Perhaps still the best known book about the work of the railway policeman, it was published in 1961, fifty years ago this year. But just who was J.R. Whitbread? We are no further forward in finding the answer to this. The fly-leaf says that he previously worked for the Railway Gazette but he is not known there today despite the fact that their oldest member of staff has been there since 1964. One thing we have learned is that officer standing beside the diesel locomotive in the photo opposite the title page, is the then PC Trevor Steward. It was taken around 1959 when the first diesel locos began hauling trains out of Liverpool Street Station.

J.R. inaugurated the Whitbread Shield which for many years was awarded to officers for commendable work. But otherwise we know very little about him and if anyone can shed any light on this enduring mystery we would be delighted to hear about it.

The book is still available at reasonable cost through Amazon and the like, though some specialist book dealers do ask rather more exorbitant prices. Enjoy the read.

UPDATE: August 2014

Somewhat belatedly, it should be reported that thanks to some dogged detective work by BTPHG member Malcolm Clegg, the identity of J.R. Whitbread was finally discovered to be John Robert Whitbread. A two-part article on his researches was published in the March and April 2014 editions of History Lines.


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