Our Faithful Friends

Railway Collection Dogs
From a delightful book written by H.T Hunt with extracts from the Southern Railway Staff magazine.
The first dog that can be traced in the Woking records is one called "London Jack",(1894)  but in making enquiries from other sources, it appears that there were quite a lot of dogs used all over the country for various charities to raise funds.
Earlier dogs, after dying, have been preserved and then placed in glass cases, thereby con­tinuing to collect for their good causes
One who comes to mind is "London Jack" who is res­ident at the  Bluebell Railway Museum at Sheffield Park Station in East Sussex and collecting sev­eral hundred pounds annually.                                       
Thanks go to the staff there who look after him, to see a bit more information about this dog, please click on his picture.

These dogs all had a padded saddle made, with a Brass Collecting Box mounted upon it to place the donations in.
Dogs in these early days were usually owned by Railway Men, who in their very sparse spare time, took their faithful animals to a local station to solicit donations from passengers passing through, this was in the 1880's and early 1900's when many worked over 12 hours a day and even 7 days a week, many were ably assisted by their wives.
One dog on his first day collected the vast sum of two farthings, but finally collected many pounds.
Wages were sometimes ten shillings per week (50p) now, or even less, to raise a family on, to find a silver three penny piece, or even a silver sixpenny piece in the box was like finding a £5 or £10 note today.
The first dog that can be traced did not in fact collect for these                  London Jack still collecting on the Bluebell Railway in Sussex       Homes, he was "HELP" who in 1881 collected for the "Orphan
Fund of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants.
This famous dog, a pure Scotch Collie was a gentle and beautiful creature. He was recog­nised as the "Railway Dog of England", and was a most successful commercial traveller on behalf of the Railway Servants Orphan Fund.
During his life he collected £1004. (1882 -1891). Mr. John Climpson, passenger guard of the night boat train on the London Brighton and South Coast Railway for close on forty years, conceived the idea of training a dog for col­lecting purposes. "Help" was supplied through the agency of the Rev. Dr. Macleod and was admirably suited for the work.
After being trained by Mr. Climpson, "Help" travelled extensively from 1882 until 1891 throughout Scotland, Ireland and Wales and twice crossed the channel to France.
He carried a handsome silver collar, bearing a silver Medal endorsed "I am Help the railway dog of England, and travelling agent for the orphans of railwaymen who are killed on duty" plus the address of the London offices to which interested persons could send donations.
The amalgamation in 1923 of the London South Western with the London Brighton and South Coast and the South Eastern and Chatham Railways extended the area for fund raising, but at the same time increased the number of children requiring help and care, and by now dogs were collecting at all London Termini and large stations down the Thames to Dover, then round the coast to Plymouth and beyond.
One dog spending the Winter in London then in the summer going to Guernsey.
Three dogs are buried along side the railway line at Exeter,( Nigger, Sandy and Kim ) when the Post Office pur­chased the property to build a telephone exchange, prior to being ‘British Telecom', the remains were re-interned  and a plaque placed in the exchange wall, the original plaque had two names only, (Nigger and Sandy) but British  Telecom,  it is understood, have added a further name of “Kim” since.
John Bovett, of Northernhay Street, Exeter, owned three dogs and used them to collect on behalf of the Southern Railway Orphanage at Woking.
The first was "Nigger" a curly haired retriever who, between 1935 and 1946, collected £2,900.
"Nigger" was followed by "Sandy" a black Labrador, despite his name, from 1944 to 1952 they influenced passengers to part with about £9,000 for the Orphanage.
Upon 'Sandy's' retirement, John trained 'Kim' a brown Labrador, who, up until ill health forced John to give up in 1961, collected a further £13,100, making a grand total of £25,000 In 1963, at the age of 82, John passed on.
Thirteen years later, the Exeter news paper the "Express-and Echo", in their column "Western Ways" reported the following:

Remember John Bovett and the dogs which raised so much for charity?
A new plaque, put up at Queen Street, tells part of the story and is arousing a great deal of interest among passers by.
Mr. Bovett was a Railway Guard who found a most ingenious way of raising money for the
Southern Railway Servants Orphanage and Old Peoples Home at Woking.
When his duties at Central Exeter permit­ted, he would walk up and down the platform with   a collecting box for the Orphanage strapped to the back of a dog.

Above: Good Boy Sandy

Sometimes he would make a quick trip along the corridor of a train as it waited at the stationThe first donation was two farthings, but from small beginnings, 1935 to 1961,
a grand total of £25,000, was collected.

In 1950 John Bovett retired from the Railway, but, he continued at the station', engaged full time on his charity work, sometimes travelling on trains from station to station collecting donations.
"Nigger" was awarded 10 Gold and 63 Silver  Medals and "Sandy" 6 Gold and 42 Silver Medals.
These Medals were awarded to the collectors and their dogs when either £1,000 or £100 was collected by them, but seems to have ceased after the 1939/45 war as "Kim" who worked from 1952 does not appear to have been awarded any.
What an epitaph to good and faithful friends of Woking  Homes    
Above: Proud Kim

Orphanage collecting dogs, famous for forty years, have been responsible for collecting over £18,000, towards the Funds of the Orphanage.
Many overseas travellers take away happy memories of these intelligent creatures and requests for photographs are frequent. One Australian lady writes, "Of all my memories of the Mother Country, nothing is more impressive than the beautiful dog I saw at Waterloo"
Prince belonged to Signalman Francis  Thornton  Heath although not so well known as his London colleagues, he was usually to be found at East Croydon on Saturday afternoons carrying on his good work

left: Handsome Boy Prince
Above:  Carlo smiles for the camera

According to the Southern Railway Magazine"Supporters" from the Isle of Wight paid their first official visit to the Orphanage on October 29th, when, accompanied by Mr. J. E. Bell, assistant for the Isle of Wight, 180 mem­bers of the Island Staff and their wives attended for the dedication of a cot made possible by the dog "Carlo" of Ryde, who carried out yeoman service by collecting for the Orphanage at Isle of Wight stations.
The service of dedication was carried out by the Rev S. R. Bawtree, who, in the course of his address, paid a strong tribute to the animal
Above:  Carlo smiles for the camera
"How unique it is that a four footed crea­ture should be adapted to a work so near to God as the succour of little children".

The Board of Management conveyed their thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Peters for their efforts with "Carlo", Mr. Bell emphasised that this was "Carlo's" day, and paid tribute to the dog, his master and mistress

Bob was a crossbred retriever, who at the age of 8 started work in June 1952.
He was owned by Mr. H. T. Edwards of the Motive Power Department who supervised all his collecting activities.
During the summer of 1963 Bob would go to Hastings, among other stations to collect from the holiday makers enjoy¬ing their stay in Sussex and Kent, all for the Homes.
It will be noted that the Orphanage has been updated to a Home about this time.
Another keen helper at Tonbridge, was Ticket Collector F. Standon who sold many Engine Badges on behalf of the Homes.

                                                                                               GRACE THE COLLIE

This picture on the right  shows "Grace" looking chuffed with herself with her Ticket Collector master, collecting at Dalston March 26th 1934.
Grace, the 14 year old collie, collector at the Dalston  L.M.S Railway Station,

she is owned by Mr. Beer, the Ticket Collector. "Grace" has collected over £265 for the  L.M.S  Orphanage and was known to everybody in the district. "Grace" has received letters from Her Majesty. the Queen, Gracie Fields and also a silver medal from the orphans of the Railway Orphanage at Derby, for raising the first £140.
Above       Laddie and a young supporter at Waterloo Station 
Here is Laddie, he is Siccawei Airedale and born on 2nd September 1948. He had three handlers, the last being Mr. F. Newton, a retired Engine Driver
Laddie collected at Waterloo Station for seven years and upon retirement, went to the Southern Railwaymens’ Homes  at Woking where he enjoyed life with the old folk until he died  in the latter part of 1960.
Upon his death, he was stuffed and placed in a glass case and continued collecting on Platform Eight at Wimbledon Station where he replaced Wimbledon Nell. (see below)
Its all thanks to Brian Aynsley (Wimbledon Station Master at the time) that in 1989 Laddie was transfered in his case to the National Railway Museum at York.

 Above     Laddie at his new home at York


A Retriever Bitch owned by Mr. Brockwell of Deburgh Road, Wimbledon, and together, over many years they collected money for Railway Orphans.
Nell with her collecting box strapped on her back was a regular sight in Public Houses and on Wimbledon Common on sunny weekends. She attended fetes and cricket matches, in fact, any place where people gathered in large numbers.
Over the years Nell raised more than £1,500 for which she received an engraved gold medal.
When Nell died, she was preserved and placed in a case at the foot of the stairs to platform eight at Wimbledon Station,that was in 1924.
She has continued to collect money for Orphaned children, and no one has any idea of how much money has been put in her collecting box since then but it must run into many hundreds of pounds.
Railway Employees recall how during the war, well off American Servicemen used to place treasury notes instead of coppers and silver into her collecting box.

She stood at Wimbledon Station until transferred to the Clapham Museum of Railway Relics after the second world war, being replaced by Laddie (see above) Nell is now in the private collection of  Sir William McAlpine.
Not a Railway Collection Dog, but a Railway Dog in Every Sense.
                                                                                                                                                                    by Steve West Farnham
It was about mid day on Saturday 20th December 1986 when I departed Ascot with a Guildford train.
As I approached Bagshot station something caught my eye in the cess, at first I thought I saw a fox running along side the track but as I focused I realised that it was a dog running towards the station and only six inches away from the third rail.
My son when he was three years old with his dog Girlie.
My heart went up in the roof; I stopped the train just short of the station I then leapt out of the cab and chased after the dog, catching up with her she just rolled over submissively onto her back.
She was a Heinz 57 a cross between a rat and a loo brush!
I held on to her scruff to stop her biting me but the only ferocious thing about her was her tail wagging, therefore I picked her up and was able to carry her back to the train.
No one on the station claimed responsibility for her, so I chucked her into the cab and took the train into the station.
On the way to Aldershot, the little dog kept jumping up at me, she wanted affection and my sandwiches.
Luckily I finished work at Aldershot so I popped over to the parcels office and got some string to use as a temporary lead.
When I got home my wife, who was three months pregnant at the time, said that she could not look after two dogs and a baby (I already had a Border Collie).
When my Collie dog saw the Heinz 57 he fell in love straight away and the little mongrel went bonkers, she was so excited that she ran up and down the garden and in circles.
To call her to me I shouted out “come here girlie wurly” and she came racing up to me for a cuddle.After she had some dinner I took her round the police station, the Police were not all that interested and as she was lead round the back I asked the Policeman at the desk what will happen to her.

He told me that they would keep her for seven days and then she would be collected by the dog warden if she was not claimed.
As I was going out of the door I turned back and said to the Policeman  “How about I take her back home with me and look after her until she is claimed.”
He was not too keen on the idea at first, but I told him that if I looked after her, he would not have to feed her or let her out for a wee
The Policeman told me that I would need a temporary Dog Licence,
I said I would buy one, he said that they were free but he did not know where they were kept.
After some time searching and me not moving, the temporary Dog Licence was found. I took her back home and we looked after her for twelve and a half years.
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