Unlike the modern railway station where one person carries out a wide range of duties, Leicester Central station in the early 1900's was a hive of activity and employment. The jobs available on the station ranged from kitchen staff, carriage washers, porters, booking clerks and obviously, the stationmaster himself. It is therefore fortunate that S. W. A. Newton managed not only to photograph a number of the staff at work, but also to get many of their names as well. Some of these men could even be your relatives, and if so, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please see the 'About this Site' link for details or use the 'Send Feedback' link.
Railwaymen at Leicester Station See Details
The Great Central Railway prided itself on its appearance and levels of comfort. Locomotives were always immaculately turned out, the stations were spotless and the station staff were always smart and well presented. The trains themselves were also always clean with gleaming windows and polished brass, yet the passengers never really saw the men who kept their trains clean and their locomotives shining. The gentleman below was one of these people. He was a carriage cleaner and would regularly go through trains of empty stock - wiping windows, emptying ashtrays, sweeping the floor and generally making sure the compartments were presentable. One only has to look at the leather padding on the door to see why the Great Central had such a good reputation for passenger comfort.
Carriage washer at Leicester See Details
Another feature of train travel that the passengers often took for granted was the provision of lighting in the carriages. In the days before electric lights, internal carriage lighting came in the form of paraffin lamps fitted into the roofs of the vehicles. These lamps would need to have their wicks primed regularly and have their paraffin supply refilled, and this was done by the station's lampman. Lampmen were once a common sight at stations where, as well as dealing with carriage lamps, they would also have had the responsibility of caring for the locomotive headlamps and tail-lamps and the lighting on the station itself. This duty even extended to the maintenance of signal lamps at certain stations.
Lampman at work on a carriage at Leicester Central Station See Details