The Midland Great Western was the third largest railway in Ireland, nor, in the matter of length of line, was there very much between the three. The Great Southern and Western consisted of 522 miles, the Great Northern 487, and the Midland Great Western 432, nearly seven times as long as the County Down. No wonder I felt elated.
How it all came about was in this way. Skipworth, the London and North-Western Manager in Ireland, was on very friendly terms with Sir Ralph Cusack, and Sir Ralph had a high opinion of his judgment. He consulted Skipworth about a manager and asked if he knew any railway man in Ireland, not too old, who would do. Said Skipworth, “Tatlow of the County Down. He has shown up remarkably well at the Clearing House over this terrible Railway and Canal Traffic Act, and seems to know all about it.” And so I was appointed, and thus it was that the bit of work in Glasgow, of which I have spoken more than once, brought me this substantial promotion. My friend Gill not long before had left the service of the Midland Great Western, where he was Assistant Secretary, to become Secretary of the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway, and when Sir Ralph wrote to him about me he valiantly backed up Skipworth’s fine recommendation. Skipworth was himself for several years manager of the Midland Great Western. He gave up the post when he joined the London and North-Western as their Irish Manager. It is good for a man to have friends, and I have been fortunate throughout my life in possessing many.
In December, 1890, I left the County Down to enter upon my duties as manager of the Midland Great Western. The County Down Directors, at their Board meeting on the 16th of that month, passed a minute recording their “high appreciation of the ability with which he” (my humble self) “has discharged his duties as general manager,” adding that “his uniform courtesy, tact and judgment, added to his strict sense of honour, secured him the confidence of the Board.” Need I say that I was proud of this testimonial, and as pleased as proud, because it went on to wish me success in my new duties, where I would “have a wider field for the exercise of my talents,” and begged my “acceptance of a cheque as a mark of regard.” This was better than the walking stick with which a certain railway officer, who was not too popular with his staff, was, it is said, presented by them, when he left for a bigger post on another line.