Fred Newton – a case study
Look for Fred Newton in the Crewe Works stuff. To do this, search for “Fred* Newton”, and set class number to 410, which will restrict the search to the LNWR documents. Note that there is a very small selection of Crewe Works stuff from the later LMS era, under class 426, covering transfers for a few years in the early 1930s.
The Fred Newton records I get back from Ancestry include:
- Class: RAIL 410; Piece: 1914, AR series register for period 1901-11, shows all Newton names in the Works over that period, including Fred Newton, date-entered-service 7 August 1908. Includes his birth-date.
- Class: RAIL 410; Piece: 1942, MR series registers for period 1905 – 1908, shows all new entrants and leavers for each week. Includes Fred with the information that he’s “been working for his father” and his references were supplied by the Vicar of Haslington, Rev. AJ Ward. The page concludes with the information that there were 7,736 people employed in Crewe Works at the end of this week, compared to 7,790 in the same week last year.
- Class: RAIL 410; Piece: 1949, Alphabetical registers for 1899 – 1912 (what I describe as the AL-series in my previous post). Seems to describe all new entrants (left-hand page) and leavers (right hand page) split by first letter of surnames. As expected, Fred is on the pages for surnames beginning “N”. Leavers include their length of service and final pay-rate. Fred is entered there when he arrives in the Works.
- Class: RAIL 410; Piece: 1963, Seems to describe all new entrants (left-hand page) and leavers (right hand page) for each foreman over period 1908-13. Fred is entered there when he arrives in the Works. Leavers include a reason of leaving and character assessment.
It is possible that other documents for him are filed under “F Newton”. I’ve seen his full-page staff register at Kew in Volume “U”, RAIL 410/2218 but I’ve not seen the image of that page on Ancestry, which is one of the reasons why I don’t think the main staff registers have been loaded on Ancestry. He certainly appears in later index registers on Ancestry, which show him transferring between foremen, then becoming a chain examiner (rather than a labourer – check the works numbers to make sure it’s the same guy). He’s later described as a “WSC”, which may be a “Work Shop Clerk” because his single page staff register describes him as a Shop Clerk later on.
Not having Fred’s page in the main staff register on Ancestry means that on-line users lose out on some information, such as him being a (definite) Shop Clerk; that he transfers to the Clerical Staff Register in or after 1922; and that his forefinger was injured on 8 October 1908.
While not having the main staff registers on Ancestry means its users lose some stuff, the index staff registers start before the surviving main staff registers do in 1890, so we can get some data from as early as 1867. For instance, I find that my great-great-great grandfather, Samuel Pickstock, started in the Works as a joiner on 2 June 1874 (at 6 a.m.!) with references from Mr Hulse, shipbuilder of Winsford, and at a pay rate of 30 shillings per week. He left on 30 September 1882 – presumably sacked, because one of the index registers records that he (and others) were “refusing to reside within the 2 1/2 mile radius”. Apparently the LNWR were enforcing a rule that employees at the Works should live that close, as some were walking from places like Wybunbury and Nantwich, 4 miles away, so, particularly during periods of rain or snow, were often in no condition to do a decent day’s work (W.H. Chaloner, The Social & Economic Development of Crewe 1780-1923, (Manchester University Press, 1950), page 204). Samuel lived out at Middlewich, 9 miles away, though whether he caught the train daily or lodged in Crewe during the week, I don’t know.
Does it cover all staff employed at Crewe Works?
If we knew the piece numbers that Ancestry have loaded, we could sit down with the TNA Catalogue, look at the piece descriptions there and attempt to answer that question. As it is, I don’t know if there are any gaps in the coverage. You may be convinced your relative work in the Works, but not find them. There could be several reasons for this:
- They only entered the Works after the cut-off date for the documents in the collection – whatever that is, but 1928 seems to be the limit for the main staff registers at Chester;
- They left the Works before the start date for the documents – 1867 is the earliest AR-series alphabetic register I’ve found in the TNA catalogue. Anyone still in service when this was compiled, should be in there;
- They entered or left the Works in one of the gaps in the document collection – if there are any gaps;
- They might not have worked in the actual Works. It is not unknown for family stories to make assumptions – someone could have been a fitter employed at the locomotive running sheds, for instance. This is a workshop type job, leading people to assume in later years that they must have been employed in the Works;
- I have a suspicion that some of the staff within the physical walls of the Works, were not employed by the Locomotive Department and therefore will not appear in the surviving documents, which I believe all come from the Locomotive Department. At least, that is the only reason I can think of for why my GG grandfather, Henry Salter, described as a “Joiner (Railway Works)” on his 1898 death certificate, does not appear in any of the Ancestry or Chester documents. That’s assuming the certificate is correct, of course.
One last comment – remember to use the on-line index to the main staff registers at Chester, as well as the Ancestry collection.