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Tales from the Ben Taylor Collection

Staff Records from “Four Shed” at Derby

All the records in the Ben Taylor Collection are fascinating. As well as detailing the careers of 136 members of staff, their rates of pay and any injuries sustained, the reverse of most record sheets lists their “Punishments & Gratuities”. In highlighting some of the careers below, it is unfortunate that the "Punishments" often make the more interesting stories. I hope these random snapshots aren't taken as an adverse reflection on any of these people's characters.

Black & white image of a driver and fireman posing on the footplate of locomotive No. 48124

Driver Frank Riley (originally from Mansfield) and Fireman Ben Taylor pose on the footplate of No. 48124, an ex-LMS 8F, in the yard at Wellingborough Down Sidings. It is 1956 and they are working the 3/30pm departure to Chaddesden with Guard Alf Marsh who took the photo. Courtesy: Eddie Taylor.

So, we are delighted to make some of the "tales" which caught our eye available here....

[All the individuals named in this article were born well over 80 years ago. Genealogical research has been undertaken which has established a date of death for the majority of the names contained within the Ben Taylor records. None of the people named below are believed to be with us any more]

Frank BALLINGTON; Fined 6d for smoking on duty on 23OCT1913 and again on 02DEC1913 for “washing hands in cab of Eng. 202 at 8.45am”. Received a 2/- gratuity for “wagon on fire, Lock Lane Crossing 12/7/23” - though whether he spotted it and raised the alarm or went as far as to fight the fire isn’t noted. Cautioned on 07FEB1946 for “failing to satisfy yourself that the points were set correctly in accordance with Rule 111(c) thereby causing derailment of Eng. No. 5709, Bristol loco sidings 7.2.46”. Reprimanded on 07FEB1957 for “Failing to keep a proper look out when in charge of E.40682 at Derby North Junction and consequently causing a collision with a freight train on the Down Goods Line”.

Andrew BIRD, fitter; given gratutity of 2/- relating to “No.28 smoke funnel on fire, No.4 Shed, Derby” on 13JUN1923. Received a number of cautions over the years for his work, typically; “not discovering broken injector feed pipe when examining E.503, causing casualty with 3 minutes time lost” on 17MAR1931. Then, on 18FEB1949 he received a “suitable conversation” for “failing to notice cap nut missing from top of back pressure valve during daily exam, Engine 1000 5/1/49”.

A 25 year old Caller-Up, who to save any potential embarrassment to his heirs, I will only name as Basil. After just three months in the job his record states; “Services no longer required 11/9/45, conduct poor, ability nil”.

Euos BOUSHOR, a fitter’s mate, was given a number punishments for being “persistently late on duty”, including a couple of periods of suspension. To add a bit of variety, on 03MAY1938 he was reprimanded for “taking a bath on duty” and on 09APR1946, for “crossing the lines to leave the premises instead of exiting the proper way”.

Fireman William Watson BROWN was rostered as Spare with a 8.0pm start on Sunday 03JUL1949. He evidently wasn’t happy when he was told that he would be firing the 9.30pm to London, not least as it was an unexpected lodging turn. He refused the job and received a ‘Form 1’ (“You are charged with the undermentioned irregularity...”). His response was: “Not prepared to lodge with a cold breakfast on arrival. There was also another spare link fireman booked on at 9/30pm who should have got the job in preference”. He received a caution for his trouble. Talk about “Act in Haste, Repent at Leisure”; On 09NOV1949 Brown handed in his Notice “for personal reasons”, only to write a grovelling retraction three days later. He was evidently lucky and the railway let him keep his job – only for him to resign for real three months later.

As was the necessity of the time, paper was reused wherever possible. A memo written about William Watson Brown (actually, it is the carbon copy of a ‘Form 1’ he was issued with) is particularly interesting. It is on the back of a voting paper for the election of representatives of Grade 2A to the Local Departmental Committee at Four Shed. The candidates were: Fireman A.E.Beck, Driver C.J.T.Davies, Driver J Froggatt, Driver F.A.Robinson, Fireman W.H.Seale and Passed Fireman A.T.Whitehouse.

A Passed Cleaner, whom we will simply call James, was suspended for three days on 9th November 1942 for “Moving engine 1026 resulting in serious derailment by eng. being run into 70ft turntable pit outside Derby shed, your action was entire disregard of M.P. Notice 39 for which you signed as having read & understood 25/1/41”. This young man's two year career with the railway was stunning, with EIGHTEEN separate periods of suspension before he was finally sacked!

Norah HALL was employed as a 26 year old as a “female engine cleaner” on 18MAR1941. However, after five years & three months of service it was said of her; “Services no longer required for the purpose engaged, men ex H.M. Forces”. Her service was not quite unblemished as on 15MAR1944 she was cautioned for “being absent from the work of cleaning Engine No. 5679 from 12/30 to 1/20."

Rerailing taking place outside Four Shed

Re-railing taking place on the access road to Derby's Four Shed in 1948 at Way & Works signal box. None of the records in the Ben Taylor Collection relate to this incident, but as the tales below illustrate, it seems to have been a very regular transgression by Derby enginemen.

George HANCOCK was an old hand Midland man, starting as a cleaner at Four Shed in 1894, becoming a Fireman in 1900 but needing another 20 years to advance to Driver. He retired on age limit in 1939 and died nine years later. His disciplinary record contains a typically interesting variety of transgressions. On 09JUL1902 he was reprimanded for “not holding points causing L.E. wheels of 1128 to leave the rails”. He had an unblemished record then for 20 years until 20OCT1922 when he was cautioned for “causing delay to freight train thro’ working same to out of date time book”. On 13DEC1925 he received a one day suspension for Passing Home Signal at Danger at Derby North and on 26OCT1926 he was reprimanded for a similar offence of “passing advance starting at Danger, Sudbury”. On 25MAR1931 he was cautioned because “Engines 4095 & 4089 in contact, Derby, neglecting to keep a proper look out”. He fell back into his old ways on 04JAN1934 when he was again suspended for a day; “L.E. 1740 passing ground disc signal at Danger, Engine Road No.2 Derby”.

Another ‘old hand’ was Horace Thomas George HARRIMAN, son of a railway guard from Long Eaton. He started as a Shed Apprentice in 1913 and was a Passed Cleaner by 1914. He went off to war, becoming a driver for the Railway Operating Division, resuming his footplate career in civvy street back. Although he returned as a Passed Cleaner in 1919 he had been made up to Fireman by year end. It wasn’t until 1929 that he became a Passed Fireman but by May 1934 he had completed 626 driving turns, becoming a substantive Driver in 1936. He retired the day before his 65th birthday in 1960, and sadly died the following year. There are a few noteworthy entries in his disciplinary record such as one in 1923 where he was cautioned for “refusing to attend for a lodging turn thereby causing considerable inconvenience & driver to be without a fireman for some time”. There was the inevitable “mismanagement of points whereby E.2992 was derailed at Derby” in 1927, again in 1930 with No.2427, and yet again in 1934 with No.7277. The pattern continued on 21OCT1935 when he was cautioned for “all bogie wheels derailed of Eng. 1057, turntable outside No.4 Shed, Derby. Catches not in proper position”. He received a caution on 30OCT1939 for the heinous sin of “causing lead plug to fuse through shortage of water in boiler, Eng. 3108, 10.30am freight, Chaddesden to Wichnor”. The final transgression recorded against him was a caution on 20APR1944 for “returning to Derby as passenger without authority instead of lodging at Walsall after working 3.10am Derby – Walsall”.

A couple of entries in the Punishments & Gratuities list stand out for Frederick Charles HARRIS. In 1908, as a Passed Cleaner recently transferred to Derby from Saltley, he was “Cautioned by Mr. Land” for “Larking in messroom”. Much more seriously, and lucky to keep his job, in 1929 he was suspended for six days for being “under the influence of drink at Blackpool Loco. Unfit to work return train causing him to be sent home as passenger”.

It wasn’t just old hand driver who found themselves in hot water. Walter HARRIS was a 16 year old Junior Caller Up in 1929. He had just under three years with the company before being laid-off through ’reduction of staff’. In that time he was regularly cautioned or reprimanded being late for his 2.30am start. He was cautioned for “not taking care of the Coy’s cycle” - the mind boggles what the story is behind that. He probably wasn’t very popular in 1931 when he was cautioned for “Calling Fireman W.E.Day in mistake for Fireman W.F.Hill” - especially with Mr. Day! The final entry is in 1932 when he was suspended for one day – quite a strong punishment – for “Wasting his time from 4.50am to 5.20am in Wigley’s Bakehouse when on duty”.

Another caution which must have made for a good story was that issued to Fireman Charles HARRISON in 1941 for “Inattention to duty and not joining your Driver to work 8.12 am Bristol 29/8/41 & allowing train to go without you”. I can see how a guard might get left behind – but the fireman!? Charlie’s sense of humour shows through in his response to a Form 1 issued in 1945 for failing to attend for the 1/30pm New Shops Shunt on 5th August. He answered the charge by writing; “Defective eyesight. I failed to notice that I was booked on Sunday on the working roster”. His honesty paid-off as the Form 1 is struck-through with “Cancelled”.

John William HARRISON’s career began as a 21 year old cleaner in 1891, advancing to passed cleaner in 1894, fireman in 1897, passed fireman 1911 and finally driver in 1919. His list of list of Punishments & Gratuities until he retired on age limit in 1935 is fairly extensive but largely trivial; failing to sign for notices or failing to sign off duty etc. A caution in 1903 stands out “Not repeating app’n for relief, on duty 21¾hrs”. In 1908 he was reprimanded for “Taking water at Tamworth & failing to report”. A year later mention of the demon drink raises its head; “Being on duty under the influence of drink. If again similarly at fault, told he will be dismissed”. For this he was suspended for six working days. There is caution noted on 14MAR1910 for “Idling time on engine in Derby Lcoo Sgs.” but curiously it is a retrospective entry after other minor transgressions in 1911 & 1912. He was given a 5/- Gratuity on 05NOV1911 for “Vigilance in noticing obstruction & prompt action. Derby Nth Jct.”. The final entry is in 1917, a reprimand for the very common “Negligence whereby tender of E.2902 was derailed, Derby Loco.

There is a pervasive theme among these records that strongly suggests the young men who joined the railway during the Second World War failed to fit in with the environment and were constantly in trouble during their invariably short careers. To be fair to his family, I shall refer to this young man only as Sidney. He joined the railway as an 18 year old Cleaner in 1941 and received his first of many cautions within three months, for being “Absent from duty without leave”. With six months service he was reprimanded for “Idling time away & inattention to work, 2.55 am, when you should have been cleaning engine.” A month later, on 25OCT1941, again reprimanded for “Being absent from work, and although ‘All Clear’ sounded at 11/45pm, not returning to work until 12.13am”. May be not serious transgressions, but it seems to paint a picture of the expectations of the ‘old guard’ being much higher than Sidney was delivering. In December 1942 Sidney received his first suspension, two days for “Insubordination to Foreman when booking on at 7.55am”. From there it was all downhill. Over the next four years before he finally left the service (amazingly of his own will rather than being sacked), he served seven separate periods of suspension amounting to 21 days, mainly for failing to attend for duty. Not the most auspicious of railway careers but he had still made it to Registered Fireman by 1943. Sidney died in Derby in 2006.

In a 43 year distinguished career, it is always unfair to pick out a few blemishes, but I do so in the case of Robert Samuel HARTSHORNE, as they are quite interesting events: For example, as a Passed Fireman he was suspended for six working days on 26APR1907 for “Passing main line home signal at danger thereby colliding with stop block, Brent”. He received another suspension, for three days, on 15SEP1913 for “Breach of Rule 69A, resulting in tender leaving the road, Derby West End”. He was reprimanded for “Causing slight collision between engines, Derby 4/7/14” and again in 1919 for “Breach of Rule 55 resulting in collision, Feb 14th, Acton Bch, C’wood Jc”. His last blemish was in 1924 for running a hot axle box on No.431 “...thro’ lack of lubrication”. He retired on age limit in 1933 and died ten years later, still in Derby.

Despite having a 36 year career, the Punishments and Gratuities sheet for William Henry HAWKINS contains just three entries, and one of them is in the latter category. The two black marks were fines of 3d each in 1904 and 1906 for losing his pay check. The gratuity was 2/- awarded on 29JUL1926 for “Fire in L.B.& S.C. Wagon No. 2740. Lon. Rd. Jc, Dby”. As with other entries relating to fires, we don't know if Driver Hawkins spotted the fire and raised the alarm or if he took more positive action. In 1930, just six years after becoming a registered driver, he asked to be put on shunting work and took a 6/- per week pay cut from the 90/- he had been on. He left the service through illness in 1939 (described as “neurosis”) and died in 1944.

Driver George HAYES amassed a typical collection of minor blemishes on his record, including a fine of 1/- for “Obtaining wages in Co.’s time” in 1903. He also demonstrates something a pattern: 5th Sept 1905; “Eng 2590 wheels off road”. 31st Jan 1906; “Negligence when holding points thereby causing engine to be derailed North Staffs Sidings, Derby”. 21st Oct 12908; “Contributory negligence whereby hand signals were not exchanged with guard in rear and it was not discovered sooner that portion of train had been left behind”. 30th Dec 1912; “Negligence resulting in wagon being derailed Derby Coal Stage”. A bit of a gap then, 25th Jan 1925; “Want of care whereby engines 3770 & 3828 collided, Derby Loco Yard”. A bit later and he slipped into his old ways, 6th May 1933; “Guard left behind at Melton on 12.50 W’bro - Chad, no correct right away signal received”.

Alfred HAYNES is one of the oldest serving men in this batch of records, being taken on as a Cleaner on 31JUL1889. His career progression was; Passed Cleaner 07OCT1892, Fireman 27NOV1896, Passed Fireman 02DEC1907 and Driver 15NOV1915. His career was littered with the usual crop of incidents including a suspension for two days in 1913 for “Negligence resulting in damage to Shed Wall”. In 1907 he received a caution for “Negligence whereby a collision resulted & damage caused to two engines, Loco Sidings Derby”. After a few minor misdemeanours like “Mismanagement of injectors resulting in engine becoming short of steam” in 1917, his next big mistake was on 12DEC1928 when he was reprimanded for “Negligence whereby E.3068 became derailed at Whatst’dle”. After going so long without a serious blemish they started to come a little more frequently. On 06APR1933 he was reprimanded for; “Mismanagement whereby Tender 3147 of Eng. 4158, trailing wheels in table hole, No. 4 Shed. Cause – engine travelling too fast”. He was reprimanded again on 15MAR1934; “Want of care whereby wagons were in contact with level crossing gates, causing Signalman Smith to be injured, Marehay Xg, Ripley”. (This will have been John William Archer SMITH 1872-1943). Finally, nine months before his retirement on age limit, he was suspended for two days for; “Passing Sheet Stores Jc. home signal at danger, Engine 3198, resulting in collision between trains”. Unlike many of his colleagues who died within a year or so of retirement, Alfred lived to age 93.

Charles William HERBERT transferred to Derby as a Fireman from Rugby in 1931. He arrived with a two day suspension already on his record for “Leaving Co’s. premises when waiting to work 2.50pm goods, Rugby – Bescot 11.9.25.” His first transgression at Derby seems rather peculiar, a reprimand on 19AUG1934 for “Passing obscene remark to D’r Hufton in the Bath House”. Almost a year later he was cautioned for “Collision between Eng 2259 & E.C. Derby”. He was cautioned in 1936 for “Mismanagement – LMS wagon 184960 knocked off end of road” and in 1940 he received a severe reprimand for “Failing to satisfy self that road was clear for movement, and failing to keep proper lookout, resulting in collision between Engs. 1240 & 3131 Derby Yard”. On 24OCT1045 he received a caution for another odd offence; “Irregular action in placing a piece of coal to hold the steam brake plug lever, when working the 10.30am Exp. Bristol to York, resulting in an irregular movement at Bromsgrove 24.10.45”.

In a footplate career amounting to 37 years before he died in service of pneumonia, aged 57, Ernest George HILL managed to almost fill his foolscap sheet of Punishments. The vast majority of entries relate to trivial matters such as “Going out firing without withdrawing check” or “Omitting to sign off duty”. There is also a fine of 1/- for “Smoking on duty” and another for “Inattention to work and idling time away”. It seems it was almost a rite of passage for Derby drivers to damage the shed somehow and on 18NOV1911 he was cautioned for “Carelessness whereby woodwork in No.3 Shed wall was damaged”. More seriously, he received a two day suspension on 05NOV1926 for “Failing to satisfy himself that road was clear before commencing to run down coal stage incline & not having sand in working order resulting in collision & derailment of engine, Deadmans Lane, Derby”. He was cautioned on 09MAY1932 for “7 minute delay caused to a passenger train by taking water at Ambergate”. He got another suspension, this time for three days, on 21JAN1935 for “Passing the up home signal at Fazakerley North at danger with 6/25 freight Liverpool – Birmingham, resulting in derailment of engine, six wheels, Eng 2898”.

In his relatively short six year career (though a fairly typical duration for the period, it seems), Fireman Bernard HITCHCOCK received a caution on 09JUL1954 for; “While working the 4/35pm Goods Chaddesden to Pear Tree on 23.5.54, you authorised your driver to make a movement at Qualcast Sidings without first obtaining a correct hand signal from the Guard resulting in damage to private tractor”.

Contrasting with many of his contemporaries who managed to accrue a lengthy list of misdemeanours during a long career, Frederick HITCHCOCK served from 1894 to 1938, progressing from Cleaner to Driver, with just three entries. All were reprimands for fairly serious events: On 15JUN1901 for an event which is frustratingly brief; “Collision at St. Mary’s”. Then on 25NOV1925 for “Starting signal passed at Danger, Farnsworth – 6/25 F x Alx’r Dock”. Finally, another fairly brief entry; “Negligence whereby E.3130 & 3230 collided, Derby”.

Many of the records for newly appointed men in the late 1940s and 1950s contain an “Inspector’s Report”. Unfortunately the name of the Inspector concerned isn’t noted. Such reports all tend to follow a similar format, and here is the report dated 05FEB1949 for 18 year old Passed Cleaner Daniel HOULT: “Attention to work – fair. Method of working – fair. Practical knowledge of locomotive – elementary. General – Approximately his seventh trip on main line, but showed interest in his work & should make a fireman with more experience. Shall ride with him again in the near future”. Less than three months later, Hoult was called up for National Service and didn’t return to the railway.

Most of the footplatemen in these records followed a similar career progression. Francis Arthur JACKSON stands out as being somewhat different though. He was taken on as a Shed Apprentice in 1915, quickly moving to Sheffield as Passed Cleaner. He returned to Derby the following year and became a Fireman on 14MAY1920. Then, in 1931, he transferred to Nottingham, oddly becoming a Shed Labourer and seeing his pay reduced from 72/- per week to 43/-. He returned to Derby as Sandman in 1934 and was made Temporary Shed Labourer in 1935. He progressed back up the ranks to R.E. (Reparing Engines) Labourer in 1936 and became a Fitter’s Mate at the start of 1940. At the end of 1940 he “Resigned thru’ illness” and died in 1951 in Derby. There is no clue as to his fall from grace in 1931 either in respect of his fairly frequent if minor injuries, nor his discipline. That said, on 25SEP1922 it was recorded on his record that he “Had to be separated as booked mate to Driver J.W.Underwood owing to incompatibility of temperament”. When at Nottingham he received a three day suspension for “Deliberately putting slack on sand hole fire so that no more fire could be used for breakdown crane, causing delay to breakdown work, Nottm Goods, Nov. 6/33”.

Some of the entries in the Punishments & Gratuities sheet are more informative than others. An example of a very terse entry forms one of the early infractions by Henry JACKSON who began his career as a Cleaner on 11DEC1893. On 08JUN1919 he was suspended for three days for what was simply recorded as “Misconduct at Burton Station”. A little more helpful is the description of why he was severely reprimanded on 29JAN1924; “Want of care in passing slow line starting signal at danger & colliding slightly with goods brake of train in front at Bugsworth Jc.”. He was again reprimanded on 28MAY1931 for “Failing to keep proper lookout whereby E.1026 came into contact with rear of E.C. standing on Down Loco Line breaking side buffer casting”. A further reprimand followed on 03JUL1933 for “Mistaking signal with E.1061 working 4.38pm Derby – Bristol resulting in his being on the wrong line”. Rather unfairly, perhaps, he was reprimanded again just 20 days later for “Tail lamp out on 6/20 Derby – Manchester, causing unnecessary stop and delay”. To blame a driver for this seems odd? He wasn’t finished yet as he was cautioned twice for exceeding a temporary speed restriction through Burton station on consecutive days, 29th & 30th August 1933, each time while working the “4/43 Derby – Bristol”. His final entry is on 22FEB1934, a four day suspension for “Passing down line signal at danger with part of train with 1/25 Derby – B’ham at Lester [sic] Jct. Burton”. He retired on age limit in 1936 and died in 1948 while residing in Chilwell.

John Edward JACKSON had a long and distinguished career from starting as a Cleaner in 1896 to retiring on age limit in 1942. As with so many of the Drivers in this batch of records, it is the odd occasion which he ‘disgraced himself’ that has left a small mark on history. I’m pleased to say that not everything on his record is negative though; on 28DEC1909 he received a Gratuity of 3/- for “Prompt action in connection with fire in Platelayers Hut, near Carriage Storing Shed, Etches Park, Derby”. That was preceded by a blemish though, in February 1909; “Contributory mismanagement thereby over-running the platform at Idridgehay, in charge of auto-car”. It was one of the steam motors which causing him trouble a month later; “Negligence when holding points thereby causing Auto Car to leave rails, Derby”. In 1911 he was given a caution for “Awkwardness in not working in accordance to wishes of his driver”. Three weeks later, 01FEB1911, he was in hot water again, suspended for a day because of “Negligence resulting in collision of engines & damage to same, Derby Loco Sidings”. Very few Derby drivers seem to have passed an entire career without this or a similar event in or around Four Shed! Another 2/- gratuity was given in 1921 for “Observing N.S. Wagon No. 3854 on fire, Cudworth”. There is a bit of a mystery entry relating to a caution he received on 10MAY1934; “Down Main Line blocked, High Peak Junction, Whatstandwell” - but it fails to say how. Finally in 1942, just before his retirement, there is a “suitable conversation” recorded in pencil; “Leaving Eng. 3548 unattended & in forward gear at Spondon Sidings, 3/16pm and being being near Spondon Station with your fireman”.

Another driver with a long and yet admirably ‘clean’ record was James JEPHSON. Taking the familiar path from Cleaner in 1892 to retiring as a Driver on age limit in 1937, he managed to avoid many of the transgressions his contemporaries received punishment for. His career wasn’t entirely unblemished though: In November 1921 he received a reprimand for unspecified “carelessness” which resulted in “Delay to the 6/20pm frieght, Liverpool to Derby, E.3683”. His caution in February 1925 is a little more explicit; “Want of care in the manipulation of the brake, causing train to divide at Beighton Jc.” Just four months later he was reprimanded for “Failing to remove tail lamp from tender before working train, resulting in train having to be stopped unnecessarily”. An eagle-eyed signalman. His final caution was in October 1929, again cryptically short; “Stop block damaged”.

The record for Fred LAMBERT is one of the few where significant parts are unreadable - in this case because of poor repair at some point using sellotape. What we can see is that he started at Nuneaton in 1907 and transferred to Derby as a Driver in 1934 and that his Punishments and Gratuities record is commendably short. Which makes this one entry all the more remarkable: Suspended for one day in January 1943 for “Working L.E. 5274 Kentish Town to St. Pancras, passing Dock Jct. Up Main starting signal at danger, and when working 8/15pm express passenger to Derby, 3/1/43, passing Dock Jct. Down Main home at danger”. Though it doesn’t specifically say so, the inference is that these two incidents happened during the same turn, and the mind boggles as to what it may have been about Dock Junction which caused a Driver with an otherwise exceptional record to do so? Presumably some issue unique to wartime working? He retired on age limit in 1958 with no further blemishes on his record and died in 1975 at Basford, Notts.

One of the most interesting records is that of John Harold LAMBERT, not least as he was taken on by the Company on 31JLU1895 as a “Strike Fireman”. After 14 months service he was demoted to Cleaner and began the usual progression back up the ranks. During 1901 – 1904 he was promoted and put back between Fireman and Passed Cleaner three times and eventually, in 1923, he made it to Driver. His record of Punishments and Gratuities over his 48 year career before he died in service in 1948 runs to an astonishing page and a half. Granted, most of the entries are relatively trivial matters such as smoking, being late for duty and failing to sign for notices etc. Ones worth remarking on, however, include; Severely Reprimanded in 1923 for “Failing to properly afford relief & giving wrong information with a view to concealing his attention to duty” (whatever that means!?). On 13APR1929 he was given “appreciation” for “Noticing broken nose chain No.1 Platform, Derby” (again, whatever that means?). Ironically, a fortnight later he was cautioned for “Rough handling of Eng. 3947, resulting in broken Eng. Coupling”. Another ‘odd’ Caution was given in June 1931 for “Awkward working with Dvr. Burton causing 5 mins late start 1.17am Dby – M/C 17/6/31”. In February 1932 he received another strange caution; “Engines 931 & 3367 in collision, Derby Loco’. Taking no notice after 3 warnings had been given”. One of his more serious transgressions resulted in a two day suspension in July 1935 for “Passing Home & Starting signals at danger at Napsbury when working 9.7 am express Sheffield to St. Pancras”. His final blemish was a one day suspension for repeating the classic Derby driver sin; “Negligence resulting in collision between Engs. 3732 & 541, Derby Loco Yd., causing damage to Eng. 541”.

When reading some of these staff records, especially with some of the transgressions, it is tempting to form an opinion about the character of the man concerned – or perhaps more accurately, what the Inspectors making the entries thought. This is particularly so in the case of Percy Ernest LANCASHIRE. Taken on as an 18 year old Engine Cleaner in 1923, he had already had six cautions for various minor issues by 1932 when he was Severely Reprimanded for “Idling time away in messroom, making tea at 8/45 21 st Jan 32. Excuse – tooth bleeding, thought tea would stop it”. Six years later, after four other minor matters, he was cautioned for “Giving unnecessary trouble in the presentation of your Rule Books for inspection at the Annual Examination being asked 3 times by R.F. Spreadbury and twice by R.F. Roberts”. In May of the same year he was suspended for four days for two infractions; “Deliberately kicking coal over the side of the tender to waste on the line” and “Refusing to carry out your Driver’s instructions re disposal of engine in that at 6/15pm you were required to fill lamps of eng., your driver found you sitting in messroom & when told to fill lamps you laughed at him and he had to fill lamps himself”. The following month he was suspended for six days and warned for “Unsatisfactory conduct when working 5.0am Milk Ets. Lester [sic] – Derby, instead of breaking up piece of coal which was too big for fire hole, kicking it off footplate near Chellaston causing wastage. Warned that if any further trouble he will be dismissed”. This clearly had the desired effect as other than arriving a hour late for a 6.0am turn in 1942 there are no further entries on his record. There is a Form 1 attached to his record though, dated 29APR1950 charging him with coming on 23 minutes late for M.784 Special. In his pencil written reply on the Form he explains; “On my way to work that morning the back wheel of my bike jammed and caused me to take it back home. As I live 35 mins walk from home to the shed, I did my best and got off the shed with the engine about right time”. Four months later, aged 44, he gave his notice and left the service. A lot of Firemen, frustrated at the lack of promotion, left in this way at this time, but it this is a unique example in this set of records for a driver – being paid 138/- a week – to do so. He died in Derby in 1979.

Starting as a Cleaner on 04APR1888, George LANCASTER is the most senior employee in this batch, retiring on age limit on 29JUL1934. His record is peppered with a fairly typical crop of transgressions, in the main all pretty minor. He was awarded a Gratuity on 08OCT1911 for “Prompt action in connection with wagon No. 137110 on fire, Peckwash” but 13 months later made an almost inevitable mistake; “ Neglecting to keep a better lookout whereby slight collision was caused, No.2 Eng. Shed Box, Derby” and was Cautioned for his trouble. He received a one day suspension for “Passing home signal at Danger, Castle Donington, 29/10/29 with passr. train”. In March 1932 he was again suspended for a day, this time for: “Exceeding speed restriction of 5 mph over Wichnor Viaduct with 7.20pm Bristol to Derby”. His final transgression, for which he received a two day suspension, was in April 1933 and was eerily familiar; “Passing home signal at danger at Castle Bromwich when working 10.55pm passr. B’ham to Derby”. He died in 1949 at Derby.

It seems that George LARGE was a particularly eagle-eyed chap, receiving three gratuities in his 42 year career for spotting fires. The first was 2/- in July 1921 for “Observing GC wagon on fire between Bakewell & Hassop”, then 2/6 later the same year for “Observing fire in Bowring Tank Wagon axle No.381 Peckwash”. Before his next piece of heroism, however, he had a blemish; “Want of care resulting in collision between & damage to Engines, Derby Loco Yd.” on 10DEC1923 for which he received a one day suspension. The next gratuity he received was 3/- in September 1936 for “Fire in LMS wagon No. 96076, Wingfield”. Back to old bad habits with cautions for; “Eng. 3794 in contact with motor & trailer 4/1/30” and in May 1933; “Wagon 31888 Lawley Street to Sandon Dock damaged in shunting operations at Rowsley”. He reached the 65 age limit, retiring in October 1933 and died in Derby five years later.

John William LAPWORTH was 18 years old when he was employed by the Midland Railway as an Engine Cleaner in November 1924. With just less than two years service in, he was “Found asleep in Sentinal Car while on duty” and cautioned. In July 1929, having become a Passed Cleaner, he was given a punishment of “Cleaning in Shed for 3 mths” as a result of “Idling time, cooking meal out of meal times & being in bath house”. However, this sentence was lifted after about a month, his record noting; “Conduct greatly improved”. He was evidently on a firing turn on 28FEB1930 as he received a caution for “Mismanagement of points whereby E.767 derailed”. Old habits resurfaced a couple of months later as he was cautioned for; “Idling time away in cab of engine on which he should have been working”. His record states that he left the service on 29MAR1932 having;”Refused Porters position”, though why that was so isn’t mentioned. He died in Derby in 1937, aged 29.

Driver Thomas LARMAN (who started as a shed apprentice in 1912); 05APR1948 “Failing to report obstruction on the line of a serious character in accordance with Rule 155(a) when working 2/15 Exp. London to Derby 20/3/48 Diesel 10000”.