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. 







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 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 (A.S.R.S.) 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, 



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.&F

This 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. 




MARCH 1888

Page 64

Battersea, London,

February 18th, 1888.

Dear Sir,—On Februcary 1 2th, 1888, meeting was held at The Two Brothers, Battersea, under the auspices of the A.S.L.E. 

F. The room was comfortably filled, and L.B. & S.C. driver was voted to the chair, and, after a few well chosen remarks, 

called upon the organising secretary, Mr. Ball, to explain the objects and benefits of the Society, under whose auspices the 

meeting had been called. Mr. Ball then said he was very pleased to see such meeting as the one before him, and by the time he 

had done he hoped to be able to show what benefits could be derived by the combination of such a body as the enginemen and 

firemen of the United Kingdom. He also gave in detail the trial of Taylor and Davis, and as he told us of the great pains and 

trouble taken by the general secretary (Mr. Sunter), to see justice done to those members, it brought forth shouts of applause, 

and his zeal was highly appreciated by all present.

After Mr. Ball had done, five came forward and had their names enrolled, and several others promised to join at their earliest

convenience. Several questions were asked and satisfactorily answered by the organising secretary, and with a vote of

thanks to him, the chairman, and the representatives of the various London branches present, one of the most encouraging

meetings of enginemen and firemen was brought to a close.

I remain, yours truly, 

J. B. 

(John Bliss)



Battersea Branch,

July 19th, 1888.

Page 222

Mr. Editor,

Sir,— On Sunday, July 1st, a general meeting of enginemen and firemen was held at the Two Brothers Inn, under the auspicies 

of the A. S. L. E. & F. , when Mr. Clement E. Stretton C.E., consulting engineer, and Mr. T. G. Sunter, general secretary of the 

Society, attended and addressed the meeting. The chairman of the branch presided, and after a few remarks asked Mr. Stretton 

to address the meeting. That gentleman then gave a very interesting address, he also alluded to his position as consulting 

engineer to the Society, and expressed his pleasure at belonging to such an organisation, as in his opinion the travelling public 

were greatly indebted to enginemen and firemen for their safety. He also hoped to have the pleasure of again visiting this 

branch in the near future.

After speaking for about thirty minutes he resumed his seat amidst applause. Mr. G. Sunter then gave a stirring address on the 

objects and benefits of the Society, and spoke of the progress the Society was making, which he felt sure was an augury that 

enginemen and firemen were beginning to realise the necessity of being connected with an organisation composed of their 

class, and in response to his appeal to the non-members present to join our ranks, a number of enginemen and firemen gave in 

their names, one of them expressing an opinion that he felt sure from what he heard that night that this Society was the one for 

enginemen and firemen. A vote of thanks was then given to the speakers, and the meeting was brought to a close.

I am, yours faithfully. 

Branch Chairman 



Kings Cross Branch,


September 3rd, 1888.

Page 252

Sir,  A mass meeting of enginemen and firemen was held at the City of London Hotel, York Road London, on September 2nd, 

to hear address from Mr. Clement E. Stretton, C.E., and consulting engineer to the Society, and Mr. T. Ball, the Organising 

Secretary. There was also present Mr. A Tippetts, of the firm of Messrs. Tippetts and Son, solicitors to the Society in London, 

and a representative go the Railway Herald. The meeting, which was a large one, was composed of enginemen and firemen 

working upon the following railways:- 

Great Northern, Great Eastern, London & North Western, London & South Western, London, Chatham & Dover, 

London Brighton & South Coast Railway, Great Western, Midland and North London.

Mr. Stretton having been requested to take the chair, delivered a mot interesting lecture upon “Railways and Railway 

Working,” dealing especially with the recent racing of trains to Edinburgh, the system of eyesight testing, certificates for 

enginemen, hours of duty, and deprecated the system of oiling engines whilst running. He also made use of a number of 

diagrams during the course of his lecture, one of them, a plan of the Hexthorpe accident, being of great interest, many of those 

present being acquainted with the scene of the disaster. Mr. Stretton was listened to with keen interest throughout, and was 

frequently applauded, and I must be content with simply giving you the lines of his very able lecture, which lasted over forty 

minutes, and was highly appreciated by all present. The Chairman then called on Mr. Ball, who gave a very able ad interesting 

address on the objects and benefits of the Society, and the rapid progress it was making, also giving a brief history of Trade 

Unions, giving it as his opinion that however distasteful they might be to some persons, that they had been forced upon the 

working classes by the capitalist, and were the outcome of tyranny and oppression. He also showed the beneficial results 

accruing from properly managed unions, and contrast the position of enginemen and firemen with other classes of workmen, 

and said that for years they had been at a comparative standstill. He also denied the allegation that the founders of the Society 

were actuated by a desire to foster disputes between the masters and their workmen, referring his hearer to the Society’s book 

of rues, wherein it would be found that the greatest precautions had been taken to prevent strikes, and that the sole aim of the 

pioneers of the Society was to furnish a means of protecting enginemen and firemen in their calling, and not with the desire to 

one day be in a position to bid their masters an insulting defiance; at the same time claiming that they were entitled to ask for 

just and honourable concessions at the hands of their employers. He also contradicted several statements that had been made 

in reference to the part the Society had played in the Hexthorpe trial, and said that he should not have alluded to the subject in 

the manner he did, but for the unwarrantable assertions that had been made agains them, and challenged those present to 

accuse him of having said a word against any kindred Society on previous occasions, but that he was justified in the stand he 

took, seeing that people would naturally think they had left Taylor and Davis to their fate in the time of their misfortune 

although members of their Society, and it was his duty not to allow the statements to pass unchallenged, but gave it his 

opinion that there was ample scope for both Societies to exercise their energies amongst the various grades of the railway 

service, without any show of animosity on either hand, and that he was more convinced day by day of the necessity of a 

separate organisation, and that their rapid increasing membership was a proof that English enginemen and firemen were 

beginning to think so too, like the enginemen and firemen of those two great continents, America and Australia, and urged 

upon the non members present to join the Society, so that they might have the satisfaction to knowing they had done their best 

to better the condition of their fellow labourers, for, to his mind, there was nothing to despicable as a selfish man who lived for 

himself alone, but who shares in the fruits of the labours of others. Mr. Ball then resumed his seat amid cheers, his interesting 

address having lasting an hour and five minutes.

A member of the Stratford Branch also spoke. Resolutions are then unanimously carried as follows:-

“Approving of the objects and benefits of the Society, protesting against the racing of trains, against the long hours of duty, in 

favour of a uniform code of signal lights for all railways, in a favour of automatic continuous brakes, expressing satisfaction at 

appointment of Mr Stretton to the position of consulting engineer, and the introduction of the Railway Herald as an impartial 

and useful paper, to which the representative who was present responded.” 

The names of a number of enginemen and firemen were then read over for membership, and will be duly enrolled at our next 


Votes of thanks to Mr. Stretton and Mr. Ball having been given and suitable responded to, a most enjoyable and profitable 

meeting was brought to a close.

I am, your fraternally

F. Green, Branch Secretary

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. 




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.




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 


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 


 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 


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




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