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Thread: I'm New To This

  1. #1
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    Default I'm New To This

    Hello,

    I've never had to use the railway records before as I've never found an ancestor employed by them but I have one now and need a bit of help.

    I have a William Howick in the 1851 census as a labourer living in railway cottages belonging (I presume) to the London, Brighton and South Coast railway. He's still a labourer when his son is born in 1853 but in 1861 he is at gate 35 (Worthing) living in railway cottages and a railway gatekeeper. The records I have found suggest he was "recommended by the Engineer's Department". I presume this means he was labouring for the Engineer's Department and sought to improve his lot by promotion to gatekeeper? Was this the sort of 'pecking order' in those days. He seems to continue as a railways gatekeeper until 1874 (ish) when he suffers ill-health and dies shortly thereafter. His son, George, then seems to take over - similarly recommended but by the Locomotion Department.

    Is this a fairly typical pattern? Any help or information will be useful as I'm intending to write short biography and could do with some details to add to bare facts.

    Thanks, in advance.

    Audrey

  2. #2
    Jan1954
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    Hello Audrey,

    Not a direct answer to your query, I'm afraid, but you may well find this useful as well as the Railway Ancestors Family History Society.

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    The records I have found suggest he was "recommended by the Engineer's Department". I presume this means he was labouring for the Engineer's Department and sought to improve his lot by promotion to gatekeeper?
    Might it not mean simply that he was known by some one in that department & recommended souly on personal worth?
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    Yes, I'm sure that may be the case. It's just that most people seem to have "recommended by ....." against their name which suggested, to me, that there was some sort of 'formal' system for getting on and up the ladder and that it would be hard to do so on just applying for a job, merit etc. alone.

    Audrey

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    I'm guessing 'character' & dependability would be important.
    I found similar when looking into my Uncles life on the Railways in Surrey. A possible candidate was recommended by a local business name.
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  7. #6
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    The LB&SCR Engineering Department would probably have been responsible for track maintenance (this was certainly the case on the GWR). Those employed as track workers would have required both strength and fitness, and it is possible that an employee who had been recommended for work as a gate-keeper had suffered some form of injury, which precluded him from more arduous duties as a "PW man". It should perhaps be mentioned that a gate-keeper would, on most railways, have been employed by the operating department, not the engineering department - each company was different in this respect.

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