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Archiver > UK-1901-CENSUS > 2004-01 > 1075487833

From: David Moore <>
Subject: Re: [UK-1901-CENSUS] Occupation - Number Taker
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2004 18:37:59 +0000
References: <>

Number takers were employed by the Railway Clearing House which was established
to reconcile the "cross-charging" that took place between UK railway companies,
especially before the Grouping in 1923, for the use of a company's vehicles and
/ or sheets, by another company.

The RCH employed Number Takers at key locations round the country to record the
usage of one company's assets by another.

The following is an extract from 'The Railway Clearing House in the British
Economy 1842-1922' by Philip Bagwell and published by George Allen & Unwin,

"Of all those employed on British railways few were less well-known to the
general public than the number takers. They were a small group - never more
than 536 of them were on the books of the Clearing House at any one time before
1918 - and yet their work was pivotal to the smooth working of the entire
railway system. Without the results of their conscientious labours at junction
points all over the country, reporting the movements of every waggon and
carriage and every tarpaulin, the clerks at Seymour Street would have been
quite unable to balance the companies' claims against each other. without
number takers there would have been no clearing system and and without a
clearing system much of the internal trade of the kingdom could not have
developed. On the occasion of the jubilee of the Clearing House a reporter
from The Times, who had visited many of the railway junctions, paid an
appropriate tribute to these key men:

'Night and day throughout the year they are engaged in recording the number,
name and owner, and intended destination of every railway company's waggon,
passenger carriage, van or tarpaulin which passes from one company into the
hands of another company, the same process being gone through when the vehicle
or sheet is returned. The making of this record is unquestionably one of the
most arduous as well as one of the most important duties in connection with
the system. The number takers must be capable of bearing exposure to all kinds
of hard weather and possess the requisite amount of smartness and intelligence
to enable them to perform their different duties with the utmost accuracy and
dispatch. It is to them in great measure that the efficiency of the Clearing
House is due.'"

David Lury wrote:

> At 09:55 30/01/2004 +0000, David Moore wrote:
> >Was it on either of these lists that someone was asking what a "Number
> >Taker" was?
> >
> >I can't however find the request in the Archives. In any event please
> >get in touch if you wish to know.
> David,
> May I suggest that whoever put the question, it's typical of the sort of
> query where the response is likely to interest many on the list(s). So, why
> not post your answer to the list(s)?
> David Lury

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