Watkin the Matter Be?

Satirical jibe against the poor dividends paid to shareholders by the South Eastern Railway and attributing blame to the chairman, Sir Edward Watkin.

Lines sung by a South Eastern shareholder on receiving Mr W Abbott's circular, Nov 24

Oh dear ! What can this letter be?
Out of my south-eastern stock I had better be,
“Dora” fair temptress! In future I'll let her be,
Teddy's so long in the chair.
Of dear! What can the matter be?
Teddy's so long in the chair

He promised us dividends six pounds and over;
At each meeting he makes us think we're all in clover;
But our profits all gone to the Chatham and Dover,
For Teddy's too long in the chair
Oh dear! What can the matter be?
Teddy's too long in the chair.


Sir Edward Watkin (1829-1901) was chairman of the South Eastern Railway from 1866 to 1894. The Oxford Companion to British Railway History says that his “combative and expansionist attitude led to unprofitable competition, particularly with...the London Chatham & Dover” Railway which competed with the South Eastern for traffic between London and Dover.

Watkin was also involved in a projected Channel Tunnel. See bar653 ~ Channel Tunnel

insert music 453WatkinAud.mp3
The following variant of the traditional tune Oh Dear What Can the Matter Be? is suggested
insert music 453WatkinNot.npg

insert image 453Watkin1880.png Sir Edward Watkin c1880
insert image 453Watkincartoon.png Cartoon from the Watkin collection, Chethams Library.

Satirical view of scenes from the life of a turnpike man.