Author Topic: British Railway Constructor: Natal, circa 1883~90  (Read 412 times)

Offline JohnG_Swansea

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British Railway Constructor: Natal, circa 1883~90
« on: Saturday 03 February 18 22:26 GMT (UK) »
Hello Readers,

I have spent some time researching my wife's ancestors and have created a family tree based upon the UK censes of 1841 through to 1911, with additional research from family and other sources.  It's become clear that further in depth investigation of Ruth's Great Grandfather could well be a credible exercise.

Benjamin David Pope (b: 1853, Stretham, Cambridgeshire) and his wife Flora (nee Cox, b: 1850, Wrington, Somerset) arrived in Durban, New Year 1884 where BDP worked on the construction of the railway that passed through Howick and Estcourt, Natal.  Whilst in Natal two children were born:
     Emily Laura Annie POPE, born: Howick, Natal; 3 November 1887, &
     Edward Benjamin POPE, born: Estcourt, Natal; 20 April 1890.
               They all arrived back in the UK on Christmas Day 1891.

I have a dream of obtaining birth certificates for each of the two children and have spent some time reading a number of threads/ discussions within the South Africa Forum and elsewhere and am beginning to think that I might be embarking on a task with an uncertain outcome.  I would appreciate any helpful pointers as to what path to take and what chance of success might be expected?

I have also tried searching for any newspapers covering the Howick/ Estcourt areas of Natal for the 1880~1890 era, but did not have any significant success.  Might I enquire if there are any such newspapers to be found 'online' and where they might be found.

Thank you for reading,  JohnG_Swansea, UK
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Base Project: Benjamin D. POPE, (Railway Constructor, Natal) b: 1853 Stretham, Ely, d: 1928 Bath, Som't
Current Project(2017): John Humphrey (1819-1888) builder of Morriston Tabernacle and several other chapels across Swansea and south west Wales(UK)

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Re: British Railway Constructor: Natal, circa 1883~90
« Reply #1 on: Saturday 03 February 18 23:03 GMT (UK) »
Hi John. I can't help you, but I'm marking this thread as I had a similar thread here 10 years ago. It will be interesting to see if any new resources have opened up.

This was my previous thread if it is of any help. http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?topic=318784.0
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Offline Catherine Wait

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Re: British Railway Constructor: Natal, circa 1883~90
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 04 February 18 17:35 GMT (UK) »
Hi JohnG, sorry I can't give you a direct answer but this site https://archive.org/stream/00ingrgoog#page/n124/mode/2up (The Colony of Natal: An official illustrated handbook and rialway guide) is a description of the railway line from Pietermaritzburg to Ladysmith and area, you might find the background info intersting. 

You are not going to find online newspapers in SA for that period - there might be copies of the local newspapers in the Estcourt or local museum, problem is I don't think you will get a response if you contact them to check for you.  Museums are very understaffed in SA, and nowdays there is very little interest from the government in colonial history, so there are only a few dedicated people trying to hold onto our heritage and they are spread very thin.

I have a similar family history - ggf with wife and first two children came out in 1885 and worked on Natal Government Railways (NGR) but my family stayed on.  Children born alone the railway line as it progressed - 1888 child born Nottingham Road Station (Between Howick and Estcourt) so your dates fit with the progress of the railways.

I am curious to know if there was a scheme to bring workers out to work on the railways, as I would assume the cost of bringing a family out to SA by a railway worker in England would be hard found.

Sorry, not much help.

Happy huntting

Catherine
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Re: British Railway Constructor: Natal, circa 1883~90
« Reply #3 on: Sunday 04 February 18 18:39 GMT (UK) »
Catherine - I presume it isn't possible to get birth certificates for these dates?
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Offline JohnG_Swansea

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Re: British Railway Constructor: Natal, circa 1883~90
« Reply #5 on: Sunday 04 February 18 19:44 GMT (UK) »
Good evening both,

Groom: Gosh with 19k4 posts, I do indeed thank you for your reply, it has yet again confirmed there are a significant number of individuals who are prepared to help others with their research projects.

I thank you for the link to your earlier thread on a very similar enquiry, which as it happens, I had already read with considerable interest prior to my penning my opening post.

I have a feeling that this thread might well be read by other subscribers with considerable interest.

Catherine Wait: Likewise I thank you for your reply, unfortunately the link you provided finished up with the following report:

"The item you have requested has a problem with one or more of the metadata files that describe it, which prevents us from displaying this page.
If you would like to report this problem as an error report, you may do so here."

It is not immediately clear to me whose website this is but I'm sure I've seen this 'page banner' in the recent past.

As it happens I have a possibly similar document titled: "The Opening of the Railway between Durban and Pietermaritzburg - 100 Years Ago", the source of the document being: http://www.natalia.org.za/Natalia/no10.html scroll to pages 34~40

I also have a link to a somewhat larger document, the original being some 300 pages, although the pdf version has been expanded to 337 pages.  Could this be the one behind the faulty link?  ..  ..  ..  and the link is:

https://ia802701.us.archive.org/10/items/natalanillustra00ingrgoog/natalanillustra00ingrgoog.pdf
There are anumber of lead-in pages, may I suggest readers jump to pdf page 9 or 10.

Whilst I have been preparing this 'post' I see a further contribution to the thread from: iluleah I have yet to visit the offered link but I surely will as soon as this post is successfully up loaded to Rootschat.

May I provisionally thank you all for your contributions and I guess I'll be posting further contributions in the days to come.

Thank you JohnG_Swansea
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Base Project: Benjamin D. POPE, (Railway Constructor, Natal) b: 1853 Stretham, Ely, d: 1928 Bath, Som't
Current Project(2017): John Humphrey (1819-1888) builder of Morriston Tabernacle and several other chapels across Swansea and south west Wales(UK)

Offline pampoen

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Re: British Railway Constructor: Natal, circa 1883~90
« Reply #6 on: Monday 05 February 18 06:31 GMT (UK) »
As to applying for birth certificates. Unfortunately the new government has put in staff who on the whole have no idea or interest in helping. I may be wrong but I think one needs to be relative and apply in person in South Africa to get a birth certificate. You may be able to apply through your local South African embassy.
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Offline Catherine Wait

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Re: British Railway Constructor: Natal, circa 1883~90
« Reply #7 on: Monday 05 February 18 06:59 GMT (UK) »
Hi JohnG, Sorry about the link that didn't work, I've tried again
https://archive.org/stream/colonynatalanof00ingrgoog#page/n218/mode/2up.

"As it happens I have a possibly similar document titled: "The Opening of the Railway between Durban and Pietermaritzburg - 100 Years Ago", the source of the document being: http://www.natalia.org.za/Natalia/no10.html scroll to pages 34~40" 
[/pre]
This is about the Durban to Pietermaritzburg line which opened 1880.

The line which you would be interested in would be from Pietermaritzburg to Ladysmith, work started in 1883.  Howick and Estcourt are along this section.

The other link you posted is similar but not what I was trying to send you, it is also a railway guide but it was the second guide to be published.  I was trying to send the first railway guide by J Forsyth. I hope the new link works!!!!!

However, in having a look around the internet for you, I have found the answer to my own question.   The following is an extract from "Mol's Genealogy Blog"

"Railway workers of varying levels of skill were imported from Britain specifically for the development of the Natal rail network. The selected lists below show contingents of platelayers* ‘engaged by the Crown Agents for service on Natal Government Railways’ and brought out, most with their families, in 1885 on these and other vessels. The date shown is that of arrival at Natal and where not otherwise stated all were accompanied by wives and in some cases, children.

Some of the passengers' names shown here appear in the Natal Civil Service Lists, giving clues as to their later careers. It’s evident that many of them settled permanently in Natal."

My ggfather is listed on the arrival's list!!!

Groom:  I doubt you will get official birth certificates - you would have to apply to Dept of Home Affairs and the application form requires all the details to be completed, they simply use the information you have provided. 

Regards
Catherine
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Re: British Railway Constructor: Natal, circa 1883~90
« Reply #8 on: Monday 05 February 18 09:40 GMT (UK) »
Thanks Catherine and Pampoen, that is what I thought. As it is only a side line I doubt if I’d be able to get the certificate. It was just interesting that someone born in South Africa suddenly popped up in my tree and that’s what lead to my research - as you can see from my earlier thread it also lead to finding a distant living relative.

I’ll follow up those links you’ve given John - you never know!
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