Sir Richard Moon
Marshall: born in Liverpool on 23 February 1815 and died in Coventry on 17 November 1899. Peter Braine has written The railway Moon (PMB 2010) which is an excellent in-depth biographical study which traces his long association with the Board of the London & North Western Railway and his effect upon the careers of locomotive engineers like McConnell and Trevithick, but adds little to the lives and careers of Ramsbottom and Webb. Rutherford stated that Moon "would spend no money to improve the company's services or safety until forced to". Reed is a major source of infomation and includes an excellent portrait (page 156).
Malcolm Reed (Oxford Companion p. 330) notes that Moon was appointed to LNWR when it was at its nadir point and that by careful financial management and progressive restructuring he restored the company to health. Michael Reed provides an Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry.
His endeavour to centralize led to the premature retirement of the brilliant engineer McConnell and his replacement by the equally innovative Ramsbottom.
Though not an engineer, Moon had a great and long-term
influence on the town [Crewe] and works. In early life he wished to go into
the church, but his father would have none of it, and he entered the family
commercial business in Liverpool. He was elected to the LNWR board in 1851
and within a year he had become most active in the company's affairs. According
to one who worked with him for years "he looked at the whole business as
an industrious and vigilant merchant caring for his own property". Through
his efforts gradually the board acquired more control over the various
departments and brought them into proper relation by regular supervision
through active committees, though only after Moon became chairman in 1861
could full effect be given to his principles, for he had opposition from
both directors and officials. For the 30 years from 1861 all his activities
were directed to the LNWR.
He was the man who backed Ramsbottom, pushed him, and was perhaps partly responsible for his breakdown in 1870-71. In his prime through the 1850s and 1860s Moon had little use for the veterans who entered railway service in the 1830s; Norris and Bell as well as Trevithick incurred his displeasure. He pushed and supported Webb, but Webb did not breakdown until long after Moon's day. The two men shared a common zeal for ordered management and economy, also an austerely religious outlook coloured by their love of organisation. Moon sponsored Ramsbottom's and Webb's big increases in salary for, uncommon among railway directors of his day, he was always willing to pay big money to get men of real ability. Moreover, he sanctioned regular increases for lesser fry if their chiefs put up proposals. He always ensured that adequate and timely finance was available for the big expansions at the Steelworks, and he was always willing to consider the manufacture of extraneous articles.
All his photographs show a grave and unemotional man, but he had a happy family life. David Stevenson recording that he was "a man of grave aspect with a pleasant smile, enhanced by its rarity; always approachable by those of his officers in whom he believed." In 1840 he married Eleanor Brocklebank, of Cumberland, and had six children. He was created a baronet in the 1887 Jubilee honours, but the baronetcy is now extinct. Like Ramsbottom he endowed a scholarship for LNWR men at Owens College. Soon after Lady Moon's death at the beginning of 1891 he gave up the LNWR chairmanship and did not remain a director. He died on 17 November 1899 and was buried at Bingley, near Coventry.
Continuous brakes: As a result made by the GER for through carriages to Birmingham: Moon presided over a. small gathering consisting of Sir Daniel Gooch (Great Western), Lord Colville (G.N.R.) and the Chairmen of the Caledonian, L.S.W.R., L.Y.R. and Midland Railways. Moon opened by referring to the Great Eastern's request [for through carriages to Birmingham], 'which has led me to consider the brake question seriously'. He thought 'the time would soon come when the Board of Trade would go to Parliament to compel the adoption of an automatic brake'. Webb claimed that most Locomotive Engineers were in favour of the vacuum brake pure and simple, but all the Chairmen at the meeting were of the opinion that it would be impossible to prevent the principle being made automatic. We finally decided that the Locomotive Engineers of the several Companies should meet to discuss the feasibility of adopting a universal continuous brake. Brown Great Northern locomotive engineers V. 1.
Braine in his final assessment, following a detailed examination of his contribution to the management and financial success of the L&NWR, notes that "Most modern commentators have provided an unsympathetic picture of Moon. In this he was probably his own worst enemy. His reserve could be interpreted as aloofness, his analytical approach as coldness, his focus on the most minute of costs as penny pinching, and his exacting standards as intolerance."