The Midland RailwayStudy Centre

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A staff ledger in the Midland Railway Study Centre

The following notes are aimed at helping people without a railway background understand the Midland Railway Coaching (or Traffic) Department staff records in the National Archives’ RAIL 491 series1, which are now digitised and accessible via Ancestry. They concentrate on the main types of entries found in the ledgers. Should you come across an entry that is not included, please contact the writer of the notes, who will endeavour to explain the circumstances.

Unfortunately, there is also a need to correct odd TNA cataloguing entries and to make various comments about Ancestry transcriptions and its browse facility.

The main ledgers in this group

No. Period File Comment
10241871 – 1879Coaching Department

Period extends to 1880.

10251881 – 1898Coaching Department
10261899 – 1908Coaching Department

Generally covers northern part of system.

10271889 – 1908Coaching Department

Generally covers southern part of system.

10391859 – 1866Staff List

Included under Miscellaneous Departments in Ancestry browse facility.

Comment will be made on similar ledgers for specific locations from time to time. These are listed later in this document.

Example 1
Station Masters at Darley Dale (in ledger Rail 491/1025)

1. The Midland Railway generally used initials rather than forenames in its Coaching Department ledgers. Consequently, researchers may need supporting information to ensure that they identify the correct person.

2. Entries were made in the chronological date order. Names were crossed through when the individuals ceased to occupy the post. E. Morris was the current occupant when the ledger ended in 1898, so was not altered.

3. In this example, the Station Masters were paid a salary. The amounts shown were in pounds and shillings, or full pounds, per annum. These were crossed through either when the occupant left, or received an alteration to his salary.

4. The numbers in the particulars column refer to the pages in the same ledger where the occupants transferred to or from. In the case of A. Deverall, he was the occupant when the ledger was started in 1881, so the figure 107 indicates where he moved to – in this case Station Master Buckden. The date he transferred can be determined from his entry on page 107 (see Note 9).

5. Deverall’s replacement, T. Clarke, transferred from Station Master Somerset Road (page 328) on 7th November 1884 (see note 9) and subsequently became the Station Master at Helpston (page 672).

6. J.S. Tye is also shown to have been previously employed in a post on page 328. However, in his case he was the Station Master at Church Road, there being entries for more than one station on that particular page.

7. Tye’s record has an entry “ad 1/10/90”. This indicates that he had an increase in his salary (ad = advanced) on 1st October 1890. It will be noted in the “salary or wages” column that his original salary of £63.14pa was altered to £70pa.

8. Tye moved to a post on page 568 – which was Station Master Tibshelf & Newton. It will be noted that his replacement, E. Morris also has 568 against his name. In this case the two men actually exchanged posts.

9. The dates of transfer were when the occupants took over the full responsibilities of the post. There was always a training period – usually of two or three weeks – so the new occupant would already have been at the station for that period of time. There were variations to this feature where new stations / posts were concerned, which are explained in Note 11. There are also three ledgers where the dates are those when the person moved to the new post for training – see section following Note 31.

10. One of the facts a researcher may well know about an ancestor is his place of work. Unfortunately, a search in Ancestry may not show this correctly, even if the ledger itself is correct, as there are extensive errors in station names. Darley Dale, for example, is shown as Arley! [see comment below "Station Names"]

Example 2
Station Masters at Armathwaite
(in ledger Rail 491/1024)

11. This example is primarily to demonstrate that, where new appointments are concerned, the dates rarely reflect what actually happened! Most intermediate stations on the Settle and Carlisle line (on which Armathwaite was situated) opened on 1st May 1876. However, no official appointments were made until 14th November. It was common practice not to appoint staff on a permanent basis until it could be determined that the anticipated level of staffing was correct. In some cases, the eventual incumbents were actually in situ from the opening; in other cases the posts were initially covered by relief staff. In order to determine whether a man was in situ earlier, it is necessary to look at the entries for his previous job and determine when his replacement took over. In the case of Armathwaite, W. Mee transferred from the post of Station Master Sileby (page 459). His replacement at Sileby took over on 18th July 1876, which indicates that Mee was at Armathwaite by that time, and possibly for the opening of the station. See also Note 13.

12. It will be noted that J. Simpson is shown as “ex A&N Joint Line”. The Ashby & Nuneaton Joint Line was administered by the Midland and London & North Western Railways. Coaching Department ledgers exist for both companies which, on occasions, provide slightly different information! Simpson actually transferred from the post of Station Master Snarestone. Midland records show that he relinquished the post at that station on 12th January 1878. It is possible that he moved to Armathwaite for training straightaway, as Mee took over his next post as Station Master Manton (page 503) on 19th February. [To complicate the situation, L&NWR records show Simpson’s transfer from Snarestone as having taken place on 15th March! It should be noted, however, that there were numerous differences between Midland and L&NW dates on the A&N Joint Line, which may well have had some association with their respective staff expenses.]

Example 3
Station Master Edale
(in ledger Rail 491/1025)

13. In many cases, official appointments to new posts took place within six months of the stations opening / post being created. However, there were exceptions, and on the Dore & Chinley Line (Hope Valley) there were no official appointments for almost two years! The intermediate stations opened on 25th June 1894, but here we find L. Wright, the Station Master at Edale, not being officially appointed until 16th April 1896. His previous post was Station Master Cromford. Examination of that page (227) shows that his successor, H. I’Anson, was officially appointed on 9th August 1894. This indicates that Wright was at Edale by that date, and possibly for the opening of the station.

Example 4
Machine Youth Bakewell
(in ledger Rail 491/1025)

14. This extract shows the occupants of a post for a junior member of staff; in most cases it was their first job on the railway. Large amounts of parcels were forwarded by rail in those days. These would have to be weighed, recorded, and the appropriately priced parcels stamps attached to them. The Machine Youth would have been responsible for these duties. Few remained in the post for long. They would be moved to other jobs to enable other new recruits to be appointed. No-one could remain in such a post after the age of 17.

15. It will be noted that this particular post was initially wages grade – J.H. Clark, the occupant when the ledger was started, being paid 6/- per week. However, from the appointment of A.B. Cooke in November 1891, the post became salaried.

16. With most of the individuals being new appointees to the post – i.e. their first job – there will be no page number indicating where they came from. The page number in the entry for A.B. Cooke, for example, (187) indicates where he moved to, though this ought to be clear as he had two salary increases prior to that entry.

17. The dates when the new appointees are shown to have taken over the posts are not the dates when they were originally employed. This would have happened several weeks earlier. The lads would have received general training initially – sometimes when there was no specific vacancy, though experience showed that one would arise in the not-too-distant future. Some new appointments ledgers exist from which starting dates and other details, including full names, can be determined. From one of these (Rail 491/1016) it can be determined that the forenames of J.B. Bloore, who took over the post on 17th October 1882, were John Bennett, and that he joined the Midland Railway on 7th July 1882 at the age of 15. [Details of the new appointments files can be found between Notes 31 and 32.]

18. There are some entries where, instead of a page number, “see above” is shown. This indicates that the person transferred to a post higher up on the same page, in this case that of the Booking Clerk – the entry there being "see below". Unfortunately, Ancestry transcriptions and, therefore, searches only show one entry (unless one of them has been transcribed differently!). Consequently, this makes it difficult for people with little knowledge of railways to properly trace their relations’ careers. The problem, however, is wider than this. Most images cover two pages – in this case 253, on which the extract is from, and page 254. If a person was transferred to a post on the opposite page (which would normally show the page number), the same situation applies and there will only be one entry. However, in some cases where there is more than one entry with the same name, these can be completely different people, with the consequence that the person’s record will not be found, or could be wrongly identified. This is a particular problem with common surnames such as Jones and Smith.

19. Some transfers are shown with a place name and a page number, such as "Millers Dale 37" and "Birmingham 129". This indicates that the details are in another ledger that covers the specific location (see section following Note 25 below).

20. The word "resigned" in the example above indicates precisely what happened. It should be noted, however, that this may not be entirely correct with senior salaried staff, such as Station Masters. Such people could retire at the age of 60. However, their fitness was reviewed annually from that time until the age of 65, and if deemed satisfactory, they could remain in the job. On the other hand, the men themselves could opt to retire at any time above the age of 60. If that took place, then the entry in the staff records was usually shown as resigned rather than retired.

21. Bakewell is another location where an Ancestry search reveals an error in the station name – in this case it appears as “Ewell” [see also note 10.]

Example 5
Station Porter Arkholme
(in ledger Rail 491/1026)

Example 5

22. This is an adult post at Arkholme on the Furness & Midland Joint line. It would appear that the Midland Railway was responsible for appointing all staff, hence the reason for the details appearing in a pure Midland ledger rather than in one for joint staff.

23. The job title was originally Porter, but was later changed to Station Porter – note that "stn" is in a different coloured ink. In most cases dates are shown for such changes, but not here.

24. W.R. Watson is shown as resigned from Esholt on 15th March 1901. There are similar cases spread throughout the ledgers. No explanation has been seen for such entries. It is believed that what happened here is that Watson was transferred to Esholt, possibly at the Company’s request. He appears to have been dissatisfied with the new job during the training period, and resigned. As he was not officially appointed to the post at Esholt at that time, the entry would have been made against his last permanent position.

25. There are further examples of transfers to and from larger locations where staff details were in separate ledgers (Hellifield and Westhouses). "Otley Joint" refers to information in one of the joint lines staff ledgers (see section prior to Note 28). In most cases a page number would be shown, but it has been omitted in this case (for the record, the corresponding entry is on page 21 of Rail 491/1036 – Joint Staff 1893 to 1906). The Ilkeston Junction (Jc) reference refers to a page in Rail 491/1027. It will be seen in the list that precedes these notes that from 1899 to 1908, the records are split between two ledgers (Rail 491/1026 and 1027). As a consequence there is an additional layer of cross-referencing.

As the Midland Railway expanded, so did the number of staff it employed. From 1876 onwards certain new ledgers were started for locations where large numbers of staff were employed. Those in the National Archives collection are:

No. Period File Comment
9971897 – 1911Birmingham New Street Joint Station.
9981878 – 1911Bristol Joint Station.
9991876 – 1908Burton.
10001880 – 1908Cudworth, Sheepbridge, Eckington, etc.

Now altered in TNA catalogue to "Cudworth, Sheepbridge, Eckington, Clay Cross, Ambergate and Rowsley"

10011876 – 1907Derby.
10021876 – 1908Gloucester, Bath and Bristol.
10031880 – 1908Kettering, Northampton, Luton, etc.

"etc." is St. Albans (from 1880), Hendon (from 1899) and Childs Hill / Cricklewood (from 1899).

10041876 – 1908Leeds.
10051876 – 1908Leicester.
10061876 – 1908Masborough, Staveley and Chesterfield.
10071876 – 1908Nottingham and Beeston.
10081876 – 1899St. Pancras.
10091899 – 1908St. Pancras.
10101876 – 1908Saltley and Birmingham.
10111876 – 1908Sheffield.
10121876 – 1908Skipton, Keighley, Shipley and Hellifield
10131876 – 1908Toton.
10141876 – 1908Trent, Lincoln, Mansfield and Westhouses

26. Entries in these ledgers with numbers only refer to the pages in the ledgers. In most cases where place names are also shown, these refer to entries in Rail 491/1024 to 1027 (see the top of the page).

27. Because consecutive pages in the ledgers refer to the same location, a large number do not have the name(s) repeated at the tops of the pages – though indexes to the contents appear at the front of each ledger. Unfortunately, Ancestry transcribers have not entered location names where these are not written at the tops of pages, even for the one location ledgers. This, therefore, can cause difficulties when searching for a person who is known to have worked at a specific location.

Unfortunately, not all the ledgers for larger locations are included in the National Archives collection. It should be noted that Coaching Department staff ledgers for the following locations during the period 1876 / 1880 to 1908 are ‘missing’:

Also in the same category are four ledgers that cover staff employed on some of the lines jointly operated with other companies:

No. Period File Comment
10341870 – 1876Joint staff lists
10351876 – 1892Joint staff lists
10361893 – 1906Joint staff lists
10371906 – 1920Joint staff lists

28. These are similar to the other Coaching Department ledgers, though also include staff appointed by the partner companies.

29. While the transfer of Midland staff to and from joint line posts is identified, the records do not always specify where they came from / went to. A name search in Ancestry often reveals the relevant pages in pure Midland ledgers.

30. Dates in pure Midland and joint line ledgers are sometimes slightly different. With men returning to the Midland, there appear to be cases where they needed to be taken off joint line records for accountancy purposes before being transferred to a new post with the Midland.

31. Staff records also exist for some of the joint line partners, particularly the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire and London & North Western Railways. Sometimes dates are the same, sometimes they are slightly different, and sometimes these include additional information.

There are three ledgers that show dates when the men transferred to their new jobs (for training) rather than when they took over the full responsibilities of the posts. These are:

No. Period File Comment

1899 – 1907Superintendent's Dept.

1901 – 1908

District Superintendent's personal staff.

Relate to a re-organisation that decentralised staffing arrangements.


1901 – 1909

District Superintendent's personal staff [Derby District]

Relate to a re-organisation that decentralised staffing arrangements.

Mention was made in Note 17 of ledgers that give details of new appointments in the Coaching Department. These are:

No. Period File Comment
10151871 – 1877 New appointments.

In Ancestry browse facility under "Miscellaneous Depts".

10161877 – 1882 New appointments.

In Ancestry browse facility under "Miscellaneous Depts".


1882 – 1890

New appointments.

In Ancestry browse facility under "Various" with catalogue dates only.


1890 – 1897

New appointments.

In Ancestry browse facility under "Various" with catalogue dates only.


1897 – 1900

New appointments.

In Ancestry browse facility under "Various" with catalogue dates only.


1902 – 1913

New appointments Derby District.

In Ancestry browse facility under "Derby" with catalogue dates only.

10321868 – 1873 Staff Register

In Ancestry browse facility under Miscellaneous Depts. With catalogue dates only.

32. The employees’ full names are generally shown in these ledgers. The first five have separate sections for each letter of the alphabet, based on surnames, with entries for each section entered in (more-or-less) date order. The other two have entries in (more-or-less) date order, irrespective of the surname.

Why are there few records after 1908?

From this time, the Midland Railway started to compile staff records for each individual on cards or paper forms and generally abandoned those recorded by location. Unfortunately, the vast majority of personal records were destroyed shortly after employees left the railway.

Station names

Under normal circumstances little would need to be said about station names. Unfortunately, there are large numbers of errors in Ancestry records that have been reported, but with no corrective action having been taken. These can be put into four categories:

Missing: Mentioned in Note 27. Mainly involves the larger locations where names are not repeated on every page of the ledgers.

Incorrect: Many ledgers cover staff from more than one location on a page. There are numerous cases where everyone is shown to have worked at the location at the top of the page.

Abbreviated: Many railway locations consisted of two words, sometimes with an ampersand between them. There were numerous cases from the initial transcriptions / downloads where only one of the words is shown. In some cases, the word used is the same as a different location many miles away, and possibly on another company.

A programming problem? Around August 2013 station names began to appear that had been shortened to those of other stations (and in one case a department) situated in other parts of the country, and not remotely associated with the locations in question.

A summary of those noted (which also include stations on other systems) is appended below:

Sorted in alphabetical order of name Sorted in alphabetical order of changed name
Original Name Changed Name Original Name Changed Name
Adderley ParkParkDarley DaleArley
Alexandra ParkParkChellastonAston
Althorp ParkParkBarrow HavenBarrow
AttenboroughBoroughBarrow Hill & Staveley WorksBarrow
Barrow HavenBarrowKimboltonBolton
Barrow Hill & Staveley WorksBarrowAttenboroughBorough
Barton & WaltonWaltonConisboroughBorough
Burton JoyceBurtonLoughboroughBorough
Burton PointBurtonLoughborough ParkBorough
Carcroft and ArdwickCroftMarket HarboroughBorough
Cheadle HeathHeathPeterboroughBorough
ChellastonAstonPrinces RisboroughBorough
Coaley JunctionCoalWhiteboroughBorough
CoalvilleCoalBurton JoyceBurton
Codnor ParkParkBurton PointBurton
Darley DaleArleyManchesterChester
DonisthorpeThorpeCoaley JunctionCoal
Eckington and RenishawKingtonCarcroft and ArdwickCroft
Elm ParkParkKeadbyDby
Finsbury ParkParkLandoreDore
Great MalvernMalvernBakewellEwell
Hare ParkParkGlenfieldGlen
Haydock ParkHaydockDunhampsteadHampstead
HealingEalingSouthampton DocksHampton
Heath TownHeathWolverhamptonHampton
Honor Oak ParkParkHorsehayHay
HorsehayHayHaydock ParkHaydock
KeadbyDbyCheadle HeathHeath
Kensington ParkParkHeath TownHeath
Kentish TownKentHeatherHeath
Kings HeathHeathKings HeathHeath
Kirkby StephenKirkbyShort HeathHeath
Kiveton ParkParkSmall HeathHeath
LandoreDoreThornton HeathHeath
Langley MillLangleyWashwood HeathHeath
LangwathbyWathNew HollandHolland
LitlehamptonHamptonUpper HollowayHolloway
London BridgeLondonKentish TownKent
Long SuttonSuttonOld Kent RoadKent
LoughboroughBoroughEckington and RenishawKington
Loughborough ParkBoroughKirkby StephenKirkby
ManchesterChesterLangley MillLangley
Mansfield WoodhouseMansfieldEastleighLeigh
Market HarboroughBoroughLondon BridgeLondon
MarlboroughBoroughGreat MalvernMalvern
MexboroughBoroughMansfield WoodhouseMansfield
MoorthorpeThorpeTibshelf & NewtonNewton
New HollandHollandNorthamptonNortham
NorthamptonNorthamAdderley ParkPark
Old Kent RoadKentAlexandra ParkPark
Park LaneParkAlthorp ParkPark
Park RoyalParkCodnor ParkPark
Park StreetParkElm ParkPark
ParkendParkFinsbury ParkPark
Parkgate (& Rawmarsh)ParkHare ParkPark
ParkstoneParkHonor Oak ParkPark
PeterboroughBoroughKensington ParkPark
Princes RisboroughBoroughKiveton ParkPark
Queen's ParkParkPark LanePark
ShirehamptonHamptonPark RoyalPark
Short HeathHeathPark StreetPark
Small HeathHeathParkgate (& Rawmarsh)Park
Southampton DocksHamptonQueen's ParkPark
St Annes ParkParkSt Annes ParkPark
Stoke CanonStokeWestbourne ParkPark
Stoke EdithStokeBasingstokeStoke
Stoke GoldingStokeShustokeStoke
Stoke MandevilleStokeStoke CanonStoke
Stoke WorksStokeStoke EdithStoke
Sutton BridgeSuttonStoke GoldingStoke
Sutton ColdfieldSuttonStoke MandevilleStoke
Sutton ParkSuttonStoke WorksStoke
SwinderbyDerbyLong SuttonSutton
ThorneyThorneSutton BridgeSutton
Thornton HeathHeathSutton ColdfieldSutton
Tibshelf & NewtonNewtonSutton ParkSutton
Upper HollowayHollowayDonisthorpeThorpe
Washwood HeathHeathUllesthorpeThorpe
WellingboroughBoroughBarton & WaltonWalton
Westbourne ParkParkEdwaltonWalton

1 The reference numbers quoted in this document initially appeared in Ancestry transcriptions. Unfortunately, these were removed c.August 2013 around the time that large numbers of errors were applied to station names (see separate comment). The references can only be determined now from examining the covers of the ledgers in the first or second image of each file.

Compiled by Glynn Waite – July 2014.

We are delighted to host detailed records of the staff of Ashchurch Junction compiled by Brian Harringman - Ashchurch

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