A.S.L.E.& F. tabled motion for the T.U.C. advocating nationalisation 

of railways.

A.S.L.E.& F. application for an eight hour day declined by the 

Railway Executive Committee.

Undertaking given by the Government to consider the concession of 

this claim immediately following termination of hostilities.

Establishment of the Ministry of Labour


From Monday 1st January, 1917, Pullman service were greatly curtailed, and the “Southern 
Belle” was withdrawn. This was in accordance with the general austerity of the latter part of 
the first world war. 





A few important matters were dealt with, such as dangerous position of oil stores owing to the layout of a new shunting yard, which has brought a number of sidings between shed and stores in which shunting goes on, and there is no pathway made and no light in these days of restricted lighting. Some other arrangement ought to be made, or one of these days the ambulance brigade will be required. The case of firemen reduced to cleaners was brought forward, and the hardship this entailed on the men and their families, owing to wages being reduced, but food prices still soar higher.’

On 12th February, 1917, the Locomotive men fielded a major deputation and met with 
Lawson Billinton. attending were E.S. Moore of the Running Department and engine 
drivers from Battersea, Brighton, Fratton, Horsham, New Cross, St. Leonards and 
Tunbridge Wells and fireman from West Croydon. 

At the outset Billinton suggested that instead of the deputation being called 'A Grievance 
Committee', some more suitable name such as ‘Improvement Committee' should be found. 

The range of subject included: 

Shedman Kitchin should be given a minimum driver's rate.

Billinton replied that the man was hardly a driver, and it was established that he did not take 
his engine more than 200 yards on running lines. he had no objection to Kitchin’s 
advancement when possible and when a suitable vacancy occurred.

Distribution of the 4s.9d and 8s. pay rates.

Billinton reminded them of the precedence of men over the local lines and of seniority. The 
question of Tunbridge Wells and Three Bridges being classed as  main line could not be 
definite. The whole point rested with the class of worked carried out.

Seniority arrangements.

The delegation's proposal, Billinton explained, would mean putting up 63 men and putting 
down 139, and therefore detrimental to the majority. The men raised problems of seniority 
relating to Battersea men transferred to West Croydon, and pointed that the defence of the 
realm list, hung up in the shed caused dissatisfaction in the matter.

Punishment of men exceeding speed limits.

Billinton gave particular instances where men had been suspended, pointing out previous 
cases against them. In the case of speed limits interfering with the timekeeping of trains to the extent of making the time shown in the time book impossible, the lost time must be explained. 

Billinton took the opportunity to elucidate the new method of taking speed by electrical 


The men proposed that a driver or fireman should be related after working two years or 616 
days in the higher grade. 

Billinton stated that this was a question largely affected by 'Universal Seniority', but best left 
till after the war. The men's point was the difficulty of getting into the second class of the 
Pension fund when only approved men, and the delay made back payments heavier.

Shed Day.

The men suggested a reduction of miles to 700 for a shed day of 10 hours. War reductions 
were causing a loss shed days, and a large number of excess miles worked in summer might 
be carried forward to the winter, It was stated that local men at Brighton got 3/4 day's pay 
for a shed day by working a trip before washing out. Billinton promised to look into these 

Withdrawal of Fogmen.

Billinton had discuss this with Mr. Scott, notwithstanding shortage of labour, but exceptional cases could be brought to the Foreman's notice for consideration.

Guard Signals.

They suggested that the Under Guard should give the white light to the Head Guard when 
starting trains. Billinton approved this.

Lodging Allowance.

The men thought the present allowance should be increased owing to War conditions. 
Billinton promised to look into the matter; the difficulty was, however, that this matter was 
embodied in the terms of service.

Request that the walls of the ash pit at Brighton should be repaired.

Billinton assured that this would be done when the labour was available, and explained that 
it was proposed to release the Forces such men as firelighters, washer-out, etc., whose place 
would be place taken for the time being by firemen not required for traffic.

Request for the opening of the old engine shed pits at Eastbourne.

Billinton could not see the necessity for this view of the small number of engines running into Eastbourne.

Revisions of timings requested.

Billinton said this under consideration but explained 'engines should not be thrashed'. In 
connection it was mentioned that the awning at Battersea station, West London line, was 
dangerous for men working with the Moguls.

Shortage of overcoats.

Fireman Ede (Midhurst) and Pumping Enginemen Cornwell (Steyning) were instanced. 

Billinton said enquiries would be made at shed at whether they had a spare overcoat.

Other matters:
Disc for crossover roads at West Croydon.

Two place at Victoria where handsignal were necessary.

Question of dangerous position of regulator lubricators on dome.

Billinton pointed out that it was more dangerous to attend to these lubricators than for a 
cleaner to clean out the boiler.

A case of tight workings on the 9.25 am to Victoria, arriving Battersea shed about 4.30 
pm, and leaving at 4.53 pm.

Moore was asked to look into it.

More leniency requested for the men at Fratton not using a time recorder
Over to Moore again.

War bonus payments for men off ill or attending deputations.

South Eastern men were paid if a medical certificate was produced. It was asked what the 
South Western men were doing in this respect.

Coal for railwaymen.

Billinton promised to enquire regarding coal from the Railway Company for private use.

Complaints by Brighton men of painters taking up a large part of the shed.

Billinton said the painters would be transferred.

Suggestion of trailer coaches being fitted so that the engine could be attached at either 
end, to save running bunker first.

Exhaust injectors of No.37 not having a stop plug for use in case of obstruction of top 
clack. To be investigated.

Derailments on Lewes turntable.

Space between the down local and turntable road at Montpelier Junction blocked with permanent way material

Billinton promised to raise this with the Engineer.

Billinton promised locking levers would be separated, but after that enginemen would be held responsible for any further derailments.

Lawson Billinton: A Career Cut Short

 By Klaus Marx


L.B.S.C.R. Ambulance train 

During the war there was a never-ending stream of traffic between England and France for over five years, and it loaded the railways excessively. Drivers and firemen willingly gave themselves to the supreme task, and hundreds of cases were recorded of men working twenty, thirty, forty, and even up to seventy hours continuously, whilst bombs dropped by aeroplanes and airships of the enemy in dangerously close proximity.

Some figures of the first year of war up to August, 1915, 100,000 officers, 2,586.000 other ranks, and 542,000 horses, were moved from point to point. The supplies sent to France included 288,000 tons of food ; 533,000 tons of forage, 59,000 tons of fuel, 29,000 tons of medical stores, seventeen million gallons of petrol, and nearly five million gallons of oil, in addition to 491,000 mail bags, 184,000 tons of engineering stores, and131,000 tons of ordnance. Rolling stock was shipped in great quantities, and many complete branch lines were taken up entire and relaid in France.

Every company had its specially built ambulance trains, splendidly fitted as complete hospitals of eight wards, including isolation wards, to carry the wounded from Dover, Southampton, and Newhaven to the great military hospitals in all parts of the country.

Heavy trains of munitions and heavy trains of wounded passed each other on the line, these hospital trains being distinguished by the large red crosses on every coach. Every station had its first-aid department and its free buffet for soldiers and sailors. Everywhere the railways reflected war conditions.

 H. Hills Collection

One of seven hundred locomotives being shipped of to France at Newhaven

Altogether, British Railways sent no fewer than 700 locomotives to France, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Salonika, and other parts of the front from a total stock of 22,000 engines and more than 30,000 railway-owned wagons and a large number of private wagons were sent to various theatres of war.

After the war they railway companies had difficulty in repairing their locomotives and wagons at home owing to lack of labour and materials.


31st March 1917

Battersea No.1 engine driver T Wright old age 31st March 1917, aged 60. Joined the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, on the 12th November 1897




Lance - Corporal A. E. Francis, of this Branch, is in Hospital, and badly wounded. He was attached to the 1/4th  R. Sussex Regt., and was serving in Palestine. He was in camp when the war broke out, and he has been serving ever since. he went through the Dardanelles Campiagn, and was then transferred to Egypt and Palestine. The first intimation his parents recieved from the War office was of his death, but this proved to be an error, and later an offical notification was received regretting that an error had been made, and that Francis was wounded.





On Saturday, February 17th, a Smoking Concert was held here, at the Rose and Crown Hotel, to give a send - off to our members, Brothers C. Broomfield, P. Fennell, G. Taylor, A. Waller, and some others, who have joined the R.O.D., and would be shortly leaving for abroad. Mr. F. E. Grimes, Loco. Superintendent, presided, and there was about 100 persons present. At the conclusion of the first part of the musical programme the Chairman spoke of the comrades who were leaving to take up an essential part in the great war, and mentioning them by name, proposed their health and wished them good luck and a safe and speedy return. The toast was drunk with musical honours. Brother C. Broomfield made a brief reply, and thanked those present for their expression of such kind feelings. Messrs. H. Payne, T. Taylor, Gladman, Sellwood, Chatfield, Sergeant Gray, Corporal Hicks, and Private Thomas contributed to the programme, while Mr. G. Anslow rendered some verses suitable for the occasion. Miss Wildebank kindly acted as accompanist.


In April of 1917,  the question of enlistment of railwaymen, and the scheme of substitution put forward by the Army Council and agreed to by the Railway Executive, who explained that the Army Council had demanded the release of 20 per cent, of the men under 41 years of age employed by the Railway Companies. After negotiation, this demand had been reduced to ten per cent, of the men under 31, irrespective of whether married or single, and that category men should be released before category men, and in order to fall in with the demands of the Army Council, the companies proposed to cancel the previous scheme of release and to substitute the following :-

1. —The youngest unmarried men, under the age of 31, and fit for foreign service, to go first.

2. —If there are no single men under the age of 31 available, the married men under the s^e of 31, with the fewest children under 14, to be selected.

3.—After all single and married men under 31 have been exhausted, the youngest single men between the ages of 31 and 41, and fit for foreign service, should be released, and afterwards the married men between the ages of 31 and 41 with the fewest children.

To facilitate the release of Class men, those of military Classes and C," or other employees unfitted for military service, may be transferred from one station to another, to act as substitutes for Class men.

This would have enabled the companies to release many Class men from the engines, and to substitute for them Classes"B"and"C”men from any other grade. The Executive there- fore objected, and immediately got into touch with the Railway Executive. On May 4th of 1917 the Railway Executive Committee replied that :—

You may rest assured that no men who are not employed in the Locomotive Department will be put on as enginemen or firemen on railway engines, and the contention that any such departure in locomotive work would be taken as a direct violation of the railway truce is not therefore understood.

This was a very important assurance from the Railway Elxecutive, for it affected not only the going but the returning of footplatemen, end it furnished a striking little example of the importance of direct and exclusive representation of locomotive workers.'

Extracted nd adapted from

Newhaven Special Branch Meeting

 Sunday July 29th 1917

The meeting was called at the instructions of Head Office to discuss the National Programme and correspondence arising out of the same.
The Chairman being absent, it was proposed by Bro. Harris & seconded by Bro. Goldsmith. That Bro. A. Leonard take the Chair. Carried Unan.
Bro. Leonard in opening the meeting gave a very good report of the open meeting held at Brighton on the 22nd and enlightened the membership very much, the National Programme was fully discussed and correspondence arising out of the same from our E.C., and it was decided that the following resolution be sent to our E.C.,also to our Delegate (Bro. Niner St Leonards)
Proposed  by Bro. A. Leonard & Seconded by Bro. W. Smith. 

"That we, the members of Newhaven Branch appreciate the endeavours of our E.C. In trying to improve the conditions of service of loco-men, and we hereby pledge our support in action it may be necessary to take in order to bring about the designed result, especially in regards to the eight hour question.

 Carried Unam.

Extracted and adapted from

Newhaven Branch Meeting

Sunday Nov. 4th 1917

Correspondence be dealt with considerably discussion took place re delegations interview with Mr. Jackson Acting Loco Superintendent and the offer he had made re holidays and the ratings, of Firemen and Drivers was suggested that cleaners should have 3 days and after being passed as firemen 12 months to be entitled to 6 days. A number of cleaners were expected at the meeting but for some they did not put in appearance..




Some time as elapsed since a report from this branch appeared in the Journal, that progress is satisfactory. the first meeting in our new Branch room at the Queen's Head Hotel, was held at 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 29th, was proved to be a success as regards ambiance and the amount of business we got through, and a great improvement on the old Branch Room. We had the pleasure of having Bro. J. Enves, Secretary of the Brighton Branch and Corresponding Secretary of the Delegation Board, with us, whose presence was greatly appreciated. Five new members were admitted, this making a total of 15 new members in the last three meetings, which leaves very little room for propaganda work, owing to the non-members being almost non-existent, there being now almost 90 per cent, enrolled in their own Society, the A.S.L.E. & F. We had before us applications for benefits under  rule 23, clause 4, from two of our members who have been reduced through accident, which have now been successfully dealt with, showing the need for all workers to safeguard their own interests. I am pleased to say that some of our young members were present, and brought forward an item concerning themselves which is now receiving attention, and I trust that all will continue to attend to look after their own interests, as it lays in their power to it. A hearty vote of thanks to Bro. J. Enves (who had to leave before the close of the meeting, owing to train service) was unanimously carried. Other business was then gone through, until the call of time, which necessitated us passing a hearty thanks to our enthusiastic Chairman for presiding at a very successful meeting.






On Sunday, September 9th, an Open Meeting with a record attendance was held in our Branch room to hear Mr. Warwick. Brother W. Hoath made an excellent chairman. After passing a a vote of thanks to our Tonbridge members for coming over, and also to Mr. Warwick for his able address, a very enjoyable evening closed.



During the years 1917 and 1918 there was a very marked increase in the number of women and girls employed as engine cleaners. Being only a temporary feature of railway life, they were never admitted to the Society, but thousands of women were daily engaged in cleaning engines and moving about the sheds clad in various styles of overalls.


November 1917

Brighton Mo.1 engine driver A. Murton eye sight November 1917, aged 59. Joined the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, on the 12th August 1889


23rd December 1917

Tunbridge Wells engine driver T Terry old age 23rd December 1917, aged 64. Joined the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, on the 8th October 1888

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