Established FEBRUARY 1880

The information below has been gathered and adapted from various 

A.S.L.E.& F. publications 

The railway boom produced by the industrial revolution brought both benefits and hardships for the workers employed on the railways. The decade of the 1870s had been an atrociously hard time for railwaymen. There had been many fatalities and accidents to men and boys in the service, and all were ‘wage slaves’ in a real grim sense. The system that brought vastly increased wealth to commerce, banks, mines, and all financial interests, was only a durance vile for the men who ran the system.

Of all the grades in the railway workforce, the engine driver enjoyed the highest pay and status of all but the chief engineer and stationmaster. On the other hand, no other industry brought together such a potentially lethal combination of heavy machinery, fire, steam, accelerating speeds and exhaustible labour. The result was an industry in which death and injury rates exceeded those of every other with the occasional exception of coal mining.

With the establishment of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants in 1871. This was an all-grade union and, at first, enginemen and firemen joined it enthusiastically. Within a year it had more than 17,000 members. But, in practice, it proved sadly ineffective and its membership soon began to fall. Moreover, its all-grade structure did not suit the precise requirements of locomotivemen with their own highly specialised skills who were exposed to their own particular dangers.There was some dilution of membership but the A.S.R.S. was regarded as too conciliatory by many enginemen and eventually the demand for a more militant and focused union to represent their views.

Something was about to happen to break the suppression, and the great venture was launched by the drivers and firemen. Seven men of Monmouthshire, stirred by the arbitrary attitude of the Great Western, breathed the great inspiration. The same project was being confidentially whispered at Birmingham, Sheffield, Bristol, and Leeds, and in 1880 it broke out spontaneously under the letters A.S.L.E. & F.

When the Great Western Railway restructured pay scales in October 1879, its longest serving enginemen and firemen found their wages cut and their working hours extended. 
The Great Western enginemen realising there was not protection and got no support from the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (A.S.R.S.) with its friendly society attitude, and at that time, believed that disputes should be settled through arbitration, and never through costly, irresponsible and disloyal strike action. 

So the Great Western enginemen framed a petition to theboard of directors protesting against the new and worse conditions. Sir Daniel Gooch, the G.W.R. Chairman. Examining their petition, he is said to have exclaimed: “Damn the signatures! Have you got the men to back them up?”

If locomotivemen banded together for protection in a trade union that avowed itself ready to 
use the strike as a weapon of defence, every means would be taken to smash it – and them. Yet those fellows left that room with only one thought in their minds. Charles Perry, Evan Evans, Tom Harding, Tom Roderick and others started from scratch. The only funds they possessed were those they themselves would provide, but between October and December 1879 they contacted colleagues in Sheffield, Bristol, Pontypool, Newport and Birmingham.
They had lit the fiery cross which, in the coming years, was to burn steadily, its flame a 
beacon to guide us and a light illuminating the path of our craft, and so also of every railway 
worker in Britain.

William Ullyott of Leeds and 55 colleagues formed the first registered lodge of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen in Sheffield.


Meanwhile, the movement for a locomotivemen's union was gathering steam. The organising committee issued a set of rules in February 1880, drafted by Charles Perry, setting out the costs and benefits of membership.

Enginemen Charles Perry, Evan Evans, Tom Harding, Tom Roderick and others spent the next two months contacting their fellow ennginemen and firemen in Sheffield , Bristol, Pontypool, Newport and Birmingham. On Saturday 7th February, 1880, William Ullyott of Leeds and 55 colleagues formed the first registered lodge of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen in Sheffield. 

A momentous decision which prompted Charles Perry of York Place, Griffithstown, 
Pontypool, one of the men who was instrumental in forming this trade union, to write to him 
two days later:

'You will allow me in the name of our men to congratulate you on your energy and, I may 
hope, your complete success, in the formation of a branch and, at the same time, to inform you that the M&S men are the first founders of the Society. Your men have the honour of being the first members. Trusting the flame you have lighted in Sheffield may never be extinguished, and that soon enginemen and firemen may take their proper place in the front rank of skilled labour.'

The pioneers spent months in quiet branch building, exchanging views, creating basic rules 
and communicating with each other, and looking forward when all enginemen and firemen 
would be paid fairly and would be above the fear of dismissal for having dared to make a 
reasonable request.  


Letter from Mr. C.H. Perry of Newport to Mr. W Ullyott of Sheffield, having reference to the formation of the Society

The general register of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen shows 
how William Ullyott was the first member to join, at Sheffield, on Saturday 7 February 1880. 

Charles Perry led the way a week later, when Pontypool opened its branch on Sunday 15 
February. Tondhu followed on Sunday 4 April, Liverpool on Friday 23 April, and Leeds on 
Saturday 24 April. Neath came in on Sunday 30 May, Bradford on Monday 28 June, and 
Carnforth on Sunday 4 July.

The founding delegate conference of the new Society was held in the Falstaff Hotel, Market Place, Manchester on January 3, 1881. Charles Perry was instructed to submit his draft rules to the register of trade union and friendly societies.

To save on wages and travelling expenses, conference decided to vest authority in a single branch to elect a local committee to run the Societies affairs.

The executive committee met for the first time on Sunday 6 March 1880. It usually sat on 
Sundays from 9.30am to 9.30pm. An attendance allowance of one shilling could be claimed – or, as Griffiths notes, 'forfeited when ten minutes late' – and union rules provided for loss of wages expenses, with a quarterly stipend for the treasurer. Executive Committee members 
would be fined two shillings for missing a meeting without a satisfactory apology.

Around the country Enginemen and Firemen at different locations on different Railway Companies deciding to form their own Branches.  A.S.R.S. begun to see many of their Enginemen and Firemen members transferring their membership from A.S.R.S. to the newly formed A.S.L.E.& F. Branches. In some locations the entire A.S.R.S. branch would transfer over to A.S.L.E.& F. This was because many Enginemen and Firemen had become very dissatisfied with the A.S.R.S. and wanted a trade union to represent the views of enginemen and firemen. 


A.S.L.E. & F.’s first emblem

A.S.L.E. & F. branches were soon appearing on the London and Brighton Railway 

and their formation and activities will appear on forthcoming pages.

A manifesto for the Associated Society of Locomotive Steam Enginemen & Firemen, dated 
February 1880, says: 

'We propose that a society be formed, consisting of enginemen and firemen only. 
Enginemen to pay 5 shillings, firemen 2 shillings. 

The first eight branches were established at 

Bradford, Carnforth, Leeds, Liverpool, Neath, Pontypool, Sheffield, and Tondu.

'It was decided for reasons of economy that the affairs of our Society should be conducted 
by a committee elected from the Leeds branch, Leeds being chosen as the most convenient 
position for the movement, and the men at Leeds were vested with directing authority in 
January 1881.'

The first rule book of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers & Firemen was issued to members in 1881 as 'registered under the Trade Union Acts, with registered office at the Commercial Inn, Sweet Street, Holbeck, Leeds.'




A meeting was held at Manchester on Monday to consider whether it was judicious to continue longer the efforts to establish an enginemen's trade union from which other grades in the Service would be excluded. It was a very small gathering, we are informed, but few stations taking notice of the invitation. We recently called minute attention to the attempts begun in 1879 to establish two separate engine-men's societies, under the titles of the " National Union" and " Associated Society." If it can be shown that any possible good would accrue from these efforts to cause division among railway servants, why do not the promoters state their case? The tendency of trade unions is to amalgamation, not to severances and divisions. The engineering trades, far more diverse in character than the varied occupations on a railway, found a basis for uniting their many societies in 1852 in face of a common danger. Hence the Amalgamated Society of Engineers. At this moment there are several schemes promoted for amalgamating the building trade societies into one confederation. Enginemen have made several attempts to establish isolated or exclusive societies, but each attempt has come to grief excepting the Friendly Society, which forewent its earlier character of a trade union. An enginemen's exclusive society would so offend other grades that, in the event of a struggle, the guards and others would be without sympathy for enginemen, and possibly the experiences of 1848, of 1866, and of 1867 would once again be repeated to the discomfiture of the locomotive men. How much better to ensure the co-operation and goodwill of other grades in the Service by joining with them in one common society. Whatever be the defects of the Amalgamated Society, they are remediable. This society ensures to enginemen every fair protection, and promotes the truest union, by joining all classes together. No other railwaymen's trade society has ever endured like the Amalgamated, or accomplished such work as it has wrought, and, on the verge of its tenth year, we find it as vigorous as ever it was, and grappling in a systematic manner with evils that touch all grades in the Service alike. The Associated Society of Enginemen is unfortunate instriking out against two such worthy associations as the Amalgamated Society and the Locomotive Steam Enginemen and Firemen's Friendly Society. The rumour that has been set afloat assuring men that the latter society would amalgamate with the Associated is devoid of truth. The old society's members would indeed be foolish if they placed their accumulated fund of £70,000 deferred sick pay, &c., at the disposal of the members of the younger society, taking up liabilities which would eventually ruin their now thoroughly sound society. Enginemen desire union, not separation, and they cannot do better than stand firm by the Amalgamated.


The merits of the Amalgamated society and a certain society of enginemen and firemen formed a topic of conversation between two drivers not a hundred miles from Sheffield a day or two since. One of them is an old and much esteemed member the Amalgamated, while the other, though once a member, has left and joined the Associated Society of Enginemen and Firemen, and, having done so, evidently thinks no "small beer" of himself, and forcibly reminds one of the fable of the "Ass in the Loin's Skin." The conversation on the part of this individual was for the purpose of getting one who is strong in his convictions of the value of the Amalgamated to give up what he believes in, and join a new society that he has no faith in or sympathy with. Says the Associated driver, "Shall we who are skilled workmen sacrifice our positions for the sake of those whose places could be filled in five minutes?" To this the Amalgamated driver replied. "Who told you you were a skilled workman?" A question which elicited the reply. You know that we drivers have to get a good deal of experience before we get to the position." "That is mere twaddle, my good friend," says our Amalgamated driver; "the skill required for a driver, as I understand the term, is a mere nothing compared with that of  a goods guard or shunter. There is more skill required in the performance of the duties these men have to perform every day in order to do their work, and at the same time preserve their lives and limbs, than will be required for you and me in our lifetime; and with all your boast of being a skilled workman, I fear you would cut a sorry figure if you made an attempt at their work." "But," says the Associated man, "If there were no skill required rot be an engine driver, how is it we get so much more wages?" " It is not the skill, for I repeat," says our Amalgamated driver, "that it is as nought compared with others who occupy other positions in the railway service, and receive less wages: but it is because we are merely entrusted with the care and handling of £2,500 worth of the company's property." With this the two drivers parted company, the Amalgamated one still remaining unshaken in his belief that the best method of promoting his own interests is by uniting with other grades, and by assisting them in protecting theirs, and that such specious arguments as those made use of by his fellow workman, and the pharisaical spirit it displays, is a convincing proof that instead of unity prevailing, discord, and that of the worst kind, bids fair to become engendered.





On January 3rd, a delegate meeting of the members of the locomotive societies was held at the Falstaff Hotel, Manchester. Although these are in various parts of the kingdom a large number of these organisations, there only thirteen delegates to consider the societies and of the Associates Societies of Engineers and Firemen. The result of a week's deliberations was, that they left the whole matter in abeyance for the present, but they agreed to employ a solicitor to put into shape what they had agreed upon, so that their conclusion might be published.




Sir, -- I have read "A Sheffield Member's" letter on "Imperial Journalism," and note the charming morality of your contemporary. My object in writing is to call attention to its inconsistency, and to a which which members will regard as a betrayal of the past confidence respond in your contemporary by the society. I give two articles cut out from your contemporary 's issues of February 6th 1880 and December 17th 1880, both bearing on the same subject. One Article was written before Mr. Dixon bought the paper, and the other since it has been his journal.

(From the R.S.G. of February 6th 1880)


We have received a copy of the rules of a society, or proposed society, called the "Locomotive Enginemen and Firemen's National Union." This is probably the embodiment of the ideas of those gentlemen who have been lately trying to form an association for enginemen only, distinct from the Amalgamated ..... Union or disunion ----which do railway servants prefer -- which is it their interest to prefer? Even if their personal sympathies and wishes be enlisted by friends on the side of disunion under the belief that they are really achieving unity, it is well that they should see that so far as their interests go they are progressing in favour of disunion, and that, therefore, they do well to abjure separate associations and stick to the all embracing Amalgamated. Its arms are open to all railway servants from the enginemen to the platelayer, and the sooner our friends the enginemen in this term we include firemen -- give up any idea of forming a separate association the better, collateral effort, working entirely with the Amalgamated, the efforts of enginemen as represented in these rules were crowned with success, and the separate union of enginemen acquired considerable strength, what is the use of going to the expense of keeping up collateral agencies when the old one is sufficient? The past history of railwaymen's efforts shows a variety of failures to form and carry on permanently societies intended for their protection. The Amalgamated is the only one that succeeded well, and unquestionably this success is due no less to its broad basis than to its excellent leadership. It would, consequently, be a very regrettable circumstance if railway servants, who are already ably served and protected by their general society, were to set about the formation of minor associations, intended to embrace the members of this or that rank of the service. With all respect to the promoters of this attempt to form a "Locomotive Enginemen and Firemen's Union," whoever may be (and we know not), we cannot think that enginemen generally wish for any such efforts to be made. A few of them may second the attempt out of loyalty to any effort which seems at first sight to be intended to benefit them (ass indeed we cannot doubt the present effort is), but our readers will see on reflection that they cannot derive any benefit from their force being split up into fragments. Instead of being, as they now are, one united army, they would become a variety of divisions of any army, each division acting under separate commanders, independent of each other, and therefore (notwithstanding the excellence of their intentions) in constant risk of collision with each other, as well as with the enemy

(From the R.S.G. of December17th, when it had become Mr. Dixon's Journal)


We have just received a copy of a circular from the committee, who invite enginemen and firemen to join them in forming a new society. We print the circular in another column. It will be eagerly read by many, especially by this who belonged to the now defunct Enginemen' Society, sometime called the 1867 Society. That there is ample room for such an association is evident from the way in which the committee has been met by large numbers of enginemen and firemen. Large numbers who were members of the old society, but for some reasons or another would never join the A.S.R.S., have responded to this invitation, and are working with a will to establish on a sure footing a society after their own heart. Indeed, it is not only now, or for a few weeks, that the promoters and their friends have been quietly and steadily working; they have been many months feeling their way and sowing the seed which will, doubtless, soon bear fruit which will fully reward them.

If any other proof were requires to show that there is ample room for such society as this, it need only be remembered that comparatively small number -- we believe not one sixth -- of the railway servants of the United Kingdom will join the Amalgamated Society. We have often regretted this; we have frequently been somewhat at a loss to know why so many thousands of railwaymen would not join the society. It has done much for them, it has held its doors open to receive all who would come, it has sent travelling and other secretaries about the country to its various branches to hold public meetings and induce non members to join, but still a large majority, who all the time watched its proceedings, would not become "society men." However much this has been regretted, we all know that this is a land of liberty, and that every individual can do as he likes about any matter of this kind. It has been said that a travelling secretary of the Amalgamated Society wished to coerce non members and compel them to join his society. We find it hard to believe that any sane man would think of doing such a thing, and no one will for a moment believe that the society had any notion of that being done.

On the contrary, we think the Amalgamated Society will be glad to see those railwaymen, who could not come within its palling, unite and go to work for their common good. Knowing as we do that our readers, like other classes of men cannot all see things from the same point of view, we rejoice that those who have for so long kept apart from the society are now going to work on the same idea, viz: -- that in unity is strength. We wish the new Society of Enginemen and Firemen, god speed.
The second of these articles was written after a correspondence with Mr. Charles H. Perry, of Pontypool, in which the editor disclaimed for Mr. Dixon's journal any special attachments to the A.S.R.S., and offered to advocate Mr. Perry's society notwithstanding that it was avowedly established in enmity to the A.S.R.S. 

It would be impossible for one and the same journal to be the organ of several societies having conflicting interest. Mr. Dixon has chosen that his journal should be the organ of the avowed enemy of our society. Therefore it becomes our duty to support and trust the journal which we are now assured is our organ, i.e., The Railway Review.

  Yours obediently




Mr. Evans's letter, which appeared in The Railway Review of the 4th instant, was an effective exposure of the tactics adopted by Mr. Dixon and his journal towards the society and its chief office. In the sorry reply attempted in our contemporary last week the writer was careful to skip over the facts advanced by Mr. Evans and to ignore his pointed corrections of some of the baseless assertions that had appeared in Mr. Dixon's journal. A reiteration of disproved statements, assisted by fresh in accuracies, scantly clad in the guise of truth, served for the foundation of the lame rejoinder. We are innocently assured that "the prime movers of the Enginemen's Associated Society avow their friendship and goodwill to the A.S.R.S.!" Has the writer of this palpable misstatement pressed the circular by Mr. Chas. H. Perry, of Pontypool, signed "The Committee," and whose recent letter was too libellous even for the columns of our contemporary? Let him do so, and glean some knowledge of the subject he writes on for the instruction of others. "Dozens of correspondents" who were not present at the Cardiff meeting are relied on as authorities on the transpired there, against the evidence of those who were present. Any nail is good enough to hang up a dog. We have an advantage over Mr. Dixon's journal in this matter, inasmuch as The Railway Review was represented by a reporter at the Cardiff meeting. Our MS. report enables us to deny the assertion advanced by Mr. Dixon's journal on the authority of "dozens of correspondents" who were not present, and to say that Mr. Evans gave no such pledge as that attributed to him; and, further, that no delegate put a question to him on the subject, and therefore could not "extorted" an answer.

The newly installed editor of Mr. Dixon's journal is ingenious, and possibly is not a novice at general newspaper work. but he labours un the disadvantage of both ignorance of the society and a railway work, and of the past history of what henceforth we shall term Mr. Dixon's journal. What wonder that statement should be inaccurate, or misrepresent past events in the society! They, however help to fill up space, bring pence to Mr. Dixon's pocket, and puzzle the "constant reader." It is amusing to note the effrontery with which the editorial "we" is flourished before a supposed narration of the facts the writer knows nothing about. The gushing style adopted is however, a pleasing change from the heavy, coarse abuse of a few weeks ago. Readers are treated such expressions as "charming inconsistent" and "transparent as glass." An extract, described as "remarkably funny" in one sentence, is in another described as "horribly absurd." The style may be inconsistent, but that matters not; it illustrates the "funny" and lively disposition of the new editor of Mr, Dixon's journal.



A meeting of the Engine and Firemen's Union was held recently at the Freemasons' Tavern, Kentish Town, to take into consideration a circular issued by the committee at Birmingham. Correspondence was read from Derby, Pontyprid, Birmingham, and other places, and a discussion ensued as to what was best for the enginemen to do. An old engine driver supported the National Union, and other drivers strongly urged that they should join Amalgamated society on the ground that it was the only recognised organisation of railwaymen that was true to the interest of enginemen and other grades of the service. It was also urged that the Amalgamated was the only trades union connected with the railway service, and the only society which had done any material good for railway service generally. Some of those present contended that the only independent society that was of any good to enginemen was the old Engine Drivers and Firemen's Sick Benefit Society; and others affirmed that it was the duty of all locomotivemen to belong to the Sick Benefit Society and to the Amalgamated also. Ultimately it was resolved to hold a further general meeting. The conclusion arrived at have not yet been communicated to us.


Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers & Firemen, held their first Executive meeting was held on the 6th March 1881. Society registered 
under the Trade Union Acts with Head Office at the Commercial Inn Sweet Street, Holbeck, Leeds. First Rule Book issued, with provisions for the creation of strike and victimisation funds in addition to Friendly Benefits. 





In our issue of Dec. 24th, in an article headed "Proposed Enginemen's Societies," we drew attention to bogus character of the then so called " Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen.' In that article we carefully analysed the cost of the benefits promised for a contribution of one shilling per week to men of any age. As there was no restriction on age we took forty years as a fair average, seeing that enormous superannuation was promised as the enticing benefit. Our exposure of the unsoundness of this Society's extravagant financial promises has had its effects and sobered the judgment of the novice society makers, who seemed to believe that to print big benefits on paper was sufficient to provide them. They have acted on our advice and revised the scale of the benefits. Small, indeed, they look to the former promises. The lowest contribution required to meet the claims under the first rules was an average of 3s. 8d. per week, or 2s. 8d. per week per member more than the contribution actually paid. to amend their error this society has now struck out altogether the promised lump sum of £60 to men incapacitated by mean of accident or old age, and withdrawn the superannuation allowance of 7s. 6d. per week for life to such members. It has further reduced the sick pay from 12s/ to 10s. per week, and excluded from sick and death benefits all and every enginemen of the forty and over who may hereafter wish to join. By this pruning process the benefits originally promised to members are reduced in value by an amount equal to 2s. 6d. per member per week contribution. This society, which began with so much bluster, is reduced to a mere copy of the Old Enginemen's Friendly Society, and of the Amalgamated Society, with its voluntary sick fund, without the immense organisation, activity, and influence the Amalgamated Society possess. A mountain has been in labour, and the outcome is a mouse. Some enginemen were lured by the exaggerated financial advantages held out to them by this society, and parted with their shillings. Now they bitterly complain of the deception practised on them, and wish to get back the money which they allege has been obtained from them on false pretences. There was no rational excuse for the misleading promises of the promoters of the scheme. They had had placed before them the knowledge of the actual value of superannuation, and in face of this knowledge issued a prospectus more grossly insolvent than any society in recent years has put forward. We cannot but sympathise with those enginemen who have been duped, and under the circumstances attending the starting of society we think the moneys of those who wish it should be returned, less a fair deduction for the expenses incurred.

Some of the men who started this unnecessary society were mainly actuated by hostility to the Amalgamated Society, and to the true spirit of trades unionism. They voluntarily did the meanest work of the enemies of unionism by loudly denouncing the Amalgamated Society as a swindle, its officers as rogues, and its members as fools. Indeed, we learn from Mexborough that two Sheffield drivers, Messrs. Mason and Ulyett, who visited a branch of the Amalgamated there to explain the objects of this new exclusive society, were more anxious to apply epithets such as we have recounted than to justify the existence of their pet scheme. What name will these men apply to a society such as their which held out delusive promises for fifteen months, and then abolish two thirds of the whole of the expected benefits, and shut the door in the face of the great body of enginemen who are over forty years old? The accusations and defamations against the old and tried Amalgamated Society put out by the promoters of the Enginemen's abortive union have, like chickens, come home to roast. In a year and nine months no single act, no expression or thought, no one influence has emanated from this society for the benefit of enginemen as a class, and see it provides no benefits which was not read and still is within reach of every enginemen and fireman, we fail to see any justification for its continued existence and the disunity it must perpetuate.   



THE Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen

Sir, In your issue of 16th ult. you gave a very good account of the above society. As I have had a little experience in the working of it. As I have a little experience in the working of it, and have been a member some little time, I can echo every sentiment of the report. A beautiful picture was shown in the shape of benefits to enginemen and firemen, more to the G.W.R., whom the promoter pronounced were lost for ever unless they joined the A.S.E.F. Will he come forces and inform the enginemen and firemen now that they could not do without such a society? If so, how? Why not come out and lend a helping hand in the none hours movement? They boast of capital and members, but I am afraid there is not much of either. I know it is not taking root on the G.W.R. unless among a few who never before had any thought of joining a society or assisting t get anything for their fellow men. They now join and turn on the old men, taking away from them the benefits which were held out. I should think this is a warning for all classes of railwaymen not to trust in any wild goose chase, but sink all little difference, work like men, and all join the A.S.R.S. 

Yours respectfully 
A. Victim 

Within a year, A.S.L.E.& F. had established a Central Executive –based for convenience on the Leeds branch – and had registered under the Trade Union Acts, its head office being the Commercial Inn, Sweet Street, Holbeck, Leeds. Leeds was chosen because of its size, the calibre of leading members and – crucially – its location on the lines of many of Britain’s major railway companies.

Its first general secretary Joseph Brooke.  By 1884, membership had exceeded 1,000 and in 
the course of the next two decades, the union’s membership grew from the hundreds into the 


3RD MARCH 1882 


(*Mr. Joseph (Josh) Brookes, first A.S.L.E.&F. General Secretary 1880 - 1885)

Every workman should be considerate. He should have a proper regard for the claim his employer has upon his time and service render obedience to those placed in authority over him, and protect of his employer from any threatened injury or loss. These and many other duties each workman who is animated by a proper self respect will ever be ready to discharge. But those to whom our heading refers, if they can be believed, are more than ordinary tender of their employers' interested, and, reversing the first law of nature, profess their readiness to regard the interests of their employers even when such interests are adverse to their own. This over considerate workman has specially come to light since the inauguration of the Nine hour movement. At one time he takes the shape of a signalman, who, in the employment of eight hours' labour per day, conceives it would be ruinous to his employers if all his fellow signalman now working twelve hours per day were placed on the same footing as himself. At another, the over considerate workman is a relief signalman in the enjoyment of away from home expenses. He too, dreads that his company may suffer by other signalman than himself being reasonably worked. Then we have a few enginemen, such as Mr. Josh Brooke, of Leeds, who, not content with trying to establish a society, one object of which is "to protect the representatives of their employers from the insults of the members of such society," is shocked at railwaymen daring to discuss their hours of labour before a public meeting. To do so is most undignified in Mr. Brooke's opinion, yet strangely he falls into the undignified course himself in letters to a provincial newspaper. We need hardly observe that Mr. Brooke, with many of his friend, receives 7s. 6d. per day, while he is rarely called on to work long hours. Again, the over considerate workman is a goods guard, who thinks nine hours a day an unreasonable demand to make on his employers; still he admits he would welcome the arrangement if it could be obtained. We meet him again in the person of the shunter at King's Cross, who despises the Short Hours Movement, and goes in for fourteen and fifteen hours per day, with overtime pay after the first nine hours. It will not be difficult for our readers to weigh the character of these and other over considerate workmen. The profession of concern for their employers' interests is disguise under which they seek to win undue favour, or to continue in the receipt of overtime wages, or to excuse themselves from contributing a day's pay to the Hours Movement. The over considerate workman is, after all, but an illustration of the narrowest human selfishness. He never can be reformer, but, on the contrary, impedes the onward efforts of his fellow workmen by spreading the seeds of disunion and mistrust. The Hours Movement is not to be deterred by this class of opponent. The earnestness and enthusiasm of the men animated by high principles, by love of home, and by an appreciation of the dignity of labour, as well as by a just regard for their employers' interests, will in the race overcome the obstruction now placed in their way by their less commendable fellow workmen. There is a Skelton in every house. The railway service has not one, but many Skeltons in the house. Exposure to the searching rays of moral light will best determine the true influence of their secrets and this the Hours Movement is rapidly succeeding in doing. The evils attending overwork and overtime pay and favouritism are beginning to be rightly estimated by the men themselves, and when fully understood, all the pleadings of the over considerate workman will serve chiefly to exhibit him in his true character to his fellows. The Hours Movement is in truth one for the benefit of an important section of workmen. Its success will increase health, prolong life, make homed happier, and enable thousands to live by labour, now denied the opportunity. The reports in our columns show that the movement is gaining strength, and that convictions are being formed which will resist the temptations or any arbitrary influence that may be brought to bear.  


A Mr. "Josh Brooke," hailing from Sweet Street, Holbeck, Leeds, has placed his name to a circular addressed to the Locomotive Enginemen, and Firemen of Great Britain, on behalf of the executive of a society with the funny tittle of  "The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen." Among other objects this society professes is that of "protecting the representative of their employers from the insults of any foolish or ignorant members." We assume, then that the "Associated" Society has amongst its members those who are foolish and ignorant, and given to insulting foremen, superintendent, and directors. This is much to be regretted, but there is some evidence of their folly and ignorance in the fact that they subscribe their own money,  that it should be used by Mr. Brooke and his executive in protecting the foremen and superintendents -- poor helpless men -- from the insults of the members of this society. We were always of opinion that trades unions were to protect workmen, and that companies and officers were able to protect themselves; but it would seem from Mr. Brooke's circular that such is not the case, and that he and others, with much disinterested feeling, have formed a society to protect the officers -- aye, even against those subscribing members of the society whom Mr. Brooke describes as "foolish and ignorant." How many Enginemen are there who are really so foolish and ignorant as to believe that it is the province of genuine enginemen's trades unions to protect their employers against enginemen, or who would entrust the cause of their labour to men who try to impose such trashy sentiments on their class? The arrogance of the language used is an insult to every locomotive man.

Mr. Brooke has a good word to say for himself, and is not apparently of the "foolish and ignorant" class. According to his own account, as given in the circular, he "is an engineman of long and practical experience, who knows full well the nature of your responsibility and anxious duties." He and his friends "do not wish to boast," and, what is more to the point, they "do not intend that their affairs shall be made public." Now, as to boasting. We find four lines lower down on the circular the following: "Hundreds of non members are reaping the rewards of our actions in reduction in their hours of labour." A more flagrant pretension -- good manners alone prevent us from describing it as a falsehood -- we never published by any men or man. Mr. Brooke's society has never attempted in Amy manner to benefit enginemen in the matter of hours or wages; it contains but a sorry handful of men, mostly deluded by early promises of high benefits now withdrawn. It could do nothing, if it desired to benefit enginemen, by reason of its weakness, while Mr. Brooke has taken pains in a Leeds paper to prove that his friends are opposed to others securing shorter hours of labour, and wish to protect the companies in their respect also. To run with the haw and hunt with the hounds is a difficult task, though one that is frequently attempted by men of a small capacity who are sufferers from too much love of approbation. The circular before us is a comical effort in this direction, but Mr. Brooke and his friends will in time, learn that sycophancy towards superiors is inconsistent with self respect, or with a stern and manly insistence on the right of labour. If they wish to hunt with the "gaffers," by all means let them do so; but son't let them pretend that at the same time they run in sympathy with the enginemen who have grievances in the matter of hours and wages. No practical headed engineman will be deceived by the ridiculous manifesto signed by Mr. Brooke: many will be disgusted, and with them the honest minded officials who have learned to distinguish genuine self respect from the spurious kind contained in Mr. Brooke's effusion.     


10TH MARCH 1882 




Sir, The North Eastern locomotive men have plenty of room for compliant in reference to the work the remuneration for it. With regard to Mr. Brookes's correspondence in the Leeds Mercury's great many I have spoken to are disgusted with the inconsistency of his remarks and the injury he tried to do the hours movement and the society, but I am confident he won't succeed in his endeavours. Mr. Brookes remarks that other companies' men are treated as fairly as the Midland company. If he included the North Eastern men have to work ten hours and ten for overtime, and the same for Sunday duty, and all pilot enginemen twelve and twelve; same for Sunday for 5s. Plenty of pilot drivers have been driving seven or eight years at 5s. 6d. for twelve hours, and all firemen start with 3s. The highest wage they get to is 4s., and have their own boilers to clean when they are on goods engines. A great many of them have been firing nine or ten years, and after they begin driving they leave ten hours a day firing to commence driving at the rate of twelve. A young driver is about 1s. better at the week's end than as if he were firing, and so what prospect is there for a North Eastern fireman or a cleaner to look forward to. It is very different on the Midland, where they work ten and eight, and eight for Sunday duty. In commencing driving they begin with 5s. 6d. for ten hours on my job, after they have been driving six months they get 6s. 6d., after twelve months 7s., and after four years 7s. 6. The midland firemen start at 3.s 6d. and get to 4s. 6d. the North Eastern Company are paying the 8 1/2 per cent., screwing it out of the men. I am very glad to see the north me are working in the hours movement in the manner they are; at the same time I am surprised that there are any who keep aloof. If we miss this opportunity we shall never have another chance as good as now. Let us have more unity amongst us, and then we need not have any fear in getting some grand concessions. I hope and trust that those who have not given their day's pay will do so, and then we shall be able to show some power.

Your obediently 


Sir, - Having seen a letter in you last week's Review about Mr. J. Brookes, driver of Leeds, stating his mind about the nine hours movement, I think that he is not far wrong in saying that it would serious to the company to grant nine hours a day to guards, signalmen, and others. There are scores of trains on the Midland, where a guard never touched a coupling from starting to finishing. What work is there in sitting on a brake from one end to the other? Referring to signalmen, there are hundreds who could do all they have to do in one hour a day. With reference to shunters, they, likewise, send for many hours waiting for trains. Porters on the platform do not work half their time. The whole of these men have got the nerve to ask for nine hours a day. Men who have nine hours a day serve their time to the trade six or seven for a low wage, and are not men who follow the plough tail. You publish letters far from correct. For instance, a London man on the Midland states that he was suspended fourteen days for running by a station with a heavy special passengers train. He neglected to say that he ran by all the signals which were at danger. He made an excuse that the engine would not steam and could not make any vacuum. If he had not sufficient brake power, he should have gone steady, and have allowed for the brake being weak. Another letter I complain of is about a Skipton man working for twenty four hours at a stretch. If that man liked he could lodge at Carlisle and avoid long hours. He had to work that train to Carlisle only by chance. Since that letter was put in, the Skipton foreman has arranged for the men not in make one hour overtime if he can. In another letter a signalman said that engine drivers had no extra res from what they had years ago. The signalman id ignorant of engine driving, I am glad to sat that the Midland enginemen and firemen take no interest in the nine hours movement. There might he a few who do not know when they have a right thing. When Midland enginemen and firemen have anything to complain of, they will hold meetings among themselves, and appoint delegates to go to Derby as before. I do not think for a moment that you will publish this letter, for I have heard it said that you only publish letters that are in favour of the nine hours.


[We give publicity to Mr. Rutherford's illiberal effusion to show our readers off what stuff some men; unfortunately in the service, are made of. We do not, however, accept Mr. Rutherford as a type of Midland enginemen, many of whom on reading his letter will feel ashamed that they have such an associate. He has not one good word to say of the many upright men in  other grades to that which his sentiments would discredit. If the company measured the value of his labour and attention to duty by the standard he applies to others, but little pay and long hours would be his lot. Suppose that the superintendent or a guard decried an engine men's work thus:- "Oh, je only stands up; now and then he moves the regulator or reversing lever, looks through a spectacle glass, and pours out a little oil from a can. Often his engine stands for hours a day when you can see him gaping over the weather board." Would it be fair or true? We say it would be untrue. Yet it would be however, quite as fair and as is Mr. Rutherford's estimate of the work performed by guards, signalmen, porters, and shunter, and would be as good an argument against him having the ten and eight hours system, as the argument (?) he urges against other grades, with his own, seeking for the limit of nine hours a day. Mr. Rutherford has rendered the nine hours movement a service by disclosing the narrow and selfish nature of those men in the service who would appose its progress -- if they could. Mr. Brooke is welcome to the companionship of our correspondent, and support as he can give to any cause.  Ed. R.R.]


Sir, some two or three years ago I read an account of Weston's lecture on walking. Amongst other things he recommended Tidman's sea salt, and in the closing remarks said, "What an advertisement for Tidman!"  We may almost say the same for Mr. Brookes's letters to the Leeds Mercury re the Leeds meeting. "What an advertisement for the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants!" The Leeds Mercury was eagerly sought after by the railway servants of Leeds the week that Mr. Brookes's letters and the replies to them appeared. I think Mr. Brookes's letters will not do his own society any good, and most certainly they will not do the Amalgamated Society any harm -- rather the contrary, I think I shall be justified, at our next branch meeting, in moving a vote of thanks to Mr. Brookes for bringing the Amalgamated Society claims so prominently before the railway servants of Leeds.

Yours faithfully 


10TH MARCH 1882


The difficulties of maintaining or continuing a locomotive men's exclusive trade union, even when successfully floated, have never yet been overcome. It would seem as though circumstances constantly operate in proving to enginemen and firemen that as they do not stand alone, are not isolated in their work, so they cannot stand alone in a labour protection society, which excludes from membership those men in our grades who are closely mixed up with them in their daily duty. When believe that at one time of its existence the old "Enginemen and Firemen's Friendly Society" was a trade union, and after the Eastern Counties Railway strike it so amended its rules as to alter the union into a passive friendly society. Several attempts to form enginemen's unions were made up to 1866 without success. In that year the "Engine Drivers and Firemen's United Society" was established, but it utterly collapsed in the succeeding year on the occasion of the North Eastern driver's strike. In 1879 an attempt was to establish the "National Union of Enginemen and Firemen," rules were drawn up, officers appointed, and many branches opened throughout England and Wales. The "National Union" is, however, now dead. another effort began at the same time, under the queer tittle of the "Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers, &c. "from the insults" of the "foolish" drivers and firemen who became members of this "Associated Society." We anticipate that this society will soon end in a collapse and division of funds. A far greater failure than any is, however, that of the American "Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers." A few years since and this trade union was dreaded by all American railroad companies. It is now harmless life insurance society, taking no part in questions of hours and wages, but is, on the contrary, patronised by the companies. for a mess of pottage they have parted with a trade union's birthright -- independence. All these failures of trade unions, projected for exclusive use of enginemen and firemen, are in strange contrast to the continuance in unity of thousands of enginemen and firemen in the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, which admits regularly appointed men in every grade to the privileged of membership. The Amalgamated Society counts a greater number of enginemen and firemen among its members than of any other single class, and a greater number too, than has ever belonged to any exclusive enginemen's trade union in this country. The fact is that the majority of enginemen who favour unity, see in a combination of all grades of railway servants the greatest possible protection and unity, a ready means of fostering goodwill between men in different classes, and a check on the precipitate or ill considered inclination of any one class to enter on strikes or disputes. guided by the experience of history we can but conclude that the foundation on which Amalgamated Society is built up is the only enduring one, and the most congenial and suitable to the inclinations and interests of enginemen and firemen.  


17TH MARCH 1882 



Sir, I was very glad to see the remarks of Mr. Brooke, of Leeds, and the letter of G. Rutherford. Publicity in any cause tends to help it onward, especially in a cause, such as the hours movement. We should endorse the action of our Leeds friends, and given both these men a vote of thanks. I have the privilege of coming against some of their fellow workmen, and can form an idea of the esteem in which they are held. Following our friend Brooke out of the Leeds station with his "Pullman Pup," as his train is called by those foolish and ignorant members of which he speaks, one of them asking me if I had seen his letter, was careful to express a wish which I would not like to be fulfilled. It shows the amount of sympathy there is for him amongst his mates. Mr. Rutherford does not say what work there is for an engine driver to do, when a guard is sitting from one end to the other. but what of the fireman? Though we have none at Darlington who have written to the Railway Review so plainly as our friend at Leeds, yes I think that wr have some who will not do their share of the work before us. But accepting the nine hours programme, let us stand by it, and plainly say "No" to all ten hour petitions.

Yours truly



Efforts continue to be made by a small sectional society, called the Associated Society of Engineers and Firemen, to dispute the enginemen of the country, and to set enginemen against enginemen as well enginemen against all other grades. Having secured to himself a handsome sum of the society's funds in the event of dismissal, some £300 we are informed, the secretary has left the cosy public house he resides in when, at Leeds for a tour to various parts of the country, including Weymouth and Exeter, in the hope of increasing the number of associated engineers, and thereby injuring the Amalgamated society and Old Enginemen and Firemen's Society, and further promoting that discord, disunion, and strife among enginemen which is already too prevalent for their interests. At Exeter some enginemen who once found fivepence per week too much to pay for unity have promised to join this effort at discord at the price of one shilling per week. Time will best prove their promisees, as it will the wisdom of the conduct of these who exacted them. There are Old loves which some should be off with before they are on with the New. Let enginemen be reminded that they owe much to the old Amalgamated Society, that it has never finished from fighting their battles socially, legally, and politically, and that it has won many victories for them. This Associated Society has now existed two years, and has not done one single act in its corporate capacity for enginemen as a body, or indeed for any one else. It collects money and distributes some of it, and so also does every tontine and petty club in any yard or shop, but this is all it does do. We again assert that it has not done one single act worthy to be recorded, while it has toadied to officials -- some of its members have resorted to promote it -- and it has occasioned quarrels among railwaymen. Those who favour men being kept under will, of course, approve this effort at disunion, but as it provides no benefit which was not already offered to every engineman by the Enginemen and Firemen's United Friendly Society and Amalgamated Society, nor proposes to do anything which is not already done by these two societies, we see no reason why enginemen should encourage the Associated Society of Engineers and Firemen for the purpose of weakening two societies which have long and faithfully served them.  



A.S.L.E. & F. branches were soon appearing on the London and Brighton Railway the first branch being formed was  

Battersea, Nine Elms and Longhedge in 1887
Brighton on the 25th August 1891
New Cross in January 1892
Portsmouth in 1895
(Incorporating L.B.&S.C.R. & L.&S.W.R. members)
Horsham on the 24th April 1898
(Incorporating Midhurst, Littlehampton & Bognor)
Eastbourne on the 25th February 1906
St. Leonards on the 25th February 1906
(L.B.&S.C.R. members)
Tunbridge Wells on the 25th February 1906
(Incorperating Three Bridges)
West Croydon in January 1908
Purley & Stoat’s Nest on the 21st March 1909
(Incorperating S.E.R. & L.B.&S.C.R. members (Couldson)
Peckham Rye on the 12th January 1912
Newhaven on the 16th July 1912
Three Bridges in 1913
Littlehampton in 1917
Selhurst in 1920
Epsom in 1920
Bognor Regis in 1925
London Bridge in c1928?
Brighton No. 2 in May 1934
(Incorporating West Worthing motormen)
Seaford on the 18th august 1935
Ore on the 1st December 1935
Norwood in 1936
Brighton 1988
Brighton No.1 in May 1934
Barnham in May 1995

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