Posted by on 3 August 2011 in General, Record Collections

Railway records

That’s right, just two weeks after we released our Postal Service Appointment Books, we have another mammoth set of occupation records for you. This time, we’re focussing on Britain’s railways, and the people that powered them.

UK, Railway Employment Records, 1807–1963, offers a rare insight into our history, as it follows an industry literally from its very beginnings. Railways didn’t exist before the 19th century. So, you can look in on the people who worked hard to get the technology off the ground.

This wasn’t easy, and the records reveal countless stories of trains colliding and running off rails as the staff struggled to control them. Still, it’s a good thing they succeeded, as the railways became vital to the growth of our nation.

I wrote a fortnight ago about how trains carried post around the country. They also transported fuel and raw materials to the growing factories in the cities – and carted the finished products to the docks so they could be exported all over the world.

The constant development meant railway employees were always on the move – and our records let you follow your family’s travels. They tell you where your ancestors were working, plus their roles, ages, and even details like salaries and how long they’d been employed.

You can often trace individuals’ careers from their arrival in apprenticeship books, to their retirement in pension records, and build up a clear picture of what their working lives were like.

If you’d like to learn more about the fascinating history behind these records, make sure you watch our exclusive video, the third in our occupations series with expert insight from Tony Robinson. And look out for another new collection – and a fourth video – very soon.

Search the UK, Railway Employment Records, 1807–1963


Employment new | Easytofind 

[…] NEW Railway employment records […]

4 August 2011 at 1:08 am
Caroline Gurney 

The Railway Employment Records have led to me catching my great-grandfather out lying and finding a previously unknown link to the rag trade. I’ve blogged about it here:

4 August 2011 at 2:13 am

Railway Employment Records – Fantastic found my father, grandfather & uncle so far. Grandfather Samuel got into a few scrapes being cautioned & suspended a few times. Made for interesting reading. Thanks

4 August 2011 at 9:45 am
Chris R 

Are there plans to add other railway companies? The National Archives hold considerably more records than these on the many railway companies, and some of these include staff records as well. I would be interested in the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway, for example.

5 August 2011 at 11:09 am
Steve C 

To Chris’ request for greater breadth, I’d like to please add mine for greater depth (if possible) – as my L&SWR trackworkers* seem to be missing.
* 2x BREWER (platelayer & tool boy – census ref. 13/1046 f18 p19 s125)

5 August 2011 at 2:32 pm
Steve C 

Typo correction: “census ref. 13/1046 f81 p19 s125”

5 August 2011 at 2:39 pm

I was unable to find my ancestor George Anker who worked as a railway engine driver for Great North Eastern railways from 1880 to his death in 1898. He appears in the 1881 and 1891 census as railway engine driver, living in Nottingham. My g-grandfather, Walter Reginald Hewitt, worked as a clearinghouse clerk for Great Western Railways, in London, and he also does not appear, but he does appear in the 1911 census as a railway clerk. There is a W.R. Hewitt but he is not the same one, same for the George Anker that can be found in the search index.

5 August 2011 at 4:06 pm
nick h 

Unable to find my grandfather who worked for GWR his entire life from about 1927 to his retirement in the 1970’s. Infact, there are no records for anyone in GWR beyond 1930. This is hardly complete.

5 August 2011 at 6:54 pm
Chris R 

I can search these by accessing the link provided or via the card catalogue, but I don’t seem to be able to get to them through the normal search system. I created a search for “William Dickinson” I then filtered down by selecting “Schools, Directories and Church Histories” and then “Professional and Organisational Directories” and there is no sign at all of the Railway Records. Is something wrong with the filtering system? I have UK and Irish only selected – has someone forgotten to flag this collection as a UK collection?


6 August 2011 at 2:49 pm
Rita March, nee Shaw 

Disapointed. My grandfather John Joseph aka John Thomas Shaw is shown in 1901 living in Stratford East near the Temple Meads railway works and was believed to have been employed as a carriage builder on the Great Eastern Railway. My aunty’s diary for 1915 (Aug) says “dada says he will leave the Great Eastern”. However, the Great Eastern is not an option on this site.

7 August 2011 at 11:06 pm
Rachel Allgood 

I was disappointed not to find my grandfather James Allgood who worked for NER/LNER in Middlesbrough and Redcar. Any chance these records may be added in the near future? I live in the north of England and ironically can’t afford the rail fare to London to visit Kew!

9 August 2011 at 8:41 pm

I was really impressed with these records – although that’s possibly because all my relatives worked for GWR and the records covered all the dates I was looking for.

13 August 2011 at 12:32 pm

I found my grandfather Alfred John Candy immediately. He was a lamp boy in 1906 for the GWR in Cardiff. I believe I may I found his father Frederick in Birmingham working for Midland Railway in the 1870’s (I have been unable to find an 1881 census for him, so that is something I can follow up.
Hoping to find Frederick and James my great uncles and also the host of Orums who worked in Swindon for the GWR. Sadly, I cannot find, as yet, my own father, Frederick Candy (1922) who worked for the GWR in Cardiff in the 50’s & ealy 60’s. Still lots of records to search!

14 August 2011 at 9:23 pm