Tatham area railways 1845-1914



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Railway People

The 1861-1901 census data for Arkholme, Hornby, Farleton, Wray, Tatham and Wennington (and Melling from 1871) show that between 15 and 33 men living in these areas were employed by the railway. The data is summarised below; click here for a full list.

Summary of railway employees resident in Arkholme, Farleton, Hornby, Melling, Tatham, Wray & Wennington from 1851-1901 censuses
Date Station Master (age)1 Station2 Track3 Train4 Total
1851 H: Henry Grant 34 3 25*   28
  W: Robert Skirrow 22        
1861 H: Henry Grant 44 5 9 1 15
  W: Thomas Stirzaker 49        
1871 A: William Waller 34 17 11   28
  H: James Albarach? 36        
  M: Francis Townson 45        
1881 A: Harry Ball 27 14 15 1 30
  H: Alfred Greenwood 32        
  M: Francis Townson 58        
  W: William Handley 35        
1891 A: David Smith 35 18 8* 1* 27
  H: Thomas Ripley 34        
  M: Francis Townson 65        
  W: William Handley 45        
1901 A: John Teal 33 19 14   33
  H: Thomas Ripley 44        
  M: James Garner 27        
  W: William Handley 55        
1 A - Arkholme, H - Hornby, M - Melling, W - Wennington
2 Station master, Porter, Clerk, Signalman / Pointsman
3 Platelayer / Ganger, Railway Labourer
4 Guard, Engine Cleaner, Engine Driver*
* includes 1 visitor

A consistent picture of their occupations is not possible because of changing job titles but three categories are apparent: station staff (station master, clerk, porter, points man / signalman and labourer), track maintenance staff (platelayer / ganger/ repairer and labourer) and a few train staff (guard, engine cleaner and engine driver (assuming it is railway engines). On the old NWR line, the track category lived mainly in the crossing cottages. As these crossings were for infrequent agricultural access, for which a toll was charged, their wives presumably operated them. In at least one case, there is uncertainty about a person’s employment, e.g. in 1871 John Bee was railway platelayer living at "Wray Station", whereas in 1861 he was recorded at the same address as an agricultural labourer and, in 1851, as a labourer at an unknown address. However, in the evidence given at the inquest after the Wennington accident inquest in 1881 (see below), he claimed to have 30 years service as a platelayer, so he is included in the above data for the first two censuses. The 1901 census shows "Wray station" occupied by platelayer John Sanderson (40), his wife Matilda (40) and children Ann (13), Alexander (11) and William (8). They are shown there in a surviving photograph. The now ruined twin Clintsfield Crossing cottages, just up the line from Wennington towards Clapham, were also built for platelayers, but life in these cottages had its hazards. In 1895 the youngest son of the Bell family, 1 year old Albert, was killed by the 11 am train. The elder chidren of both families apparently worked in the Low Bentham silk mill.21

In 1851, the large total, mainly comprised of track labourers, reflects the late stages of the line’s construction, including line doubling. Half of these were lodging with families in Hornby and Wennington, being part of the itinerant railway construction labour force. In keeping with this, their birth places were widely distributed, from Devon to Scotland and Ireland. Another boost in numbers came with the opening of the branch to Carnforth in 1867. Many of the operational staff were also recruited countrywide, with about half being single men lodging with local families, and the other half married men with families living in their own dwellings.


MK 2010
Page created 10-7-2010. Latest update 15-7-2010

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