Tag Archives: ancestry.co.uk

Highlights of the UK Railway Employment Records

10 Aug

You will no doubt have already heard about the latest release from Ancestry.co.uk, the UK, Railway Employment Records, 1833-1963. I was delighted to see that this release included a collection of records originating from the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR).

The LBSCR were responsible for my local railway, the Horsham to Shoreham Railway (also known as the Steyning Line). The line was closed in 1966 (before I was born) after Dr. Beeching decided it was surplus to requirements. The LBSCR had long since gone by then, it had been merged with other railway companies to form the Southern Railway in 1923, which in turn became part of British Railways in 1948 following nationalisation. If you want to find out more then the Wikipedia article on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway is pretty comprehensive.

I have spent several hours over the last few days exploring the collection trying to get a feel for what is included and found myself getting totally sucked in. I had intended to create a list all the different pieces in the collection for future reference but that fell completely by the wayside as I turned the pages of the various volumes.

I wasn’t really looking for people to add to my family tree, instead I was just exploring the lists of names, and not so much the names themselves but the positions they held and where they worked. I was taking my own virtual tour of the LBSCR railway network, seeing what made it work, from engine drivers to accountants, from a large London terminus to a small country station.

There are couple pieces in this collection that are really special, the first is described by Ancestry as the “1862-1863 Operating Staff Black Book” (TNA RAIL 414/759) which contains details of fines (and sometimes suspension or dismissal) for various misdemeanours, such as the unfortunate Mr Trapp an Office Porter at London Bridge who was fined two shillings and six pence “For carrying Passengers luggage down the platform to the train it being against orders & having been cautioned on previous occasions not to do it but to attend to the Booking office”.

For me the most interesting piece in the collection is described as “1914-1920 Staff on Active Service” (TNA RAIL 414/791). This is an extremely valuable record of LBSCR employees who served during the First World War, and as such will be of interest to not only family historians, but also military historians. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I saw the amount of information recorded, we all know that many WW1 service records have been destroyed and this volume may well represent one the few surviving records of many men who served.

Each entry not only covers what the men did whilst employed by the railway, it also includes details of their regiment, rank and number and the date they left the railway. The entries also include details of the men’s dependants such as a wife and the number of children they had. Often this will also include the date of their marriage and age and sex of the children.

The most poignant detail however is the bold red underlining of certain names which highlights those who died whilst serving. Many larger railway stations have a memorial to those railway employees that died and this volume may well have been the source of those names. Ancestry probably ought to include this in their military collection if they haven’t done so already.

I look forward to spending many more hours looking through these records and maybe even get around to searching for some of my relations. I know there are several railway connections, but most of those connections relate to those building the railway, rather than operating it, and most of these labourers were employed by contractors and not the railway company themselves.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
Creative Commons Licence This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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1911 census images on Ancestry.co.uk

24 May

When it comes to the Ancestry.co.uk website you never know quite what you are going to wake up to. This morning I took a look at the website and discovered that they have uploaded images from the 1911 census for England, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

The images are not indexed yet, or at least the index is not online yet. I am sure we will hear more about this when the news is officially released by Ancestry but for now you will need to have an idea where you should be looking, possibly using their previously released Census Summary Books.

According to their source information page: “They can be browsed by county, civil parish, sub-registration district, and enumeration district.”

I am certain a lot of people have been eagerly awaiting this release and even if you haven’t it will be good to have another alternative index available when it does go live. Unfortunately we still have to wait until next year to view the contents of the infirmity column.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
Creative Commons Licence This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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If it ain’t broke…

31 Mar

Despite my general lack of interest in the latest technology I do try to keep my software up to date, especially when it doesn’t cost me any money. It made sense to upgrade my web browser to Firefox 4, it was supposed to be quicker and more secure after all.

The upgrade was straight-forward, it took a while to get used to the slightly different appearance and I can’t say that I noticed any increase in speed and take their word for it that it is more secure.

Disaster (OK, perhaps that I a bit too strong a word for it) came a couple of days ago when I tried to use the Enhanced Image Viewer on Ancestry.co.uk. Everything looked fine to start with (the scroll bars still didn’t work but I am used to that) but the problems started when I tried to save an image.

The first image saved fine, but when I tried another the browser started playing up. When the dialog box opened up and I tried to type in a filename the browser would freeze for a minute or so and I couldn’t type anything or it would let me type a few characters before locking up. Eventually the page disappeared and I was left to try again.

The only workaround appeared to be to close the browser down after saving an image and then opening it up again and moving on to the next image, not really a practical solution for a family historian short on time. I probably could have viewed the images without the Enhanced Image Viewer, but I do quite like the functionality it provides, so I have downgraded to Firefox 3.6 for now.

I was trying to keep up to date, but in this case technology has let me down. I don’t know who is to blame, presumably Mozilla have updated something and Ancestry need to update their viewer to take that into account.

Still, it is rather frustrating and I wasted too much of my time trying to get it to work and then having to roll-back to Firefox 3.6, so please get it fixed Ancestry or tell me how I can make it work properly.

Free accesss to Ancestry.co.uk census indexes on the 27th March 2011

22 Mar

To mark the fact that Sunday 27th March 2011 is census day in the UK, Ancestry.co.uk will be allowing free access to their UK census indexes for the whole day.

After checking the census indexes however you will need a membership subscription, to sign up for a free 14-day trial or to use pay-as-you-go credits to view the actual images of the original pages (except for the Scottish ones that Ancestry aren’t allowed to display).

According to the post by Kelly Godfrey on the Ancestry.co.uk blog “census records are the perfect first step. They list everybody in each household all over the country, together with crucial details such as their ages and birthplaces. So, you can quickly and easily collect names and dates for several generations.”

Just don’t get too carried away and forget that you are also supposed to be filling in the 2011 census on the same day.

Electoral registers making the news

10 Mar

Electoral registers have featured in recent announcements from the UK’s two main genealogy websites. Findmypast.co.uk are working with the British Library to digitize historical registers whilst Ancestry.co.uk have teamed up with Peopletracer to provide a Living Relative search.

I haven’t been able to find a decent description of UK electoral registers online (if you know of one let me know), but they were established after the Reform Act of 1832 and listed those entitled to vote, initially very few people were listed but numbers grew after subsequent Acts of Parliament until they essentially became a list of almost every household in the UK.

After 2002 voters were able to opt-out of having their names in the edited version of the register (which is available to everyone) although they still remained in the full version (which is available to certain agencies). This means that after 2002 there are fewer people on the edited (public) register but it can still be a useful tool but it can still be a useful tool when it comes to tracing living relatives.

The announcement from Findmypast means that historical registers will become a lot more accessible, and I mean a lot more accessible. You really have to have a pretty good idea of where someone was living before you can find them, otherwise you have a mammoth task ahead of you. digitization and indexing will make these records a lot more accessible and useful.

The new Living Relative Search on Ancestry.co.uk enables members ten searches per day with a free preview of the basic results. Credits can be purchased to get access to more detailed results although from what I have seen the basic results are pretty detailed already. Information is drawn from edited electoral registers from 2003 to 2011, telephone directory records and land registry records. It should be added that this service is not unique, there are several other organisations offering similar services (including one available through Findmypast).

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