IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY


THE HISTORY OF THE


 BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.


 

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THE WAR YEARS

 

No. 1 BRANCH SECRETARIES


WILLIAM C. PLAINE 1937 - 1941


(Footplate Seniority 29.04.1901)


& A. E. FRENCH 1942 - 1950


(Footplate Seniority 31.03.1919)


No. 2 BRANCH SECRETARIES


H. BEALL 1936 -1942


(Footplate Seniority 12.07.1897)


& C. BATCHELOR 1943 - 1949


(Footplate Seniority 21.04.1913)

 

First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller 1892–1984

 

 BRITAIN'S FORGOTTEN ARMY

 

 

The historians have recorded very little of the importance that the railway's played during the war. This page, in the coming 

months, will try to explain the important role played by the enginemen. Although being an Enginemen was classed as a 

“Reserved Occupation” and as such they could not be conscripted into the armed forces they were all expected to enter the 

Home Guard so not only were they working very long hours at work they were then expected to spend many more hours 

guarding their Depots and Sidings. The enginemen were putting their own lives at risk, whilst carrying out their work and 

keeping the country moving, whilst hostilities where going on all around them. Some engine men paid the ultimate price, as 

they come under attack from enemy aircraft

The politicians promised all of Britain’s railwaymen 

and woman that after the war was over they would be 

rewarded for their commitments for keeping the trains 

moving around the country. The railwaymen and 

women were going to go beyond their normal 

expectations and at times too confronted with some of 

the most difficult circumstances that they would never 

expect to endure under normal circumstances .It was 

not uncommon for Enginemen to be on Duty for 24 hours only being relieved when they had run out of food and water!!.   

During the Second World War, holidaymakers using the 

lines to the Channel ports and the West Country were 

replaced by troops, especially with the threat of a 

German invasion of the south coast in 1940. Before the 

hostilities began, 75% of traffic on the Southern 

Railway was passenger, compared with 25% freight; 

during the war roughly the same number of passengers 

was carried, but freight grew to massive 60% of total 

traffic. A desperate shortage of freight locomotives was 

remedied by C.M.E. Oliver Bulleid with the 

introduction of the C1 “Austerity” Class Locomotive on 

the Southern Railway  while the volume of military 

freight and soldiers moved by a primarily commuter 

and holidaymaker carrying railway was a breath-taking 

feat.

The British evacuation from France has been 

extensively documented but the historians have done 

less than justice to its sequel, which involved another 

'evacuation'. This one was by land on our side of the 

Channel. All those troops had to be disembarked at 

various ports along the Kent and Sussex Coast from 

where they would be moved by train to place all over 

England. The railway was still by far the predominate 

system of land transport; and the German Air Force, 

with a few well-placed attacks, could have served our 

Southern railway links to the ports and caused total 

disruption to this second evacuation. It is anybody

guess what would have after that, fortunately this did 

not happen.

In the Spring of 1940, the Germans had conquered 

France in a six week blitz offensive. This left the British 

Expeditionary Force with its back to the sea, trapped 

on the beaches of Dunkirk. It is now a matter of history 

that most of our beleaguered army was saved: as 

armada of rescue craft (including ‘the little ships’) 

swarmed across the English Channel to pluck our 

soldiers from the beaches of Northern France. This was 

Operation ‘Dynamo’ which took place between the 27th 

May to the 6th June 1940, ‘the miracle of Dunkirk’, 

which left Britain to fight another day.

The railway companies had only a few days to prepare 

and to co-ordinate for this huge operation and at any 

moment those days might have dwindled to hours, to 

co-ordinate all their Locomotives, rolling-stock and 

train crews and had to produced virtually ‘out of a hat’.  

The Dunkirk trains would require immaculate 

organising and the trains had to be brought together to 

be in the right place at the right time – and then 

keeping them moving along hastily – improvised paths.

Nobody could foresee just how soon the evacuation 

would begin – it was imminent all the time. Moreover, it 

was impossible to predict how many soldiers would be 

rescued from Dunkirk and how many would be left 

behind. The only course was to plan and pray for the

maximum number to be brought home; and on this 

basis it was estimated that 150 trains would be 

required. It was envisaged by the War Office that the 

British Expeditionary Force – or whatever was left of it 

– would be disembarked at eight Southern coastal 

ports: Margate, Ramsgate, Dover, Folkestone, 

Hastings, Eastbourne, Newhaven and Brighton. From 

these places the movement of rail would begin and the 

travellers themselves would be no ordinary passengers: 

they would be dishevelled survivors who had escaped 

from Hell, and many of them would be wounded.

The evacuation trains were eventually seen on all four of Britain’s main-line railways, heading for various destinations. But they all had to start from a handful of stations along the South Coast; and before doing so they, they had to enter this congested area as empty coaching stock. Hence it was on the South Coast that the drama was enacted out in its entirety.

The movement started at dawn on May 27th 1940, and it took 186 trains and not 150 trains as planned for. The trains never stopped for nine and half days with the enginemen working continuously throughout. The evacuation trains moved 323,000 men away from the ports and across the country to safety. The enginemen on trains were coming into the stations, were dazed with weariness. It didn't make it easier for the railwaymen and women, that the ports weren’t quite the same as the Railway had planned for. Of course, the railway workers didn’t know anything about it at first, until the first train had arrived in the station, before they realised what was happening.

A.S.L.E.F. along with the NUR applied for an increase in wages for Railway staff in November 1940. In May 1941 Enginemen were awarded an extra 4s per Week taking the War Advance to 11s per week

 

 

 SIX SOUTHERN SARGENTS


IN THE WESTERN DESERT 1942

 

 

Back Row L~R: B.P. Pope, H. Bowers (Nine Elms), & F. Harding 

(Salisbury).

Front Row L~R S. Reeves (Brighton Driver), H. kent (Salisbury) 

& H. Upton (Eastbourne Driver).

They all volunteered for the Military Police at the outbreak of the 

war and are photographed somewhere inthe Middle East.

Southern Railway Magazine

Sept/Oct 1942

 Richard Beckett Collection


The train above has protective mesh on the Motorman’s cab 

windows with small cut out area to enable the Motorman to see 

out off, the mesh was to prevent splintering in case of bomb 

damage. 

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN   

The evacuation trains were eventually seen on all four of Britain’s main-line railways, heading for various destinations. But they all had to start from a handful of stations along the South Coast; and before doing so they, they had to enter this congested area as empty coaching stock. Hence it was on the South Coast that the drama was enacted out in its entirety. 

The movement started at dawn on May 27th 1940, and it took 186 trains and not 150 trains as planned for. The trains never stopped for nine and half days with the enginemen working continuously throughout. The evacuation trains moved 323,000 men away from the ports and across the country to safety. The enginemen on trains were coming into the stations, were dazed with weariness. It didn't make it easier for the railwaymen and women, that the ports weren’t quite the same as the Railway had planned for. Of course, the railway workers didn’t know anything about it at first, until the first train had arrived in the station, before they realised what was happening. 

A.S.L.E.F. along with the NUR applied for an increase in wages for Railway staff in November 1940. In May 1941 Enginemen were awarded an extra 4s per Week taking the War Advance to 11s per week

The engine cab where Enginemen almost lived day and night, were shrouded from the cab roof to tender-end by the 

obliterating anti glare sheet, which not only trapped the revealing glare from the engine's fireboxes, but kept the heat in as 

well. Enginemen would end up suffering from heat rash, as if they had just emerged from a baker's oven.

There were instructions given to Enginemen at the beginning of the war - to seek cover when air-raid warning came along - 

was not, in practice, a success. To stop the railways intermittently simply could not be done, and so it soon became general to 

treat that red warning as nothing more or less than indication to be on alert. Even the tiniest blink of light from the engines 

was blanked out as the Enginemen crept through a blackness which almost be felt. Enginemen were also instructed how to 

immobilise their engines in the event of enemy invasion. The people who issued this instruction, would have been surprised if 

they had if they heard some of the ribald remarks with which it was greeted, for te officials of the company did not realise just 

what it meant to a driver and fireman to be told to sabotage their engines, they had regarded for as sacrosanct

 

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN 

Evacuees arriving at Brighton in late 1939 

 

LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL


SEPTEMBER 1941


FROM THE GENERAL SECRETARY’S PEN


FIRE-WATCHING 


Several enquiries are being made by member referring to the Fire-watching Order No. 69. It may not be generally known that 

the Minster of Transport, who is the appropriate authority scheduled by the Order, has now this Order compulsory so far as 

railways are concerned.

This means that fire-watching will take place at all points on the railways systems where it is considered to be necessary.

A rota of duties will, therefore, be drawn up after consultation with the representatives of the staff and exhibited for all 

concerned.

Our Local Departmental Committee Representatives should follow the advice set out in circular letters issued from Head 

Office under dates of February, 7, March, 6, and May, 20.

It is essential that the discussion with the representatives of the staff should take place prior to Fire-watching duties being 

rostered.

In the meantime, we are seeking a meeting with the Minister of Transport in order to submit a number of points upon which 

clarity is needed and where amendment appears to be necessary.

 

A.S.L.E.F. along with the NUR applied for an increase in wages for Railway staff in November 1940. In May 1941 Enginemen 

were awarded an extra 4s per Week taking the War Advance to 11s per week. Serious exception was taken by the Enginemen 

when an official Order on 'Fire-watching', which seemed to take no cognisance of our the Enginemen's very awkward of duty 

or the irregular nature of the turns they worked, to say nothing of the very long hours they were called upon to perform 

without any warning. When called upon to work these long hours without any provision being made to supply them with any 

food.

When the threat of invasion had 

receded, the Southern Railway 

became the marshalling area for 

troops preparing to invade 

Normandy in Operation 

‘Overlord’, and once again the 

railways played its part by 

providing a link in the logistics 

chain. This came at a cost, as the 

Southern Railway's location in 

and around London and the 

Channel ports meant that it was 

subjected to heavy bombing, 

whilst permanent way, 

locomotive, carriage and wagon 

maintenance was deferred until 

peacetime.

Due to the continual manpower 

shortage the war was causing in

1942 A.S.L.E.F. relaxed the 

agreement regarding Enginemen 

retiring upon reaching 65 and as

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN  


World War II Service exemption badge, 'S.R.'


(Southern Railway)

During the Second World War Railway Footplate staff was once again given “protected 

occupations” by the war office.

such many Enginemen continued to work very long hours helping the War effort above the age of 65. Also boys of 16 were 

promoted to Firemen not just as cleaners. Their positions as cleaners having being taken over by women for the first time.

In June 1942 the War Advance was increased by 5s per week although this did not cover the increase in the cost of living the 

War was causing. In April 1943 this was raised again by 4s 6d.

The sheer cold courage of Enginemen throughout the country, during the the Second World War, a place of pride in the ranks 

of those civilians who helped this country in her darkest hour, went unrewarded. 

After the cessation of hostilities A.S.L.E.F. presented to the Railway Executive Committee a claim for a substantial increase of 

wages and improvements to terms and conditions these were Maximum working week of 40 hour, A National Pension Scheme 

for Enginemen, Granting of a Fortnights paid Holiday, Enhanced Sunday Rate of Pay, Payment for Sick Leave and a 

Universal Eyesight Test Enginemen did not receive any of these demands until 1948 after the Railways had been Nationalised 

by the Labour Government. 

It would take another six months of hard negotiations by A.S.L.E.F. before its members were given a wage increase, which 

even then did not adequately meet the higher cost of living. This left a feeling of resentment for if it was not for the 

commitment given by the railwaymen and women in keeping the country moving it could have resulted in a different outcome 

for the entire Country.

The railwaymen and women of Britain have become the forgotten army, as they played a major part in helping to defeat the 

Germans whilst remaining on British soil.

 

WOMEN ENGINE CLEANERS


CURTSEY OF TED JANES


We did in fact have women engine cleaners, they were not in 

the line of promotion and their  forewoman was a Mrs 

Roskelly who had a son who was a cleaner with me but he was 

one of the dozens who left the railway A.S.A.P. after the war. 

The women engine cleaners were kept well away from the rest 

of us rabble and sad to admit they were a lot more enthusiastic 

swabbing Gas Oil on engines than we were.

Inncidentally Fred Wheeler who was a fireman at Brighton at 

the time, married one of the cleaner girls, he lived near me in 

Hollingdean but later moved to Seaford as a Motorman.

RALPH STENT COLLECTION

BRIGHTON MUSEM 


There was also a tidy sized gang of women carriage cleaners at the station whose leader was Mrs Watson ( Ernie (Soapy) 

Watson's mum ). 

Women played a very important role in the war. There was a Signalwoman at Southwick, and the giant crane in Lower Yard 

was operated by Ernie Brown's sister, there were also a lot of female guards.  

 

 

THE USE OF KEMP TOWN TUNNEL DURING THE WAR YEARS


BY TED JANES


During the War three complete 12 car sets used to be berthed in Kemp Town Tunnel to protect against possible bombing. They 

were the Mainline stock (which disappeared with the introduction of Cigs & Bigs) and weighed about 600 ton each 12 car set. 

After the evening rush hour they would leave Kemp Town Junction and freewheel into the tunnel as there was no juice and 

berth for the night.

About 6 a.m. we would go light engine to the tunnel and couple up to the first 12 car, we used to have an E4 Radial Tank and it 

would take ages with the Westinghouse pump thumping away before we had enough air to pull the train out of the tunnel as 

far as the Cox’s Pill factory, from where we could see the junction signal, if you came closer to the junction than Cox’s, it was 

hard work trying to move the train on the incline and in wet weather you would have no chance.

When the signal cleared we would pull the train almost into London Road station then propel it back clear of the junction so 

we could go down for the next lot while the train went into Brighton for a London service. This was repeated until all three 

trains had been hauled out.

Although Kemp Town Tunnel had no vents it cleared from smoke very quickly as it is on an incline all the way.

During the Second World War the Lancing Carriage Works was kept busy repairing bomb damaged carriages and wagons 

and converting carriages to mobile hospitals to support the army during the D-Day invasion. The works were also involved in 

constructing tail planes for gliders for the invasion.

 
 

 

Southern Railway Magazine article Jan - Feb 1942

 

 PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN 

Above

Southern Railway's all electric locomotives CC1 & CC2 seen shortly after 

entering service at Three Bridges on the Horsham branch. 

Externally, it was clear the cab design owed a 

lot to Southern experience with the 2 HAL 

multiple unit design. It has even been 

suggested that (in true Southern tradition) this 

was because the jigs for the welded cabs 

already existed and thus made for speedy and 

cheap construction. At the outbreak of war in 

1939, most construction projects were put on 

hold in favour of the war effort. Construction 

of CC1 and CC2 was exempted from this 

because of promised savings in labour and fuel 

over steam locomotives. Construction was not 

smooth however and was brought to a halt 

several times due to shortage of resource.

After nationalisation in 1948, British Railway renumbered them 20001 and 20002 respectively. Also a third member of the 

class (20003 from new) was built at Brighton. Although counted as the same class, 20003 was markedly different externally to 

its two earlier sisters being 2 inches longer with flat 4 SUB like cab ends. Again a suspected economy drive and arguably 

simpler (and therefore cheaper) design than the earlier two. Equipment changes also added 5 tons to the earlier 100 ton 

design. 

 

 MANNING OF ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE CC1


A.S.L.E.F.’s 1942 A.A.D. RESOLUTION

Interest was aroused by, and discussion was heated on, an Electric Engine put into traffic by the Southern Railway and known 

as the CC1. The long discussion by the delegates centred on the fact that the Southern Railway proposed to work this Engine 

with 1 man in charge. There was tremendous opposition to this on all counts as we considered it a direct violation of the safety 

code to have a single person in charge of such a machine on the head of passenger trains. So serious was the view the 

Delegates took of this matter that the Executive Committee received instructions that if the Southern Railway carried out their 

intention of manning the CC1 with 1 man an immediate strike should be called. It only remains to be said that this drastic 

threat was never put into operation since the Southern Railway agreed to work the CC1 on freight traffic under the charge of 2 

men after representation by our society.

Taken from “The Lighted Flame


ses where the Locomotive is placed in service, we could only agree that it should be manned by two men in the recognised Line of Promotion, i.e. two Motormen, or a Motorman and ASOssistant Motorma

 

LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL


SOUTHERN RAILWAY ELECTRIC ENGINE C.C.1.

 

Arissing from the policy which has been adopted in connection with the working of this engine, an agreement has now been 

reached with the representatives of the Southern Railway Company, by which this engine will be confined to the working of 

unbraked frieght trains, and it will by manned by two men, one a Motorman, and another an Assistant Motorman, both of 

whom will be in the line of promotion. the agreement reached precludes this or any similar type of engine from being worked 

with one man only, and will remain in operation during the period of hostilities.


Below a reproduction of a circular from head office regarding the manning of the Southern Railway's Electric Locomotive


 

ASSOCIATED SOCIETY OF


LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS & FIREMEN



Ref no. 43/1945                                                                                                                                           

25th August 1945

To Branches

Southern Railway


MANNING OF ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE - SOUTHERN RAILWAY


As you are no doubt aware a number of complaints have been received from time to time regarding 

the manning of the Electric Locomotive on the Southern Railway, and the position has been raised 

in discussion with the Company.

The Executive Committee have recently given further consideration to the subject, and arising 

therefrom the Company having been informed that in all cases where the locomotive is place in 

service, we could only agree that it should be manned by two men in the recognised Line of 

Promotion, i.e. two Motormen, or a Motorman and Assisting Motorman.

In order to safeguard against future eventualities I shall be glad if you will advise me 

immediately there in any departure from this working, and in this event I shall be glad if you 

will send the fullest possible information to this Head office.

Thanking you to bring this to the notice of your members.

On behalf of the Executive Committee,


Yours  fraternally,

W. P. Allen

General Secretary



 

 PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN 

Pullman Shops after air raid

 

 LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL


MARCH 1943


BRIGHTON NO.1 BRANCH


The L.D.C. elections have taken place and we have returned to our own A.S.L.E. and F. candidates. On the Sunday previous to the election we had a visit from our E.C. member, Bro. H. Bidwell, Bro. Jukes, Sectional Council Secretary and our Sectional Council member, Bro. J. Godfrey. Although our two meetings were not well attended they were interesting, and the members present will have made it well known. Now members, we have a new Secretary and a new L.D.C., so come to the branch and help build up a 100 per cent. membership, trade union and political. After the war we want a new world with new and better conditions, fortnight holiday with pay, etc. Members, have you ever considered the payments you make to your trade union and the benefits you receive for such a small sum? Come to the branch and discuss with a view to build up a good fighting fund for use after the war.

 

 The Southern Railway's 2nd World War memorial at Brighton station


 

 

 

DAVID KNOTT COLLECTION

 

 

 

 DAVID KNOTT COLLECTION

The  National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas (near Lichfield) in East Staffordshire site of the national 

remembrance for railwaymen & women

 

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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