Hunmanby born, a pioneering rise through the ranks in the North Eastern Railway. Awarded an OBE in 1918, the first year George V granted the Order of the British Empire. Plus, the foresight as a railway historian to collect railway artifacts of the world's first railway 'The Stockton & Darlington' and help set up in 1927 a Railway Museum in York, the successor of which is the National Railway Museum.


John Bradford Harper  was born in Hunmanby and baptised on 24th August 1853 at All Saints Church, Hunmanby, then in the East Riding of Yorkshire. His father being Bradford Harper a Police Constable born 1818 in South Cave, and his mother Maria born, 1812 in Hull. 

John's early years were in Hunmanby, the book 'A History of Hunmanby at the time of the Osbaldestons' by Kenneth Clegg, listing the Hunmanby Directory for 1857  shows Bradford Harper as the local ‘Supertndent’ of Police, living at Market Place, Hunmanby. Market Place is what is now known as Cross Hill. (Likewise, the earlier 1851 Census, lists Bradford Harper as a Police Constable) 

Like father like son:

While both followed different job opportunities, they remained in their chosen line of work throughout their careers amid huge changes as the pace of Industrialisation and Social change increased rapidly in the Victorian Age.  Bradford Harper, as a Police Constable witnessed first hand these changes as in the early 1800's policing was a Hunmanby matter,  with the professional  East Riding Constabulary not formed until 1856. Further details from the BBC webpage Enforcing Law & Order  Bradford Harper was amongst the first intake, serving with the force until retirement. Bradford Harper was buried in Driffield in 1893.  


John Bradford Harper, followed a different course, born, 5 years after the opening on Hunmanby Railway Station, which not only changed how goods were transported, but how people worked. Whereas in rural areas most working families would have been labourers on farms. The coming of the railway allowed cheaper movement of goods, commerce expanded, and trades associated with the industrialisation of the landscape. It also created opportunities to move to new communities in search of a better life.  By the 1871 Census, John Bradford Harper was working for the North Eastern
Railway as a Clerk in 1871 at Driffield Station; by 1881, he was a Railway Inspector based at York, rising in 1891, to Station Master at York, and by 1901 he was a Traffic
Manager. By 1911, he had risen to become Traffic Superintendent at York.

In 1918, he was appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the
British Empire (OBE) by King George V, one of the first OBE's to awarded
because the Order of the British Empire was only created in 1917.

1918 Birthday Honours (OBE) - Wikipedia

According to the Railway Officials Directory for 1922 he was Assistant General Superintendent for the North Eastern
Railway at York, his last posting before retirement.

When he was a Superintendent, he started to collect artefacts from the
Stockton and Darlington Railway, which were exhibited at the 1925 Centenary
Celebrations by the LNER; these artefacts became the basis for the creation
of a railway museum at York.

John Bradford Harper died on the 17th of April 1935 at Malton.

Thanks to the North Eastern Railway Association for drawing attention to John Bradford Harper, and helping to raise the profile of his life's achievements and the East Riding Archives at Beverley for their help and assistance.


Updated 25.11.2021