The Benson Latin American Collection

Mexican Railway Company Limited Records, 1903-1934

Descriptive Summary

Creator Mexican Railway Company Limited
Title Mexican Railway Company Limited Records
Dates: 1903-1934
Abstract Records document a British company's involvement in Mexican railroads in the early 1900s, especially during the Mexican Revolution.
Accession No. 2014-22
OCLC Record No.
Extent 2 linear inches
Language English
Repository Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, The University of Texas at Austin

Historical Note

The company was founded in London in 1864. Most of the material in this archive relates to the 1920s and concerns the Chairman of the Board, Vincent Wodehouse Yorke, father of the novelist Henry Green (born Henry Vincent Yorke) a successful businessman with many business interests, including a directorship of the Westminster Bank, and Bertram E. Holloway the resident General Manager in Mexico, later replaced by a Mr. Holmes.

Scope and Contents Note

* Small archive of a British company with large holdings in Mexican railroads. Most of the correspondence deals with the early 1920s and the damage to the company's property, and also with the delicate balance of the labor and management relationship.

The period covered includes the December 1923 rebellion against Obregón by Adolfo de la Huerta and the continuing chaos in Mexico. There are very detailed accounts of the damages sustained to the company's rolling stock and rail beds. In June 1923 there is a letter from Holloway to Yorke concerning various matters: "Banco Unico. I saw De la Huerta the day before I left and he seemed very pleased with the progress then made. He did hope that London would take an interest in it and hinted that he did not want it to be all 'Gringo.' Of course he got back on the old subject of recognition and said that we British were losing a grand opportunity to obtain the lasting gratitude of the Mexican Nation...Labour. This as you say is a serious matter for us...most of the demands made by our men are based on the demands made and granted in the States, and our men are far more reasonable. I look upon the labour question in the States as one of the most serious problems they have to face just now. The restriction of immigration has deprived them of a plentiful supply of cheap labour and tends to make the actual labour available independent and very aggressive. It is also having a serious effect on the coloured people." He goes on to mention the migration within the States of the black population moving northwards and the labor shortage it was causing in Arkansas where he had visited on his way to New York, where there was concern that there would not be enough labor to bring in the food crops as well as the cotton. (See Item 5).

This archive underlines the massive British investments in Mexico, calculated by Vincent Yorke in his letter to Ponsonby of the Foreign Office as over £200,000,000 (two hundred million sterling) in 1924 (See item 12).

In item 15 Holloway discusses the fact that the United States was offering arms and ammunitions to the government of Mexico, apparently the first time the Americans had overtly offered any assistance to the Mexican government, but this offer had caused a furor among the general public who felt that the Americans had an ulterior motive behind their offer which, they felt, was not made out of friendship alone.

This material was found in an envelope addressed to the Chairman of the Board, Vincent Yorke, and much of it is from his Resident Manager in Mexico City.

* Description and item list below based on that of the rare books dealer at time of acquisition.


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Standard copyright restrictions apply.

Index Terms

The Mexican Railway Company Records are classified under the following Subject Headings:
Mexican Railway Company Limited--Archives
Railroads--Mexico--History--Revolution, 1910-1920
Mexico--History--Revolution, 1910-1920

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Mexican Railway Company, Limited, Records, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, the University of Texas at Austin.

Box and Folder Inventory

Item List

box folder
1 1 1. Agreement for one year between Interoceanic Railway of Mexico running from Acapulco to Vera Cruz, a British Company and The National Railroad Company of Mexico, a corporation of the State of Utah. 11.12.1903
Typed carbon; 6 fol. dbl. sp.
2 2. "Notes by Chairman on His Visit to Mexico – 1921." Impressions on the various areas he visited. 1921
Typed Carbon; 8 fol. dbl. sp.
3. "Permanent Way Department. Report for Half Year January to June, 1921" Notations of work undertaken by area with financial breakdown. 10.10.1921
Typed Carbon; 17 fol. dbl. sp
3 4. A.L.s. from Bertram E. Holloway to Vincent W. Yorke from Mexico City concerning his wish to resign in 1926 and discussing options for his replacement and outlining his own experiences when he first went to Mexico. Also many general notes about the running of the company in Mexico. 4.24.1923
14 Brit. Letter size, 8 x 11 lined
5. T.L.s. from Holloway to Yorke from New York outlining various matters and with interesting comments on American and Mexican labor forces and the lack of recognition by the British Government of the Mexican Government in power. 6.26.1923
Carbon, signed in ink; 5 fol. sngl. sp.
6. "Memorandum of Workings of Vera Cruz Terminal Company Since Dec. 1923." 12.6.23
2 fol. sngl. sp.
7. Circular regarding reducing the working day to 8.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the cutting of all salaries and wages over $100. Those earning $101–$200 will be cut by 25%; those in the 201–300 bracket by 30% and so on to a maximum of $601 and up, by 50%. Those under $100, not to be affected. This was made necessary by "the scarcity of funds the Company has at its disposal, brought about by the great diminution in receipts. Presumably this was caused by the outbreak of the De la Huerta revolution." 12.18.1923
Carbon; 1 fol. sngl. sp
8. Circular from B. E. Holloway modifying document above in that work hours would be from 8.30 a.m.–12.30 p.m. 12.22.1923
Carbon; 1 fol. dbl. sp.
4 9. T.L.s. from B. E. Holloway to Sr. don Adolfo de la Huerta regarding the failure of the Mexican government to live up certain contractual agreements regarding payments to the Mexican Railway staff. 1.7.1924
Carbon; 2 fol. sngl. sp.
10. Typed report "Bases for the Work of the Termainal Company at Veracruz from Veracruz" Affliated with the Mexican Railway Company and mentioned in above document. Signed by E. M. Wise, General Manager. 1.14.1924
1 fol. sngl. sp
11. T.L.s from J. E. Rabago, Chief Storekeepers at Orizaba to B. E. Holloway "General Conditions". Describing how the staff at Orizaba managed to save the rolling stock from being destroyed by lifting up a section of rail so that when the rebels ordered the engines to be sent "wild" the first one derailed and prevented the others from being damaged. Repairs to the telegraph and various delaying tactics. 2.2.1924
3 fol. sngl. sp.
12. T.L.s. from Vincent W. Yorke to A. A. W. Ponsonby, Under-Secretary of State, Foreign Office [London] S.W.1. Regarding the lack of recognition by H.M. Government and pointing out the very large investment by British companies in Mexico, amounting to over two millions sterling. Praising the Mexican administration, but realizing that more could be done by them to resolve outstanding claim. 2.5.1924
Carbon; 5 fol. dbl. sp.
13. T.L.s. from J. E. Rabago, General Store Keeper at Orizaba to B. E. Holloway. Outlining the events of Dec. 5th when they received news of General Guadalupe Sanchez uprising. One engine was derailed an engine in a tunnel and a tank car in another. They ordered all equipment to be seized and sent to Vera Cruz, but the local employees were able to save quite a lot. He and two others took out a bank loan to pay wages and had tickets printed as they were running out. 2.6.1924
Carbon; 2 fol. sngl. sp.
14. T.L.s. from W. T. Ingram, Resident Engineer to B. E. Holloway. Describing the January 30 dynamiting of Pier NoC. 4 of the Metlac Bridge. "Three bombs were exploded on the Bridge seat and the Masonry and girders were badly damaged...Roughly I should say the cost will be $12,000." 2.11.1924
1 fol. singl. sp.
15. "Revolutionary Disturbances". T.L.s. from B. E. Holloway to the Secretary of the Mexican Railway Co. in London outlining in detail the various events and what lead up to them with particular reference to the company's equipment. Americans offering the Government a large number of arms and ammunition and planes. 2.11.1924
Carbon; 9 fol. sngl. sp.
16. Diary Received from Mr. B. E. Holloway—24th March, 1924. Referred to in another item above, details events on daily basis, February 9–29 and March 1, 2 and 4. On Feb. 6 trains ordered by military to be in sight of each other, one stopped short, three wounded, driver later died. Feb. 10 two engines damaged, 9 freight cars & two cabooses destroyed; crews captured but later released unharmed. Feb. 23 Passenger engine driver taken prisoner by rebels and shot "as an example to railway men on orders of General Guadalope Sánchez who was apparently present for the execution." March 4, military train and Mexican Railway engines blown up on way from Vera Cruz to Mexico City, some soldiers killed but no railway employees. 3.24.1924
6 fol. dbl. sp.
5 I. Typed report to the Board from the Chairman Vincent Yorke on B. E. Holloway’s management of the Mexican operation and his attitude towards the company, after leaving and becoming President of the National Railroad. Plus two manuscript versions of same with varying content. 6.8.1926
Carbon and holograph; 7 folio mimeo. plus 5 pp. folio and 5 pp. folio
II. T.L.s. from J. D. W. Holmes, the successor to B. E. Holloway to Vincent Yorke regarding what he found on taking over from Holloway. 8.4.1926
2 Brit. letter sngl. sp
III. Draft holograph letter to Holmes. Concerning takeover offers for one of their sub- sidiaries, the Terminal Company, what price they should ask, who should be compensated, etc. Interestingly after complaining about Holloway’s over-generous treatment of labor in “I” above, Yorke advises Holmes to concede more to the force's demand than he would usually do in order to avoid a strike at this time. Undated but probably in 1926.
2 Brit. letter
6 IV. T.L.s. from Edm. Castillo to Vincent Yorke, sending him the latest Income Tax laws and acknowledging receipt of a photograph of Yorke with one of his racehorses in the winner's circle. He writes of two instances of dynamiting the company's bridges near San Juan Teotihuacan, but says the small fuse and amount of dynamite used resulted in little structural damage. He says it has been a "trying year". 4.19.1927
Original document; 2 Brit. letter
7 Photographs by Hugo Brehme.
Seven photographs (five are 5 x 6 ¾ inches and two are 4 ¾ x 7 5/8 inches)
One photograph bears Brehme's stamp and the others bear his notes on the verso, including one signed by him. Three of them are definitely railway related and show the line at El Pico de Orizaba from Alta Luz, one of them showing Mexican Railways train No. 2. The other four are of a more tourist nature: The Interior of one of the chapels in the Church of San Francisco, Tlaxcala Showing a Pulpit from which the Gospel was First Preached in New Spain; Fine View of the Church-Crowned Pyramid at Cholula; Prehistoric Sculptures at the Temple of Quetzalcoatl in Teotihuacan (Brehme's stamp on verso); and El Pico de Orizaba from Near Fortin—showing unpaved road with Mexican on a donkey in far distance (on verso "This picture is the property of Hugo Brehme, Mexico City; and if reproduced due acknowledgement of the fact must be made. Hugo Brehme."
8 Other Documents, including Yorke's migration card and a copy of Senator Ladd's (of North Dakota) speech in favor of the United States recognizing Mexico.: Our Duty to Mexico, Washington [Government Printing Office], 1922-1934, N.d.
31 pp.
There are also several sheets of notes by Yorke which appear to be unrelated.