Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
  • MENU

Railway Collecting Dogs

Help by W Hepple 1889


Extract from the Isle of Wight Observer 1882

BRAKE – About a year ago Mr George H. Curtiss, the well-known railway carrier, of this town, was walking near the Point at Portsmouth, when his attention was attracted to a retriever, which he learned some lady had given up to be drowned. As the party who was deputed to carry out the operation did not seem to care for the job, Mr Curtiss offered his services, but, being a humane man, he did not drown the dog, and took him home. There the dog’s tricks made him an exceedingly agreeable companion, and the longer he was kept the greater was the affection with which he was regarded.

As the animal followed Mr Curtiss everywhere, and was so well known at Portsmouth, it occurred to Mrs Curtiss last week that perhaps the dog might be useful to aid charitable purposes. In consequence of this, a collar was made, with the inscription, “Railway servants’ dog, Brake.”  To the collar was attached a box, on which were painted the words, “Widows’ and orphans’ sick fund.”

On the first day no less a sum than 11s 5d was put into his box; the next day he obtained 11s; and in a week it was found that this assiduous collector had obtained no less a sum for the widow and orphan fund than £2 12s. As the collar and box are rather heavy, Brake is only allowed to wear the collar three hours a day, and the station-masters at Ryde and Portsmouth each retain a key of the box and keep account of the money collected.

Extract from Wikipedia

HELP – Help was a collie dog donated to John Climpson in 1880, Climpson who was a long-serving guard on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, had the idea of using a dog to obtain donations for the Orphans Fund of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants. The dog was fitted with a wooden collecting box on his back, and a silver collar and medal. The medal was inscribed: “I am Help, the railway dog of England, and travelling agent for the orphans of railwaymen who are killed on duty.”

Help was awarded a silver medal at the Bristol Dog Show of 1884 and was the subject of many paintings and sketches. There have been numerous other railway collecting dogs, including Prince, based in Croydon, Nell, based in Bournemouth, Tim, based at Paddington, and Basingstoke Jack.

Sources: Isle of Wight Observer 6 May 1882 & wikipedia

Picture source: Help the Railway Dog by Wilson Hepple (1889) – from wikipedia