Most of the items in this category are taken from the Railway Review - the journal of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants. The category also includes some items produced by railway workers in 20th century

Main Themes and Motifs

  • Dangers of railway work
  • The importance of unity among workers
  • Criticism of employers' behaviour

Chronology

1860-69
1870-79 052
1880-89 041; 377; 328
1890-99 576; 577
1900-09 567; 573; 574
1910-19
1920-29
1930-39
1940-49
1950-59
1960-69 353*; 358*
1970-79

Uncertain: 570; 575

* The earliest and latest dates for this item extend across decades. See item more information.


Historical Background

Railway workers were called company servants and they were expected to behave like servants. Many worked alone or in small groups and in shifts which made the organisation of trades unions difficult.
Their grievances were the grievances of the labouring classes as a whole: Long hours; poor pay (often subject to arbitrary fines imposed by the employer); and safety - or the lack of it.

 

Sources (texts, music) & Publishing data

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3 across Articles in this Category: click a link

Women's Rights in Southville

bar572: Dates 1898~1898|

Satirical description of a meeting organised by women to discuss votes for women.

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Dr Beeching

bar092: Dates 1963~1969|

A protest against the proposed closure of the railway in Fife, Scotland.

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Watkin the Matter Be?

bar453: Dates 1887~1887|

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

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Epitaph on a Deceased Railwayman

bar368: Dates 1887~1887|

Synopsis:  Mock epitaph recording the failure of the 1887 Midland Railway strike.

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Absent-Minded Chairman

bar568: Dates 1900~1900|

A poem criticising the Chairman of the South Eastern Railway for the poor quality of the service

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Appeal to Non-Society Men, An

bar007: Dates 1872~1888|

Appeal to non union men to join the amalgamated society of railway servants

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Brief Respite

bar567: Dates 1900~1900|

Contrasts the easy life of the company board members with that of the railway workers.

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Strike Ditties I

bar573: Dates 1900~1900|

Probably about the Taff Vale dispute.

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Carters and Railway Servants Strike

bar052: Dates 1872~1872|

Expresses confidence that the workers can win if they stick together and accuses the masters of wishing to do down the workers.

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Sunday Working at Cheltenham

bar570: Dates 1872~1900|

A complaint about the demands on the engineering staff to work long hours. 

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Nail It Down

bar575: Dates 1872~1898|

Celebrates the integrity, honesty and independent mindedness of an archetypal character called John Littlejohn who is presumable intended to represent the membership of the union.

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Railwayman's Lament

bar353: Dates 1963~1974|

Autobiographical account of working life and lay-off of railway workers consequent on the Beeching report.

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Why I Joined the A.S.R.S

bar577: Dates 1888~1898|

A rallying cry for the union encouraging non-members to join. Likens the union to a ship and its members to the crew.

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Redundant Railwayman, The

bar358: Dates 1963~1974|

The author deplores the mass lay-off of railway workers consequent upon the Beeching Report and, in particular, the replacement of steam by diesel power.

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Strike Ditties II

bar574: Dates 1900~1900|

Satirises the actions of the company management. The failure of the strike is acknowledged but a final note of defiance is struck.

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Sources (texts, music) & Publishing data

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