Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 149,755 pages of information and 235,473 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

John Shaw (1839-1887)

From Graces Guide

John Shaw (1839-1887)

1887 Obituary [1]

JOHN SHAW, the son of Mr. A. Shaw of Mottram, Cheshire, was born in March 1839.

He was educated at the Grammar School of that town, and at the early age of fifteen entered the service of the Manchester and Sheffield Railway Company, on the introduction of Mr. John Chapman, M.P., then one of the Directors of the Company.

The lad was received as an apprentice under the system which had been adopted by that Company, and to which is due the training and practical education of some of the most useful officials in the railway world. The apprenticeship system, as it existed at that time, required that all who entered the service must undergo a somewhat strict examination in all the branches of elementary knowledge. Having passed the examination, a successful candidate was bound to remain in the service of the Company for a period of at least three years, and, among other matters, he was required to make himself as proficient as possible in shorthand. The salary commenced with a modest £20, and ended with £40 a year. From this position Mr. Shaw rose to be Assistant-Secretary of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Company, and in 1868, on the resignation of Samuel Smiles, he was made Secretary of the South Eastern Railway Company. At the time of his appointment to this important post he was but twenty-nine years of age - the youngest secretary of any railway company.

For nearly twenty years Mr. Shaw devoted qualities of a high order to the discharge of this important, often complicated, and sometimes unthankful duty. After the death of Mr. Eborall, in 1873, he undertook, for a short time, the post of General Manager in addition to those of Secretary of the Company. In the fulfilment of these duties difficulties of no ordinary nature were experienced, and there are probably but few persons who could have so conducted the affairs of the South Eastern Company as to gain, as Mr. Shaw did, the confidence and respect alike of the Chairman and Directors, who were not always in accord on matters of policy connected with the management of the Company.

Among many services rendered alike to the proprietors and employees of the South Eastern Railway by the late Mr. Shaw, the foremost consists of the establishment of the 'South Eastern Railway Provident Savings Bank,' formed after the model of a similar institution among the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire officials. This was opened in February 1869. The bank was founded under a special Act of Parliament, which empowers the Company to pay 4 per cent. interest on the deposits, and makes all the sums deposited a debt on the general concern. The rules and regulations provide that any person in the Company’s employ - man or boy - may, when receiving his wages at any of the usual pay days, leave in the hands of the pay-clerk any sum not less than a penny to be put into the bank. The institution thus offers the advantage most appreciable by those who best know the habits of the classes to whom the mass of railway servants belong, viz., that the man need not go to the savings bank, but that the savings bank comes to the man.

On the occasion of Mr. Shaw’s marriage the Prince of Wales presented him with a tea-service in recognition of the attention he had always shown to members of the Royal Family when travelling on the South Eastern Railway.

For four months before his death Mr. Shaw had been suffering from a complication of disorders. He had gone to Bournemouth for change of air, and his physicians looked very hopefully to his improvement. But a relapse set in, and he died on the 28th of June, 1887. The high respect and esteem in which Mr. Shaw was held was strikingly manifested at the funeral, which took place at the cemetery at Reigate, Mr. Shaw having lately resided at Redhill. On this occasion not less than forty carriages took part in the funeral procession, conveying representatives from nearly every railway company in England, besides a large number of private friends who knew and valued the deceased's good qualities of mind and heart.

Mr. Shaw was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 30th of May, 1876.

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