Things turn up in the strangest places…

16 November 2015 by Sharon

ornate clock

Silver plated clock dedicated to William Neale, Station Master at Riverside Station. Accession number MOL.2015.77

Riverside Station was a bustling station on the Liverpool waterfront between 1895 and 1971, built to transfer passengers from transatlantic liners onto trains bound for London and the South.

An article in The Liverpool Review on 1 February 1896 stated that:

“there is probably no passenger terminus in the kingdom so conveniently placed in relation to the sea, and the passenger traffic from port to port, as the Liverpool Riverside Station.”

We have several objects relating to the station in our collection including a signal box, station sign, drawings and tickets. We were recently offered this clock connected to the station, with a fascinating story behind it. 

Dr Tew, a former President of the Newcomen Society, with a passionate interest in railways was visiting the USA, and in an antique shop in Old Town Spring Texas saw a fabulous looking clock. On closer inspection he saw that it had been presented to Mr William Neale the first station master of Riverside Station!

The inscription reads:


The Liverpool Review described William Neale as:

“the courteous and obliging station-master… a railway enthusiast and the perfect man for the post. The article also attributed the success of the station to ‘his careful and energetic management, his genial manners, his obliging disposition.”

The Texan antique dealer said he had bought it from a Canadian dealer so now we have a mystery on our hands – how did the clock end up in Canada in the first place? Research is needed to find out if William or his family emigrated and took the clock with them.

The clock has been generously donated to the Museum of Liverpool by Dr Tew’s daughter, who is delighted that it has come home to Liverpool. It will eventually form part of a temporary display on Riverside Station at the Museum.


  1. Stuart Ian Burns says:

    This issue of Billboard Magazine lists a William Neale as the vice-president of Canadian Pacific Railways. Which might be a co-incidence but must be a line of enquiry:

    The only doubt is that the article is from 1943 so it would depend on what age he became station master at Riverside as to whether it’s the same chap. Of course it’s possible its a family member, a son perhaps. First names are often passed on and railways often stay in the family.

    It’s worth adding that the majority of the owners and shareholders of the Canadian Pacific Railways were British (see, mainly from Scotland and that a lot of UK personnel did move to Canada to work on the railways (if this Dan Snow documentary is a guide

    • Sharon Brown says:

      Many thanks for this very interesting information. We will follow it up and see if we can trace the Neale family’s movements and find out whether this is our William Neale or one of his descendants.

  2. Bryn says:

    Billboard appears to mis-spell the surname, but would seem to be referring to William Merton Neal CBE; whose biographical sketch, in newspaper article below, seems to indicate is a separate individual:,1513325&hl=en

    If not already investigated and discounted, publications, by Dr Tew, on William Neale might well reveal useful snippets of information, for further investigation – e.g. this `letter to the editor’:
    Tew, D.H. (1988) “William Neale, Station Master Liverpool (Riverside)” R&CHS Journal, Railway & Canal Historical Society, Vol. XXIX, Part 4, p.211,d.d2s&cad=rja

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