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Some men were too old or too young to go to war. Some failed the medical test and others were in 'reserved occupations'.


This meant they did jobs that were vital to the war effort on the home front such as driving trains and buses, working in the coal mines, shipyards and munitions factories. Some men worked as farmers who were needed to grow food for the troops and civilians. Other men guarded the coast in case of an enemy invasion.


Within one month of war being declared in 1914, over 100,000 men working on the railways had enlisted; some to take up their commitments with the Territorial Force and some to volunteer for Kitchener's New Army. By 18th November, 1914, 7,531 Midland Railwaymen had already joined the armed forces. Amongst them were 16 men from Barrow Hill and 7 from Staveley.


The railways were critical to the war effort for the transportation of troops, munitions, and equipment. With vital jobs left vacant, the government ruled that no rail worker could enlist without permission from his employer. However, by the end of the Great War, a total of 22,941 Midland Railway employees had left to join the armed forces.


In 1914, many thought it absurd for women to take on roles traditionally seen as the work of men but, by the end of 1915, thousands of women were working on the railways. Women were taken on as porters at the Great Central station at Staveley,  200 women were working in the Midland Railway machine shops, some worked in signal boxes registering trains whilst others worked as clerks, ticket collectors, window and carriage cleaners and painters.  


By the end of the war, 2,833 Midland Railway employees had died and 7,068 had been wounded or invalided.  Amongst the fallen, and remembered with honour, are those who worked at Barrow Hill and Staveley, or were the sons of local railwaymen.

The war years


The life stories of the fallen have been reproduced with the kind permission of the “Barrow Hill: A Community Remembers” project. For more information, or to add a name to this roll of honour, please contact them on their community website at

Derbyshire Courier - Saturday 24 April 1915

Derbyshire Courier – Saturday 25th December 1915

In Remembrance of the brave men of the Midland Railway who gave their lives in the Great War 1914 – 1918: Midland Railway Study Centre

Please click on the names to discover more about each person

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