Ministers of Transport, Prime Ministers, Trade Union leaders and major landowners sometimes have had a major effect on railway development. This page mainly reflects their malign interference (Dalhousie and Huskisson are honourable exceptions) and will be be mainly activated by publications in journals like Backtrack rather than by biographies official or otherwise.
Barnes, Alfred John
Born on 17 July 1887 in Plaistow, London, the youngest of seven children of William Barnes, a docker and coffee-house keeper, and his wife, Lucinda Margaret Smith. At the age of eight he lost a leg in a fairground accident. He was educated at the Star Road Boys' School, at the Northampton Institute from 1905, and at the London County Council School of Arts and Crafts. After serving his apprenticeship he became a skilled designer and worker in precious metals. He established his own silversmith's business, which he relinquished in 1922 on his election to parliament.
From an early age he sought to improve the living conditions of the people of east London through co-operation and political action. In 1908 he joined the Stratford Co-operative Society and the Independent Labour Party (ILP). Barnes was an industrious and reliable person who gained widespread respect for his integrity which ensured his quick promotion; by 1910 he was secretary of the East London Federation of the ILP. He was elected to the management committee of the Stratford Co-operative Society in 1914 and became its president in 1915. In 1920 he played a major part in the founding of the London Co-operative Society, and served as its first president from 1920 to 1923. On 5 March 1921 Barnes married Leila Phoebe Real (b. 1900/01): there were three daughters of the marriage.
World War I gave Barnes the opportunity to achieve one of his aimsthe establishment of a Co-operative [political] Party with representatives at Westminster and on local councils. By 1917 co-operators were in revolt from one end of the country to another (A.J. Barnes, The Political Aspects of Co-Operation, 1922, 14) because of the unfair treatment received from the coalition government regarding taxation (of dividends); allocation of supplies; representation on wartime fuel and food committees; and unjust decisions from military tribunals which exempted many owners and managers of small businesses from military service but denied similar concessions to managers of co-operatives. At the 1918 general election the party fielded ten candidates, but only one was elected. He was elected to the Co-operative Party's national committee in 1920, and was its chairman from 1924 to 1945.
At the general election of November 1922 Barnes was elected as MP for East Ham South, one of four Co-operative Labour candidates to be returned to parliament. On the opposition benches at Westminster they were swamped by 138 MPs who were elected on the straight Labour Party ticket. Barnes, the realist, recognized that the situation had changed. Barnes won increasing recognition from his colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party because of his pleasant manner and transparent sincerity. Between his election to the Commons in 1922 and the loss of his seat at East Ham South in the general election of 27 October 1931, he was appointed parliamentary private secretary to William Graham at the exchequer (19224), Labour whip (192530), and junior lord of the Treasury from 11 June 1929 to 23 October 1930. In the general election of November 1935 Barnes regained his old seat and retained it until his voluntary retirement in 1955. Although he followed the Labour Party line in domestic politics, in the late 1930s co-operative society and party members, led by Barnes and Sydney Elliott, editor of the Co-operative Press Sunday newspaper, Reynolds News, took an independent position. They favoured the creation of an anti-aggression peace pact of all peace-loving members of the League of Nations to resist fascist states that violated the sovereignty of other countries. Barnes held no ministerial office during the Second World War, but remained active in the co-operative movement.
Barnes piloted the Transport Bill through parliament, one of the major nationalization projects of the Attlee Labour government. He was appointed minister of war transport on 3 August 1945 and, when the department changed its name, minister of transport in 1946. The aim of the Transport Act, 1947, was to bring inland transport under comprehensive control through the British Transport Commission. This had supervision of the six executives for the six different forms of publicly owned transport, of which the Railway Executive was the most important. Barnes had little difficulty in gaining approval for the nationalization of the railways, as both Lloyd George and Churchill had advocated it as early as 1918. He had less success with his plans for the control of road freight haulage through the Road Haulage Executive.
For the management of the new undertakings established under the Transport Act, 1947, parliament adopted the policies of Herbert Morrison, lord president of the council. These took the form of the corporatism exemplified by Morrison's London Passenger Transport Act, 1933, rather than of the mutualism (workers' and transport users' participation) advocated by the Co-operative Party. In his Socialisation and Transport (1933) Morrison had urged that members of publicly owned boards should be appointed by the minister responsible primarily on suitable grounds of competence as by these means Parliamentary action against a Board would be reduced to the minimumwhich is much to be desired.
After his Transport Bill had passed through all its stages Barnes supported cautious consolidation of the public ownership measures so far achieved. He was one of the members of the cabinet who, on 7 August 1947, favoured the postponement of the introduction of the Steel Bill to the session 19489. He knew that the workforce in the steel industry was less committed to public ownership than were those employed in the coalmines or on the railways. On the other hand Barnes's more left-wing colleagues believed that he who controlled the citadel of steel would control shipbuilding, the motor industryin effect British industry as a whole. In the event, to placate the left the Iron and Steel Bill, which became law at the end of 1949, was a compromise measure which Barnes loyally supported.
In the general election of 25 October 1951 Barnes retained his seat, but nationally the Conservatives secured a narrow majority and returned to power. The Churchill government rushed through the Transport Act, 1953, which provided for the return to private ownership of the road transport assets of the road haulage executive. The former minister of transport, who held that office for a longer period of time than any of his predecessors, was powerless to prevent the undermining of an important part of his main legislative achievement. He decided to retire from parliament at the end of the 19545 session. He died at Walton on the Naze, on 26 November 1974. ODNB entry by Philip S. Bagwell
Arthur Pearson's Man of the rail (p. 114) states that Alfred Barnes never stood out in my [his] mind as a really able Minister of Transport, but for that matter neither did Lennox-Boyd, Boyd-Carpenter or Watkinson, who in turn succeeded him, although one admired the urbanity of Lennox-Boyd and the latent efficiency of Watkinson. When one got to know Alfred Barnes one found he was a simple man. He was interested in slides of scenes in London, and he came to the theatre we had at Euston to see our material. This was typical of his tastes. One thing about him I shall always remember: during his period of office as Minister of Transport he rarely interfered with the day-to-day work of the Commission or the Railway Executive. This Ministerial restraint ended when he gave up the post.
Bonavia The birth of British Rail was highly critical of Barnes: "an uninspiring character", but one who was not easily shaken and could be shrewd and quite tough. Bonavia considered that Barnes choice of his choice of people to run the British Transport Commission was poor.
Campbell, Sir Hugh Hume
Born in Edinburgh in 1812; succeeded his father in Baronetcy in 1833. Educated at Trinity College in Cambridge. Member of Parliament for Berwickshire 1834-47. Died in London on 30 January 1894. Assisted construction of Berwickshire Railway by donating land. Buried Polwarth Castle. Nisbet, Alistair F. The Berwickshire Railway. Backtrack, 2011, 25,. 664-70.
Anthony Howard has written a ludicrously unobjective biography of Barbara Castle in the ODNB which utterly fails to appreciate her contributions, good or bad,to transport, but does within its stilted style proffer the basic background of her life. She was born Barbara Anne Betts in Chesterfield on 6 October 1910 the youngest of three children of Frank Betts (18821945), tax inspector, and his wife, Annie Rebecca, née Farrand (18831990). She was educated at Bradford Girls Grammar School and St. Hugh's College, Oxford where she studied PPE and became involved in politics. In 1944 she married Ted Castle and in 1945 she won the Blackburn seat in the Labour landslide election. Ted Castleennobled by Harold Wilson in 1974, as Baron Castle of Islingtondied at their home on Boxing day 1979: Barbara refused to use the title Lady Barbara. In 1990 she was made a life peer: Baroness Castle of Blackburn. She died at 3 May 2002 at her home, Hell Corner Farm, Grays Lane, Ibstone, Buckinghamshire.
She was a fiery politician, but it is too easy to forget the damage to the railway network which was inflicted during her period as Minister of Transport (KPJ). But for her Hawick might still have a railway station with links to both Edinburgh and Carlisle.
Geoffrey Skelsey's "Not King Canute...": Barbara Castle and the railways, 1965-8. Backtrack, 2020, 24, 268-75 is an excellent appreciation of Barbara Castle's achievements as Minister of Transport in the Harold Wilson Government which states that Castle's lasting achievements were:
Her treatment of the City of Ripon is another major political blemish: Backtrack. 2017, 31, 164.
Copeland, William Taylor
Born in London on 24 March 1797; died at Russell Farm, Watford on 12 April 1868. Pottery manufacturer with Josiah Spode. Director of London & Birmingham Railway and instigator of Trent Valley Railway. Politician: MP for Coleraine and later for Stoke-on-Trent. Invested in Fenton Park Colliery. ODNB entry by R.E. Graves and Helen L. Phillips. Mathams and Barrett. Backtrack, 2014, 28, 4
Dalhousie, Marquess of (Ramsay, James Andrew
Born at Dalhousie Castle, Bonnyrigg, Midlothian, on 22 April 1812. Accompanied parents to Canada in 1816 but returned home in 1822, entering Harrow School in 1825. In 1829 he went up to Christ Church, Oxford. In 1837 he was elected MP for East Lothian, but his father's death led him to the Lords as the tenth earl of Dalhousie where he came to the notice of the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel, who in 1841 became Conservative prime minister. Dalhousie declined an appointment to the queen's household, but in 1843 his chance came with the offer of the post of vice-president of the Board of Trade when Gladstone became president.
His appointment coincided with the railway mania which confronted the Board with a huge workload. Gladstone gave Dalhousie a free hand, allowing him an insight into railway business of great value later when he dealt with schemes in India. In 1845 he succeeded Gladstone as president, and eventually joined the cabinet. If Dalhousie had had his way, he would have subjected the construction and management of railway schemes to the co-ordinating control of government. He failed, however, to win Peel's support and devised instead a mechanism for the close scrutiny of each new scheme before sanction was given. Ellis British railway history notes that Gladstone's Advisory Board (which only had a brief existence) consisted of Lord Dalhousie (Chairman), General Pasley, D.O'Brien, G.R. Porter and Samuel Laing (last two acting as secretaries). The railway companies termed them the 'Five Kings'.
In the following year Dalhousie accepted Russell's offer of the governor-generalship of India in succession to Viscount Hardinge, on the understanding that it would not compromise his political loyalties. A factor in his decision was the insecure financial position he inherited (a debt by now of £48,000): the governor-general commanded a substantial salary. He sailed for India in November 1847 and was sworn as governor-general in Calcutta on 12 January 1848. At thirty-five he was the youngest man to have held the appointment; small and short but well made in stature, with dark brown hair and a rich resonant voice, he had a quiet dignity coupled with a nervous force backed by obvious strength of mind and character.
The changes made in the administration of the law sprang from the same desire for more effective, impartial, and therefore secure rule, for example by bringing Europeans within the jurisdiction of local criminal courts (they already came under local civil courts), although Indian law needed modification to be acceptable to Europeans. Dalhousie undertook some of the most important domestic reforms ever introduced into modern India. Most significant was probably his railway scheme, contained in a seminal minute of 1853 which drew much on his previous British ministerial experience and was heralded by the Friend of India newspaper as the text book for all future Railway projects in India (8 Sept 1853). The minute also embodied proposals that had been impossible at home. Dalhousie wished to establish a strategic scheme for the whole country, embracing a rational assessment of political, military, and commercial needs and, while making the most of private capital, reserved the right of the government of India to take over lines after twenty-five or thirty years. He was also careful to decide on only one gaugeof 5 ft 6 in.after careful weighing of the technical and financial arguments, rather than the standard of 4 ft 8½ in. established after the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825. Dalhousie took care to make the best use possible of expert opinion and worked closely with Colonel John Pitt Kennedy, who had been appointed consulting engineer for railways in 1850. In 1853 the first line in India was opened over the 20 miles from Bombay to Thana. In 1855 Dalhousie himself inaugurated the first section of the East Indian Railway from Calcutta to Raniganj. By 1858 there were 400 miles of railway open and another 3600 planned throughout the subcontinent.
Dalhousie supplemented railways with the electric telegraph, which revolutionized the tempo of both commercial and official business. He also established a public works department and colleges of engineering, key agents in development policy, especially of roads and irrigation. Social measures included the initiation of a complete scheme of public education in both English and the vernaculars (framed before Sir Charles Wood's famous Education Despatch of 1854), action against thuggee, suttee, dacoity, and infanticide, concern to improve the lot of Indian women, and reform of prison administration.
All this effort, and it was also a period of considerable unrest and Imperial expansion, led to Dalhousie becoming worn out and on 13 May 1856 he arrived at Spithead having, typically, spent the voyage composing a major review of his Indian administration. Dalhousie travelled to London and, although very ill, received a number of friends at Claridge's, including Gladstone. Dalhousie received a letter of thanks for his services from Queen Victoria, and the directors of the East India Company voted him a pension of £5000 per year. In August he moved north to Arrochar and from there to Edinburgh (Dalhousie Castle being in the hands of builders). His health remained precarious; in December 1856 he wrote, My progress is so slow and my condition such, that there is no probability of my return to public life, under any circumstances, for a long time to come, if ever. During 1857 his health was further eroded by the news of the mutiny in India; a sea cruise to Malta brought little improvement. In September 1857 he recorded that I can hardly bear to think of the horrible scenes that have been acted. A year later he was back in Edinburgh and, as the alterations to Dalhousie Castle were by then complete, he took an interest in the running of the estate. India was never far away, however, and the factor on the estate recorded how Dalhousie often talked of the mutiny and considered that, if he had still been in Calcutta, the turmoil would not have happened. Dalhousie's health remained poor, and in 1860 he gave up the duties of lord warden of the Cinque Ports (assumed after the death of the Duke of Wellington in 1852). He died peacefully at home on 19 December 1860 from Bright's disease of the kidney. He was buried next to his wife in the Dalhousie vault in the old churchyard at Cockpen.
Dalhousie was frustrated in developing a political career at home, and India gave him the opportunity to make his mark from a sense of both patriotic duty and ambition for his family tradition. He proved himself a superb, lucid, and indefatigable administrator who was at once a master of detail but also a strategic thinker. He did not set out for India with any preconceived ideas of modernization, Westernization, or annexation. Instead he used his immense skills and energy in a pragmatic way to tackle the fundamental problem of closing the gap between the reality and fragility of company power on the one hand and the expectations vested in it on the other. Based largely on David J. Howlett contribution in ODNB biography which includes a portrait by Sir John Watson-Gordon, 1847> Jack Simmons also contributed an excellent concise sketch in the Oxford Companion.
Geddes, Ross Campbell [Lord]
Son of Sir Auckland Geddes was born on 20 July 1907; educated at Rugby and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and died whilst at sea on a cruise on 3 February 1975. Listed in steamindex as Chairman of Committee on Carriers Licensing to which Beeching submitted comparitive costs of road and rail arguing that rail was cheaper even if newly constructed for freight transport. Geddes had interests in insurance, shipping, Shell and asphalt. No wonder Beeching's observations were steam-rollered into oblivion (Who Was Who). See also Edward Gibbins Backtrack, 2013, 27, 556.
George, David Lloyd
Born in Chorlton upon Medlock, Manchester on 17 January 1863. In the honours list of 1 January 1945 it was learned that Wales's great commoner would become Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor. It did not enhance his reputation among his admirers. On 26 March he died of cancer in Ty Newydd. Four days later, in a simple service, he was buried beside the River Dwyfor in Llanystumdwy. A great boulder marks his grave. There is no inscription. Kenneth O. Morgan ODNB. He was undoubtedly a towering politician and greatly noted for his oratory. The ODNB enters him under Gorge rather than Lloyd-George which is the form adopted by Wragg who unlike Morgan notes his stance as a young solicitor against the LNWR for discrimination against its Welsh speaking employees: otherwise Morgan is better on railway matters and far more besides.
Gladstone, William Ewart
Born on 29 December 1809.into the Scottish commercial community in Liverpool. He died at Hawarden on 19 May 1898. The family accepted the offer of a state funeral and, after Gladstone's body had lain in state for three days in Westminster Hall, he was buried in the statesman's corner of Westminster Abbey on 28 May. ODNB entry by H.C.G. Matthew who is aware of Gladstone's influence on railways..Gladstone is almost certainly the most influential British politician to be positively involved in railway development. Hodgkins, David. Gladstone and railways. J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2007, 35, 501; and 574
Born Marazion, Cornwall, and baptized at St Hilary's Church on 24 September 1761, the son of Pascoe Grenfell of Marazion, merchant and consul to the states of Holland, and his wife, Mary, third child of William Tremenheere, attorney, of Penzance. Educated at Truro grammar school, he was sent, through his father's connections, to learn banking with the firm of Hope Brothers of Amsterdam. He returned to London, entering into business with his father and uncle as merchants and dealers in tin and copper ores. He later became involved with the copper magnate Thomas Williams, acting as his agent on a sales trip to France. Most of information from Edmund Newell ODNB entry.
A close association developed from this involvement with Williams. Grenfell became a shareholder in Williams's enterprises, and by the late 1780s he was running Williams's newly established office in London. Their business relationship was further extended in 1794 when Grenfell went into partnership with Williams's son Owen to buy Cornish ores, primarily to supply Williams's Middle and Upper Bank smelting works in Swansea. Following Thomas Williams's death in 1802 Grenfell and Owen Williams took over these works. Owen Williams withdrew his interest in 1829, which led to the establishment of the family firm of Pascoe Grenfell & Sons, which remained a major copper producer for most of the nineteenth century.
Grenfell's association with Thomas Williams extended into politics. Having purchased Taplow House, Grenfell succeeded Williams as MP for Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, from 14 December 1802 until 29 February 1820. He subsequently served as MP for Penryn, Cornwall from 21 April 1820 to 2 June 1826. In the Commons Grenfell associated himself with the Grenville party and his strong evangelical faith and friendship with William Wilberforce led him to speak against the slave trade. Recognized as an expert on financial matters Grenfell was instrumental in the introduction of the periodical publication of accounts by the Bank of England, of which he was a vigilant observer. He was also governor of the Royal Exchange Assurance Company and a commissioner of the lieutenancy for London.
His activities as an early railway promoter are described in an article (with portrait) by Penny Watts-Russell in J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2011 (210), 34-46. These activities are not mentioned in the ODNB entry. Further article by Penny Watts-Russell Travelling steam... J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2013 (217), 10-20.
Grenfell married twice. His first wife, his cousin Charlotte Granville, died in 1790. They had two sons, the younger of whom, Charles Pascoe Grenfell (17901867), was born in London on 4 April 1790.
The second wife of Pascoe Grenfell, whom he married on 15 January 1798, was Georgiana St Leger, seventh and youngest daughter of St Leger St Leger (formerly St Leger Aldworth), first Viscount Doneraile of the second creation. They had two sons, Pascoe St Leger Grenfell (17981879) and Riversdale William Grenfell (18071871), both of whom were closely involved in Pascoe Grenfell & Sons and became prominent figures in Swansea.
Pascoe Grenfell died at 38 Belgrave Square, London, on 23 January 1838.
Hore-Belisha, Isaac Leslie
Born in London on 7 September 1893, the only son of Jacob Isaac Belisha (d. 1894), an insurance company manager. Educated at Clifton College and was then sent to Heidelberg and the Sorbonne for short periods of study before going up to St John's College, Oxford, in 1913. Commissioned in the Army Service Corps and in November 1914 went to France, where he saw heavy fighting at Neuve Chapelle. A year later, with the rank of captain, he was attached to the Third Army and showed ingenuity in handling supplies. That led to a posting to Salonika in the early months of 1917 and, in turn, visits to Cyprus and Egypt. He was promoted to the rank of major. In March 1918 he was invalided home with malaria. He resumed his Oxford career with comprehensive enthusiasm and in 1919 became the first post-war president of the union. His witty epigrams and general flamboyance did not altogether obliterate an underlying radical allegiance. He was called to the bar by the Inner Temple in 1922. The House of Commons beckoned. He won Plymouth Devonport for the Liberals in 1923. There were occasions thereafter when he was the sole Liberal MP to sit for a constituency in the south of England. The financial crisis of 1931 brought about a fundamental change in Hore-Belisha's prospects. He aligned himself with Sir John Simon and those Liberals who offered general support for the hastily formed and ostensibly temporary National Government under the leadership of Ramsay MacDonald. He retained his Devonport seat with a greatly increased majority. He was appointed parliamentary secretary to Walter Runciman, fellow Liberal and president of the Board of Trade, and in 1932 became financial secretary to the Treasury. It was gratifying to the chancellor of the exchequer, Neville Chamberlain, and galling to free trade Liberals, to have Hore-Belisha, now a Liberal National, spending his time expounding new tariff arrangements and the benefits to be derived from the Imperial Economic Conference held in Ottawa that summer.
In 1934 Hore-Belisha became minister of transport and arguably the first politician in the fifteen-year life of the ministry to grasp that the post could advance a career. He began to grapple with the motor car. Pedestrians needed to be able to cross roads in relative safety and he backed illuminated amber globes on black and white posts at appropriate crossing points to allow them to do so. They quickly became known as Belisha beacons. He also thought it appropriate that new motorists should pass a driving test and would benefit from a revised highway code. He believed that trunk roads were too important to be left in the hands of local authorities. In these and other respects his flair for publicity was used to good effect. Sworn of the privy council in 1935 and raised to cabinet rank in October 1936, he put the Ministry of Transport on the political map. His contribution to railway history appears to heve ben minimal: guest of honour at LMS Silver Jubilee celebariomn lunch: see LMS J., No. 34 pp. 52-4.
In May 1937 the prime minister Neville Chamberlain made Hore-Belisha secretary of state for war. At forty-three he was one of the youngest men to hold this appointment. Even more significant, perhaps, was the fact that, unlike most of the cabinet, he had seen active service in the First World War. It was not an appointment casually made. The prime minister had a view that the War Office was wedded to obsolete methods and needed the invigorating shake-up that Hore-Belisha would be sure to bring. The new minister's priorities soon became clear. An army needed to recruitin the absence of conscriptionand with considerable success he set about making enlistment more attractive. Pay and allowances were increased, barracks modernized, and catering improvedthe latter with the advice of the managing director of Joe Lyons as honorary adviser. Battledress was introduced and infantry drill simplified. Irksome restrictions on the freedom of soldiers when off duty were removed. It was thought that the extent of service abroad could be reduced. At another level he pushed through changes in staff training by means of new tactical schools and courses. He also carried through a far-reaching revision of the officer career structure. The retiring age for senior officers was lowered and the period of command and staff appointments reduced. The half-pay system was abolished. These and other changes were designed to facilitate the promotion of talent. Accompanied by appropriate publicity, they proved that the secretary of state was the soldier's friend who, in his own happy phrase, wanted the army to be a part of the nation not apart from the nation.
" Hore-Belisha had a very bad war. His way of conducting himself, summed up by irritated generals as a culpable showmanship, had long upset them. Lord Gort had been Hore-Belisha's own choice as commander-in-chief of the expeditionary force. Gort found himself soon vastly upset by critical remarks on the progress of the defences in France made by his minister. Personal relationships deteriorated sharply and others were drawn in. Having tried and failed to smooth matters over, Chamberlain in January 1940 decided that Hore-Belisha had to be moved and told him that he was not blameless in relation to the strong prejudice against him. The presidency of the Board of Trade was offeredhis Jewishness was apparently thought to disqualify him from becoming minister of informationbut he would not take it. In his reply Hore-Belisha reiterated his anxieties and specifically alluded to the weakness he believed apparent in the gap between the Maginot line and the sea. He also realized that he could not publicly draw attention to this matter in the context of his own resignation. That in turn made it difficult for his admirers to rally round, and his departure was something of a mystery. Moreover, as things turned out, this was not a temporary blip in his career. He resigned from the chairmanship of the Liberal National parliamentary party. The advent of a Churchillian administration brought no restoration to favour, and he sat on the back benches as a national independent. On 22 June 1944 he married Cynthia, daughter of the late Gilbert Compton Elliot, of Hull Place, Sholden, Kent; she had served with the British women's mobile canteen unit and been held as a prisoner of war by the Germans from 1940 to 1943. In 1944 she was awarded the British Empire Medal. Hore-Belisha briefly returned as a ministerof national insurancein Churchill's caretaker government, from May to July 1945, but was not in the cabinet. In the ensuing general election he lost his Devonport seat to Labour. He then became a Conservative, but no seat was quickly found for him and in 1950 he unsuccessfully fought Coventry South. In 1954 he accepted a peerage and thereafter made occasional speeches in the Lords. He died on 16 February 1957 in France at Rheims, where he was leading a British parliamentary delegation. Keith Robbins ODNB
Born 1796; died 11 July 1876. Lived in Annandale: MP (Tory) for Dumfries: 1830-47 and 1857-65. Very active in promoting Annandale route for WCML (Caledonian Railway Dawn Smith states first chairman); also promoted Moffat Railway, but long pre-deceased its opening.
Huskisson occupies an unfortunate position in railway history being fatally injured on the opening day of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. His death is the subject of an excellent article by George Smith in Backtrack, 2010, 24, 420 which includes illustrations of two of the memorials to hime: one at Parkside (the site of the fatal accident when he was knocked down by the Rocket) and one in Chichester Cathedral. He is also included in the ODNB where A.C. Howe celebrates his life. He is not in the Oxford Companion. He was born on 11 March 1770 and died on 15 September 1830. His life was spent in public service, much of it as a Member of Parliament, latterly for Liverpool. Memorial statues located in and around Liverpool see Backtrack, 2011, 25, 740 See also Simon Garfield's The last journey of William Huskisson.
Leathers, Frederick James
Born in East London on 21 November 1883. Joined the Steamship Owners Coal Association which was eventually taken over by William Cory where he became general manager. Minsister of War Transport under Churchill which recognised his contribution to the management of shipping and was created a peer. Died in Ealing on 19 March 1965.
Liddell, Sir Thomas Henry
Sixth Baronet 1775-1855 of Ravensworth requested Geiorge Stephenson to build a steam locomotive for the Killingworth wagonway: Blucher was the product. PJGR in Dictionary of Business Biography.
Born 10 June 1763 in Woodside, Wreay, near Carlisle. Educated privately; went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1782, and graduated BA in 1786; entered Lincoln's Inn, and, after being called to the bar in 1789, began to practise on the northern circuit. Great friendship with William Wordsworth, whom he had met in 1795 at a gathering of radical friends (including George Dyer, William Frend, William Godwin, and John Horne Tooke). He also became a friend of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey.
In 1799 he settled as a barrister in Newcastle upon Tyne, rapidly acquiring a reputation as a man of strict integrity and sound judgement, whether in the courts or as an arbitrator in industrial disputes. As a Unitarian he was debarred from holding civic appointments or public office, but, following the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts in 1828, for the annulment of which he had campaigned, the corporation of Newcastle in 1832 invested him with the highest judicial function in their gift, the recordership, and shortly afterwards with the honorary freedom of the city.
Losh was an active reformer and philanthropist. Among the causes which he promoted were abolition of the slave trade, Catholic emancipation together with total religious freedom, and parliamentary reform. Chairman of Newcastle & Carlisle Railway from 1825 until 1833. Losh died in Greta Bridge, Yorkshire, on 23 September 1833. ODNB entry by T.S. Dorsch. Rennison, R.W. The Newcastle and Carlisle Railway and its engineers; 18291862. Trans. Newcomen Soc., 2001, 72, 203-33.
Macquisten, Frederick Alexander
Born 23 July 1870: died 29 February 1940. Educated Glasgow University. Solicitor; Member Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh, 1909; called to Bar, Grays Inn, 1920; contested Leith Burghs, 1910; Glasgow (St Rollox), 1912; MP (Conservative Unionist) Springburn Division of Glasgow, December 191822, Argyllshire 1924 until death (Who Was Who). According to Hamilton Ellis Some classic locomotives (page 149) was highly anti-railway, partly due to the toll imposed by the LMS for crossing the Connel Ferry Bridge.
Born 2 April 1757; changed his name to Robertson on marriage, but subsequently became Baron Majoribanks. Stockbroker and MP for Berwickshire between 1859 and 1873. Lord Lieutenant of County 1860-1873. Assisted construction of Berwickshire Railway by donating land. Buried Polwarth Castle. Nisbet, Alistair F. The Berwickshire Railway. Backtrack, 2011, 25,. 664-70.
Son of an innkeeper, Morrison was born at Middle Wallop in 1789. He was employed by a London haberdasher, and probably as a result of marrying his employer's daughter became rich and in 1830 became the MP for St. Ives, then Ipswich (1832-7) and Inverness Burghs from 1840-7. He died at Basildon Park, one of several estates owned by him, on 30 October 1857. He invested in American railways, but investigated the finances of British railways: chairing Parliamentary Select Committees which brought him into conflict with Hudson. He established a notable collection of Italian and Dutch old masters and contemporary English paintings and was one of the richest commoners in the nineteenth century according to Charles Jones (ODNB). His railway work is considered by Robert S. Sephton: J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2003, 34, 364 and 467
Peel, [Sir] Robert
Born Bury (presumably Lancs) on 5 February 1788. He died on 2 July 1850 following a riding accident. John Prest ODNB who states nothing on railways other than Peel's fear of railway building in Ireland (he had a great hatred of the Irish and of Catholics). Wragg (Historical dictionary) notes that he was instrumental in fanning the Railway Mania by getting rid of Dalhousie's board. Eager advocate of Trent Valley Railway as MP for Tamworth and would speed reinforcements against Irish: see Mathams and Barrett (Backtrack, 2014, 28, 4).
Born on 19 November 1919 in Hackney, the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia. His early years were spent in poverty; as a child he suffered from rickets. He was educated at Hackney Downs County Secondary School. He went on to Chelsea Polytechnic, where he studied science. There he joined the Young Communist League because, as he later explained, "to be a Jew in 1930s Britain was to be alienated. The world proletariat offered us a home." In 1937, aged 17, he volunteered for the International Brigades to fight as a machine-gunner for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil war. As a gifted linguist (he became fluent in at least five languages), Sherman was given the task of translating the orders of the battalion's Red Army instructor into English, French and Spanish. He took part in the battle of Fuentes del Ebro in the lower Aragon before being captured by Franco's Italian allies and sent back to Britain. After the Second World War, in which he fought with the British Army in the Middle East, Sherman enrolled at the London School of Economics, where he became president of the student Communist Party. In 1948 he was due to deliver a paper on politics in Yugoslavia, following a visit to the country, when news came of Stalin's break with Tito. Sherman was asked to amend his paper, but, when he refused, he was expelled from the Party for Titoist deviationism. In 1974 he co-founded, with Sir Keith Joseph and Mrs Thatcher, the conservative think-tank, the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), and became its first director. He was ousted from the CPS in 1984 after he fell out of favour with the Tory leadership. In 1993 Sherman became an adviser to the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, a position which gave him a new opportunity to pour scorn on former allies in the Tory Party who regarded Karadzic as a war criminal. He was extremely anti-railways: see Skelsey Backtrack, 2016, 30, 216. Died 26 August 2006. Telegraph obituary. ODNB.
Born on 12 December 1839 at Pimlico, London; died in London on 28 October 1920. Associated with Hull banking family: Samuel Smith, Bros & Co. In October 1895 he was appointed governor of Western Australia (hence biuography by F.K. Crowley in Australian Dictionary of Biography). Leading promoter of Hull & Barnsley Railway (see Deacon. Rly Archive, 2015 (46), 2). At time of his death was director of the San Paulo Railway Co. in Brazil. Freemason. No mention of involvement in Australian railways. See also Mike G. Fell Hull's Alexandra Dock. Backtrack, 2015, 29, 674-81. .
Thomas, James Henry [Jim, Jimmy]
Born 3 October 1874 at Newport, Monmouthshire, illegitimate son of Elizabeth Thomas, domestic servant; brought up in poverty by his grandmother, Ann Thomas, a widowed washerwoman. He attended St Paul's elementary school, working part-time as a shop errand boy from the age of nine. After leaving school when twelve, had various jobs and in 1889 joined Great Western Railway as an engine cleaner, and was promoted to fireman five years later. Joining the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS), he quickly proved himself a talented organizer and speaker. By 1897 he was chairman of his local union branch and president of the Newport Trades Council, and in 1898 became a delegate to the ASRS annual conference. In 1898 married a childhood friend, Agnes Hill; they had three sons and three daughters, one of whom died in infancy. Transferred by the GWR to Swindon, he eventually became an engine driver in the marshalling yards. He again presided over the local trades council, and in the 1901 municipal elections defeated his own GWR superintendent. On Swindon council he was chairman of the finance and law committee from 1904 to 1905, and of the electricity and tramways committee from 1905 to 1906. As a trade unionist, he was among the first to benefit from a career structure leading up through a well-established organization and into labour politics. In 1902 he was elected to the ASRS national executive committee, in 1905 as its youngest ever president, and in 1906 as organizing secretary-a full-time post which brought his resignation from the GWR, and moves to Manchester, Cardiff, and finally London. As Labour MP for Derby from the general election of January 1910 and ASRS assistant secretary from September of that year, he became nationally prominent during the late Edwardian labour unrest. Was member of Labour governments, and was Secretay of State for the Colonies, but had to resign in 1936 due to disclosure of budget information. Guest at Great Western Centenary: see Locomotive Mag., 1935, 41, 292. Died in London on 21 January 1949. Philip Williamson ODNB and Philip Bagwell Oxford Companion..Was instrumental in capital loans which led to Westbury and Frome cut-offs, etc: see Backtrack, 2015, 29, 54. His involvement in inquiry into the Ais Gill accident and the reaction of the Midland Railway's grandees is considered in great depth by the late Peter Robinson in Backtrack, 2014, 28, 666 and 2015, 29, 46.
James Archibald Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie was born on 1 November 1776 and sat as an MP until created Baron Wharncliffe. He died on 19 December 1845. He introduced legislation to protect railway shareholders and was influentail in supporting the Great Western Railway Bill. See Fenwick and Bloomfield J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2008 (203), 179. ODNB entry by by G. Le G. Norgate, revised H.C.G. Matthew makes no mention of railway activity but notes his becoming a Catholic and his Scottish origins. His son John Stuart Wortley was Chairman of the GIPR..
Born in Huddersfield on 11 March 1916; died in London on 23 May 1995. Key to his future successful political success was his winning in 1934 a history exhibition at Jesus College, Oxford. It is worth remembering that during his premierships the worst of the railway closures took place. It was then that the train service through Hawick was destroyed and never looks like being restored; that the railway service to Plymouth became subject to disruption by heavy seas, and motorways (presumably of limited utility) were constructed where there had formerly been train services. The devastation was particularly severe in "Wilson's North of England". It is particularly ironic that Wilson is one of the few Prime Ministers to have contributed to the literature on railways (he was the winner of a Gladstone Memorial Prize with an essay on the 'The state and the railways in Great Britain 182363) and accordsing to his ODNB biographer, Roy Jenkins loved to talk about railway timetables. Perhaps the most poignant comment in Jenkins' biography comes at the end: "He kept the train of government on the rails over difficult stretches of country" when so much of Britain lost its train services.