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TSSA Journal: Past, present and future

31 March 2014

The name, style, price and format of the Journal have changed many times over the past 110 years, reflecting the changing technologies and needs of the Association. Another change is now approaching, as discussed by the general secretary in this edition.

Prioritising online communication means we will be able to better respond to events, moving beyond the limitations of a bimonthly print schedule. Consequently, the number of printed editions of the Journal will be reduced, with their frequency to be decided as part of the Executive Committee’s overall review of our operations. Therefore, this seems like an opportune moment to look back into the Journal’s archive.

110 years ago: January 1904


Vol 1. No. 1, of The Railway Clerk was published on January 1st 1904, priced at 1d. Describing itself as ‘A magazine for account clerks, station masters, booking clerks, goods agents, telegraphists, goods clerks, and all branches of the railway clerical service’.

The opening article was a portrait of Association president, Sir Fortescue Flannery, JP MP, who was not a railwayman, but a marine engineer, born in 1851. Further articles in the concise 12 page publication document the origins of the RCA (back to 1897), ‘Our railway bookshelf’ and an open letter to non-members inviting them to join.

75 years ago: April 1939

Now costing 2d, the substantial 44 page Journal opens, as was usual, with the ‘Leaders of Labour’ portrait, here featuring miners’ leader Ebby Edwards. The first major article opposes fare increases in London, a familiar theme but with a scale thankfully not seen in recent years: the proposal was for a 50 per cent rise!

The president’s column reflects on the German invasion of Czechoslovakia the previous month and takes a firm line against appeasement. The following page, a report from the LNER sectional council, features the problem that management would not pay overtime for those attending ARP classes.


50 years ago: April 1964

The Beatle (sic) Special amounts to merely a cover and a single page of the 44 in this edition, now 3d. The link? The Beatles had recently recorded their first film, A Hard Day’s Night, which is partially set on a train.

Continuing the Merseyside theme, a photo feature on Cilla Black ‘should pacify those of our readers who have been asking why we’ve given Liverpool’s bright young Miss the cold shoulder’. There is no mention of railways or workplace issues, but there is an almost full page photo of Cilla! The opening article is on the importance of voting in local elections, whilst another article discusses the introduction of containerised freight trains.

20 years ago: April 1994

As privatisation gets underway, the ‘Save Our Railways’ campaign looks to highlight the impact of the sell-off. London buses are also soon to go out to tender, whilst the Sheffield Supertram has just opened. The tabloid- format Journal is now priced at 50p, with three pages now in colour.


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