THE STORY OF A RAILWAY TRUNCHEON AND

“EXILE” TO IMMINGHAM


James Brown Rostron of New Waltham

(05.03.1878 – 26.08.1947)


 
There is an intriguing human (and railway) story behind this very rare Great Eastern Railway police truncheon, of which
 only one other example is known, in the National Railway Museum in York.

It was owned by James Brown Rostron, latterly of New Waltham, for many years a railway policeman; though whether it was
 issued to him and retained upon his transfer from the Great Eastern lines to the Grimsby area,  or whether he “acquired”
it in the course of his service, is not known.

James Brown Rostron was one of 21 children (of whom only two survived) born to James and Sarah Ann Rostron in Annfield Plain,
near Washington, Co. Durham (5th March 1878). By 13½ he was working in the railway refreshment rooms at Chelmsford
 (where he was once robbed of his takings by sailors on a troop train, chasing after it, as it steamed away, in a vain
attempt to recover the money, as he had to bear the losses himself).

He joined the Metropolitan Police at New Scotland Yard but was not happy and transferred to the Great Eastern Railway Police
 at Millwall Docks, London. There he met his future wife, Alice Mary Ann White, whose father was the Dockmaster.
They married at St. Lukes Church, Millwall on Sunday 26th October 1902.

The couple moved to Harwich Parkeston Quay, where their sons, James Henry and Will, were born and then moved to Romford, when James Brown Rostron
 worked at Temple Mills Marshalling Yards, before moving to Ipswich, then again to Romford, where daughter Winifred was born.

James Brown Rostron had been promoted to Detective Sergeant in the railway police at Ipswich, but he had what his family call a “persistent market habit”
which was to be his downfall. He worked in plain clothes to effect anonymity and was not supposed to spend any amount of time regularly in places
where as a consequence, he might be recognised and thus  his true identity might become known. However, he was fascinated by salerooms and
regularly spent time at auctions (mainly buying books) and after being warned about his “habit”  several times by his superiors, lost his
 stripes and was transferred to the Grimsby area.

He became a sergeant at Cleethorpes but fell out with the staff there and so was again
transferred, reduced to the rank of constable, at Immingham.

The family moved from their home in Cleethorpes to a bungalow built around a Nissen Hut in Peake's Avenue, New Waltham,
where he kept a pony called “Darky” and used it to transport coal in a cart from Waltham railway station to New Waltham.
The pony was occasionally attached to a smart trap to take his wife out and also, his granddaughter, Mary. He also bred
rabbits on the land which went with the bungalow and sold them all over the country. His granddaughter Mary Rostron,
who has presented the truncheon to the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway Museum,  recalls visits there. She  found the house
 (which was cold and damp in winter) in which books filled one room and spilled into a conservatory--  and her grandparents – fascinating.

When James Brown Rostron moved to the Grimsby area, Mary Rostron's father, James (Jim) Rostron (born Dovercourt , 9th March 1905,
 died Lincoln County Hospital, 29th March 2001)   stayed in Bury St. Edmunds where his parents  had been living and at 14, became
a “signalling lad”. He courted Eva Maud Long and they married in Bury in 1929, moving to Cleethorpes, where he worked as a
 signalman at New Clee, Fish Dock Road (Grimsby) and LittlefieldCrossing (Grimsby), retiring from there in 1970. They were
very much involved with Beaconthorpe Methodist Church in Cleethorpes. Their daughter, Mary, became a teacher and was
Head Teacher (at Washingborough, near Lincoln);  retiring to live in Lichfield.

The GER truncheon, photographs and other paperwork belonging to James Brown Rostron has been kindly donated to
The Lincolnshire Wolds Railway at Ludborough by Mary Rostron, James Browns granddaughter, where it will be displayed in their museum.


Many thanks to Chris Bates for text and photographs and permission to display on this website.


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