Mystery surrounding a presentation in 1865

This forum is for the discussion of LNER personalities, and for use by people researching their ancestors.

Moderators: 52D, Rlangham, Atlantic 3279, Blink Bonny, Saint Johnstoun, richard, Tom F

Post Reply
Adrienne
NER Y7 0-4-0T
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:37 pm

Mystery surrounding a presentation in 1865

Post by Adrienne » Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:52 pm

Hello forum members.
I recently inherited a gold pocket watch and chain through my father’s family. It is inscribed, as below, and I am hoping that someone can help me solve our long term family mystery: WHY was James, only 25 at the time and just a ‘contractor’s clerk’ presented with such a fine watch? It reads:
‘This watch and chain presented to JH Sheppard by the workmen on the Castleton and Grosmont Railway as a token of respect. Sept. 12th 1865’

Was there an accident? Did he act heroically? What could he have done to earn the men’s respect and this watch?

I have been able to find out quite a bit about the watch itself, where it was bought etc but nothing about why James was given the watch. He married my father’s g/g/ grandfather’s sister, Mary McClymont, hence it being in our line of the family.

Many thanks and any information will be gratefully received,
Adrienne McClymont
Sydney, Australia

john coffin
NER C7 4-4-2
Posts: 822
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:24 am

Re: Mystery surrounding a presentation in 1865

Post by john coffin » Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:40 pm

Given that the railway opened in October 1865, it may have been as appreciation for the way in which the
workmen were treated. Not sure who the main contractor was, but clerks often were in charge of making
sure the workmen were paid promptly and on time.

The Preserved North York Moors Railway station at Grosmont was along the line for Castleton Moor station
which although single line had an island platform to allow trains to pass along the line.

HTH

Paul

john coffin
NER C7 4-4-2
Posts: 822
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:24 am

Re: Mystery surrounding a presentation in 1865

Post by john coffin » Sat Jun 20, 2020 2:42 pm

Seems the main contractor was Thomas Nelson, who built many things in the area for the NER.

meldrum
LNER J94 0-6-0ST Austerity
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:39 am

Re: Mystery surrounding a presentation in 1865

Post by meldrum » Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:13 pm

Are there any newspapers from that time that covered the area, not forgetting that reports were widely circulated amongst many papers via the electric telegraph.
Progress reports on the line's construction or accidents that occurred to workmen or contractors plant would often be newsworthy.
The progress reports and/or accounts of the opening day often named various officials who were involved in the construction.
The British Newspaper archive would be worth a look. £12.95 for a months subscription is quite a bargain.
Here is a link (assuming you haven't looked at this already),

https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/

john coffin
NER C7 4-4-2
Posts: 822
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:24 am

Re: Mystery surrounding a presentation in 1865

Post by john coffin » Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:47 pm

having looked quickly at that site, I would think checking out the whitby gazette would be the way to go, since it goes back
to about 1858.

Paul

User avatar
richard
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
Posts: 3320
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 5:11 pm
Location: Wichita Falls, Texas
Contact:

Re: Mystery surrounding a presentation in 1865

Post by richard » Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:29 am

I realised I have a book that covers the line.

This describes the contractors being Messrs Smith & Wright, who built the line between Kildale and Castleton.
First trains in April 1861, but through trains (and on to Grosmont) not until 1865.

If it helps at all, the stationmaster in 1861 (census) was Francis W Trewitt.
In 1871 & 81, it was Timothy Holmes.

The book is the NERA's North Eastern Railway Branch Lines: North Yorkshire & Cleveland Railway, by Peter J Maynard.
I think the NERA still have new stock available.

Only two pages for Castleton, but gives a lot of background for the line and side branches.
Richard Marsden
LNER Encyclopedia

Hatfield Shed
LNER V2 2-6-2 'Green Arrow'
Posts: 1050
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:34 pm

Re: Mystery surrounding a presentation in 1865

Post by Hatfield Shed » Mon Jun 22, 2020 11:46 am

john coffin wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:40 pm
Given that the railway opened in October 1865, it may have been as appreciation for the way in which the workmen were treated...
Nail, head, hit! It's that word 'respect': the workmen had been treated properly and fairly by this man, and it made a difference to their lives.
Adrienne wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:52 pm
...WHY was James, only 25 at the time and just a ‘contractor’s clerk’ ...
Adrienne, that's a C21st view.

'Clerk' doesn't sound much now, but meant 'educated'. A Church of England priest at the time was a 'Clerk in Holy Orders': that required a bachelor's degree - which BTW you could have obtained while still in your teens! He'll probably have an education currently equivalent to a high school student at 18: which he might have attained by about 14, and then gone out to earn his living. (I could have left school at 15 and gone into full time employment, and I am not yet old enough to draw the UK state pension.) Other paths through life are possible for him, but it does suggest he came from a middle class family able to fund a decent education as his start on life's adventure.

As for 25 years old, that's quite likely a well experienced man capable of handling an independent position with only light oversight from his superiors. (Roughly contemporary, the civil and commercial administration of the Indian Empire had at its foundation local administrators sent out from the UK aged 17 to 18 to take up their first post. The survivors mostly retired to the UK well before they were 40 to live off the loot they acquired!)

john coffin
NER C7 4-4-2
Posts: 822
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:24 am

Re: Mystery surrounding a presentation in 1865

Post by john coffin » Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:27 pm

What is difficult for those who have not studied it, is to remember that even in 1865, the contracting industry was only 30 years old
and it would have been a steep learning curve, for all involved. The Contracting clerk was really important to the whole process,
since he was in charge of materials, manpower, and often planning.

Don't forget, there were no computers, everything had to be written down, and in a form that had not really been used before,
so you had to be literate and numerate to become such a clerk.

The most famous contractor of the time was Thomas Brassey,and there are a number of books that are worth reading if you
want to know more about what happened in the period 1830-1870 in building railways. He actually was involved in building
railways in Australia and Canada too. Many of his sub contractors were quite young, but had training.

Paul

User avatar
kimballthurlow
GER D14 4-4-0 'Claud Hamilton'
Posts: 311
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:58 am
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Contact:

Re: Mystery surrounding a presentation in 1865

Post by kimballthurlow » Mon Jun 22, 2020 11:15 pm

Hi Hatfiled Shed and Paul (John Coffin)

I appreciate your erudite responses.
It shows a lovely grasp of history. Very important to some people.

Kimball

Post Reply