GNR & Retford’s Malthouses.

img222The Great Northern Railway and Retford’s Malthouses 1868-9

The following are transcriptions of correspondence between the Great Northern Railway (GNR) and the Manchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MS&LR) from 1868-9. These letters relate to shipment of grain, malt etc to & from the Dawber and Gentels Malt Kiln Sidings, Retford, Nottinghamshire by the GNR.

The GNR did not have access via their own lines to the Malthouses and so needed to use the facilities of the MS&LR. The two railway companies were reputed to have good relations at the time. Agreement was therefore reached whereby the GNR used the sidings of the MS&LR at the charge of 1/- (one shilling) per wagon to make the transfer between the GNR line and the malthouse sidings.

Retford was served by the GNR line, which ran in an approximately north-south direction, and by the MS&LR line which ran approximately east-west. The two railway companies shared a station. The Dawber & Gentels Malthouse is mentioned in the letters as being located near to the Goods shed of the MS&LR, i.e. probably to the south of the town. The map opposite (reproduced by permission of Andy Nicholson) is from circa 1920, i.e. some 50 years later, but does show the layout of the railway lines and the positions of several nearby Malthouses. By this time the MS&LR had changed its name to the Great Central Railway. It’s not certain which, if any, of the malthouses shown was the Dawber & Gentels establishment.

The GNR seems to have initialed waived passing on the 1/- wagon charge to Dawber & Gentels. However this gesture of good will was abused when the malthouse business chose the alternative “Midland Lines” for outward shipment of goods and so the GNR they opted to impose the charge.  The small collection of letter provides an insight into railway relations and the local malthouse industry of the time.


This first letter mentions the location of the Malthouse, but hints at a move.Retford 1

The Great Northern Railway. Retford Station. Feb 1’st 1868

Dawber & Gentels Outstandings at Retford.

Yes all but the items of pilotage which they refuse to pay. D&G Malt Kiln is near the MSL Goods Shed that Co. do not charge any pilotage viz we do a great deal of traffic – will be lost with the new Kiln. 


An initial agreement between the two railway companies:Retford 2

Memorandum of an arrangement made between: 

MCH Smith – MS&L Company

John Ashley – GN Company

Sheffield February 13’th 1868

Retford Station. Transfer of Grain, Malt etc between the Malt Kilns and the GN Station

Grain from Stations on the Great Northern Railway, where the MS&L have a Station, not to be transferred.

When from other Stations 6d per ton, minimum charge 2/6 per truck.

To be worked by the GN Coy to MS&L Station; the MS&L to have 3/4 and the GN 1/4 of this carriage.

Malt from the Kilns to the GN when for a Station on the MS&L Line, not to be transferred.

When for GN Station, the above charges to be made, and the MS&L Coy to have the whole, they doing the haulage to the GN Station.

The MS&L Coy to perform the checking of Grain received at the Kilns, and obtain receipts from consignee, but not to be answerable for deficiency or damage.


The above seems to have been modified later as indicated in the following.

Extract of minute of the Meeting held at Lincoln Dec 16’th 1868.Retford 3

The Joint Officers Minute 262.

Present: Mr Ashley, GNR

              Mr Omerod, MS&LR

              Mr Bradley, MS&LR

Transfer of Grain, Malt etc between Gt Northern Stations at Retford and the Malt Kilns, contiguous to Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Stations.

It was arranged that this traffic be transferred by Gt Northern Coy’s Engines to & from their Stations and the Malt Kiln Sidings, the Gt Northern Coy paying the M.S&L Company 1/- per wagon for the use of their Line & Siding, it being understood that no greater charge be made to the Maltsters by the Gt Northern Coy. for this service, than 1/- per wagon.

That Grain, Malt etc from or for Stations on the Gt Northern or other Railways where the M.S & L Coy have a Station of their own is not to be transferred except by special arrangements.

That the M.S & L Coy. perform the duties of checking the grain, etc received at the Kilns & obtain receipt from consignees, but not to be answerable for deficiency, or damage unless it has occurred after delivery of the wagons at the Sidings.


Based on the above agreement the following is an account from the MS&LR Audit Office in Manchester dated July 8’th 1869.

To: Great Northern Railway, Kings CrossRetford 4

Dear Sir

Dawber Gentels Haulage at Retford

I attach you an Account of the above from March 1868 to March 1869 inclusive amounting to £4-9-0 and also for the months of April & May 1869 amounting to 8/-.

Please pass the same for payment at your convenience.


Great Northern Railway. Goods Department. Managers’ Office. London 8’th April 1869Retford 6

Dear Sir

Dawber & Gentel Retford Haulage.

It is proposed that we should not make any charge to Dawber & Gentels at all for this haulage service as we only pay the MS&L 1/- per wagon & we have no labour or Station accommodation to provide.


Great Northern Railway. Goods Department. Managers’ Office. London June 16’th 1869

Dear Sir

Dawber & Gentel Haulage @ RetfordRetford 8

As a matter of policy and with a view of conciliating this firm I did agree not to press them for the haulage charge and hence my (note of) 8’th April to you – but Retford memo of 4’th which was sent to you on the 15’th May for information showed that Dawber & Co were sending their London Malt from Retford by the Midland route and therefore I communicated to the firm my decision to charge them.

The a/c up to April 30’th Retford says was sent you & what I wish is that you should insist on payment. I shall be glad to hear what is doing. If you have not received full particulars please apply to the Station with reference to Mr Milthorpes note of 12’th inst.


Other links of related interest:

The Great Northern Railway Society.

The Great Central Railway Society.

Retford Railway Station.   


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s