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Our History 



The Railway Benevolent Institution (RBI) came into existence in 1858 “to provide some form of care and financial aid to needy railway personnel” and “to establish an institution for necessitous railway children”. Railway employment was very dangerous at that time, with virtually no social provision.


The first general meeting took place on 8 May, 1858 where it was agreed the managing committee would consist of top railway company chairmen and managers. At an early meeting on 16 March, 1859 the Chairman, Joseph Locke M.P. said that he hoped "the railways would combine to support this most excellent and valuable institution”.


Progress was slow, especially in terms of financial support from within the railway.
Some income was raised through annual dinners. The Marquess of Lansdowne, William Cubitt, the Duke of Devonshire, and HRH the Prince of Wales, as presidents of the institution, chaired these occasions as did Charles Dickens.


Dickens drew particular attention to the gratitude he felt industry leaders and travellers owed to railway staff, who performed their duties in hazardous conditions, and he sought support for their welfare. 


Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was patron of the RBI for 63 years and always took a great deal of interest in the affairs of the institution.


The RBF is an international charity, given that it has a branch operating exclusively in the Republic of Ireland, with its own regional board since the foundation of the State in 1922. 



and now...


Today the RBF is managed by a Board of active and retired senior railway managers, and enjoys cross industry support.


The charity relaunched on the 28 February, 2006 under the name of the Railway Benefit Fund, and is now widely known as the RBF.


June 2014 saw the launch of a fresh new identity for the charity in keeping with the modern world in which it now operates, and in which it continues to support railway workers in need. 



The only charity that solely supports current and former railway people and their families 



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© RBF, Electra Way, Crewe Business Park, Crewe, Cheshire, CW1 6HS
Founded in 1858, Incorporated by Royal Charter 1949
RBF is the working name of Railway Benevolent Institution. Registered Charity no. 206312
All correspondence to be addressed to: RBF
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