Many of you will be aware that in common with all other railway companies the SMJR lost many of its employees for all or part of the Great War as the patriotic duty to volunteer was overwhelming. Railwaymen were technically exempt but many chose to go to war. Some of them never returned and after the end of the war in 1918 most of the railway companies made an effort to recognise the contribution of their employees to the war effort and in particular to remember those who never returned. The large railway companies comissioned impressive memorials very often at more than one location, some even dedicated a locomotive to their fallen staff. In 1914 the SMJR payroll extended to approximately 212 (of which only 3 were women). At the height of the war nearly 25% of the SMJ men were away at war and the effect that this must have had on the company coupled to the difficuties of wartime operation would have been overwhelming. The new regime of management that joined after the formation of the SMJ in 1910 had made impressive inroads to bringing the struggling company into commercial success. The effects of the war must have been a bitter blow to their efforts and of course we know the outcome. Never the less the directors did not shrink from their patriotic duty and looked for a way to honour their staff. The method chosen was not unique but the way it was done linked the men to their roots in the area, their employer and their recent duties and sacrifices.The memorial was a screen printed card that was illustrated around the edges with details of the area the SMJ served emphasising the "Shakespeare" connection and showing a wounded railwayman returning to his duty with a typical SMJ 0-6-0 locomotive at the bottom. The centre panel listed alphabetically all of the employees that had served with their rank and regiment. The memorial was mounted in a sturdy glazed oak frame and enough were ordered to issue one for display at every SMJ station where they were normally placed in the booking hall or waiting room. Stratford had two, one in the booking hall and one in the admin offices. I have been told that one copy was presented to either the Mayor or Holy Trinity Church in Stratford but I can find no evidence to support this. Very few of these memorials have survived and those that have are not in good condition. The best one known is the one in the attached photos and the pictures speak for themselves.
i posted on this thread recently but received no replies. I am planning a trip to Kew to investigate these papers but wondered if you could save me a trip. I am after more info on TF Brown whose name appears on the plaque at Stratford station. Please can you help.
Barry Taylor said:
David W might be interested to know that there is a file at the Public Record Office Kew under ref 'RAIL 674/11' which purports to contains EWJR /SMJR staff records 1873 to 1923. I haven't seen this one yet during my visits down there, so cannot be sure just what is in it, but it might provide a good starting point in his search for his relative.
Unfortunately this is one of the few EWJ/SMJ files at Kew that I haven't looked at yet, as I concentrated mostly on the historical development of the line. Now that the book is complete, I don't have any immediate plans to go down again, but if/ when I do I will certainly have a look at it.