It’s so nice when we can discover an insight into an ancestor’s character – their likes, dislikes and hobbies etc
These two brothers fell in love with steam trains from an early age and this love continued throughout their entire lives
John was born in 1860 and his brother Charles in 1866. and were the sons of a coal merchant from Derbyshire
I assume when the boys were at school it was expected that they would eventually join their father in his business, but this work held no appeal for either of them – possibly they didn’t like the idea of lugging heavy bags of coal around on their shoulders all day, every day - and who can blame them!
At this time there was no indication that either boy would make a living by working on the railway. Although right from early childhood John was fascinated by the steam and smell of these enormous engines, and would run down to watch them as they trundled past the bottom of the family garden.
….I suppose it was only natural that Charles would want to follow his elder brother around, and it wasn’t long before he was as enthusiastic about these steam trains as John.
It was from about this time that the two brothers became almost inseparable. Whenever there was an engine in the local sidings or one being loaded up with coal ready for it’s next journey, the boys would be there watching all the activity. Evidently someone must have noticed their continuing interest and invited them to take a look in the railway sheds where all the repairs and servicing was carried out.. This experience firmly cemented the idea in their heads of working with these magnificent mechanical beasts.
North British Locomotive c1890
As soon as John was old enough to begin work he started as a trainee guard – complete with his flag and whistle. He was in his element travelling on these trains - a joy which never left him. He graduated to becoming a fully fledged guard, and that was the occupation he kept for all of his working life, even when he was married with a family and it meant he’d had to relocate from Derbyshire to live in Middlesex.
The intervening years after John began work and until Charles was old enough to do the same must have felt like a lifetime to the impatient Charles. He was more of a ‘hands on’ young man and never shirked at getting his hands dirty. He began his working life in the railway sheds learning all about the maintenance of the locomotives and wagons, as this is where his main interest lay…As with John, Charles eventually had to relocate with his job, and this took him to live in Birmingham, where he married and brought up his family.
The fascination of trains must have been in the genes, because sons and grandsons from both John and Charles acquired work in some capacity on the Railway. either as Engine drivers, Firemen or Signalmen.
Sadly the time came when the age of the steam engine had run it’s course and was superseded by diesel….a sad day indeed for the steam enthusiast.