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March 2009

As Velma describes for us in her article on the Industrial Revolution and Transportation, the advent of the railway created enormous opportunities for all our ancestors, whether it was for the monied classes or for the humble agricultural labourer. The importance of this is reflected in the number of articles in this edition which deal with the railways. Dizzy Digital Cat describes the first trials of the steam engines, where George Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ was the winner.

 Many of us have come across workers on the railways in our research, from carmen or shunters to navigators, but most of us are not lucky enough to have much detail about their personal lives. Christine in Herts and Merry Monty Montgomery tell us about their relatives who worked for the Great Western Railway and Velma gives us some background to this important railway company.

 In addition, Nasher describes his huge collection of Railwayana and his lifetime fascination with trains and Wendy Pusey writes about her husband’s work as a volunteer at the Havenstreet Steam Railway. Away from trains, Howie from Gwent writes about his father’s, and his own, work in road haulage while Mary in Italy has written about a relative who designed and patented the hansom cab and designed the Great Indian Peninsular Railway.

 The Family Treasure this month is an interesting brass tin belonging to Mavis by the Moor. 

Industrial Revolution and Transportation

Until the 1700s, transportation in Britain relied either on the horse, on water, or indeed, a human being’s own feet. However, with the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent mechanisation of production, there was a huge need for a transportation system, which not...

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The Great Western Railway

The Great Western Railway (GWR) or, as it was more affectionately known, 'God's Wonderful Railway' was one of the early railway companies and was established in 1833. When Liverpool was connected to London by the railways, Bristol merchants felt their livelihoods...

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The Railwayman

I was trying to follow up a part of my mother’s family again – the Lancasters. She did have ideas that there might have been some connection to the nobility, but I have found none. Instead I have found a family with its own set of interesting qualities (as well as the...

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Lure of the Steam

My great grandfather, Samuel Charles Burchill, was born to the north east of Bristol, at Mangotsfield, in 1855. He was the eldest of the eleven children of Charles and Elizabeth Burchill. Throughout the Victorian era almost all of Samuel’s male relatives, including...

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Road, Rail and Air Transport Pioneer

John Chapman was born in Loughborough, Leicestershire, on 20th January 1801. His parents were John Chapman, a clockmaker of Loughborough, and his second wife Sarah, daughter of William Parkinson, a farmer who had moved some years earlier from Derbyshire to Quorndon, a...

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Railway Memorabilia

My earliest childhood recollection is of my mother pushing me in a pram and stopping at the level crossing in South Street, Bourne, Lincolnshire. What I now know was a tank engine, crossed over the road and then went back towards the station. I must have only been...

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The Rainhill Trials

The idea for the Liverpool to Manchester railway was first suggested in 1822, as a faster and cheaper way of transporting goods from the textile mills in Manchester to the port of Liverpool. In 1824 the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company was formed and George...

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The Isle of Wight Steam Railway

My husband John was made redundant, at the age of 49, when the air conditioning firm where he had worked for 30 years closed down and relocated to the mainland. After trying desperately to find another job, and being told, “Sorry, you’re too old”, he decided he would...

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On the road

My father was in haulage all his life. When he started work in 1913, at the age of twelve, it was in a quarry burning limestone. After a few years he went on to be a stable lad, looking after the cart-horses. A few years later he became a carter. We often talked of...

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Great Great Grandfather’s Snuff Box

Well, at least I think it’s a snuff box, but it may well be a pin tin, and that's not the least of the unanswered questions surrounding this little box. About half a century ago (ouch!) I went to stay with an ‘honorary’ aunt, at least I presume she was ‘honorary’, as...

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