Gilbert Szlumper and Leo Amery of the Southern Railway (Kindle)
The Diaries of a General Manager and a Director
Very few diaries of directors and senior managers of the Big Four railways have survived to enter the public domain. There are, however, two notable Southern Railway diarists whose records have been available in archives for some years, but have been largely ignored by historians; Southern Railway General Manager Gilbert Szlumper and Director Leopold Amery. Their remarkable diaries are addressed in this insightful book, which gives a slightly different view of the company in contrast to the almost sanitised histories by some writers.
The surviving diaries of Szlumper are far from complete. They begin in 1936 and continue into the war years, but there are several gaps. Throughout, Szlumper comments on individuals and developments, revealing little-known facts and the circumstances that meant he could never truly achieve his potential. Formally retiring in 1942, he died in 1969, after which his diaries entered the public domain.
Leopold Amery was director of the Southern Railway from 1932. A Birmingham Member of Parliament for many years, he was a statesman of some stature, his high offices including Secretary of State for the Colonies in the 1920s. In his autobiography, Amery writes very little on the railway, although he does comment on its family atmosphere. His diaries, which are in the public domain in a Cambridge University archive, have been published in two volumes but Amerys fascinating business activities were omitted by the publisher, and like Szlumper he comments on individuals and developments.
The diary information of these two exceptional men has been supplemented by information from the railway, state archives and other sources, and many of the photographs have never been published before.
This book covers a relatively sparse sector of transport literature, namely works addressing top-level management of railways as distinct from engineering biographies and lower-level operating memoirs.Irish Railway Record Society
The diaries of Amery have been previously published but not with the railway content which add information on his work with the Southern and especially Szlumper.Bulleid Society
Both kept diaries which John King has edited for Gilbert Szlumper and Leo Amery of the Southern Railway which challenges the belief that the Southern was a very happy family.Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers & Firemen
This is a really quite unique book, very thoroughly researched and a fascinating read. It certainly deserves to be on every SR aficionado's bookshelf, but should appeal to anyone who wants to eavesdrop on how railways really were run in the 1930s and 1940s.BackTrack, November 2018
As featured bySteam World, November 2018
Occasionally you get a break which breaks the mould. This is one. Its core covering is 1936 to 1942. Leo Amery was a director of the Southern Railway from 1932, made an impression and was usually at meetings at Waterloo at least twice a week until 1940. Gilbert Szlumper was a shrewd judge of character and his opinions of people were always interesting.Locomotive Club of Great Britain
These diaries give a full account of events with a fascinating story of a bygone age. Recommended.
The early entries are interesting for the way Walker hung on to the General Manager post in Szlumper's view because he needed the money. In the current climate of rows over executive pay, the insight's into the motivation of greed show that human nature has not changed - only the number of zeroes.Stephenson Locomotive Society
Altogether an interesting book for it's personal insights.
John King is to be congratulated on this painstaking piece of research which provides fascinating insight into the people behind the elegant facade of the general offices of Waterloo. Pen and Sword are to be congratulated too for producing an attractive book.Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society
It is recommended for the shelves of all devotees of the Southern.