Thursday, 5 January 2017

Fines and Punishment

Early Railway Companies, such as the Liverpool & Manchester had various offences worked into their Acts of Parliament which became Bye-Laws, enforcable by the Railway Constables (who were sworn special constables) and offenders were taken before the Magistrates.

These offences included smoking, defrauding the Company by failing to buy a ticket or using an expired or incorrect ticket, or drinking alcohol on Railway Premises. For the staff, however, the system of checks and balances was via fines and bonuses - but more usually the latter.

The Liverpool & Manchester published it's first Rule Book in 1835, with new editions appearing in 1839 and again in 1840: the latter updated in the light of the General Railway Conference which produced a universal system of signalling, largely based on the practice of the Liverpool & Manchester.

The 1839 Rule Book provides the following examples of punishments to warn employees about breaking the rules:

 H. H., engineman of the Milo engine, for running carelessly against a train on Whiston incline-plane, and thereby doing considerable damage; to be suspended three days and fined ten shillings.
Railway Office, 1st March, 1837.

H. H., engineman, W. L., fireman, of the Eclipse engine, with luggage-train. This train followed the six o’clock blue coach-train from Manchester, on Saturday evening, and near Bury Lane ran violently against a coach-train, by which several passengers were seriously hurt, and two first-class coaches much damaged; for this act of gross carelessness, the Directors order that H. H, and W. L. be discharged.
6th Feb. 1837.

J. H., engineman of the Cyclops, bank-engine, for propelling a train of goods on the level-way (on Friday morning, the 16th of June), contrary to the orders of the Directors : discharged from the service of the Company.—-By order of the Directors.
Railway Office, 17th June, 1837.

N.B.—-Every overlooker, engineman, guard, policeman, and gateman employed in the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, shall keep a copy of these rules constantly on his person, under a penalty of a fine of five shillings—By order of the Directors.
March 1839.

Michael Reynolds, locomotive superintendent of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway provides the following interesting list of fines in his book Engine Driving Life
Fined, one day's pay for hanging a hook upon the safety-valve.
Fined, two pounds for locking the safety-valves of his engine.
Fined, one day's pay, for stopping on the road to clean the tubes.
Fined, one day's pay for running through closed gates.
Fined, one days' pay for threatening to throw his fireman off the engine.
Fined, one pound, for having a stanger on the engine.
Fined, half a crown (2' 6d) for smoke nuissance.
Fined, five shillings, for bringing a pig 150 miles without permission.
Fined, one shilling, for breaking a coupling.
Fined, a day's pay for running over three horses, and not reporting it.

An Engineman on the LBSCR would earn 7s per day - 35 bob a week thereabouts - a pretty decent wage, about twice that of an adult male working in a mill, but equal to a skilled labourer or artisan in the major industrial centres.

It's clear that the most serious offence was the most dangerous: interfering with the safety valves. On the Liverpool & Manchester Railway - and all railways subsequently - locomotives had to be fitted with two safety valves, one which was out of the reach of the Engineman and was tamper-proof. Usually, boilers were hydraulically tested to twice or three times (the latter on the Liverpool & Mancheste) working pressure. Wrought iron boilers, made from several small plates were prone to internal corrosion, and it was difficult to carry out an internal inspection by a guttering flare lamp. The Directors of the LBSCR took this as a very serious offence - which indeed it was - docking the driver over a weeks' pay. Other offences whilst serious in themselves did not affect the safety of the train or engine, but rather caused delays, and therefore profits.

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