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An exploration of the ‘railway family’: 1900 - 1948

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Abstract

This thesis explores the idea of the ‘railway family’ in the British railwayindustry between 1900 and 1948. The ‘railway family’ was borne out of a desire tocreate an ‘imagined community’ of railway workers across the wide geographicalboundaries of individual railway companies and the local branches of national tradeunions. The thesis seeks to understand how railway companies and trade unionsmanaged and extended the idea, particularly through their magazines and newspapers,in order to cultivate loyalty and support amongst their employees or members andtheir families. Despite being a male-dominated industry, the idea of the ‘railway family’opened up avenues of participation for women within the railway industry, mostespecially through the women’s trade union auxiliaries. These auxiliaries were open tothe wives and daughters of railway trade unionists and created a space for theseindividuals to cultivate their own identity as part of the railway industry and as women,wives and mothers through fundraising for trade union causes, supporting the unionduring labour unrest and campaigning on political issues that affected the ‘railwayfamily’. The idea of the ‘railway family’ was not just a theoretical model but was livedin practice by railwaymen and their families within their local communities. Thecreation of occupational communities and the ways in which the ‘railway family’supported one another without the interference of railway companies and tradeunions will be explored through a case study of Gloucester. This thesis is the firstoccasion that the idea of the ‘railway family’ has been studied, both in theory and in practice, in order to understand how railway companies and trade unions interactedwith railway workers and their families and how these individuals utilised the idea tocreate a lasting support network for all those involved with the railway industry.

Citation

(2018). An exploration of the ‘railway family’: 1900 - 1948

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