George L Boag had a long and distinguished railway career. This page is dedicated to his life, particularly to the long time he spent with the GSSR. Most of the text of this page and all of the following diary extracts have been written by Alison Matheson, the great niece of George, while the pictures and explanations that go with them are by me. Our thanks to those who have also contributed to an understanding of the pictures, notably Eveline van der Heijden, Gerrit Visser, and Antonio Hernándes Moreno.

Specific comments other than mine are made throughout the pages. These are indicated by the writer's initials, AM - Alison; AH - Antonio; GV - Gerrit

The Career of George L Boag

George Lee Boag was born on 11 July 1873 at 48 Bath Street, Hulme, Manchester, the eldest child of Ernest Gerald Boag and his wife Sarah.

Little is known about his childhood, unfortunately his father died in 1885 so George was forced to leave school at the age of 13, in order to contribute to the family’s income.

He started his railway career as a telegraph messenger in July 1886, on a weekly wage of 5 shillings (25p) with uniform provided. By 1891, the family had moved to Bolton and George was working as a railway clerk. In 1896 George left the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway company and joined a firm of timber merchants as a clerk in charge of railway business.

In 1898 George, not particularly happy in his job at the timber merchants, decided to apply for a position with the Transandine Railway in Argentina and was taken on as correspondence clerk to the General Manager. He remained with the company until it was taken over by the Argentine Great Western Railway in 1903. In his journal, George vividly describes his life in Mendoza, a beautiful town at the foot of the Andes. One of his major contributions to Argentine life may have been his participation in the first football match ever to take place in Mendoza!

Following his return to England in December 1903, George needed to find a new job and sailed for Lagos, Nigeria in May 1904 where he worked for the Government railway. Again, George’s journal gives an excellent feel for life in West Africa more than a century ago. He returned to England on leave early in 1907, lucky to survive a shipwreck at Bolt Tail, Devon on 18 March that year, a good description of which is included in his journal.

Although George appears to have intended to return to Lagos in July 1907, he decided to apply for a post as Assistant Manager of the Great Southern of Spain Railway, based in Aguilas, Murcia. His application was successful and he left for Spain on 2 August. George was promoted to General Manager in 1913, shortly before his fortieth birthday, this being a source of great pride to him.

Later in his life he developed Parkinson’s disease which must have caused him a lot of distress. His journal ends abruptly in 1923, so not a great deal is known about his life after this. He apparently was ill in hospital in Southport, the town in which his family were living, in 1931. He married one of his nurses, Eleanor Shaw, towards the end of that year and she accompanied him on his return to Spain. Eleanor was considerably younger than George. He remained in the post of General Manager of the railway until June 1936 when he retired, shortly before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.

He and Eleanor are said to have remained in Spain until warned that they should leave, because their lives could be in danger. They settled in Southport for a time, before moving to Harrow in Middlesex, probably in 1938. It would appear that they moved back to Southport shortly before George’s death on 22 October 1947, at 23 Hillside Road, Southport. Eleanor remained in the Southport/Liverpool area until her own death in the 1970’s.

George had many hobbies, particularly photography and the study of botany, zoology, geography and geology. He enjoyed sport, particularly tennis; he was involved in the establishment of a tennis club in Aguilas. He took a great interest in his adopted home and the wellbeing of his employees though it is not known whether he would have remained in Spain had it been possible. His house in Aguilas is still standing and the area around it is still known as “el huerto de Don Jorge”, he would surely be pleased to be remembered in this way. AM

George's Photo Album

In September 2009 I was playing in a croquet tournament at Southport. I had left a couple of flyers for my book in the clubhouse. One of the members looked at this and said "I have some pictures of this". He had indeed, an album of more than 50 photos. I bought the album from him and to cut a long story short, contact with Alison confirmed that the album belonged to George. The pictures are shown in the links below are from that album together with comments about them from various people who are acknowledged below. So that the detail on the pictures can be seen properly, they are quite large. For this reason they are split into groups of about 10 so that they do not take too long to load.

Click on the appropriate engine plate (They are the first six engines of the GSSR, all built by Nielson in 1880) to go to the photographs.

George kept a diary for much of his time in Spain. Alison has given some of these entries where they tie up with his pictures. These are shown in green.

Pictures 1 to 10 are under Murcia, engine number 1, RENFE No 130-2121. They show the station,El Hornillo, Aguilas market, one of Gillman's houses and Boag's houshold.

Pictures 11 to 20 are under Lorca, engine number 2, RENFE No 130-2122. They show pictures of towns that George visited.

Pictures 21 to 30 are under Granada, engine number 3, RENFE No 130-2123. They show pictures of the harbour with George's and other boats plus some pictures of George himself

Pictures 31 to 40 are under Aguilas, engine number 4, RENFE No 130-2124. They show pictures of various towns, Tennis, Gillman and the Granada Railway

Pictures 41 to 50 are under Aguilas, engine number 5, RENFE No 130-2125. They show pictures of views around Baza, Around the Seron mines, Boag and Gillman and a Kitson Meyer engine.

Pictures 51 to 57 are under Aguilas, engine number 4, RENFE No 130-2124. They show pictures of various towns, Tennis, Gillman and the Granada Railway

Murcia Lorca Granada Aguilas Huercal Baza

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