Staff who left to join the naval and military forces

On the outbreak of the war the NLR employed around about 1960 staff. Within three months of the outbreak, 6 Naval Reservists and 127 Army Reservists had been recalled, 25 members of the Territorial Forces had been embodied, and 46 had volunteered for service with the Naval and Military Forces. This was a total 204 or 10.4% of the work force.1 By the end of the war 617 had joined the forces or 31.4% of staff.2 By the 4th October 1919, eleven months after the Armistice, 361 of the 617 had been released from the forces. Of that 361, 329 had returned to work with the company:

275 took up their former positions at their proper rates of pay; 49 were placed in equally good positions at not less than their former rates of pay; and 5 took up positions at less than their rates of pay.3

One possible reason for receiving less pay would have been when, for example, someone who was a guard before the war was injured and not physically fit enough to resume guard duties. He could have have been re-employed as a ticket collector. This was a regular occurrence pre-war when someone had been injured on duty.

Casualties of those serving with the Forces

Each month during the war the Board was presented with casualties. Only the final figures, presented to the Board on 20th February 1919, are shown below.4 They could only have been a guide, or very out of date, as deaths are are given 52 whereas 65 North London Railway railwaymen are shown on the War Memorial.

Killed-in-action, drowned, etc


Died of Wounds


Missing presumed dead


Wounded, etc 204
Missing or POW


Total 259


Welfare of men serving overseas

In common with other railway companies, the Company made donations to the fund for providing comforts for railways overseas troops and sending parcels to prisoners of war. In their case donations were each of £50.5

Employment of Women

So far, only one has been discovered by name: Annie Adelaide Phillips, a female gate attendant. On 7th February 1918, as the 7.20 p.m. six-coach electric train was leaving No. 4 road platform at Richmond, she fell out of the rear door of the third coach from the front, being crushed between the train and the platform wall. The train was stopped after travelling about 50 yards, when it was found she had sustained serious injuries. She was removed to hospital, where she later died. The four female gate attendants, instead of being in their proper positions on  train prior to departure, were sitting together in the coach mentioned, and were all misled as to what the time was by a District Company’s electric train which was standing at No. 3 road platform opposite, and which invariably left before North London train; it did not do so on this day due to late arrival. When the train to Broad Street started, the women all jumped up and the last that was seen of the deceased was when she was going towards door of the coach (as the other women thought) with the object of closing it. An inquest was held 11th February when the Jury returned a verdict of “accidental death” and added that they considered every precaution had been taken by the Railway Company. A joint inquiry was held on 12th February, and the Officers reported that the accident was the result of want of caution on the part of the deceased woman and that no one else could be blamed for the accident.6

Air Raids

On the night of 23rd/24th September 1916 a warning was received of approaching hostile airships and all lights were extinguished. A Zeppelin passed over the line in the vicinity of Bow and dropped four bombs. This caused damage to the permanent way, buildings and carriages. Two of the Company’s servants were slightly injured, one of whom was detained in hospital. Seven NLR railmen and their families who lived in houses in the immediate neighbourhood of the depot, which it was necessary to vacate owing to damage, were accommodated in disused offices at Bow.7 An unfortunate after effect of this raid happened at about 3 p.m. on the 16th November 1916. Arthur Beard, a painter of the Permanent Way Department, was working on the roof of the damaged foundry when, in endeavouring to pass another painter, released his hold of the handrail of the footway and stepped on to a wooden sash bar which was decayed at the bottom and gave way. Beard fell through the roof to the wooden floor of the building, a distance of about 32 feet, resulting in his pelvis and several ribs being fractured. First aid was promptly given and Beard was taken to the Bromley Sick Asylum, where he died the same night. He was 52 years old, unmarried, and had been in the Company’s service for 26 years. An inquest was held on the 20th November when a verdict of “accidental death due to sash bar breaking in consequence of decay” was returned.8

  1. RAIL 529/84, 13 Oct 1914 Offr’s Mtg Min 1716, RAIL 529/33, 15 Oct 1914 Board Min 8144. []
  2. RAIL 529/34, 10 Apr 1919 Board Min 8984. []
  3. RAIL 529/34, 16 Oct 1919 Board Min 9058. []
  4. RAIL 529/34, 20 Feb 1919 Board Min 8955. []
  5. RAIL 529/34, 19 Oct 1916 Board Min 8529. []
  6. RAIL 529/85, 19 Feb 1918 Offrs’ Mtg Min 2357. []
  7. RAIL 529/85, 17 Oct 1916, Offrs’ Mtg Min 2104,  RAIL 529/34, 19 Oct 1916 Bd Min 8516, RAIL 529/37, Oct 1916 Item 96, Pratt, Edwin A,  British Railways and the Great War Organisation, Efforts, Difficulties and Achievements, Volume I, Selwyn and Blount Ltd, 1921, pages 444-6, 464. []
  8. RAIL 529/85, 12 Nov 1916, Offrs’ Mtg Min 2133. []

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