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London & North Western Railway Society
LNWR Mystery Photographs

Mystery Number 1 – supplied by anonymous

Show image of mystery phot  mobile/M001B.jpg

We were given the photo without any further information on its content. The staff are certainly LNWR as can be seen from the badges. We guess that the NER poster board indicates that the station is in either the Cumbria or Yorkshire areas where the LNWR had contact with the NER. But maybe you know better. Which station? Who are the staff? What is the date?

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  • George Phillips — 14-Nov-2003 7.37 PM
    I think my father has identified some of the people in the photograph of LNWR staff, so I am sending you their names.
    REAR ROW, 3rd from left
       William Adams, Pear Tree Cottage, Penrith - Engine Driver
    REAR ROW, 5th from left
       Henry Watson, Penrith - Engine Driver
    FRONT ROW, 3rd from left
       Robert Phizackerley, Penrith - Station Master, L&NWR
    FRONT ROW, 5th from left
       Samuel Bird, Penrith - Coal Agent
    We presume the station will be Penrith as the above first three named gentlemen above, worked their during their employment with the North Western Railway and Mr Bird was a independent businessman having a coal agency in the L&NWR Station yard. My father puts the date of the photo at about 1910 but he is not 100% sure.
    Harry Jack — 20-Nov-2003 11.48 PM
    Admittedly, it sounds as though it should be Penrith, but the windows and the iron pillars don’t seem to match any other photos I can find of that station.
    Very puzzling. It’s odd that the lamp reflected in the window doesn’t appear to have a name at the top of its glass bell. I’m stumped, but I’ll keep trying.
    Susan Bird — 03-Mar-2006 4.02 PM
    I saw your mystery photo, and comments from George Phillips (in 2003). My husband’s great-grandfather was Samuel Bird, coal agent, mentioned by George Phillips's father. Samuel Bird would have been about 55 in 1910, and the man in the photo (front row, second from right) doesn’t look any older than 55, possibly younger. He ran a business called Irving and Bird, based at Penrith Station Yard. The Station Master named as Robert Phizackerly was the Station Master at Kendal in the 1891 and 1901 censuses, living in Station House. Could Kendal be the location?
    Harry Jack — 20-Mar-2006 11.20 AM
    Kendal sounds promising! I can only find one photo of the station (said to be "c1910"); the roof-support columns look similar to those in this photo, but the wall details aren't clear enough to be certain.
    Gerald Phizackerley — 21-Jul-2006 3.35 PM
    I possess the silver watch which was presented to my grandfather, Robert Phizackerley, when he left Kendal to become the Station Master at Penrith. It has the following inscription: PRESENTED with a purse of money to MR.ROBERT PHIZACKERLEY, in recognition of his Courtesy and Kindness, DURING THE SIX YEARS he was Station Master IN KENDAL July 1891. (Capitals as in the inscription).

    He then went on to be Station Master at Aylesbury. I do not know the exact dates but he was certainly in Aylesbury at the beginning of the First World War when my father, John Dawson Phizackerley, joined the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry and then the Machine Gun Corps. (My father subsequently worked for the LMS at Penrith Goods Office). If the photograph is later than 1891 then its location is likely to be Penrith.

    It is strange that Susan Bird should have discovered my grandfather in the 1901 Kendal Census!

    John Sargent — 13-Dec-2006 12.00 AM
    As Harry Jack says, the architectural details in the photograph at first sight simply don’t match any of the details at Penrith station (a mainly sandstone building designed in the baronial Tudor style by Sir William Tite). Yet the notice board in the background of the group portrait may provide a useful clue. It is evidently a North Eastern Railway notice board, and the NER ran mineral trains to West Cumberland over the Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway, and by the 1880s (if not earlier) was providing regular passenger services between Penrith station and Darlington. I may be wrong, and will gladly defer to others who know better, but I don’t think that the NER ran services regularly enough, to and from Kendal station, to warrant a notice board. Of course we don’t know for sure whether the photo was taken at Penrith station. It might have been taken in Penrith goods yard, adjacent to the station – hence the architectural details, and the presence in the photo of the coal agent.
    Harry Jack — 01-Jan-2007 7.47 PM

    Despite the passenger seat and the typical LNWR blue tiles underfoot, I don't think this photo was taken on a station platform. Reflections in the windows seem to show a pillar or an extension with a cornice to the right of, and maybe behind the photographer, which suggests that the group was arranged outside a station entrance. The absence of a station name on the lamp glass, and the sky background, maybe support this.

    I wonder if it could have been taken at the entrance to Kendal station?

    Plans show a canopy over the entrance, which would explain the pillars, the men would be facing SW - better light for the photographer - and the station approach behind the camera led downhill, giving a reflected sky background.

    The design of the windows and the white bricks down each side are very like the same features at Bolton LNWR station, rebuilt 1871-4; Kendal station is said to have been rebuilt in 1861. The look of the men with their moustaches, caps and ties, makes me think the date of the photo is a bit earlier than 1910. (The fellow standing at the left end looks just like my grandfather - born 1875 - in his early twenties).

    But this is all speculation, because I can't find a photo of Kendal station entrance. Was the station built of brick? Surely, someone must have taken a photo before it was demolished in 1965...?

    Susan Bird — 04-Jan-2007 11.44 PM
    For the attention of Gerald Phizackerley in particular: I am interested in family history, so couldn’t resist looking at the Station Master, Robert Phizackerley’s details through the census records (an easy name to trace). He started as a railway clerk near Kendal, boarding with the foreman of the railway company (L & NW). He was following a family tradition as his father Thomas was a railway servant (guard) in Yorkshire. He had a brother, Thomas who was a railway clerk at 19, and another brother, Walter, who, at 15, was described as an engine cleaner (engine driver) – sounds far too young to be a driver though!
    Susan Bird — 31-Mar-2007 11.00 PM
    I'm still puzzling over the date of this photo. William Adams, the engine driver, 3rd from left in the back row, was born about 1865, according to the 1901 census, which would make him about 46 in this photo if it is 1910. This looks about right; his moustache doesn’t look too grey, more sandy.
    Harry Jack — 30-May-2007 9.25 AM

    My notion - that this photo was taken at the entrance to Kendal station - is wrong. I've just seen a 1960s photo which shows that Kendal was stone - not brick-built, and the windows were unlike those visible here.

    I still think that the date is late 1890s, rather than 1910. Say circa 1900.

    Steve ???? — 30-Aug-2007 12.24 AM
    Assuming the station to be one of the four were the NER and LNWR met and having ruled out Penrith on architectural grounds (Kendal too as the NER did not reach it regularly) we are left with three possible locations: Leeds (New), Carlisle or Tebay. Of these Carlisle and Leeds seem unlikely so could it be Tebay?
    William Blackburn — 23-Jan-2012 3.35 PM

    I believe that the man sat in the front row, (2nd from Left) may be my great grandfather, Robert Blackburn b.1830 d. 1893.

    I am writing to ask permission to have this photograph printed in the Lancashire Family History magazine Lancashire to see if anyone can throw some light on the actual place.

    My great grandfather was a Pointsman/Signalman and according to the Ancestry Railway records, it appears that he was employed in 1856 in Preston.

    Harry Jack — 01-Feb-2012 2.59 PM

    Mr. Blackburn may have given us the answer to this long-standing puzzle.

    Preston seems a possible location, with the group taken outside the main station entrance. The shape of the windows, the iron pillar supporting an awning, the hanging lamp: they all seem to fit Preston better than any of the earlier suggested locations. But clear photographs for comparison are elusive.

    John Sargent — 22-Aug-2012 5.26 PM
    Preston is an interesting idea, but what would an NER station notice board be doing at Preston? The NER may have run occasional summer weekend excursions from Newcastle and/or Darlington to Blackpool via Tebay and Preston, but I doubt whether the NER connection with Preston would be regular or important enough to merit the use of an NER notice board. If I'm right, then we're back to Penrith or Tebay and of the two, Penrith, which was a terminus for scheduled NER passenger services over the Stainmore route, seems to me the most likely location.
    Harry Jack — 16-Jun-2018 3.55 PM
    This one wasn’t taken at Preston, or at least not outside the main station entrance. The windows and doors were arranged differently there.
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