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North British Railway

Chairman and Chief Officers 1842 – 1922


Name Dates in office Notes Ref
John Learmonth 1842 – 1852 Resigned (forced out by English lobby)  
J. M. Balfour of Whittinghame 1852 – 1855 Resigned (ill-health)  
Richard Hodgson 1855 – 1866 Resigned (1866 financial scandal) 1
John Beaumont 1866 Caretaker Chairman 2
John Stirling of Kippenross and Kippendavie 1866 – 1882 Died in office  
Sir James Falshaw 1882 – 1887 Stepped down to Deputy Chairman  
The Marquis of Tweeddale 1887 – 1899 Overthrown by Wieland cabal  
Sir William Laird 1899 – 1901 Died in office  
George Bradley Wieland 1901 – 1905 Died in office  
The Earl of Dalkeith 1905 – 1912 Stepped down to Deputy Chairman 3
William Whitelaw 1912 – 1922 To LNER as Chairman, to 1938  
1 Later adopted the name ‘Richard Hodgson Huntley’.
2 15 November to 21 December as interim Chairman.
3 Later Duke of Buccleuch following the death of his father in November 1914

General Manager

Name Dates in office Notes Ref
Charles Forbes Davidson 1842 – 1852 Dismissed (at instance of English lobby) 4
Henry Chaytor 1852 Resigned (see note) 5
Thomas Kenworthy Rowbotham 1852 – 1866 Resigned, probably as alternative to dismissal (1866 financial scandal)  
Samuel Lack Mason 1867 – 1874 Resigned. Possibly forced out to make way for John Walker.  
John Walker 1874 – 1891 Died in office. See also under Secretary.  
John Conacher 1891 – 1899 Resigned (forced out by Wieland cabal)  
William Fulton Jackson 1899 – 1918 Retired early (ill-health)  
James Calder 1918 – 1922 to LNER as General Manager (Scotland), to 1934  
4 Also held the office of Secretary
5 4 June -2 July. Chaytor of Croft, near Darlington, was elected a Director by the lobby of English shareholders in March 1852 and became Deputy Chairman almost immediately. On 4 June, he was appointed interim Manager in place of Davidson, it being understood ‘that many English Shareholders considered Mr. Chaytor well qualified for the office of Managing Director’. He didn’t last long. At the Board meeting on 2 July, the Opinion of Counsel was read that, by accepting a paid office, Chaytor had effectively resigned as a Director. The Board duly resolved that Chaytor had ‘ceased to be a Director upon and from his acceptance of the office of Manager on 4th June last’. He thereupon resigned as Manager, and was reappointed a Director, and Deputy Chairman.


Name Dates in office Notes Ref
Charles Forbes Davidson 1842 – 1852 see under General Manager  
James Nairne 1852 – 1866 Died in office  
John Walker 1866 – 1873 Resigned, elected a Director, subsequently appointed General Manager  
George Bradley Wieland 1873 – 1892 Retired, elected a Director, subsequently Chairman  
John Cathles 1892 – 1918 Retired  
James McLaren 1918 – 1922 To LNER as Joint Secretary, then sole Secretary, to 1938  

Locomotive Superintendent 1846–1919

(see ref 6)

Name Dates in office Notes Ref
Robert Thornton 1846 – 1851 Resigned  
William Smith 1851 – 1854 Dismissed  
Hon Edmund George Petre 1854 Resigned (as alternative to dismissal) 7
William Hurst 1854 – 1867 Dismissed  
Thomas Wheatley 1867 – 1875 Resigned (probably as alternative to dismissal)  
Dugald Drummond 1875 – 1882 Resigned (the full facts are not known)  
Matthew Holmes 1882 – 1903 Resigned (ill health) 8
William P Reid 1903 – 1919 Retired 9
6 On W P Reid's retirement in 1919, the post was split into Chief Mechanical Engineer and Locomotive Running Superintendent.
7 March to December
8 Resigned in May 1903 and died two months later
9 Appointed on a temporary basis until 2 June 1904.

Chief Mechanical Engineer 1920 –1922

Name Dates in office Notes Ref
Walter Chalmers 1920 – 1922 to Mechanical Engineer, Southern Scottish Area, LNER  

Locomotive Running Superintendent 1920–1922

Name Dates in office Notes Ref
John P Grassick 1920 – 1922 to Loco Running Supt, Southern Scottish Area, LNER  

Engineer-in-Chief 1853 –1922

(See ref 10)

Name Dates in office Notes Ref
James Bell (senior) 1853 – 1879 Retired  
James Carswell 1879 – 1897 Died in office  
James Bell (junior) 1897 – 1909 Retired  
Charles J Brown 1909 – 1911 Resigned  
William A Fraser 1911 – 1922 To Engineer-in-Chief, Southern Scottish Area, LNER  
10 Until January 1853, the line was under the supervision of the Consulting Engineer, John Miller, with Resident Engineers (one of whom was James Bell) reporting to him. In January 1853, Bell was given responsibility for the whole line, becoming ‘Engineer-in-Chief’ five years later.

General/Chief Goods Manager

(see ref 11)

Name Dates in office Notes Ref
Archibald Scott 1846 – 1851 To GM, Edinburgh, Perth & Dundee 12
William Hardie 1851 – 1867 Remained as Goods Manager, Edinburgh 13
Peter MacPherson 1867 – 1874 Died in office  
Donald McDougall 1874 – 1897 Died in office  
Alexander Rutherford 1897 – 1905 Retired 14
William Andrew 1905 – 1917 Retired  
John Wilkinson 1918 – 1919 Died in office  
John C Christie 1919 – 1922 To Goods Manager, Southern Scottish Area  
11 On the amalgamation with the Edinburgh, Perth & Dundee on 29 July 1862, Peter MacPherson, ex-Goods Manager and Interim Manager of the EP&D, was appointed Goods Manager of the Northern Section (Fife); later, he also assumed the Western (E&G) area. In March 1867 he was appointed the first General Goods Manager. He died at the age of 41. The General Goods Manager was based in Glasgow.
12 Goods Manager
13 Goods Manager. After amalgamation with the Edinburgh, Perth & Dundee, continued as Goods Manager for the Southern (Edinburgh-based) Section until his death in October 1871.
14 Appointed as General Goods Manager, but title later changed to Chief Goods Manager.

Passenger Superintendent/General Superintendent/Superintendent of the Line 1846 –1916

(see ref 15)

Name Dates in office Notes Ref
Thomas Pearson 1846 – 1853 Services dispensed with. See note. 16
John Lingard 1853 – 1857 Part of duties as Station Master. See note. 17
James McLaren 1857 – 1893 Died in office 18
David Deuchars 1893 – 1911 Retired 19
John Black 1911 – 1916 Retired  
15 On Black’s retiral, the post was split into Operating Superintendent and Commercial Superintendent
16 Passenger Superintendent. On 3/12/1852, the Board instructed the General Manager to give Pearson notice that his services ‘would be dispensed with at the end of three months, stating that owing to no fault, but owing to changes considered necessary for economy by the Board’.
17 Lingard was appointed Station Master for ‘the Edinburgh Station’ in December 1852. His duties were many and various, including responsibility for the Company’s horses (numbering 117 in 1864). In March 1874, he is reported as having resigned and William Paton was appointed Station Master. However, Lingard continued in service as Horse Superintendent and died on 23 November 1899, aged 81 years, and still ‘in harness’ after 47 years of NBR service.
18 Appointed Manager’s Assistant at the beginning of 1853 and Passenger Superintendent in 1857. Became General Superintendent in March 1873.
19 Appointed as ‘Superintendent of the Line’ on McLaren’s death.

Operating Superintendent 1917 – 1922

Name Dates in office Notes Ref
Major Charles H Stemp CBE 1917 – 1922 To Superintendent, Southern Scottish Area, LNER  

Commercial Superintendent 1917 – 1922

Name Dates in office Notes Ref
William Strang 1917 – 1918 Died in office  
Matthew S Strang 1918 – 1922 to Passenger Manager, Southern Scottish Area, LNER.  

General Accountant

(see ref 20)

Name Dates in office Notes Ref
James P Lythgoe 1865 – 1866 Resigned, probably as alternative to dismissal (1866 financial scandal).  
George Simpson 1867 – 1905 Retired  
John Martin 1905 – 1922 Retired. Continued as Secretary of the Forth Bridge Railway Company until 1931.  
20 Initially, the accounts were the responsibility of C F Davidson, the General Manager & Secretary. In July 1852, responsibility passed to the Cashier. In 1854, the Cashier appears to have become Cashier and Accountant, but the two functions were split following amalgamation with the EP&D in 1862. The post of General Accountant appears to have been created on amalgamation with the E&G in 1865, resulting in the appointment of J P Lythgoe, who had held the post of Audit Accountant.


(see ref 21)

Name Dates in office Notes Ref
Adam Johnstone 1865 – 1881 Retired  
William White Millar 1881 – 1891 Retired  
James Watson 1892 – 1922 Retired  
21 Prior to 1865, the NBR’s Law Agents were appointed from two firms of Edinburgh solicitors –Mr. John G Wood WS, of Messrs. Dalmahoy & Wood WS, and Mr. David Smith WS of Messrs. Smith & Kinnear WS. Smith retired in the summer of 1858 and Wood was appointed sole Agent from 31 July 1858. Wood died on 14/9/1865. The NBR’s first two Secretaries, C F Davidson and James Nairne, were both qualified solicitors.


The information set out above was gathered from a number of original sources: North British Minutes, Circulars and Notices, and Press reports. From the turn of the century, the Railway Yearbook also provides a convenient source.