IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY

THE HISTORY OF THE

 BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.


Give every man what is histhe accurate price of what he has done and been—no more shall any complain, neither shall the earth suffer any more."—THOMAS CARLYLE. 

 

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THE FOUNDING OF THE BRIGHTON BRANCH

 

BRANCH SECRETARY

W. YOUNG YEARS 1891 -1905

(Footplate Seniority, c1871)

The branch meetings were held at the Old Star Mission Room in Brighton on the 4th Tuesday of every month 1891 - 1896

 The Barber Coffee Room located in London Road, Brighton, on the first Thursday of every month 1897.

 

 


                      

         THE FORMATION OF THE BRIGHTON BRANCH


The railway boom produced by the industrial revolution brought both benefits and hardships for the workers employed on the railways. Of all the grades in the railway workforce, the engine driver enjoyed the highest pay and status of all but the chief engineer and stationmaster. On the other hand, no other industry brought together such a potentially lethal combination of heavy machinery, fire, steam, accelerating speeds and exhaustible labour. The result was an industry in which death and injury rates exceeded those of every other with the occasional exception of coal mining.

With the establishment of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants in 1872, there was some dilution of membership but the A.S.R.S. was regarded as too conciliatory by many enginemen and eventually the demand for a more militant and focused union to represent their views.

When the Great Western Railway restructured pay scales in October 1879, its longest serving drivers and firemen found their wages cut and their working hours extended. The enginemen got no support from the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS) who, at that time, believed that disputes should be settled through arbitration, and never through costly, irresponsible and disloyal strike action. So the enginemen took their case direct to Sir Daniel Gooch, the GWR Chairman. Examining their petition, he is said to have exclaimed: “Damn the signatures! Have you got the men to back them up?”

Enginemen Charles Perry, Evan Evans, Tom Harding, Tom Roderick and others spent the next two months contacting their colleagues in Sheffield , Bristol, Pontypool, Newport and Birmingham. On February 7, 1880, William Ullyott of Leeds and 55 colleagues formed the first registered lodge of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen in Sheffield. The founding delegate conference of the new Society was held in the Falstaff Hotel, Market Place, Manchester on January 3, 1881.

 

Within a year, A.S.L.E.F. had established a central executive –based for convenience on the Leeds branch – and had registered under the Trade Union Acts, its head office being the Commercial Inn, Sweet Street, Holbeck, Leeds. Its first general secretary Joseph Brooke,  By 1884, membership had exceeded 1,000 and in the course of the next two decades, the union’s membership grew from the hundreds into the thousands. 



Around the country Enginemen and Firemen at different locations on different Railway Companies deciding to form their own Branches.  A.S.R.S. begun to see many of their Enginemen and Firemen members transferring their membership from A.S.R.S. to the newly formed A.S.L.E.F. Branches. In some locations the entire A.R.S.R. branch would transfer over to A.S.L.E.FThis was because many Enginemen and Firemen had become very dissatisfied with the A.S.R.S. and wanted a trade union to represent the views of footplatemen. 

 

The first Branch of A.S.L.E.F. to be founded on the Brighton Line, was at Battersea & Longhedge in 1887, it later changed it’s name to the Battersea Nos. 1 & 2 Branches, and then it finally became the Battersea Branch. It was not a Depot Branch, but a Branch that covered the whole of the South London with a membership from depots of all the old companies (L.B.S.C.R., L.S.W.R., L.S.E.R. & L.C.D.R.) which later became the Southern Railway and later the Southern Region of British Railways. This was quite a common practice for a Branch to opened at one location and it members being located at other depots within their area, such was the case with the opening of the Horsham Branch in 1898, with it’s members being based at Littlehampton and Midhurst (and probably with some members at Three Bridges) depots. With the increase of interest amongst the Enginemen at various locations the membership started to rise slowly, with members leaving the all grades trade union, Associated Society of Railway Servants and joining their own dedicate Enginemen’s trade union, in some locations the entire branches of  the A.S.R.S. would transfer over to A.S.L.E.F.  Other Enginemen (‘NONS’) who did not belong to any trade union also started to understand and realise the benefits of being a member of a dedicate trade union and supporting their fellow Enginemen within their depot and neighbouring depots. This was to become more apparent after the first national railway strike in 1911. As a result of the events that surrounded the 1911 railway strike, more Enginemen started to join the trade union, and the increase of new branches would start to be seen around the Brighton area and throughout the country. Even though there was increase of Enginemen joining A.S.L.E.F., there were still a minority of Enginemen who remain loyal to the A.S.R.S./N.U.R. (National Union of Railwaymen) and even a smaller minority of Enginemen not believing in the trade union movement and they would remain non trade unionist, even though there would have been much persuasion from their fellow Enginemen for them to become members.

The Battersea Branch was also responsible for the setting up of a number of Depot Branches such as the Nine Elms Branch. It is also known that members from Battersea Branch were present at the opening of the Newhaven Branch in 1912, and this was probably mirrored previously at the setting up of other Branches through out the Brighton Railway, whereby members from nearby Branches would go along support their fellow in Enginemen in the opening of their own Branch of A.S.L.E.F.

The Battersea Branch was also responsible for setting up a Supervisors Branch, as the Supervisory grades were made up of Enginemen being promoted from the Enginemen grades. 

 


The first Branch of A.S.L.E.F was founded in Battersea in 1887 and was known Battersea & Longhedge Branch, then it changed to Battersea Nos. 1 & 2 Branches, and then it became Battersea Branch. It was not a Depot Branch but a Branch that covered the whole of the South London with a membership from depots of all the old companies which latter became the Southern Railway. The Branch was responsible for the setting up of a number of Depot Branches. It was also responsible for setting up a Supervisors Branch. 

It was not until 1891 that the Enginemen and Firemen at Brighton decided to become a part of this growing Trade Union. It was on the 25th August 1891 at the Old Star Mission room in Brighton, with a fledgling of 24 members both Enginemen and Firemen that the A.S.L.E.F. Brighton branch was formed. The Inaugural meeting was opened by the then A.S.L.E.F. General Secretary Thomas G. Sunter. The Brighton branch was to become the 82nd branch to be established within A.S.L.E.F. The then present Brighton members decided that Engineman Bro. William Baudy Young would become their secretary. Bro. William Young decided that this historical event should be recorded and by publishing this achievement it may encourage other Enginemen and Firemen to follow their lead. It was duly reported in the A.S.L.E.F. Monthly Journal of September 1891 that the Brighton had been formed. 
 

LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL SEPTEMBER 1891

 

With more Enginemen and Firemen coming forwarded this gave Bro. W. Young the incentive to write another letter to the Locomotive Journal in October 1891 publicising this fact and seeking more journals to encourage more new members to come forward to swell the ranks.

 

       

LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL OCTOBER 1891

Towards the end of the nineteenth century Footplate men where apprehensive in joining a trade union in fear of loosing their jobs as the Private Companies did not want any form of organised labour. Those who did join wore their trade union fobs (badges) on their watch chain or under their jacket lapels (pictured below). The fobs where to indicate their membership to fellow members and also allowed their entry into A.S.L.E.F. meetings. 

When William Young first published an article in the Locomotive Journal about Brighton he made reference to London-by-Sea and did not mentioned Brighton by name. This was because London-by-Sea was a common nick-name given to Brighton at this time. It also helped to hide its identity to the Management of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway. It must remembered that it was not good for the healthy career of a footplateman, in those days, to proclaim his connection to trade union, and so it is no surprise to see briefest of branch reports, with 'Secretary,' 'Chairman,' or some other obscure encrypted nick-name discreetly appended instead of names. This was practise would continue until after the Second World War.

The branch meetings where initially held at the Old Star Mission Room in Brighton on the 4th Tuesday of every month. This location was to be used up until 1896, where a new venue was to be used from 1897. The new venue was the Barber Coffee Room located in London Road, Brighton.The meetings where held on the first Thursday of every month. This venue was to be the branch’s home for many years to come.

By c1911 the meeting were held at

The Coffee Room, 2, Cheapside, on the first Sunday in the month, 3 p.m.

Brighton was to become the first A.S.L.E.F. branch within Sussex. This was shortly followed by other locomotive depots, forming their own A.S.L.E.F. branches within the county. Horsham in 1898, Eastbourne, Tunbridge Wells and St Leonards all opening in 1906, Newhaven in 1912, Three Bridges in 1913, Littlehampton  in 1917 and Bognor Regis pre 1925.

 In 1935 saw two new Branches opening to cater for the newly opened Motorman's depots at Ore and Seaford Motormen Branches in 1935

At the moment we have no known records for a A.S.L.E.F. branch at Midhurst. however there is evidiance that A.S.L.E.F. members where present at Midhurst locomotive shed. 

 I am trying to find out the exacted locations of the Old Star Mission Rooms & Barber's Coffee Shop were.

 Thomas G. Sunter

A.S.L.E.F. General Secretary 1885 ~ 1901

 

William Baudy Young

William Baudy Young was born in Epsom in c1854 into a railway family that was residing within the town at that time. William’s father Samuel was recorded in the 1851 census as being a railway labourer and lodging in Deptford and shows him being born in Brightelmstone in c1829.

It is not known whether Samuel Young was employed within the footplate grades at Epsom locomotive department or whether he was still working as railway labourer whilst living in the town.

It was quite common for railway labourers to become engine drivers; this was to meet the rapid expansion of the railway lines across the country and the need for more footplate staff.

In the 1871 census shows Samuel was now registered living back in Brighton with his family and employed as an engine driver at Brighton. According to the L.B.S.C.R. archives of 1877, Samuel had transferred to Newhaven (Harbour) locomotive department. It is not known if this was a promotional move from fireman to driver or just a transfer from one depot to another.

The 1871 census also shows his sons William Young was a fireman at Brighton along with his elder brother Samuel (Jnr). The L.B.S.C.R. archives of 1877 show both of them as fireman at Brighton locomotive department.

In 1881, William Young was recorded as a driver and was allocated to work on a  A class terrier tank engine No. 41 Piccadilly.

In the early 1900s William was in the 'TOP LINK' and was one of the senior engine drivers at the shed. Other drivers in this included drivers Tompsett, Ellis and Stevens.

Later he was to become a Locomotive Inspector at Brighton, this position was sometime was prior to 1912 (maybe about c1906, after William Young stood down as Brighton A.S.L.E.F. Branch Secretary).

 

Some of the pioneering A.S.L.E.F. members of the Brighton Branch


W. Young, footplate seniority c1871, joined A.S.L.E.F. c1891

W. G. Lewery, joined A.S.L.E.F. 1904

A. Barber, joined A.S.L.E.F. 1905

P. Goatcher, footplate seniority  00.11.99, joined A.S.L.E.F. 1906

H. Beall, footplate seniority 12.07.97,  joined A.S.L.E.F. 1907 

G. Dance, footplate seniority 20.07.03, joined A.S.L.E.F. 1907

F. Brooker, footplate seniority 22.07.01, joined A.S.L.E.F. 1907

J. Bignall, footplate seniority 19.02.03, joined A.S.L.E.F. 1908

W. Coughtry, footplate seniority 04.07.93, joined A.S.L.E.F. 1909

A. Rogers, footplate seniority  24.01.00, joined A.S.L.E.F. 1909

W.S. Brooks, footplate seniority 23.04.94, joined A.S.L.E.F. 1910

 

 

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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