This is the auto biography of a man who joined the London & North Western Raiway as a junior clerk, and worked his way up through the ranks, to become the Company’s Registrar, heading a large department of clerks, registering share transfers, issuing certificates and sending out dividend warrants twice a year.
Willis’s father, who had lost a fortune growing and importing pineapples, died the day before the boy´s fourteenth birthday, but family finances dictated that he had already been at work for a year beginning, at a shop in Bradford owned by his much older half-brother. His fathers ill-health caused Mrs, Willis to want her son to comeback to London. An uncle, was chief clerk to the Secretary of the LNWR, and arranged for the boy to sit for an entrance examination with around twenty others He was one of three successful candidates and started work two days before his father’s death, at a salary of £25 per annum, rising by £5 annual increments to the point where he was getting £50 aged 18, Unfortunately, he was taken ill and absent from work for three months and he was 20 before his salary reached £60.
Through had work, and evening classes, Willis rose slowly through the ranks, but throughout his railway career had several outside interests. He became a lay preacher, licensed by the Bisjop of London, an actor and with his wife ran classes in elocution. They were keen gardeners, winning prizes at Alexandra Palace and during the Great War took on a small farm, with one full time employee and worked it themselves at weekends.
By 1912, Willis was earning £400 pa in charge of the Traveling Auditors. As a senior official. His working hours were 9am to 5pm, which left hime time in the evenings for his various activities. He became Chief Assistant to the Head of the Audit Department at £500 pa in 1915 and Registrar at £675pa in 1916, where he was the custodian of one hundred millions worth of stock.
At the end of the Great War, he becane involved in drafting and the implementing the Grouping scheme, a matter of gret complexity because of the myriad types and values of stocks issued by the constituent companies. The LNER Registrar broke down under the enormous strain and died, as did the Registrar of the Southern Railway. It was not ahappy time “As the largest commercial corporation in the world the LNWR was looked up to by all with respect and confidence, but after the amalgamation… the Midland influence was in the ascendant… I did not feel so happy, and was glad when my time came to retire”. Willis wrote.
In retirement, Willis joined the Labour party, and stood for election to Parliament at Lancaster and later Southport, without success.
This is a most interesting book about a very interesting and energetic man.
PREVIEW BELOW – MAY TAKE A WHILE TO LOAD.