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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

The joy of steam

Updated: Jan 13, 2020

Doesn’t everybody loves a model steam railway? (And if you are a fan, there's a treat in store at the end of the post).

My husband‘s been building his model layout for the last few years and this Christmas he was thrilled to get an engine with sound effects. As the locomotive (The Earl of Saint Germans, if you like to know that sort of thing) trundles around the track it makes those wonderful huff-puff noises, along with the sounds of whistles and clanking of various sorts. It's brilliant!

Railway ancestors

So, being enthusiasts, we’re always thrilled when we find an ancestor who worked on the railways and we’ve found two so far.

My great aunt, Hilda Griffiths, was a clerk with the Great Western Railway. I found the employee records for her from 1916 to 1918 when she was clerk in Wolverhampton but I know she worked for them for a lot longer than that, including in London where she lived for a time - during the Second World War, I believe.

When she retired she got special ticket rates as a former employee and she used trains to travel to places all around the country, including coming to visit us.

My husband’s railway ancestor was Henry Viner and he lived and worked in Bath, again for the Great Western Railway. He was a booking clerk and at some point was responsible for the parcels office.

Henry's 15 minutes of fame

It was while he was a parcels clerk that his "Fifteen Minutes of Fame" occurred. I discovered while browsing the British Newspaper Archives that in 1857 Henry was called as a witness for the prosecution in a murder trial!

But more of that next week when I’ve had a chance to do a bit more digging....

Meanwhile, here's a treat for you model railway enthusiasts. Enjoy!


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