Victorian Railway Worker
Date of publication: April 2003
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Thousands of Victorians were employed by railway companies, from the locomotive driver on the footplate to the booking clerk in the station. The companies provided work for navvies, signalmen, telegraph operators, station masters, hotel workers, and many other people, including those who worked the fleets of railway-owned ships and horse-drawn vehicles. Trevor May gives a fascinating overview of everyday life for the characters that worked in such varied railway occupations, and the often stringent discipline and hierarchies that meant, for instance, that firemen had to drink in separate bars from engine drivers. Interesting cameos are provided of the men who worked in the great railway factories in places like Crewe, Swindon and Derby, the wheel-tappers who checked the integrity of locomotive and carriage wheels to ensure their safety, the women who worked in the company laundries, and those who worked in scores of other occupations.