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Signalman at Clapham Junction.

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Signalman at Clapham Junction.

Postby Amazinggrace » Sun Jan 29, 2017 10:41 am

Having a break from my family and helping my husband with his. His grandfather William James Smith was born in 1873 in Saxmundham Suffolk.He married Ada Lydia Moore in Croydon in 1892. He was a signalman on the railway at Clapham Junction. Has anyone got any ideas how I could find out which company he worked for? Obviously too early for British Rail.
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Re: Signalman at Clapham Junction.

Postby gillashcroft1 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 11:17 am

Hi, have you checked out the railway employment records on ancestry? There are quite a few with the name but might be worth a look. The nearest I found on a very quick look was a William Walter smith b1873 working as a parcel clerk at Clapham in 1888 but note in end column suggests he moved to signals. Company stated as London, Brighton and South Coast.
Good luck


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Re: Signalman at Clapham Junction.

Postby Amazinggrace » Sun Jan 29, 2017 11:46 am

Thanks gillashcroft1,
I'm not on Ancestry as all my ancestors are scots so use scotlands people.
Of course being a Smith doesn't help.The company sounds interesting.Will look further.
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Re: Signalman at Clapham Junction.

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 12:43 pm

The railway companies prior to 1 January 1923 form what is referred to as the pre-Grouping era and there were a couple of dozen major companies (please don't count them!) and lots of smaller ones.

Clapham Junction was a major junction and looking at my maps, all 3 of the major companies that went on to form the Southern Railway in 1923, operated there, specifically:

  • London & South Western Railway
  • London, Brighton & South Coast Railway
  • South Eastern & Chatham Railway

Except that's not right - the SECR was formed in 1899 as a working merger of the South Eastern and the London Chatham & Dover Railways - but my maps aren't early enough to say which bit of the SECR went to Clapham Jn. In fact, it may well be, looking the map, that while the trains of the SECR and its predecessor went there, they may have worked over lines controlled by the other two, i.e. no "SECR" signal box there.

So it's quite likely that he was employed by either the LSWR or the LBSCR, with an outside possibility of whatever the SECR's predecessor was, or even some of the other companies whose trains managed to reach Clapham Junction. Both the LSWR and the LBSCR appear to have surviving staff records but I have no idea how comprehensive. Ancestry is a good place to start as they made an attempt to digitise all of Kew's railway employee records.
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Re: Signalman at Clapham Junction.

Postby Amazinggrace » Sun Jan 29, 2017 12:54 pm

Thanks Adrian,
It must have been a very responsible job at that busy interchange. He had to retire early as all the pulling of the levers made a mess of his shoulders. He moved to Horsham, West Sussex and opened a corner shop.
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Re: Signalman at Clapham Junction.

Postby junkers » Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:32 pm

The South-Eastern and Chatham Railway is unlikely to have used Clapham Junction as their trains ran through London Bridge and still do, whereas South West Trains and the Southern Railway use Clapham Junction. There is a book called the "Railway Atlas" which shows which companies used which stations. Being a signalman usually meant you were employed by one but not all of the companies. The National Archives have an information leaflet on the records.
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Re: Signalman at Clapham Junction.

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 6:28 pm

Yes, my Pre-Grouping Railway Atlas shows a SE&CR line approaching Clapham Junction and feeding into the complex there, so there must have been some trains operating over that line - maybe just occasional goods trains because, as you say, the vast bulk of the SE&CR services didn't go through there.

http://www.railwaywondersoftheworld.com/clapham.html contains something about Clapham Junction - it counts up 7 signal boxes then but that's a bit later than the period under review. In the article, 3 of the boxes were electro-pneumatic - these would have require little effort to operate, unlike the original manual levers. I have failed to find any photos of the old manually operated signal boxes at Clapham Jn - no doubt there are some, somewhere.
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Re: Signalman at Clapham Junction.

Postby Amazinggrace » Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:36 pm

Thank you Adrian for the website, Railway wonders of the world. Very interesting. I especially liked the description of the area before Waterloo station was built, "formerly occupied by hay stalls,cow yards and similar nuisances". What a picture that conjures up. :D
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Re: Signalman at Clapham Junction.

Postby Amazinggrace » Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:06 am

Googled manual signal boxes Clapham Junction and there is a picture of the inside of signal box B.
Wow.
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