Needham's and the Railways
Although Edward Moore Needham was born in Macclesfield he lived the latter part of his live in Derbyshire, near Belper . He joined the railways in their infancy in 1839 and rapidly rose through the ranks to become the General Superintendent of Passengers for the Midland Railway, He died in 1890 and the respect of his peers and the town he lived in was such that at his funeral a special train was laid on to the town of Belper and the town shut all its shops as the cortège included over 100 carriages proceeded down the High Street. So a lad who joined the railways as a porter aged 19 went on to be a major influence of one of the biggest rail companies in the country
Edward Moore's dad, another Edward, was born in Leek but he married his wife Sarah Goodbehere in Yardley Worcestershire in 1814. The 1841 census has them still living in Yardley and his occupation is a plater of spoons. But 5 years he dies in Aston Warwickshire where I believe he had a factory. This is similar to my own family line where Needham's moved from the land to become cutlers etc in industrial Sheffield.
Edward and Sarah had eight children all of whom were born in Macclesfield. Of these eight, three were boys, Edward Moore b 1820, Samuel b 1819. and Samuel b 1828. Tragically, both Samuel's died within a month of their birth but as we shall see, Edward M ensures the Needham line flourishes. Edward M has an interesting cv which reflects the major changes the country was going through as a consequence of the industrial revolution. Edward M was born in 1820 and as we know in 1939 he joined the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway; the railways were in their infancy the first passenger steam train only started with the Stockton to Darlington line in 1825 by 1830's so there were lots of opportunities. In 1835 there were no significant rail companies but 10 years later on December 31st. 1845 the Midland Railway owned 95 engines and tenders, 282 carriages, and 1,256 wagons. In Edward M's lifetime the company grew and in 1888, two years before he died, the company had 1807 locomotives. As we shall see Edward Moore had a significant part in this growth
What of Edward M's personnel life. As we have seen he was born in 1820 and married Harriet Leay in 1848 in Sefton Lancashire; his marriage certificate says he was living in Birmingham . They soon had a son Edward Leay Needham (b1850), who was baptised in Seaforth Lancashire, and a daughter Bartha Mary Needham (b1851) baptised in Jan 1852. at Bordesley Warwickshire. The places where their two children were baptised almost certainly reflects where Edward M and his wife Harriet lived. T he 1851 census shows that the family were living in Aston. You have to remember that the first passenger service didn't start until the 1830's so Edward appears to have been involved in the newly developing rail system from early on. The following year, 1952, and at the age of 32 he was made Superintendent of Line, a position he held until his death on 23 Jan 1890. This meant he was responsible for the safe running of all the lines including all the equipment (ie the signalling etc) and the people who operatedthe equipment. He was recognised as the railways authority on these matters and consequently his death was a major loss to the industry.
Working on the rail system he moves to Knaresbrough (1861) and onto Belper just outside Derby. But in 1863 his wife Harriet dies and is buried in Shardlow in Derbyshire . Six years later he marries Mary Louisa Allport in Belper. They go on to have two boys, Ronald Allport Needham and James Ernest Needham and a. girl Sybil Margaret Needham. The 1871 census describes his job as Superintendent of Line for Midland Railway and in 1874 he is Superintendent of Passengers.
Figure 1 Derbyshire Advertiser 31 Jan 1890
He died in 1890. He had been ill for some time had been getting worse with contagium of the lung followed by Russian flu. The day before his death the signalmen in Derby telegraphed a message to him and his family wishing him a speedy recovery which shows the respect the working men on the railway had for Edward Moore. His funeral said much about the level of esteem he was held in by the great and the good of the rail companies had for him. A measure of this is clear from the numbers that turned up and the arrangements that were made. A special train was laid on taking mourners from Derby to Belper. But first it stopped at Duffield so the passengers could alight and watch the funeral cortege pass from Edward Moore's house at Spring Hill min Duffield to the church in Belper. The cortege consisted of 63 carriages. It through down the main street of Duffield. All the shops were closed and blinds drawn down and the owners and shopworkers lined the pavements
Figure 2 Railway News 01 Feb 1890
Edward Moore was born before the railways came of age and grew up as the rail system developed rapidly and became one of its senior managers in one of the largest rail companies in Britain.
web 6 Nov 2022