Help, the Railway Dog

The following is a nice little article published in July 1889 in the Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend.  It is concerned with the story of Help the railway dog who was used to collect money for the Railway Servants Orphan Fund.  The railways were a dangerous occupation to be in during the Victorian era and many charitable funds were set up to look after the families of those railwaymen who were killed at work.  You can read more about the railway dogs here



The Scotch collie, on account of his intelligence and tractability, is a general favourite. But although he is frequently put to uses for which he was never intended, he soon adapts himself to his changed circumstances, and proves himself the friend of mankind. Help, the railway dog, an interesting specimen of the collie breed, is the property of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants. He will follow, without leading, any railwayman with whom he has had a few hours’ acquaintance. The idea of keeping and training a dog to act as a medium for the collection of money in aid of the Railway Servants’ Orphan Fund originated with Mr. John Climpson, the guard of the “night boat train” on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway a position which he has filled for over twenty-seven years. Mr. William Riddell, of Hailes, Haddington, having become acquainted with the fact that such a dog was required, presented the subject of this notice to the Orphan Fund. Help has been the means of adding about a thousand pounds to the funds of the society. When he visited Newcastle in October, 1887, the local contribution amounted to £2 4s. 9d. He has not been trained to perform any antics, so that his mission is known only by a handsome silver collar, to which is appended a silver medal bearing the following inscription: “I am Help, the railway dog of England, and travelling agent for the orphans of railwaymen who are killed on duty. My office is at 55, Colebrooke Row, London, where subscriptions will be thankfully received and duly acknowledged.”

Our drawing of Help is reproduced from a capital lithograph executed by the Newcastle artist, Mr. Wilson Hepple.

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