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Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Victorian Railways – a dangerous place to work

The railways provided a source of employment to many of our ancestors in late Victorian times.  Such was the case for John Titheridge and his family from South Stoneham.  John was born in Cheriton in 1823 son of Maria. Titheridge.  By the 1851 census John had moved from Cheriton to South Stoneham where on the 1851 and 1861 census he is described as a railway pointsman and on the 1871 and 1881 census he is described as a railway signal man.

John married Mary Ashton in the Winchester registration ares in 1845 and they had a family of 11 children
     George born 1845
     Mary Ann born 1847
     John born 1848
     William born 1850
     Emma born  born 1852
     James born 1856
     Jane  born 1857
     Henry born about 1859
     Elizabeth  born 1861
     Charles Frederick born 1864
     Edward born 1866

The railway providing a living for the whole family at various points in their lives.
     George was a railway labourer and railway platelayer
     James a railway labourer and railway porter
     Henry railway gate keeper
     Frederick railway porter
     Edward railway booking boy and railway signal boy

Most appear to be employed by the London  and South Western Railway Company.  They were mainly based at Northam Station. This was a station on the London to Southampton Railway line and the station was a short distance from the Southampton terminus. 

From an article in the Hampshire Advertiser on 12 January 1878 the following incident was reported.  In 1878 John was employed as signal man at Northam and 18 year old son Henry was employed as a gatekeeper on the Chapel Road level crossing nearby.  On Wednesday 9th January 1878 at half past six Henry was seen walking down the line from the engine shed at Northam to go to his duty.  Sam Vickery a fireman on the goods engine observed a person going down the platform and then he saw him fall between the first and second wagon from the enginge.  Sam applied the brake and called to the driver to cut off steam.  Sam took his lamp and went back to the platform and saw Henry laying between the rails quite dead.  Although there was no evidence it was supposed that he had tried to jump one of the wagons and fell.  An inquest was held at the Oddfellows Arms at Northam and the jury returned the verdict of accidental death.

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