British Rail – Derby Hollerith

Down British Rail (ways) memory lane.

I get a lot of feedback from readers of my autobiography “Derbyshire boy” but this one even took me down memory lane. In fact, I felt quite emotional.

A lady contacted me to say that she was part of the group of girls who operated the Hollerith punch card machines in the British Railway office in Derby. I think there are two reasons this information hit a chord.

First, as a junior clerk in the Motive Power Depot office in Nottingham, I was part of the team that calculated the number of pay-hours worked by an employee (not as easy as it sounds due to overtime, rest day working and other additives to the basic week).

This information was sent to Derby Hollerith to calculate the gross-to-net pay. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, that punch card section some 15 miles away was to sound the death knell of our Nottingham based office. Fortunately, I’d left by then.

But I still feel the wrench and wonder what happened to my ex-Army boss Colonel Redmond.

Wiki has a fine article about Herman Hollerith and the origins of his ‘punched card technology’

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