IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY

THE HISTORY OF THE

 BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.

 

 

 

 

 

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the Brighton Motive Power Depots

Click on the icon above for

the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches

 

 

Workers of the world. Break your chains, demands your rights. All the wealth you make is taken, by exploding parasites.

Shall you kneel in deep submission from your cradle to your grave? Id the height of your ambition to be a good and willing slave?

Joe Hill

 

This page tries to record the turbulent year that 1919 was going to be for the Brighton Branch 

of A.S.L.E.F.

 

THE GUARANTEED EIGHT HOUR DAY



ASLE&F COLLECTION

 

 

The quest for an 8 hour day on the L.B.S.C.R., was originally raised on the 18th August, 1908, a deputation of Brighton 

Enginemen and Firemen, met the Locomotive Superindendant Douglas Earle Marsh and his Running Assistant John 

Richardson (Earle Marsh's No.2), to seek redress of their grievances. The former had to tread carefully for in these early days 

of locomotive associations there were rival groups seeking to speak for the Enginemen and Firemen. Marsh did his his utmost 

to play them off against each other, opening with "First of all, tell me whom you represent?" The Group Secretary, C. Allinson, 

replied, "I might say we represent the majority of the men on the Brighton system - the Running men. I can authoritatively say 

we represent the majority of them."

Marsh stepped in; "That is certainly contary to information I have from the men themselves. you are aware that the last year i 

saw a deputation who represented some 900 Enginemen and Firemen."

Allinson, "We represent members of the 'Society' , and a large number who don't belong to either."

Marsh "Why do you not avail yourselves to the Conciliation Board?"

Allinson "This is only a prelimary meeting."

Marsh then pulled out his premediated cudgel with which to deal with this deputation. I have a letter from the other members, 

who state they represent the majority of the men - a very reasonable letter - in which they say they recongise the finanical state 

of the Company at the present time, and do not wish any of these demands to be considered for the next twelve months. They 

hold 900 signatures of Enginemen and Firemen to that effect. We have been stopping carriage building, and are getting rid of 

men, and it is not likely the Company will save money with one hand and spend it with the other. If it came to a Conciliation 

meeting, the Directors will also have their proposals which might put you in a very worse position than you are today.

(In this context it is worth noting that following interview between Marsh and six Enginemen in July 1907, the daily rate of 

pay for drivers with nine years' service was revised up to 7s. 6d. and Firemen with six years' service up to 4s. 6d. This modest 

increase in wages rewarding experience  was to cost the Company a mere £1,130.)

The other item was the 8 hour day: "We are kept almost at work and we feel 8 hours per day is sufficent for the responsibilities 

we have". Again Marsh made the finanical calculation.

It means £30,000 a year. I can assure you this is not the time to ask  such sweeping advances as you are doing here. I  may say 

the Directors are now considering furrther retrenchments, and I don't I think they would for a moment consider these, 

especially in the face of the letter I received from the other deputation that these matterds stand over 12 months. Never is not a 

very opportune time fron your point of view to press any demands.

Marsh was quickly back to questioning their credentials. "Do you represent the Countrymen as well as the London men?" and 

found himself mired on the question of extra costs in living expenses in London where men were demanding an extra 3s. a 

week so as to come in line with other Companies, and in the vastly differnet costs of living in Eastbourne vis-a-vis Horsham. 

Marsh who had previously worked on the Great Northern Railway Company, showed no sympathy for the deputations 

requests. Marsh's response was; "I advise you not press claims at this present juncture. You could not find a worse timeYou 

do not have such strenuous work as they do on the Northern lines. You do not have such hard work when firing your engines. 

This is more or less a tram line as compared with the others. Well I do not know that we can get much further. If you take my 

advice you will let the matter dro for the time being. you evidentley are not the representatives of the majority of the men, if I 

am to attach any importance to this document from the other deputation."

Before he could finish Marsh was asked whether he considered 8 hours a day an unreasonable request. Marsh replied “that 

most of the work on this railway fell short of justifying an 8 hour day," and quoted the 8.45 train from Brighton returning with 

5 p.m. train only to be reminded by Richardson. "He takes a train to Wimbledon and back to London in the meantime." Marsh 

then opened the floodgates: "If you give men any special instance, I am willing to consider the cases" and the representatives 

quickly waded in:"I was on the main line firing on the 'Wilseden turn.' There is very little opportunity of having a mouthful of 

food at all." His colleague quoted an extreme case:

I had the 11.25 down to Worthing a week ago last Saturday. Certainly it was late down, but in every circumstance it is closely 

timed. We are entittled to get a little food at some time. A man cannot go for 10 hours. On this particular occassion i went on 

the table at Worthing 10 minutes past 2 for the 2.20 back to Brighton.I had a quarter of an hour to turn and grt bacvk for the 

3.35 p.m. Half an hour late consequently I had not sufficent coal, had to scramble over to Fratton for coal, and I would like to 

point out to you, Mr. Marsh, although we may not have quite the stressof the Northern lines, we are mostly kept shunting and 

almost continually at work.

Marsh sopped this tirade; "If you will be advised by me, you go away and drop these matters pro tem. I do not think you there 

is any possibillity of your getting anything. In fact we are getting rid of men here in the shops, and working on short time 

against my wish, but the finanical situation embrasses the Director so much that it has to be done"

On 8th February, 1909, it was the turn of the delegation appointed by A.S.L.E.F. to meet Marsh. Credentials were immediately 

questioned. The Association numbered 645 men on the footplate plus a small number of Cleaners. Marsh querried; "But what 

about the 900 odd men you said you represented the last time you were here?" That included signatures from some of the other 

Society," came the reply. Marsh explained: "I have been marking time with Gill and that lot, but it would be a bad thing for 

you and all the Engine men on the line if they go to arbitration. I cannot see what on earth their game is. They must know they 

have got more benefits than the Northern lines."

Under discussion were the terms of service , whether the delegation represented the majority and of this the Board of Trade 

would need to be convinced, the question of arbitration and of more frequent medical examinations. The latter was a major 

concern as it related to accidents caused by the mental condition of the men who feared an increase in the number who would 

be certified as unfit."

"A rcommendation by the Board of Trade cannot be lightly brushed aside, you know." Marsh explained. In reply to the 

question of "How often?" he summised "I have in my mind every five years as a reasonable time."  He was asked what would 

be the effect on a man's position should he fail to pass the examination . "Speaking off book somewhat." Marsh responded, “I 

should say it would not interfere with their claims on the Pension  Fund."

Marsh then switched to "How is it the Amalgamated Society complained of the treatment of the men at Battersea?" It brought 

forth the fact that within the past two yeards there had been 40 cases of men passing signals at danger. Driver Cooper of 

Battersea commented "That is the fruit of an all grade Society. There is a difference between overshooting and running past if 

a man tries to stop." To which Marsh retored, "We have had several bad cases, Cooper, not of which Marsh not of running one 

but two or three!"   Cooper rejoined; "As regards the Conciliation Board, we shall do all in our power to upset the other side 

in going to the Arbitrators," causing  Marsh to conclude, "Judging from the state of trade, this is about the worst time to go to 

any Arbitrators about the questions of any advances.

At the end of March it was reported that the Locomotive Superintendent had received pettions for improved conditions of 

service from themen in his department. Referred to the Board, the proposals were refused and counteer proposals laid before 

the Conciliation board.

adapted and extracts from the book

Douglas E. Marsh: His Life & Times

By Klaus Marx

 

STRIKING FOR THE RIGHT TO HAVE A PHYSICAL NEEDS BREAK

 

On February 1st 1919 the 8 hour day was finally 

implemented for Enginemen throughout the 

Country although the Board of Trade 

reinterpreted the agreement to exclude the meal 

times for Motormen. The Motormen employed on 

the London Brighton and South Coast Railway 

and the London and South Western Railway and 

on the District and Metropolitan Railway of the 

London Underground were expected to work the 

full 8 hours without a meal break.

On Sunday February 2nd, A.S.L.E.F. Motormen 

on the London Brighton and South Coast 

Railway went on Strike along with Motormen on 

London Underground, with the threat of the rest 

42,000 members to join the strike to force the 

principle of a paid meal break for all Enginemen 

and Motormen.

The A.S.L.E.F. Executive met on Monday 3rd 

February and sanctioned the action and called 

out all the Engine men on the L.B.S.C.R. 

(Peckham Rye, Crystal Palace, & Selhurst) as 

well as all Motormen on the District Railway 

and on the L.S.W.R. (*Waterloo,Hounslow, 

Hampton Court, Wimbledon Park (Durnsford 

Road ) & Strawberry Hill ). About 75% of all 

Enginemen  and Firemen on the L.S.W.R. came 

out on strike in support from London to as far 

west as Exwter and Plymouth.

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN

On Friday 7th February the Railway companies capitulated and an agreement with A.S.L.E.F. was reached where 30 minute 

paid meal breaks would be provided for Motormen.

In spite of the settlement the drivers and firemen belonging to the A.S.L.E.F. had not returned to work, this was owning to the 

decision had only been reached at such a late hour on Thursday night, and there had not been time for it to be officially 

communicated to the A.S.L.E.F. membership at Brighton and other branches within the L.B.S.C.R. By the Saturday a near 

normal steam was being operated, but owing to the absence of motormen, only a curtailed service of electric trains was in 

operation.

The Drivers and firemen who belonged to the National Union Railway-men continued to work normally during this dispute.


* Motormen's depots that were open in February 1919.

 

 LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL 1919

BRIGHTON BRANCH

We have been living in very trying times here recently, 

in that we have been involved in two disputes: Lancing 

and Electric affairs, about 200 taking part in the 

electric affair. We have emerged successfully, as since 

January 1st we have received over 100 Entrance Fees, 

a good proportion joining as Full and Half-benefit 

Members, with a few transfers. As our men are being 

de-mobilised and others taken on as Cleaners, and are 

joining us, we are now 300 strong. Now that we are 

looking forward to a little more leisure, we hope the 

members will be able to attend the Improvement Class 

more regular, as besides the mechanical side of our 

work, we hope to be able to take up other subjects. We 

are also looking forward to a clubroom of our own, 

which will be open to our members every day of the 

week.

Mr. Stevenson (E.C. Member) was here on Sunday, 

March 30th, and gave an account of the recent 

negotiations on the National Programme. The 

following resolution was carried unanimously:-

"That after hearing a report from Mr. Stevenson (E.C. 

Member) re negotiations on our National Programme 

and the Government's proposed Standardisation of 

Conditions of Service, we hereby express our 

appreciation of the General Secretary and Executive 

Committee in the way they have carried out the 

negotiations, and are confident that they, having 

secured by their policy a Locomotive Committee to 

deal with Engineman's Wages, etc., will safeguard our 

interests, and raise the general status of Enginemen, 

and are of the opinion that this should be the final step 

to the A.S.L.E. & F. representing the Loco. men of the 

United Kingdom"


BRANCH SECRETARY

 BADGE PHOTOS ALAN PENTNEY COLLECTION

The Lancing Carriage Works Strike of 1919 is on its own page 


 

 

ALAN PENTNEY COLLECTION

 

THE SECOND NATIONAL RAILWAY STRIKE


FRIDAY 26th SEPTEMBER - SUNDAY 5th OCTOBER

 

The second national Railwaymen’s strike commenced at midnight on Friday 26th September 1919, primarily over the issue 

consolidation of war bonuses of 33 shillings, and the reduction of the working day to eight hours. The strike only finally being 

settled with the intervention of Downing Street on Sunday 5th October 1919.

This strike was to affect every part of the railway network through out the country, unlike the strike of 1911, where it was only 

in the industrial towns of the Midlands, the north, Wales and Scotland.

The 1919 strike crippled the entire country with no trains running, no merchandise being moved around the country, which 

would eventually bring the country to a standstill, with industry closing and food banks being set up to enable rationing.

The railwaymen were fighting not just the Government/the railway companies, but the vast majority of the public opinion that 

was stack up against them.

 

This was to be the third strike that the Brighton Branch had supported during 1919.

The scene at Brighton Central station on the morning of Friday 26th September, saw many carriages standing alongside the 

empty platforms, but the engines were conspicuous by their absence, and the signal-men were not in their signal boxes. By 

8.40 not one train had departed from Brighton, but during the morning a small service run, which included four motor trains 

between Worthing - Brighton - Lewes, there was also one train to St Leonards which departed at 12.30, and four trains to 

London Bridge. The the last London Bridge departed at 12.30, and none of these trains returned back to Brighton. One thing 

was quite clear that there would be no more trains running on that day, with many carriages still remaining in the platforms 

and still waiting for their engines to be attached to them. The following day there was no trains arriving or departing Brighton.


On Monday 29th, there was another limited service, four morning trains to London Bridge, two Worthing and one train to 

Crowborough and another to Eastbourne. A curtailed service operated on the Chichester to Selsey line. During the day, the 

Brighton Labour Party held a private meeting with the striking railway workers to discuss the situation of the railway strike.

A Government statement appeal for civilian volunteers pocessing qualifications as engine drivers, firemen, signalmen, or other 

work, to get in touch local railway officials, also persons experienced in the organisation and running of mechanical transport 

were requested to apply to the divisional road transport officers. Volunteers in the Lewes district applied to 64, High Street, 

Lewes, and in the Chichester district to 93, East Street, Chichester. The Government hoped that demoblized officers and men 

experienced in this branch of transport will respond to this appeal. Able bodied men were asked to enrolled as special 

constables, and wireless operators with military experience are invited to register at Command Headquarters.

On Sunday 28th September, an attempts of train wrecking took place at Pulborough and a further attempt took place at 

Warnham on Tuesady 30th. At Pulborough flagstones were placed on line, the military are guarding the station, and at 

Warnham boulders were on the track near the station, and in consequences arrangements were made for the line to be patrolled 

by special constables.


There was little sympathy towards the striking railwaymen by the residents of Brighton and a cross the county, with the 

general opinion was, that railwaymen have been treated generously from the start the of the War, and the public have borne the 

burden of heavy fares and the increase in taxation for their benefits. Food supplies through out the country were so badly 

effected, and food rationing was introduced. Many retailers were now refusing to serve striking railwaymen. There was a 

common opinion that the quickest way of ending this strike was for everyone to refuse to serve any railway servant who was 

on strike.

On Tuesday 30th, the Brighton Central station was a crowded scene with hundreds of volunteers who had come forwarded 

and placed their services at the disposal of the railway officials, and although the lack of necessary experience prevented many 

of them being accepted, in others they were made used of and very serviceable contributions for the dispatching of trains.

It was also felt by many ex-service men, that Trade Unions had deliberately kept men away from the fight for the freedom of 

the Empire, and that railwaymen had been paid big wages whilst "Tommy" had fighting for their safety and freedom. Many 

unemployed ex-servicemen, believed that the Government should dispense with the service of the striking railwaymen, and in 

many cases as possible fill their places with ex-service men who were still on the unemployment list and were anxious to 

obtain work, and let the dissatisfied railwaymen seek employment elsewhere. The Brighton Branch of the Comrades of the 

Great War, advertised in the local papers, urging their members, who are willing to assist the authorities during this case of 

emergency, to call at once on the Secretary, 157, North Street, Brighton.

Among the volunteers were a number of ex-station masters, who acted as guards, as well as station masters from places where 

no trains are running. A number of the drivers and firemen of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Fireman, 

which is not connected with the N.U.R., have remained loyal. There was no lack of drivers at Brighton shed, and the difficulty 

was of the working of signal boxes. Brighton Cental Signal box for example was being worked by one person, the Mr. 

Greenyer, the station platform inspector at Brighton station. This signal box in normal operation, would have be manned by 

three signalman per shift.

At Bognor, the Stationmaster, Mr. Gillham, with the assistance of Inspector Brets, and  Sergeant Cannon  were  able to restore 

a partial train service between Bognor and Barnham. The train was worked by voluntary helpers.

The railwaymen on strike at Eastbourne indulge in a game of football at the Old Town, on the afternoon of Monday 29th. The 

general feeling in Eastbourne was also against the strikers. There was a number of "blue boys" stationed at Summerdown 

Camp,  and the a great majority of them would be willing to serve in any capacity that would assist the authorities in dealing 

with any emergency that may arise.

At Tunbridge Wells, with the exception of the Station master, booking and parcels clerk, and one Head Porter, all the railway 

workers at both Tunbridge Wells stations were out on strike. No trains arrived or departed Tunbridge Wells West station.

Tuesday 29th september, saw a slight improvement in the train running in and out of Brighton, with a small return of 

railwaymen to aid the volunteers in operating the trains, and a proposed timetable of 32 trains departing out of Brighton. This 

was to become more apparent as each day passed as more trains were running.

WAGES WITHELD

GOVERMENT TAKES FULL RESPONSIBILITY

The following Goverment statement was issued from 10, 

Downing Street at 7 p.m. on Thursday 2nd October.

A question has arisen as to the pay of railway workers which 

have fallen to be made this week if  they had not gone on 

strike. The Goverment take full responsibilty for the decision 

to withhold payment of this money. The men have broken their 

contracts. They stopped work without due notice  and in 

complete disregard of the effect of their action  on the persons 

and property of the ordinary citizens of which they were in 

charge. They inflicted damage on a number of able people. 

They left food on which the public depend for subsistance to 

perish. They put vast number to great expense by leaving them 

stranded for conveyance, and inflicted great loses upon many 

by preventing them from reaching their destinations. The 

damage in which they are liable in law are vastly greater than 

amount which is now being withheld.

Different consideration may arise if an early resumption of 

work takes place. In the meantime, the country is still 

subjected to an unexampled injury by the action of the 

railwaymen, and in these circumstances the Goverment would 

not be justified in handling over to the strikers a sum that must 

be used to prolong a struggle which was undertaken without 

any consideration for the welfarde of the public, and which is 

endangering the whole life of the nation.

In the ordinary way, Friday is pay day, both at Brighton Central station and the locomotive works, but in accordance with the 

decision in London a notice was posted to this effect:-


"No payment of wages will be made this week to any employee who has been on strike."


The strikers accepted the stoppage philosophically, or least, with the best grace possible, and there was no sign of disorder. 

notice posted outside the Labour Headquarters, in London Road, warned the strikers that in view of the Government's decision 

that the railwaymen were not to be paid their wages, they should not present themselves at the pay offices or take any action 

until instructed so to do. The advice was adhered to and the striking railwaymen  followed to this advice to the letter, with no 

application for pay was made during the course of the day at either at the Brighton station or at works.

Another notice posted that was posted at the Labour Party Headquarters, bears the significant announcement 


"No wages - no rent


This was just another attempt in trying to intimidate the striking railwaymen

Friday saw 43 trains running in and out of Brighton which was a similar number to the previous day, but with an addition of 

four trains running to Horsham, and on Saturday 4th October twenty-two engines were be employed on the L.B.S.C.R., for the 

movement of merchandised mainly food, but there was still no trains running in and out of Bognor and Littlehampton.

Monday 6th October, with the striking railwaymen slowly returning back to work, there was no additional trains running out 

of Brighton, and the times of the trains arriving and departing Brighton, would be the same as on Saturday. This appears to 

have been situation adopted all over the London Brighton & South Coast Railway. 

At Eastbourne, between 400 to 500 striking railwaymen formed up at the Labour Rooms, in South Street, on Monday 

morning, and headed by the Strike Executive Committee, marched back to work. They expressed their disapproval of the out 

come of the strike.

 

ALAN PENTENY COLLECTION

 

FOR THOSE WHO WERE LOYAL


Mr. W.H. Askew, writing to the Sussex Daily News to-day from the Union 

Club, Brighton, appeals for subscriptions towards a fund for distribution among those 

members of station and locomotive staffs at Brighton who remained loyal to the Company 

during the strike, and thus enabled the public to travel with little inconvenience. There should 

be a generous response to this appeal.


Brighton Evening Argus 

Tuesday 7th October


 



 

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN 

BRIGHTON LOCOMOTIVE DEPARTMENT


FIRE BRIGADE

 

 

                                                                                                         NICKIE PRESTON COLLECTION


 Trying to find out more information regarding the Fire Brigade that was based in the Locomotive Department at Brighton. 

These pictures feature Firemen F. Cathing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the icon above for

the Brighton Motive Power Depots

 

Click on the icon above for

the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches

 

 

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