Railway Benevolent Institution

From 2014: RBF Supporting Railway People

(www.rbfcharity.org.uk) (Charity Number 206312)

Railway Benevolent Institution

The railway charity was formed as the Railway Benevolent Institution in 1858 to provide support to railway staff (active and retired) and their dependents when they needed help through illness, injury, bereavement, or adversity. It also ran two orphanages for children of railway families.

The RBF offers financial help in the following ways:

Helping disabled people with the costs of powered vehicles and making life easier for them by providing mobility aids.

Providing grants to staff who are suffering long term sickness or who have had to retire early through ill health and also to retired staff or their dependents.

Helping with the cost of a convalescent or respite break following an operation or period of illness.

Help with the cost of household repairs or maintenance, especially where there is a shortfall in any grant funding to be found.

Covering the shortfalls in funeral expenses.

Child Care grants to help with the costs of higher education, equipment, school clothing etc. for parents with financial problems.

Annuities where there is a low income.

Over the years the needs of the industry have changed, and to reflect this, from February 2006 the charity was known as The Railway Benefit Fund. In 2014 the charity modernised once again with a shorter name RBF and a new strapline supporting railway people. At the same time, the charity went through a full rebrand.

The charity’s grants and support amounted to almost £325,000 in 2010, and supported over 560 people. Grants range in value from hundreds of pounds to quite small amounts – RBF is a charity where even small amounts of money can make an enormous difference to the lives of people for whom events have taken a difficult turn.

The National Archives

Administrative/biographical background (The National Archives Catalogue for RAIL 1166)

The Institution was founded in May 1858, as a result of a resolution put to a meeting of railway clerks on 5 March 1858 at Camden Town, Middlesex, held for the purpose of establishing a fund for the support of widows and orphans of railway salaried officers. The provisional committee, appointed at this meeting, formulated a set of rules which confined benefits to destitute orphans and to the children of needy railway officers, and to money grants made to the widows of qualified members of salaried officers employed on the railways, these being secretaries, managers, superintendents, engineers, accountants, clerks, etc., those in other posts such as porter, guard and engine driver being included later. A board of management was also later elected on 8 May 1858. Although railway employees paid a subscription to belong to the Institution, it relied very heavily upon public support.

In 1880 the Special Benevolent Fund was raised to relieve cases of distress amongst officers and servants, whether members of the Institution or not, and the widows and orphans of those killed in the performance of their duties.

In 1875 an orphanage for the children of railway servants was opened at Derby, and in 1947 a home in Dorking, Surrey, was opened for aged railwaymen and their wives or widows.

The Institution is now a registered charity and was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1949.

RAIL 1166 1858-1982 Railway Benevolent Institution: Records

This series contains records of the Railway Benevolent Institution – annual reports, 1881-1959; volumes containing details of grants awarded to members, widows and orphans, 1888-1919; and minute books, containing meetings of the Management Board, the Finance Committee, etc, 1858-1982.

Among the annual reports are those of the Railway Servants Orphanage at Derby.

RAIL 1166/1-/79 1881-1959  23rd-101st Annual Reports.

RAIL 1166/80 Undated. Annual Reports, untitled.

RAIL 1166/81-/85 1888-1919 Grants, members, widows and orphans.

RAIL 1166/81 1888-1895

RAIL 1166/82 1895-1900

RAIL 1166/83 1900-1906

RAIL 1166/84 1906-1913

RAIL 1166/85 1913-1919

RAIL 1166/86 1893-1911 Special Benevolent Fund

RAIL 1166/87-/149 12 Mar 1858 Vol 1, to 17 Feb 1982 Vol 63, Minutes.

Grants to Widows of Skegness Disaster [RAIL 1166:82, Folio 5]
Grants to Widows of Skegness Disaster [RAIL 1166:82, Folio 5]

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