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George Augustus Nokes

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George Augustus Nokes (1867–1948), often known by his pen-name G. A. Sekon, was the founding editor of The Railway Magazine.

Nokes was born on 5 January 1867 at Hammersmith, to Frances Steel and Walter Nokes; he was the seventh of their eight children, and their youngest son. As a child he was invited to have a ride in the cab of a 2-4-0 locomotive of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway at Margate.

He was educated as a boarder at Hayes College, and upon leaving there, joined the family firm of land agents and auctioneers; their offices were close to King's Cross station in London.

In 1891, the firm were to auction a bundle of old copies of the journal Railway Herald; noticing these, and never having heard of this particular journal, Nokes bought the bundle. Soon, he was one of the journal's contributors. The Railway Herald was run by Frank Cornwall, who also owned the Railway Herald Magazine, which consisted mainly of reprints from Railway Herald.

In 1897, Cornwall noticed that sales of Railway Herald Magazine were increasing, and decided that it should become a proper magazine in its own right, with original articles instead of reprints, and be aimed at rail enthusiasts - or "railwayacs" as they were then known. Accordingly, he decided that for the relaunch as The Railway Magazine, an editor was required who was also a railwayac, and he chose Nokes. The first issue was dated July 1897, and it was published on the first of that month. Nokes continued to work for the family business, and wished his two jobs to be unconnected; so he adopted the pen-name "G. A. Sekon" (his surname spelled backwards) for his magazine work.

In December 1909, Cornwall died; his successor was W. Parker. The last issue of The Railway Magazine that Nokes edited was that of February 1910 (vol. XXVI, no. 152). In that month, he had a disagreement with Parker and the magazine's proprietor, Sir Joseph Lawrence, over his editorial style, and resigned.

After leaving The Railway Magazine, Nokes started another magazine, The Railway and Travel Monthly, which he owned himself; the first issue appeared in May 1910. It was a direct competitor with The Railway Magazine, but always on friendly terms.

Following the First World War, both The Railway Magazine and The Railway and Travel Monthly were purchased by John Aiton Kay, who already owned The Railway Gazette. Nokes remained as Editor of The Railway and Travel Monthly, which was renamed Transport and Travel Monthly in April 1920; but it only lasted until Nokes's retirement at the end of 1922, following which it was merged into The Railway Magazine from the January 1923 issue.[3][4]

Nokes had ten grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

He died on 19 February 1948.

1948 Obituary [1]

WE regret to have to record the death on Thursday, February 19th, of Mr. George August us Nokes, who for many years has been known by his pen-name of G. A. Sekon, as a distinguished and voluminous writer on matters concerned with the history of rail and road transport.

Mr. Nokes was born in 1867, was educated at Hayes Grammar School and Hayes College, and as a young man practised for a time as a surveyor and land agent. The greater part of his life, however, was devoted to a close study of all aspects of railway and transport history, and many of our readers will be familiar with his published works on these subjects. Amongst G. A. Selkon's earlier books, mention may be made of histories of the South-Eastern Railway, the London and South-Western Railway, and the Great Western Railway. He also prepared a Dictionary of Railway Words and Phrases, and contributed the historical sketches of forty-three railways to the "pre-grouping" issues of the Railway Year Book.

Mr. Nokes was one of the founders of the Railway Magazine and the Railway Year Book, which he edited from 1897 till 1910, and from 1910 until 1922 he was editor of Transport and Travel Monthly. His more recent works included a book on "Locomotion in Victorian London," which was published in 1938, and which contains many informative as well as amusing particulars of all methods of transport in the Metropolis during last century. Numerous other contributions from the pen of G. A. Sekon have appeared through the years in newspapers, magazines and in THE ENGINEER, and other technical journals. Mr. Nokes' railway interests were not, however, confined to his literary work. He was recognised as the originator of the "luggage in advance" system and was also the founder of the Railway Control by Railway Stockholders Association.

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