In this excerpt from the monthly Friends of the Goods Shed newsletter, editor David Walker is pleased to discover a connection with a former Tetbury railwayman.
It was very pleasing to recently find that a Tetbury railwayman had lived at my current address, 1 Northfield Road, in the 1930s.
He was Alfred Charles Eldridge, at that time a fireman. He was born in Kemble on 24 Dec 1901 and entered Great Western Railway (GWR) service on 20 Jan 1918, aged 16. He was promoted to fireman on 6 Jan 1929 and engine driver on 25 Nov 1940. This was the standard progression in those days; twenty years to become a driver was fairly typical.
Albert first came to Tetbury in January 1918, had a short spell in Newport before returning in Sep 1923 to Tetbury where he stayed until he became a driver and was transferred to Gloucester with a wage of 12 shillings per day.
In 1935, while living in Tetbury, he married Gladys May Clarke, a local girl, daughter of James Clarke, a gardener, and Maria Annie Clarke who in 1911 were living in Beauchamp Villa on Back Lane (now London Road).
In 1939 when Albert and Gladys are recorded in the National Register as living in Northfield Road (as tenants), Gladys’s father is living with them. Albert died in Gloucester on 11 July 1978 at the good age of 76.
We know the details of Albert’s service because the GWR records of those who entered its service before about 1935 are now on-line. The records were kept for all uniformed staff and noted their date of birth, rate of pay, promotions, transfers and medical examinations, the last obviously being very important for the safe running of the railways.
Most interestingly it also records any accidents they had and any misdemeanours they committed. Albert’s “charge sheet” is quite short.
On 2 Dec 1929 he was cautioned for “Not being in possession of the wooden train staff when working the 5.58 pm Tetbury to Kemble and the 6.45 pm Kemble to Tetbury.” The wooden staff was a requirement on single track railways as, if used correctly, it ensured that only one train was ever running on the line thereby avoiding trains crashing into each other.
However, the drivers and guards must have become rather blasé about its possession especially as they knew they were the only engine allocated to the Tetbury branch line.