History of the M&GN
History of the Society
From Joint Line magazine for winter 2016-17
Rules. The bane of our lives, some might say. But they are an essential item in the growth of civilisations – from earliest times, the parameters of living in a group, right down to the instructions for operating the PC that this article is being composed on. Recently, we also picked up other essentials, like the Highway Code, health & safety and, the subject of this article, railway rules.
The new-fangled railways were very dangerous in operation, both to staff, expensive items of equipment, goods and, most importantly, the passengers. Just read about the 1830 opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, with both the first passenger train-on-train collision and the death of Liverpool MP William Huskisson under the wheels of Rocket. The Rule Book therefore followed on very quickly, being added to frequently with the hindsight from every new accident or innovation. By the late nineteenth century, the railways had arrived close to the basic set of operating rules that are in force today. We have in our collections a copy of the first Eastern & Midlands Railway Rule Book, dating from the formation of the Railway in 1883 and a later revised copy, from 1889, covering the handover to the M&GN. These are not just ordinary rule books, however, as their owners have inscribed some details of their careers inside.
The first book belonged to one William Henry Havis, is dated 1883 and was donated to us last year by Mr Derek Havis. William Havis documented his railway career on the flyleaf, with each move and promotion being suitably dated. The first 2 were whilst employed by the Lynn & Fakenham Railway before the 1st December 1883 creation of the E&MR:
- Porter, Nov 30th 1882 – Drayton Station
- Signalman, Guestwick Station, April 2nd. 1883
- Station Master, Guestwick, September 16th 1884
- Station Master, Corpusty & Saxthorpe, May 12th 1887
- Station Master, East Rudham, October 7th 1893
- Station Master, Lenwade, Nov 18th 1897
- ditto (i.e. S/M again), Guestwick, Jan 23rd 1918
Mr Havis is documented elsewhere as retiring on 1st May 1924, due to ill health. He had a good career – and all at local stations within a few miles of each other, lucky man! Strangely enough, his railway career start and end dates almost coincide with those of William Marriott himself.
The second, 1889 volume, was presented to us in 2006 by Sheringham Councillor Mr Peter Cox, then Mayor of Sheringham. It is not only a copy of the 1889 book, but contains an E&MR supplement from January 1893 and a copy of the M&GN Resolution from 4 July 1893 to adopt the E&MR Rule Book for use on the Eastern Section of the M&GN after the merger forming the M&GN itself.
The latter book has been on display in the Museum for the last few years, showing the supplement pages and the ‘signature’ of general manager Robert Read, forced to describe himself as ‘Manager and Receiver’ for the then bankrupt E&MR. What is not on view, however, is the flysheet, where we have 2 annotations from the owner/user of the book:
‘Samuel Craske, Sheringham, August 16th 1893’
And added shortly after was ‘Attlebridge, Oct 26th 1893’
I have mentioned M&GN Circle member Bob Palmer and his M&GN staff database many times in the past and have no reticence in doing so again. Such handwritten entries in the above books keep adding more information to this outstanding database and these will be added in due course
If only every M&GN staff member had written their career details down in such a manner for posterity…………………………….