On the night of 10th/11th May 1941 (regarded as the last night of the Blitz in the Second World War) King’s Cross Station was bombed. Amongst the buildings that were destroyed were those that contained the vast majority of the Great Northern Railway’s employment records. The consequences of that night make researching the lives of Great Northern Railway employees extremely difficult.

It is almost certain that somewhere in our families, we have railway relations. They are the men and women who did the jobs that many railway researchers ignore or forget about.

The Society is trying to put the GNR’s employees on a similar research footing as, for instance, carriage and wagon design, signalling, timetables services – ‘normal’ areas of research.

The Society has a Genealogy Officer who helps members of the public find what information that may have survived, and also suggest other areas that may help.

We have an intimate knowledge of the surviving records and where they are housed, as well as a wide knowledge of more traditional genealogy and family history techniques with which to help people wanting to know more about their GNR relations, including access to the many family history websites.

In addition, our Genealogy Officer is building a huge database of GNR employees – bringing all the many and varied surviving sources into one searchable database. Already, it contains the names and details of over 24,000 individuals and is growing daily. We also have a growing collection of employee photographs.

As part of this employee project, we are also researching about 950 GNR employees who died as a result of The Great War. It is hoped that a series of regional books giving details of the men who made the ultimate sacrifice will be forthcoming.

We would be pleased to hear from anyone who is either looking for help in researching their relation’s railway career and life, or from anyone who has a GNR relation in their family and who is willing to share that information with us so we can build a one-stop research facility to those who actually made the GNR work.

Please contact:

David Ingleby at:

Richard (Dick) Ashton
Willoughby Station Staff – 1920s

Photograph information:

  • Carr Wagon Works, Wheelwrights Section in 1914, courtesy of Ken Woods. His father, Ernest Edward Woods is in the second row from the front, second left, and his Grandad, Ernest Arthur Woods is the foreman in the bowler hat, standing front right.
  • Shunter: name unknown, from the GNR collection
  • Richard (Dick) Ashton, a Lad Porter/Porter at St Neots Station c1913. Photo donated to the GNR Collection by Adrian Jarvis.
  • Station staff at Willoughby in Lincolnshire in the 1920’s. Photo owned by Stan Ironmonger and allowed for use by Dave Ennefer of Dave’s Railpics.