Papers of the London & North Eastern Railway Station Masters’ and Agents’ Association

Scope and Content

The collection includes letters, minute books, notes, and printed matter.

Administrative / Biographical History

The North Eastern Railway Station Masters’ Association was formed at a meeting of station masters in Leeds on 15 February 1914. The first Chairman of the new association was Mr Hall, of Hylton station, and the first General Secretary was Mr J Newsham, of Hemingbrough. Mr Newsham remained active in the Association for many years, becoming Consulting Secretary after he stepped down as General Secretary in 1920, before being elected Vice-Chairman in 1921 and Chairman in 1922. He was also a General Secretary of the National Federation of Station Masters’ and Agents’ Associations.

In 1916, the NER SMA reported that its membership stood at 373, or 68% of those eligible to join. Membership numbers climbed for the next two years, reaching 452 and 85% of those eligible by 1918. Two years later membership had fallen to 306, although it rose again to 344 in the following year. No later membership figures are given in the AGM minutes or publications.

The name of the NER SMA was amended to the North Eastern Railway Station Masters’ & Agents’ Association in May 1919 following a vote to add agents to the association’s constitution at that year’s AGM, and amended again at the 1923 AGM to become the London & North Eastern Railway Station Masters’ and Agents’ Association.

The National Federation of Station Masters’ and Agents’ Associations was formed on 11 September 1918 by the NER SM&AA and the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Station Masters’ & Agents Association. In the following two years, the South Eastern & Chatham Railway Stationmasters’ & Agents Association, the Great Northern Railway Stationmasters’, Agents’ & Supervisory Clerks’ Association, and the Midland Railway Stationmasters’ Association joined the Federation. By the mid-1920s the Federation was attempting to become a national union of station masters.

The NER SMAA and the National Federation seem to have been sometimes in opposition to one of the larger bodies representing railway workers, the Railway Clerks Association. Station masters were eligible to join the RCA and this overlap in interests was not tolerated happily by either organisation. The Quarterly Circular of the NER SM&AA for January 1919 contains several pages discussing the position of station masters with regard to the RCA, and exhorting members not to join. The RCA was much larger in number than the station masters’ own organisations, claiming 5000 station masters among its members, although this did not prevent its executive being concerned about the impact of the Federation: “In an attempt to weaken the influence of the RCA some of the railway companies encouraged stationmasters and supervisors to form their own separate associations. … the National Federation of Stationmasters came into existence on 11th September 1918. The railway companies did everything possible to promote the interests of the new federation … A great effort was made by the General Secretary of the Federation, John Newsham, to recruit members of the RCA to his organisation, but his plans, and those of the railway companies, failed.” (From Single or Return by Malcolm Wallace.) The Federation denied that it was funded by the railway companies even after the accusation had been made in the House of Commons.

At the grouping of the railways in 1923, the NER SM&AA became the London & North Easter Railway Station Masters’ & Agents’ Association. However under the LNER the Association appears to have simply petered out. Fewer executive committee meetings were held by the mid-1920s, and an annual meeting was held in 1927, at which the officers of the association were re-elected; but no more meetings were minuted until 1937, when a new General Secretary was elected, and the final motion carried was to ask as many members of the Association as possible to attend a meeting to wind up its affairs.


The papers are arranged in three sub-fonds according to the body they relate to:

  • 1. North Eastern Railway Station Masters’ Association (including its successive names, the North Eastern Railway Station Masters’ & Agents’ Association and the London & North Eastern Railway Station Masters’ & Agents’ Association)
  • 2. National Federation of Station Masters’ Associations
  • 3. Miscellaneous items (mostly printed matter) created by other bodies.

Within these three sub-fonds, the items have been arranged first by function and then chronologically.

The collection had previously been numbered, and a simple outline list prepared, but it was not clear what the basis was for this initial arrangement. The collection was therefore rearranged as described above. Some items had been clipped or bundled together and it was not possible to determine whether this was a reflection of their original state, so any items clipped or bundled together have been retained in this way in the order in which they were found.

Conditions Governing Access

Access is given in accordance with the NRM access policy. Material form this archive is available to researchers through the Search Engine reading room.

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Acquisition Information

The collection was a gift from Mrs M Selmes.

Alternative Form Available

Not applicable.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The collection includes handwritten and typed letters and notes, several volumes, and printed pamphlets. Most of the material is in good condition.

Archivist's Note

The draft handlist was prepared in January 2007 by Sarah Pymer, a student on the post-graduate archives and records management course at the Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies, as part of a work placement at the National Railway Museum. Final checking was done by Tim Procter, Access Team Project Leader.

Description created by Jane Ronson (Archives Hub team) using the Archives Hub EAD Editor, May 2015.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied of items in the archive, provided that the copying process used does not damage the item or is not detrimental to its preservation. Copies will be supplied in accordance with the NRM’s terms and conditions for the supply and reproduction of copies, and the provisions of any relevant copyright legislation.

Appraisal Information

No appraisal of this collection has been undertaken.


No further accruals are expected.

Location of Originals

Not applicable.


Single or Return: The official history of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association by Malcolm Wallace, 1996. Web version, 2003, available at

Geographical Names