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
only one other example is known, in the National Railway Museum in
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
near Washington, Co. Durham (5th March
1878). By 13½ he was working in the railway refreshment rooms at
(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
at Millwall Docks, London. There he
met his future wife, Alice Mary Ann White, whose father was the
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
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
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 –
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
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.