I recently wrote an article about my great grandfather who was sentenced to a month in prison with hard labour in May 1888 for stealing a new pair of boots:


At the time he was working for the GWR at Tetbury Road Station, on the Swindon to Cheltenham line. He was sentenced at Cirencester Petty Sessions and served his time in Gloucester Prison. I found a really informative newspaper account that gives an insight into the attitudes of railway companies to theft: "The Chairman said the Railway Company must be protected, as the goods of the public were absolutely at the mercy of the railway servants. Morally, it was no greater offence than stealing from anyone else, but the Bench had to consider prisoner’s position". The Company would also be liable to recompense any losses. I understand that at the time, it was customary for employees to pay for their own uniform and boots, the cost being deducted from their wages. Interestingly, in his employment records, it is just noted that my ancestor "Left Service", so it was not recorded that he was dismissed. My ancestor managed to work again for GWR a few years later, so presumably, his past was kept secret. He also worked for another railway company subsequently and had a long respectable career as a manager for the Wantage Tramway.