Author Archive | Mike Esbester

Thrown from their wagon

For some staff, getting to or from work was a matter of walking. For permanent way staff, who might be working on track many miles from where they were based, getting to the site of work might involve riding on or in wagons. That wasn’t without risk – as William Layton and William Day found […]

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A one-way problem

Railway working produced all sorts of odd terms, specific to the industry. Some of these are less obvious than others – but one which might more easily be understood from the title is ‘tow-roping.’ Not dissimilar from towing a vehicle on the roads, tow-roping involved using a rope to pull a wagon or wagons. It […]

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Direct the project!

What questions should the project be asking? What sources should we be bringing into it? How would you want to get involved? What research would you do into railway staff accidents and ill-health if you were starting out? We’ve started with some big questions, because they’re important. We’ve always tried to be collaborative in our […]

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Illicit travel

The railways were highly ordered and regulated spaces. They had to be, to ensure they ran and that (for passengers at least) they ran safely. But that doesn’t mean illicit travel wasn’t a problem. The railway companies employed their own police forces, to keep order, protect company assets and reassure the public. Of course, railway […]

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Emotion in the archive

When we started the project, we knew we’d be finding details which took us down to the individuals involved in the accidents. We’d long known the top-level figures: the hundreds who died each year and tens of thousands who were injured. Those numbers were almost too large to grasp, to feel a personal connection with. […]

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Policing the line

As we’ve noted in the past, the railway companies didn’t just run trains – their interests extended much further. As a result, they employed all sorts of staff that might not seem obvious, extending into road haulage and shipping, for example, as well as they myriad roles that were needed to keep the engines and […]

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