Powys: A Day in the Life

1891

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Transport

Rail tracks and engine sheds in Brecon

Map of Brecon railway yard
Map of Brecon railway yard.
Colour added for clarity
Powys County Archives

Some of the practical business of maintaining and operating the railways was up to individuals such as Richard Roberts, a railway brakesman. They were involved in shunting operations - the movement of railway vehicles in sidings. Brakesmen were specifically employed to apply the brakes of goods wagons during shunting.

1891 Census
57 Struet
Name Position in
household
Marital
status
Age Occupation Place of Birth English/Welsh
speaker
Richard Roberts Head M 42 Railway Brakesman Herefordshire Hentland English
Magdalen Roberts Wife M 40   Breconshire Llywel Both
David Roberts Son S 16 Grocer's porter Breconshire Llywel English
Mary Roberts Dau S 12 Scholar Breconshire Llywel English
Richard Roberts Son S 6 Scholar Breconshire Llywel English
Margaret Roberts Dau S 3   Breconshire Llywel English
John Roberts Son S 1   Breconshire Llywel English

Charles Pearce was a steam raiser, otherwise known as a boiler filler. His job was to see that a fire had been lit in the boiler before the engine left the shed and that a proper head of steam had been attained.

1891 Census
46 Struet
Name Position in
household
Marital
status
Age Occupation Place of Birth English/Welsh
speaker
Charles Pearce Head M 29 Railway Steam riser Brecon St John English
Annie Pearce Wife M 30   Brecon St John English

In a similar way, coalmen were employed to load sufficient coal into the engine tender prior to the journey. John Powell's son was a clerk on the railway.

1891 Census
65 Watton
Name Position in
household
Marital
status
Age Occupation Place of Birth English/Welsh
speaker
John Powell Head M 54 Railway coalman Breconshire Devynock Both
Elizabeth Powell Wife M 50   Breconshire Trecastle Both
Thomas Powell Son S 17 Railway clerk Breconshire Brecon Both
William R Powell Son   12 Scholar Breconshire Brecon Both
Mary L Powell Dau   10 Scholar Breconshire Brecon Both
William R Powell Son   12 Scholar Breconshire Brecon Both
Olive S Powell Dau   5 Scholar Breconshire Brecon Both

Three Cocks Junction
Three Cocks Junction, near Brecon
Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery

Trains also had to be cleaned after use and many people in Brecon were employed as cleaners both for the engines and the carriages.

1891 Census
43 Struet
Name Position in
household
Marital
status
Age Occupation Place of Birth English/Welsh
speaker
Francis Healy Head M 60 General labourer Worcestershire Worcester English
Margaret Healy Wife M 50   Brecon Llanfigan Both
Joseph Healy Son S 25 General labourer Brecon St John English
Francis Healy Son S 22 Railway Engine cleaner Brecon St John English
John Healy Son S 14   Brecon St John English
Edward G Healy Son S 12 Scholar Brecon St John English
Edith Healy Dau S 7 Scholar Brecon St John English

Signalmen were also employed.

1891 Census
90 Watton
Name Position in
household
Marital
status
Age Occupation Place of Birth English/Welsh
speaker
William Price Head S 22 Grocer Breconshire Brecon Both
James Price Brother S 30 Grocer's assistant Breconshire Brecon Both
Annie Price Sister S 30 Grocer's shopwoman Breconshire Brecon Both
Margaret Griffiths Mother M 66 Housekeeper Pembroke Both
David Price Brother S 37 Railway signalman Pembroke Both

Finally, the platelayer was employed on maintaining the railway itself. These men usually worked in a gang and carried out any work necessary on the tracks. William Desley was living in a lodging house on The Struet. The husband of Margaret Harris was also a platelayer.

1891 Census
36 Struet
Name Position in
household
Marital
status
Age Occupation Place of Birth English/Welsh
speaker
Jane Williams Head Wid 42 Common Lodging
house keeper
Breconshire Talgarth English
Robert Williams Son S 20 Masons labourer Durham Shields English
Sarah A Williams Dau S 14 Servant domestic Breconshire Brecon English
Frederick Williams Son   4   Breconshire Brecon English
William Desley Boarder S 30 Railway Platelayer Essex Eastham English

As well as William Desley, there were 13 other boarders at this address - one family with 5 children, two farm labourers, one mason's labourer, an iron moulder, a cotton weaver and a hawker.


Railway clerks
Railway Jobs in Brecon

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