Tag Archives: railway

Clowning around on the railway

22 Feb

It is not often that I find something in my research that makes me laugh out loud. Sure I find things that make me smile all the time, and occasionally something that makes me chuckle, but very rarely will I actually laugh out loud.

I don’t know quite why I found it so funny. I was searching in the 1911 census on Findmypast.co.uk, whilst investigating my 3x great-uncle Abraham Graham KINGHORN and what happened to his wife and children after his early death in 1886.

I had found his widow Sarah and two children living at 60 Rose Hill Terrace, Brighton, Sussex in 1911. They shared their house with two boarders, and it was the first of these that made me laugh.

His name was Frederick VOYCE and according to the transcription his occupation was apprentice clown. Like I said, I don’t know why that seemed so ridiculous to me. When I thought about it, I assumed that there had to be some clowns and circus entertainers listed in the census, and clowns had to learn their skills like anybody else, so why shouldn’t there be an apprentice clown.

Of course when I looked at the actual image, he wasn’t a clown, I am not sure what he was an apprentice of, the word is hard to make out, but he was working for a railway company, so I think it is safe to say they weren’t training many clowns at the time.

Looking at the occupation code (the three digit number) the enumerator has written on the schedule (512) it appears he was training to work on railway engines either as a driver, stoker or cleaner.

Have you found anything in the census that has made you laugh out loud during your research? Have you come across any clowns in the census?

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