Culham station staff




Culham Station staff 1917
Unknown photographer, author's collection

Although Culham was a small country station it had its own signal box and facilities to handle goods and parcels traffic as well as passengers, so required the staff to service their needs. We thought it would be interesting to try and find out who had worked at Culham over the years - certainly up until the end of the Great Western era. As a starting point we looked for staff transferring to or from Culham as reported in the several hundred copies of the Great Western Railway Magazine within our collection and, unless noted otherwise, this is the source of transfer information quoted in the tables below. A few GWR staff records have been found and used to fill in some of the gaps.

Reference to census records also gives an insight into employees of the railway, but these records can be difficult to trace, are often misleading, and only providing a snapshot every ten years means many people fall 'between the gaps'. The census from 1921 was not available for searching at the time of writing, the one from 1931 was destroyed by fire during the war and one was not taken in 1941, so there is a big gap. Despite the station at Appleford having closed in 1849, the census of 1861Railway staff living in Appleford in 1861
in the order in which they were recorded

Thomas Hart (21) Railway Policeman
James Townsend (28) Railway Labourer
John Cowley (27) Engine Driver Railway
George Barnett (34) Railway Switchman
John Lovelace (31) Railway Guard
Robert Pointer (36) Railway Labourer
James Reeve (43) Railway Policeman
William Reeve (20) Engine Cleaner
James Reeve (15) Engine Cleaner
Thomas Austin (37) Railway Labourer
Moses Butler (34) Greaser Railway
Benjmin Jones (34) Railway Labourer
William King (33) Railway Porter
William Norman (35) Railway Policeman
Walter Porter (24) Railway Switchman
Stephen Welch (35) Railway Guard
William Viner (16) Engine Cleaner
James Panter (47) Railway Labourer
Joseph Reynolds (22) Railway Labourer
Thomas Clifford (27) Railway Labourer
William Westlake (28) Railway Guard
Thomas Belcher (20) Engine Cleaner
James Butler (36) Greaser Railway
shows the village remained home to a number of railway families. Some may have been associated with the station at Culham, but their place of work is not noted.

The photograph featured here is labelled on the back as being taken in 1917, and at first we thought it might show Station Master G.W.Townsend and staff. However, he left Culham in February 1917 and so, judging by the trees being in leaf, this could well have been taken a few months later to record the arrival of F.H.Barley, who took over from him as Station Master.


The following tables are by no means exhaustive, and may contain many errors, but they are a start and will be expanded as more information comes to light. It is interesting to note that several staff left Culham to return later. We would love to hear from any readers who may be able to provide more information.

~~ Hover over any highlighted name to see more background ~~


Station Master


Start dateTransfer
from
Left dateTransfer
to
Henry Charles Fenn 1861
GWR Register of Clerks records transfer as Station Master from Hanwell to Culham.

1861
Census shows him as being a Railway Station Master, single, aged 21, and lodging with Frederick Webber (Railway Clerk) and his wife. The address given is 'Railway Station'.

1862
Under the column 'Date and Cause of leaving the Company's Service' is the entry Dismissed January 1862 with no explanatory remarks.
Feb 1861HanwellJan 1862dismissed
Henry Blythe 1862
GWR Register of Clerks notes his transfer from Faringdon to be Station Master at Culham

1868
Oxford Chronicle report of Saturday 15th August notes him as being the Station Master

1871
Census records him, aged 30, as living in a 'Railway Cottage' with his four year old adopted son and Susannah Horne, the 21 year old Housekeeper. His occupation is recorded as Clerk - Railway Station Master.

1871
GWR Register of Clerks notes his transfer from Culham to be Station Master at Maidenhead
March 1862FaringdonOct 1871Maidenhead
William Edward Bradshaw 1873
In a report on Saturday 5th April, Jackson's Oxford Journal notes him as being Station Master at Culham

1871????
James Joseph Barron 1881
GWR Register of Clerks notes his transfer from the Booking Office at Oxford to be Station Master at Culham.

1881
Census records him, aged 30, as being a Railway Station Master living with his wife and four young daughters in Culham. The exact address is not clear, but the placing of the record puts it as being close to the station rather than in the village of Culham.

1882
GWR Register of Clerks notes he Resigned 13th September 1882.

March 1881OxfordSept 1882resigned
Francis William Keys 1886
GWR Register of Clerks records transfer to be Station Master at Culham, from the Goods Dept. at Newbury.

1889
Under the column 'Date and Cause of leaving the Company's Service' is the entry Dismissed - Paid to 6 Oct '89 with an additional note See Board minute no 19 of 13 Nov '89.
August 1886NewburyOct 1889dismissed
William Frederick Knutton 1891
GWR Register of Clerks records transfer to be Station Master at Culham, from Passenger Dept. at Oxford.

1893
GWR Register of Clerks records transfer to Worcester.

1918
He did move around a bit thereafter, and on Saturday 26 October, the Reading Mercury reported that he had been appointed stationmaster at Oxford where he was to remain until 1924 when he took charge of Reading.
Apr 1891OxfordFeb 1893Worcester
George William Townsend

George William Townsend and family
Taken at Culham in about 1914
Image - A.B.MacLeod, Chris Leigh Collection
1898
GWR Register of Clerks records transfer as Station Master from Wantage Road to Culham.

1901
Census records him, aged 34 and his wife Louise, aged 29, as boarding with Charles Lewis and family at 'Station House'. His occupation is given as Railway Station Master.

1903, 1907 and 1911
Kelly's Directory notes him as being Station Master and Insurance Agent

1911
Census records him, now 43, his wife and two young children living at the postal address of 'Culham Station'.

1917
On Saturday 17th February, the Reading Mercury carried a short report that the station staff made a presentation to Mr. G.W.Townsend, who had been stationmaster at Culham for nearly 20 Years, upon his leaving following promotion to Hanwell.
Jan 1898Wantage RoadFeb 1917Hanwell
F H Barley 1917
In the GWR Statement of Clerical Positions it is noted that F.H.Barley is the Station Master at Culham. At the foot of the same page it is recorded that G.W.Townsend is Station Master at Hanwell. We know he took up this position in February 1917 so it is probable that F.H.Barley was his replacement at Culham. The document is undated, but it also notes Great Bridge station as being currently closed. This station is known to have been closed for the duration of the Great War, so a date of 1917 is inferred.

1921
Census records an F.H.Barley and family living in Newbury, but no other information. If this is our man it makes sense that he returned later to work in Thatcham.
Feb 1917?Jan 1936Thatcham
Arthur C Smith 1939
The National Register of 1939 shows him, aged 41, and his wife living in 'Station House, Culham', his occupation being Railway Station Master.
1936??Nov 1941Lambourn
E W FranklinNov 1941WhitchurchJune 1947Goring
Fouracre early 1950s?
The only reference so far found is a mention of Mr. Fouracre being the Station Master at Culham in the book, 'Signalling Days', by Harold Gasson, a local railwayman who wrote a series of four books about his life on the railway. This third book was originally published by Oxford Publishing Co. in 1981. Whilst the reference is undated, the context suggests some period in the early to mid 1950s.

1947????

Signalman


Start dateTransfer
from
Left dateTransfer
to
Charles Tarrant Charles Tarrant is the great grandfather of the broadcaster Chris Tarrant, and was the first signalman at Culham.

1874
No staff records have been found, but The following extract from a report in the Reading Mercury of Saturday 12th June 1915 confirms his early days at Culham.

At the G.W.R. Station, Reading, on June 3rd, a pleasant gathering of railway officials took place ..... advantage was taken of the occasion to hand a suitable gift to ex-District Relief Signalman Mr. C. Tarrant who retired from the company’s service last February, after serving 42 years. Mr. Tarrant, joined the G.W.R. Company’s service in February, 1873, at Steventon, as a policeman (as signalmen were at that time termed). From there he went to Culham in July of the same year, thence he was removed to Kirtlington (now called Bletchington), and in November, 1874, he was sent back to Culham to open the new signal-box, which at that time was an undertaking of considerable importance. After being at Culham nearly four years, Mr. Tarrant was removed to Didcot as a district relief switchman......

Whilst not covering his period at Culham, census records show that in 1881 he was living in Wallingford but had moved to Reading by 1891.
Nov 1874Kirtlington (Bletchington)? 1878Didcot
William Henry Hamblin He first started as a Porter at Culham and returned after working as a Signalman for a short time at Didcot.

1891
The GWR staff record confirms his brief stay as a Signalman at Culham before moving on to Savernake.

May 1891DidcotDec 1891Savernake
John Wedlake After statrting as a Lamp Boy at Culham he worked as a Porter at a number of stations and spent a few months at Reading as a Shunter. The record then shows that he was Away - Ill for ten months before returning to work as a Signalman at Steventon in November 1891, quickly moving back to Culham.

1891
The final entry against his name in GWR staff records shows him returning to Culham for the third time, now as a Signalman.

It is not clear what happened thereafter as no further transfers, or his leaving, are noted. However, there is a red stamp alongside Commended August 1911 which shows he was still at Culham at the time. He was born in 1866 and so he might have stayed at Culham until he retired, probably no more than a few years later.

Note:- Signalman Holt also received a commendation dated August 1911
Dec 1891Steventoncirca 1911retired?
John Alfred Holt He returned to Culham as a Signalman after working variously as a Porter and a Signalman at a number of stations, having started at Culham as a Lad Porter.

1901
The final entry against his name in GWR staff records shows him returning to Culham for the third time, now as a Signalman.

It is not clear what happened thereafter as no further transfers, or his leaving, are noted. However, there is a red stamp alongside Commended August 1911 which shows he was still at Culham at the time.

Note:- Signalman Wedlake also received a commendation dated August 1911
Mar 1901Bramleycirca 1911retired?
H MosdellAug 1927ReadingNov 1929Radley
G E MemburyNov 1929Upton??
W J ReymondOct 1931Eynsham??
F T Rixon??Aug 1936Oxford
W C IslesAug 1936WoodhayFeb 1937Thatcham
A Barret??Nov 1936North Acton
A S LaneNov 1936GreenfordJuly 1938Oxford
W L G WestDec 1937ComptonJan 1940Didcot
R E Neate??April 1940Cholsey
D G Shackell No records found, but it is possible that this is the same D.Shackell who started as a Lad Porter at Culham in 1924 and went on to West Brompton. May 1938Woodhay??
R L BondAug 1938Upton??
W J ElderfieldJan 1940Highclere?
D C Bevan??May 1942Burnham
E J ButlerDec 1946Hampstead NorrisAug 1947Radley
G CollinsJan 1947Whitchurch (Lodge Bridge)??
A R Woodley??June 1947Radley
S A Mumford??June 1947Oxford
H A EdwardsJuly 1947Hampstead Norris??
A J BowlerAug 1947Chinnor??


Other Staff


PositionStart dateTransfer
from
Left dateTransfer
to
Charles Tarrant Charles Tarrant is the great grandfather of the broadcaster Chris Tarrant.

1873
No staff records have been found, but The following extract from a report in the Reading Mercury of Saturday 12th June 1915 confirms his early days at Culham.

At the G.W.R. Station, Reading, on June 3rd, a pleasant gathering of railway officials took place ..... advantage was taken of the occasion to hand a suitable gift to ex-District Relief Signalman Mr. C. Tarrant who retired from the company’s service last February, after serving 42 years. Mr. Tarrant, joined the G.W.R. Company’s service in February, 1873, at Steventon, as a policeman (as signalmen were at that time termed). From there he went to Culham in July of the same year, thence he was removed to Kirtlington (now called Bletchington), and in November, 1874, he was sent back to Culham to open the new signal-box.....
PolicemanJuly 1873?? 1873Kirtlington (Bletchington)
Walter Thomas Davis 1874
His GWR record shows that he first started in 'Goods' at Paddington during 1867. Several moves later saw him arrive at Culham from where he went to Hungerford, still classed as 'Goods'. From there he transferred to Pangbourne in late 1877 to become the Station Master.
GoodsDec 1874BasingstokeJune 1876Hungerford
Kenneth W DeadmanMotor driver??Feb 1947Didcot


Clerk


Start dateTransfer
from
Left dateTransfer
to
Charles Longstaff 1855
The GWR Register of Clerks shows him starting as a Booking Clerk at Culham before transferring to Abingdon, Didcot, then Oxford from where he was to resign in July 1859.
Dec 1855-May 1856Abingdon
Frederick Webber 1861
Census shows him living with his wife at 'Railway Station' with his occupation given as Railway Clerk. This implies he was working at Culham, but no other record has been found to support this.

The Census also records that Henry Charles Fenn Railway Station Master was a lodger at that time.
1861????
C A Millington 1917
The GWR Register of New Clerks shows him starting as a Booking Clerk at Culham.

He was to return to Culham later.
June 1917-May 1921Oxford
L Bash 1917
The GWR Register of New Clerks shows him starting as a Booking Clerk at Culham.

No other records found.
Aug 1917-??
R E GibsonMay 1921PaddingtonNov 1921Bourne End
C A Millington 1921
The Great Western Railway Magazine shows him returning to Culham.

No other records found.
Nov 1921Oxford??
Leslie C H Beard??June 1925Didcot
F E PlumridgeMay 1925Didcot??
F H DukeNov 1926PaddingtonOct 1927Paddington
F D Johnson??July 1929Oxford
T May??Aug 1936Didcot


Lamp Boy


Start dateTransfer
from
Left dateTransfer
to
Thomas John Hazell 1880
The first entry found in GWR staff records is indistinct but appears to show him starting as a Lamp Boy at Culham before transferring to Moulsford as a Signalman.
May 1880-May 1881Moulsford
John Wedlake 1882
The first entry against his name in GWR staff records shows him starting as a Lamp Boy at Culham before transferring to Didcot.

1884
The record shows that he returned from Oxford Pass. to Culham, still as a Lamp Boy. A year later he moved to Upton to be a Porter.

He would later return to Culham a third time, as a Signalman.
Apr 1882-Oct 1883Didcot
- " -Feb 1884OxfordMar 1885Upton
Walter Ryman 1885
The first entry against his name in the GWR staff records shows him starting as a Lamp Boy at Culham before transferring to Moulsford as a Lad Porter

He was dismissed in the December after only a few months there. The reason is not recorded.
Mar 1885-Sep 1886Moulsford
George Wedlake 1886
The first entry against his name in the GWR staff records shows him starting as a Lamp Boy at Culham before transferring to Victoria MR. as a Signalman.

Sadly all did not go well as he would return to Didcot after a few months as a Shunter, having been reduced in position after being found 'under the influence of drink and unable to fulfill his duties'.
Aug 1886-June 1888Victoria MR


Lad Porter


Start dateTransfer
from
Left dateTransfer
to
James Wright 1880
The first entry against his name in GWR staff records shows that he started as a Lad Porter at Culham before moving on to Didcot as a Porter.

May 1880-April 1882Didcot
John Alfred Holt 1888
The first entry against his name in GWR staff records shows him starting as a Lamp Boy at Culham before transferring to Kings Sutton as a Porter.

He would later return to Culham as a Signalman.
June 1888-Oct 1891Kings Sutton
James Wedlake 1891
The first entry against his name in GWR staff records shows him starting as a Lad Porter at Culham before transferring to Didcot.
Oct 1891-Nov 1892Didcot
Arthur Boulter 1906
The first entry against his name in GWR staff records shows him starting as a Lad Porter at Culham before transferring to Landore as a Parcel Porter.
July 1906-April 1911Landore
? Hale 1914
Recorded in accident book as falling off platform on 17th March injuring his knee. He returned to work on the 19th.

No other records found.

Note:-The name in the book is open to interpretation but looks to be 'Hale'.
1914????
D Shackell 1929
The 'GWR Register of Juniors (aged 19½ years and over)in service to be provided for in adult posts' shows him to have entered serice on 31st January 1924 and working at Culham as a Lad Porter. His 20th birthday is shown as 4th May 1929 and the adult post to which he is to transfer is a Grade 1 Porter at West Brompton.

No other records found, although it is possible that this is the same D.G.Shackell who came to Culham as a Signalman from Woodhay in 1938.
Jan 1924-June 1929West Brompton

Porter


Start dateTransfer
from
Left dateTransfer
to
William Lynes 1868
Oxford Chronicle report of Saturday 15th August notes him as being a porter at Culham

1868????
Henry Rosier 1873
Interestingly, his staff record clearly shows that he started at Culham as a Porter in July 1873 and moved that same month on to Didcot.
July 1873-July 1873Didcot
Charles Lewis

Charles Lewis
Taken on his retirement in May 1915
Image - Oxford Journal Illustrated
1874
GWR staff records first show him as a Porter starting at Newbury in October 1874. He transferred to Culham in April 1875.

1881
Census shows him living in Appleford with his wife and two daughters, Nellie and Mary, and being a Railway Porter.

1891
Census shows the family has moved to the 'Station Master's House' close to the station. (Station House was not built until 1898). The family has grown to include a young son, Alfred Thomas.

1901
Census now records him living at 'Station House', so they must have moved in when it was newly built. Of the children, only Alfred, shown as being a Railway Messenger, is still at home. There are two lodgers, George Townsend who is the Station Master, and his wife.

1911
The lodgers have left and Alfred, now 25, is a Railway Porter also now at Culham. A granddaughter, Nellie Lewis Sweetzer is living with them also. She is the daughter of their daughter Nellie who married the son of Walter David Sweetzer who was a Porter at Culham from December 1895 to August 1896.

1915
The Oxford Journal Illustrated of 19th May reported that Charles Lewis had retired after 43 years service. He was still living in Station House.

1939
The National Register shows Charles Lewis and his wife to be living in 'The Bungalow, Culham Station'. This is next to the Railway Hotel and on the opposite side of the track to Station House.
April 1875NewburyMay 1915retired
James Church 1882
The first entry found in GWR staff records shows him starting as a Porter at Culham, aged 18, before transferring to Pangbourne.
March 1882-Nov 1882Pangbourne
William Frederick Fowler 1887
The first entry found in GWR staff records shows him starting as a Porter at Culham, aged 24, before transferring to Winchester as a Gods Porter.
Oct 1887-Feb 1888Winchester
William Henry Hamblin 1888
The first entry against his name in GWR staff records shows him starting as a Porter, aged 20, at Culham before transferring to Didcot as a Signalman.

He would later return to Culham for a short spell as a Signalman.
July 1888-Jan 1889Didcot
Alfred Shepherd 1890
GWR staff records show him starting as a Porter at Culham, before transferring to Devizes for a year. By 1895 he had become a signalman working at Tilehurst.
Mar 1890-Nov 1890Devizes
Ernest Albert Meadham 1891
GWR staff records show him starting as a Porter at Culham, before transferring to Woodborough in Wiltshire, later becoming a Signalman there. He then spent four years as a Signalman before becoming variously a Passenger Guard and Inspector, mostly alternating between Paddington and Taplow.

On December 31st 1892 he was cautioned for being late on duty and delaying a train.
July 1891-Mar 1893Woodborough
John Owen 1892
GWR staff records show him starting as an 18 year old Porter at Culham, before transferring to Wantage Road. He transferred to Reading as a Shunter in April 1896 but was injured in the July, presumably seriously as there is a terse note simply stating Deceased 1897.
Nov 1892-June 1894Wantage Road
Albert Higgs 1894
GWR staff records show him starting as an 20 year old Porter at Culham, before transferring to Didcot as a Signalman.
June 1894-July 1895Didcot
Walter David Sweetzer 1895
GWR staff records show his full name as Walter David Jarveny Sweetzer and that he started as a Porter, aged 18, at Culham. He transferred to Highclere to become a Signalman.
Dec 1895-Aug 1896Highclere
John Geater 1896
GWR staff records show him starting as a 21 year old Porter at Culham before transferring to Reading to become a Shunter.
Aug 1896-Jun 1898Reading
William John Bure 1897
GWR staff records show him starting as a 19 year old Porter at Culham before transferring to Tilehurst.
Dec 1897-May 1898Tilehurst
Herbert Edward Penny 1898
GWR staff records show him starting as a 19 year old Porter at Culham before transferring to Woodhay as a Signal Porter.
Oct 1898-Jan 1901Woodhay
George William Flatman 1899
GWR staff records show him starting as a Porter at Culham before transferring to Shrivenham.

1901
Census records him, age 26, as a Railway Porter boarding with a family in 1 Station Cottage.
Nov 1899-July 1901Shrivenham
Alfred Thomas Lewis He is the son of Charles Lewis, the long serving Porter at Culham.

1910
GWR staff records show him having started as a Lad Porter at Didcot in August 1902, and then as a Porter there from June 1905, that he transferred to Culham in 1910.

1914
GWR staff records show him becoming a Goods Porter in February 1914, still at Culham.

It is not known when he left Culham as no other staff record has been found, but the 1939 National Register shows him and his family living in Bullingdon with his occupation being Goods Porter, Railway.
Feb 1910Didcot??
? Hudson 1914
Recorded in accident book as 'Porter Hudson, Fell from a train in motion' on 3rd October.

No other records found.
1914????