Crewe Works Staff Registers on Ancestry

In the previous post, I talked about the staff registers from the Crewe Locomotive Works of the London & North Western Railway Company (LNWR), later the London Midland & Scottish Railway Company (LMS). I mentioned that the main volumes contain a page for each employee, and can be seen at The National Archives (TNA), Kew or Chester Record Office. What I didn’t mention was how these volumes related to what’s just been published in Ancestry’s collection “UK, Railway Employment Records, 1833-1963”.

After the surviving main staff registers for Crewe Works were created around 1890, new entrants were entered into the books in order of their date-entered-service. If the staff clerks wanted to update anyone’s record, how did they find the right entry? What they did was to create (and maintain) a series of other books that indexed the main staff registers. Whenever a new employee came into the Works, the clerk wrote up his (or her) page on the first available blank page in the current main staff register. But they also entered the employee’s name and date-entered-service in one or more of the index registers – and these had plenty of white space between blocks of data to enable the entry to go into the middle of existing pages.

Why is this important? For two reasons: If you search on your Crewe Works relative in Ancestry’s collection “UK, Railway Employment Records, 1833-1963”, you’re liable to get three or four very similar records for them. It would be, I think, nice to understand why. Secondly, as not all the main staff registers survive, it’s important to understand what remains, to get the most out of them.

So far as I can see, Ancestry’s “UK, Railway Employment Records, 1833-1963” does not contain any of the main, one person per page main staff registers for Crewe Words, but only the index registers. I don’t know this for certain, as I don’t know what the TNA piece numbers are for what’s been loaded, but so far I’ve failed to find any of the main staff registers, even when I looked for men I’ve seen in the main staff registers at Kew. But the good news is that, while the index staff registers only hold one line per employee and not the full page, nevertheless, they do contain a considerable amount of information – more than just the name and date-entered-service that I suggested above. The reason for this, I imagine, is that the staff clerks had to produce various reports and statistics, and it made far more sense for them to put more information into the index registers than was strictly necessary, to allow these reports to be compiled directly from the index registers, without the need to open the big main volumes.

There were, at this period, four types of index registers, viz:

  • MR-series – lists arrivals and departures chronologically with weekly totals, allowing production of simple Management Reports (RAIL 410/1929 to 1945);
  • FR-series – lists arrivals and departures chronologically for each Foreman (RAIL 410/1918 to 1928);
  • AL-series – lists arrivals and departures chronologically for each letter of the alphabet (RAIL 410/1915 to 1917);
  • AR-series – lists all employees chronologically for each surname, the surnames being entered alphabetically (RAIL 410/1905 to 1914).

TNA (Kew) references are given above – see the TNA catalogue for the dates covered by each. Note there are further pieces in the TNA catalogue that look like they could be continuations of the above series of pieces – for example, RAIL 410/1954 to 1958 may be successors to the FR-series – but I have not examined these and I don’t know if Ancestry has loaded them, either.

Note – this seems to have been the usages of those I examined. It is quite possible others were used for different purposes.

AR-series

I believe these are Alphabetic index Registers and enable the staff clerks to find a given person in the full registers.
Their format is different from the other index registers because, although they use the same printed paper, they simply list the current employees on both left and right-hand pages, with the column headings being fairly irrelevant to the data entered. Names are grouped under surname, with the surnames arranged alphabetically. Considerable space is left between each surname – one page I saw had three surnames on, each with only two or three individuals. As new individuals arrive, they are added in date order under their surname. Unlike (most of?) the other index registers, the AR index registers seem to include all staff in position when the register was started – they wouldn’t work otherwise. Certainly the one I examined included employee starting dates earlier than the start date of the book itself. The index register was presumably used until some part got full, when a new set of AR index registers would be created and the old ones stored away.

AL-series

Based on the sample I saw, these index registers are ordered by initial letter of surname. Within each letter, it lists all joining employees with that initial letter in chronological order on the left-hand pages, and all leavers in chronological order on the right-hand pages. Each index register has a start and end date and when the register was full, a new one would be created and the old one stored. I am unclear what purpose such an index register served.

FR-series

Based on the sample I saw, these index registers are ordered by the employee’s foremen. For each foreman, it lists all joining employees in chronological order on the left-hand pages, and all leavers in chronological order on the right-hand pages. Each index register has a start and end date and when the register is full, a new one will be created and the old one stored. This index register will assist the creation of reports for staff moves relating to each foreman and has a running total of staff under each foreman.
I do not know if the FR register includes all employees working for each foreman at the start of the register. It is certainly awkward to use since when a foreman’s pages are full, the reader is directed to a folio in another part of the register. Worse, I couldn’t work out how to find a specific foreman’s first pages.
From memory, the foremen themselves appear at the end of the book.

MR-series

Based on the sample I saw, these index registers are the “Weekly Returns” and show what happened in each week. They allow the compilation of Management Reports on numbers of staff employed. For each week, the index register lists all joining employees on the left-hand pages, and all leavers on the right. The index register also lists employees whose rate changes. At the end of each week, the total number of staff employed in the Works is listed and compared to the figure 12 months previously.
Column headings on the pages are similar to the other index registers, except that the leavers have additional columns for foreman and “Insured”. The last seems to refer to the class of membership in one of the insurance societies for LNWR employees.

Next time, I have a couple of case studies.

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About brucefuimus

Retired IT professional; family historian and mathematician by training.
This entry was posted in Crewe Works, Family history, Railways. Bookmark the permalink.

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