Charles Rous-Marten


A well-known figure who is difficult to place as he is now mainly known for his reporting abilities, especially his assessment of the New Zealand railways and those which were broadly comparable elsewhere. To the railway enthusiast he is the doyen of train timing recorders, coming before C.J. Allen and long before O.S. Nock. His greatest achievement in this sphere was to record City of Truro's descent from Whiteball at about 100 mph. Rous-Marten was born in London in 1844 (according to Marshall) went to New Zealand when he was fifteen and there farmed and became a journalist. He travelled very widely on behalf of the New Zealand Government to study railways and may have travelled 40,000 miles.. He returned to England in 1893 as a representative for a newspaper in New Zealand. He died from influenza on 20 April 1908. Bill Crosbie-Hill (J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc. 2005, 35, 133) notes that the name was pronounced to rhyme with house martin. His contribution to the City of Truro episode is discussed in that journal. KPJ on examining the letter from Stuart Chrystall (J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc. 2005, 35, 132) which comments on the data is tempted to wonder whether the espisode was a spoof: wasn't Wellington, Somerset too close to Wellington, New Zealand for comfort?. Cecil J. Allen's Timekeeping and City of Truro. Locomotive running, past and present—No. 220. Railway Wld, 1971, 32, 6-9.. has quite a lot to say about Rous-Marten's character. Charles Fryer in his selection of Rous-Marten articles questions the veracity of some of the data. especially that relating to gradient profiles: in turn Fryer's own work has been questionned. John Thomas in his Springburn story (p. 167) stated that "Mr Rous-Marten's excercises in melodrama may have intrigued his Victorian readers; they irritate Elizabthan researchers. If ther is an Elysian Fields Railway Society, Rous-Marten must be hard-pressed answering questions from newely-joined members". George Ottley noted two monographs Notes on the railways of Great Britain published in Wellington (New Zealand in 1887) Ottley 478 seen in the LSE Library and Ottley 2980 Notes on English and French compound locomotives presented at Society of Engineers in 1900  

Obituary. Railway Magazine, 1908, 22, 455. Includes a portrait.
Rous-Marten, Charles. British locomotive practice & performance. 1990.