; and eventually a four-fold scheme was arranged, comprising, in the case of each company accepting it, (1) consideration of applications by officers of the department concerned; (2) sectional [ 447 ]conciliation boards; (3) a central conciliation board, and (4) the eventual calling in of an arbitrator if the matters in dispute should still be undecided.

Forty-six companies adopted the scheme. The conciliation boards were elected; agreements were in many instances arranged as the result of their proceedings; and, where no settlement could be arrived at by the boards, arbitration was resorted to. Dissatisfaction with the course of procedure and its results was, however, expressed from time to time more especially by members and officers of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants; and such dissatisfaction became acute during the prevalence of the "labour unrest" which spread throughout the country in the summer and early autumn of 1911, affecting, more especially, the various transport services. Joint action was now taken by the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, the General Railway Workers' Union and the United Pointsmen and Signalmen's Society.

At the outset attempts had been made to show that the railwaymen had some genuine grievances against the conciliation boards on account of their "slowness," etc.; but it soon became apparent that the trouble was mainly based on fresh demands for "recognition." On Tuesday, August 15, representatives of the four societies issued from Liverpool an ultimatum in which they offered the railway companies "twenty-four hours to decide whether they were prepared to meet immediately members of those societies to negotiate the basis of settlement of the matters in dispute"; and they added: "In the event of this offer being refused, there will be no alternative than to respond to the demands now being made for a national railway stoppage."

The railway companies expressed their firm resolve to adhere to the principle of conciliation, and on the following Thursday the "signal" was given for a general railway strike. Only about one-third of the railway workers responded, and, though great and very grave inconvenience and loss were caused in some parts of the country, there was (owing, in part, to the calling out by the Government of a large body of troops to protect the railway operations) no such "paralysis" of the railway traffic in general as had been threatened, while [ 448 ]public opinion was distinctly unsympathetic towards the strikers.

Meanwhile active steps had been taken by the Government to effect a settlement, and late on the Saturday night (August 19) an agreement was drawn up and signed by the parties to the negotiations.

Under this agreement the men were to return to work forthwith; pending questions were to be referred to the conciliation boards, while the Government undertook to appoint, at once, a Royal Commission to investigate the working of the conciliation and arbitration scheme, and report what changes, if any, were desirable with a view to the prompt and satisfactory settlement of differences. It was further announced that the Government had given an assurance to the railway companies that they would propose to Parliament in the Session of 1912 legislation providing that an increase in the cost of labour due to the improvement of conditions of the staff would be a valid justification for a reasonable general increase of charges within the legal maxima, if challenged, under the Act of 1894.

Two statements, giving the result of the negotiations, were issued by the Board of Trade on the night of August 19. In one of these it was announced that Mr Claughton (chairman of the London and North-Western Railway Company) and Sir Guy Granet (general manager of the Midland Railway Company), who represented the railway interests at the Conference, had "stated that the recommendations of the Commission would be loyally accepted by the railway companies, even though they be averse to the contention of the companies on any question of representation, and, should a settlement be effected, any trace of ill-will which might have arisen during the strike would certainly be effaced." In the other of these official announcements it was said: "Assurances have been given by both parties that they will accept the findings of the Commission." The statements were repeated in "The Board of Trade Labour Gazette" for September, 1911.

The Royal Commission, which consisted of five members, viz. Sir David Harrel (chairman), Sir Thomas R. Ratcliffe Ellis, Mr Arthur Henderson, M.P., Mr C. G. Beale and Mr John Burnett, held twenty-five sittings, between August 28 [ 449 ]and October 3, for the purpose of taking evidence, the witnesses examined by them during this period including thirty-four on behalf of the various railway workers' unions, ten non-unionist workers and twenty-three representatives of the railway companies.

The case presented on behalf of the railwaymen's unions was, in effect: (1) that the working of the conciliation and arbitration scheme had in various respects been very unsatisfactory, and changes therein or alternatives thereto were recommended, though in regard to the details of these changes and alternatives the witnesses did not all agree among themselves; (2) that "recognition" of the unions, allowing of the labour unions officials—with, as was said, their "trained and experienced minds"—taking part in the negotiations with the railway companies, was essential to full justice being done to the men, who were either not competent to state their own claims or might have their position in the service prejudiced; (3) that such recognition would be in the interests of industrial peace because of the increased powers of the unions in enforcing the maintenance of any bargains that were made; (4) that discipline on the railways would be strengthened if the men were confident that there would be an impartial investigation of their complaints; and (5) that, as the principle of recognition was accepted in other great industries, the railway companies were not justified in refusing it to their own men.

On the other side it was contended (1) that much of the disappointment felt at the results of the awards—which had, nevertheless, led to substantial concessions being made—was due to the unreasonable hopes raised by the "National Programme," and that, although certain modifications might be made in the conciliation scheme, the principle thereof was sound, while the companies had made a "tremendous departure" by themselves proposing, in 1907, in the interests of peace, to concede the principle of arbitration, which involved the "revolutionary" step of taking from the directors the power of deciding what the rates of payment and the hours of labour of their workmen were to be; (2) that the four unions concerned still included only about one-fourth of the men, and that "recognition" of them would inevitably lead to interference with questions of management and [ 450 ]discipline, without—as shown by the experiences of the North-Eastern Railway, where "recognition" had not prevented the occurrence of repeated disputes—offering any guarantee for peace, while a partial strike on certain of the Irish lines during the sittings of the Royal Commission was pointed to as showing that the union officials were unable to control their members; (3) that the allegations as to railwaymen being unable or afraid to present their case to their own companies were unfounded, and that the real object aimed at in demanding "recognition" of the union officials was to coerce non-unionists into joining the unions which, with their increased membership, would then be in a better position to force the railways to agree to all demands; (4) that if the companies were compelled to accept "recognition," with all the risks it would involve, they should, at the same time, be relieved of their present responsibilities in respect to the public safety and public interests; and (5) that no analogy, in regard to "recognition," could be drawn between the railways, the continuous operation of which was essential to the wellbeing of the community, and ordinary commercial undertakings, which could suspend their working with only a limited degree of inconvenience to the public, or none at all.

The Commissioners, in their report, issued October 20, 1911, declared that in their opinion it was of the utmost importance that the initial stage of conference between the men and the companies—apt to be regarded as simply a preliminary to the later stages under the settlement scheme—should not only be maintained but facilitated. They recommended the abolition, as "redundant," of the central boards and the reference to the sectional boards of "any matter dealing with hours, wages, or conditions of service, except questions of, or bearing upon, discipline and management." Each sectional board should have a chairman selected from a panel to be constituted by the Board of Trade, but such chairman should be called on to act (virtually as arbitrator) only in the event of the sectional board being unable to agree. The men should be free to combine in the same person the duties of men's secretary and advocate at all meetings of the Board, and be at liberty to appoint to such post "any suitable person, whether an employee of the company or a person from outside"; though this arrangement was "not intended [ 451 ]to prevent the men from obtaining the services of a special advocate before the chairman."

Much dissatisfaction with the report—and mainly so on account of what was regarded as a wholly inadequate extension of the principle of recognition—was expressed by the men's leaders and endorsed at meetings of the men's societies, where demands were made for a general strike on a greater scale than before, while the leaders repudiated any suggestion that they had given a pledge to accept the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry. A new National Programme of improved conditions was put forward, but simultaneously therewith various of the leading railway companies announced revisions of their rates of wages as applying to the lower grades among their workers.

In the case of the Great Western Railway Company it was reported that between 20,000 and 30,000 men would benefit from the concessions, the immediate cost of which to the company would be £56,000 per annum, with an eventual cost, at the end of three or four years, of £78,000 per annum. The London and North-Western Company announced increases amounting in the aggregate to £80,000 a year, these being an addition to increases already made, under the arbitrator's award, at a cost to the company of £70,000 a year. The Midland Railway Company gave notice that from November 3 the minimum rate of pay for all adult members of their staff would be 22s. per week if employed in London, 20s. per week in certain large towns, and 19s. per week at all other places, the actual advances thus made to individual workers ranging from 1s. to 4s. the week.

Material concessions were also announced by the Great Central and the Caledonian, and intimation was given by other companies that they had the matter under consideration. All these concessions were, however, apparently disregarded by leaders of the extremest section among the men, who declared, in effect, that they would be satisfied with nothing short of recognition.

In the week ending November 4 representatives of the men's unions held a four-days' conference in London to consider what action should be taken, and there would seem to have been some hope on their part that, influenced by the threat of a further general strike, the Government would [ 452 ]exercise its influence with a view to inducing representatives of the railway companies to meet the other signatories of the August agreement and discuss with them the terms of the report. On November 3 the Prime Minister, Mr Buxton and Sir George Askwith did confer with selected representatives of the companies at 10 Downing Street. No official announcement was made as to the result, but this was evidently well indicated by the following statement in "The Times" of November 4:—

"We understand that the attitude of the directors of the railways of the country collectively is that, while they are prepared to carry out to the full the whole of the recommendations of the Inquiry Commission, they are not prepared to go any further."

Later in the same day the joint executive committee of the railway unions informed the Press that they had decided to take a ballot of their members—the papers to be returnable by December 5—on the question as to whether or not they were prepared to accept the findings of the Royal Commission and, also, "to withdraw their labour in favour of the recognition of trade unions and of a programme of all railwaymen," to be agreed upon by members of the joint executive committee.

Whatever may be the final outcome of all these controversies, the position in regard to the troubles both of 1907 and 1911 has obviously been most materially, if not, indeed, mainly, influenced by questions of trade union recognition which do not necessarily cast any reflection on the railway service itself, or detract from it as being one of the most important, most popular and most sought after of our national industries.