It is important to know which union a railway worker joined in order to know where to look for genealogical information. Unfortunately, there is sometimes very little distinction between the unions in terms of the job descriptions of their members. For example, train drivers would normally have joined the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) but a significant minority were members of the National Union of Railwaymen (formerly the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants).
Nevertheless, the unions fall into these broad categories in terms of recruitment:
- Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants and National Union of Railwaymen: porters, signalmen, guards, railway engineers, drivers.
- Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen: drivers, drivers' assistants, traction trainees, footplate workers, firemen.
- General Railway Workers' Union: draymen, porters and other general workers.
- Railway Clerks' Association / Transport Salaried Staffs' Association: white collar, administrative, professional, and supervisory staff.
- United Pointsmen's and Signalmen's Society: pointsmen and signalmen.
Links to other sources of information:
- For English and Welsh railway staff records: The National Archives. An index to these records is available on the Ancestry.co.uk website.
- For Scottish railway staff records: The National Archives of Scotland.
- For Northern Irish railway staff records: The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
- National Railway Museum guide to family history research.