Author Topic: Railway Bridge Attendant  (Read 324 times)

Offline Davedrave

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Railway Bridge Attendant
« on: Thursday 07 January 21 21:23 GMT (UK) »
I wonder if anyone has come across the occupation of railway bridge attendant? It is difficult to see why a railway bridge would normally require an attendant, unless....

In 1891, when Jacob Mitchell died in Lincoln aged 70, his death certificate stated this as his occupation. He was living in Waterloo Street, and this is close to quite a sizeable network of lines, which cross the River Witham (O.S. 25 inch map on NLS website. It seems that some of these crossed on moveable bridges, so maybe he operated one of these?

Offline CaroleW

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Re: Railway Bridge Attendant
« Reply #1 on: Thursday 07 January 21 22:07 GMT (UK) »
Did you check him on censuses before his death?  He died Dec qtr 1891 but on the 1881 & 1891 censuses he was a labourer & in 1871 he was a journeyman brickmaker
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Offline Davedrave

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Re: Railway Bridge Attendant
« Reply #2 on: Friday 08 January 21 09:09 GMT (UK) »
Did you check him on censuses before his death?  He died Dec qtr 1891 but on the 1881 & 1891 censuses he was a labourer & in 1871 he was a journeyman brickmaker

Hi Carole, yes, I did check and initially I wondered whether I’d ordered the wrong death reg in error, since not only did his occupation seem at odds with the censuses, but the name of the informant meant nothing to me. However, I found that it was certainly him when I eventually tracked down the informant. Jacob actually died at the house of his son and it was the son’s next door neighbour who went to the register office.

Jacob was a widower living alone. I suspect that he’d moved in with his son by the time he died, but I suppose he may simply have been visiting at the time. I think it likely that Jacob had taken this railway bridge job because it was probably less physically strenuous than his previous work. The death certificate states that he’d had the heart condition for 3 months, so he may have been forced to give up his previous job some time during the summer after the 1891 Census was taken.

Dave🙂


Offline Dyingout

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Re: Railway Bridge Attendant
« Reply #3 on: Friday 08 January 21 11:00 GMT (UK) »
The railway bridge across the Witham is still there.
Yes, it's a railway bridge.
https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2662831


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Offline Redroger

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Re: Railway Bridge Attendant
« Reply #4 on: Saturday 09 January 21 21:21 GMT (UK) »
To my certain knowledge there are several railway bridges in Lincolnshire needing attendants in the past, and in some cases still do. Apart from those in Lincoln itself there are the bridge at Sutton Bridge, now road only, but intriguingly maintained by Rail track, a hangover from its M&GN origins.
To my knowledge the Dock bridge at Boston is unique in that it requires the signalman to be competent to navigate a rowboat! It is a swing bridge which during night hours has to be left for river traffic to pass, hence the boat as the signalman has to return to shore. The day shift signalman then rows to the bridge, and resets it for rail traffic. I suspect it is almost 100 years old and due for replacement soon.
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Offline Davedrave

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Re: Railway Bridge Attendant
« Reply #5 on: Sunday 10 January 21 08:17 GMT (UK) »
Thanks for the further information. It seems from this that I can fairly safely assume that Jacob was concerned with a railway bridge which crossed over water, and so probably over the River Witham in Lincoln. Prior to living at the address where he died he’d lived nearby, in the Waterside North area of the city. It seems reasonable to assume, especially in view of his heart problem, that he most likely lived within easy walking distance of his work, and the Witham bridges fit the bill. There seem to be at least 4 on the 25” O.S. map viewable on the NLS website.

Initially I was thinking of a railway bridge which carried the line over a road, or a road over the track, and wondered why it would need an attendant ::).

Offline Redroger

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Re: Railway Bridge Attendant
« Reply #6 on: Sunday 10 January 21 11:01 GMT (UK) »
One thing the railway companies were usually good at was the accommodation of staff in "light work" posts after injury or illness. Sometimes they got it wrong though I recall one driver who had been gassed in WW1 being accommodated moving engines onto the ashpit for firedropping. Think about it!
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Offline ThrelfallYorky

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Re: Railway Bridge Attendant
« Reply #7 on: Sunday 10 January 21 16:16 GMT (UK) »
It always amazes me what one can learn via this forum!
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