John Speller's Web Pages Broad Gauge Personalities

John Speller's Web Pages - GWR Broad Gauge

Broad Gauge Personalities Untitled Untitled
Charles Russell (1786-1856) was Member of Parliament for Reading and was influential in Parliament as one of the supporters of the Great Western Railway's Act of 1835. He was elected Chairman of the GWR in 1839 and formed with Brunel, Saunders and Gooch the great quadrivirate that built the Great Western Broad Gauge into a major national system. In later life he was afflicted with dementia which forced him to resign as Chairman in 1855 and sadly he ended up taking his own life in 1856. He did much to champion the rights of the employees and was much loved by the workers of the GWR. When he retired they paid for a portrait of him to be painted by Sir Francis Grant, R.A., and placed in the position of honor in the Board Room at Paddington.

Charles Alexander Saunders (1796-1864) was the first Secretary of the Great Western Railway. The GWR did not have a General Manager until after his retirement, and the Secretary was thus the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, responsible in every way for the day-to-day running of the Great Western Railway. A noble champion of the GWR, he once threatened throw a narrow-gauge proponent who offered him a 25,000 bribe to resign out of the window; the man beat a hasty retreat. For thirty years Charles Saunders pretty much was the Great Western Railway. When he retired he was replaced by three people, a Secretary, a General Manager and a Financial Secretary.

James Grierson (1827-1887), Goods Manager (1857) and first General Manager of the Great Western Railway 1863-1887. He died from typhoid fever, contracted during a visit to India for a railway convention. George Findlay, in The Working and Management of an English Railway (1899), described Grierson as "one of the ablest railway officials we ever had in this country."

Frederick George Saunders (1820-1901) was the nephew of Charles Alexander Saunders (1796-1864), the first Secretary of the Great Western Railway. He was appointed Assistant Secretary of the South Wales Railway in 1844, and became Secretary in 1849. When the South Wales Railway was taken over by the GWR his uncle resigned in his favor and in 1863 he became Secretary of the Great Western Railway, a post he held until his own retirement in 1886. After his retirement he became a Director, and upon the death of Sir Daniel Gooch in 1889 he was appointed Chairman of the Great Western Railway. G. A. Nokes (Sekon) referred to him as "last of the broad gaugers" and it was tragic for him that he had to preside over its final abolition in 1892. He retired as Chairman in 1895 but remained a Director until his death in 1901.
Charles Russell, M.P. (1786-1856), Chairman of the Great Western Railway 1839-55
James Grierson (1827-1887), Goods Manager (1857-63) and first General Manager of the Great Western Railway 1863-1887
Charles Saunders (1796-1864) , Secretary of the Great Western Railway 1833-63
Frederick G. Saunders (1820-1901), Secretary of the GWR 1863-86 and Chairman 1889-95
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