Who would have been issued with a watch?

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EM2

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Occasionally on eBay, and in antique shops, I see what is obviously an ex-railway pocket watch.
They are normally inscribed with something like:
BR (S)
3871
so I assume that this would be watch number 3871 issued by the Southern Region of BR.
But who would be issued with such a watch? And should they have been returned when staff left service? If they were, would the number be reissued to a new starter afterwards?
 
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steevp

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I used to be a guard at Fratton Depot on the Southern Region in the late 1970s. When I started I was issued with a pocket watch just like you describe. When I was no longer a guard I had to hand it in. I think it went for repair at some point, but I can't recall whether I got the original back or was issued with a replacement.
 

Johnuk123

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Obviously drivers were in the past and I believe firemen too going back a bit.
Guards and station masters too.
Don't think signal box bobbies had them because of the signal box clock.
 

Phil.

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Guards were issued with pocketwatches. Sometime in the eighties they were recalled and substituted by wristwatches. Someone will confirm but I believe that D.O.O. drivers are issued with watches.
 

CatfordCat

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Guards were issued with pocketwatches. Sometime in the eighties they were recalled and substituted by wristwatches. Someone will confirm but I believe that D.O.O. drivers are issued with watches.

I seem to remember something (probably not entirely accurate) in the press about drivers getting issued with watches at some point when DOO was happening.

I also remember pocket watches (and bits of same) on sale in 'Collectors Corner'...
 

theageofthetra

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We get issued with Casio digital wristwatches that pick up a time signal once a day from Rugby.
 

steevp

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Guards were issued with pocketwatches. Sometime in the eighties they were recalled and substituted by wristwatches. Someone will confirm but I believe that D.O.O. drivers are issued with watches.

That would fit with my recollection - I stopped being a guard in about 1981 and I remember hearing later that pocket watches were withdrawn and thinking nostalgically that it was a loss to tradition
 

Welshman

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Obviously drivers were in the past and I believe firemen too going back a bit.
Guards and station masters too.
Don't think signal box bobbies had them because of the signal box clock.

Were drivers issued with watches in the past?

I was always under the impression that in the days of yore [when not everyone could afford the luxury of a watch]the guard was in charge of the train, and that included its timekeeping. Therefore an "official" watch was issued to the guard. The guard signalled the "right-away" and kept a journal of the train's progress and time-keeping.

I'm sure you're right about the bobbies not being issued with an official watch, as I seem to remember in one of the GWR signalling reminiscences books how all the boxes on the 'bus line would listen-in at 11am for the official time-signal from Paddington, and then set their clocks accordingly.
 
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That would fit with my recollection - I stopped being a guard in about 1981 and I remember hearing later that pocket watches were withdrawn and thinking nostalgically that it was a loss to tradition
I'm surprised staff were still being issued with pocket watches (rather than wrist watches) in 1981 or later, and wonder who was still manufacturing pocket watches by that date. Was it some niche operation just for the BR contract, produced in some old-school workshop in the back streets of Birmingham? No doubt each Region would have its own independent specification & supply contract for the watches.

Perhaps in the days of fully mechanical pieces it was cheaper and easier to manufacture an accurate, robust model if it had a larger pocket-size mechanism, rather than wristwatch scale? I'm sure I was wearing an electronic Casio LED wristwatch by 1980, and I'm not normally an early adopter of new technology.

Even my first early-generation quartz watches were more accurate than an expensive mechanical Tag Heuer I owned years later (this was an engagement present from my wife and is now sitting in its box at the back of the sock drawer due to needing to regularly check and adjust the time, even after having it periodically serviced by a specialist jeweller).
 

Johnuk123

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We get issued with Casio digital wristwatches that pick up a time signal once a day from Rugby.

Rugby closed in 2007 all those tall masts you used to see are demolished now, the time signal now comes from Anthorn in Cumbria.
 

30907

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I'm surprised staff were still being issued with pocket watches (rather than wrist watches) in 1981 or later, and wonder who was still manufacturing pocket watches by that date.
Perhaps in the days of fully mechanical pieces it was cheaper and easier to manufacture an accurate, robust model if it had a larger pocket-size mechanism, rather than wristwatch scale? I'm sure I was wearing an electronic Casio LED wristwatch by 1980, and I'm not normally an early adopter of new technology.

That could be one reason. And a pocket watch on a chain might be less prone to accidental damage than a wristwatch.
 

Phil.

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That could be one reason. And a pocket watch on a chain might be less prone to accidental damage than a wristwatch.

The pocket watches tended to get recycled. I was issued with a pocket watch in 1971 which was LNER original issue. I rarely used it for time preferring the Omega "Dynamic" wristwatch which I bought in 1969 and still wearing to-day.
 

alxndr

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I'm sure you're right about the bobbies not being issued with an official watch, as I seem to remember in one of the GWR signalling reminiscences books how all the boxes on the 'bus line would listen-in at 11am for the official time-signal from Paddington, and then set their clocks accordingly.


In Signalman's Morning by Adrian Vaughan he talks about this, although the time was given from a woman in Didcot rather than Paddington.
 

9K43

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At The mill, drivers were not issued with watches, Goods guards were issued with pocket watches
When Doo came along guards had pocket watches . The watches were Timex battery watches, then later on we got zeon battery watches.
Both makes of wrist watch were very accurate
A lot of guard gave back there Pocket watches for the newer watches.
 
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