The Railway Children


Solomon Yeates was born about 1840/41 in Churchdown between Gloucester and Cheltenham. In November 1869 he married Hannah Hampton who was born about 1842/43 in Blaisdon, - a small village about 14 miles from Churchdown by road (although a much shorter and easier journey by railway).

Solomon had been married before and had one surviving son from that marriage -William Albert who had been born in Gloucester in 1864. His first wife, Sarah died in 1868. 1868 had not been a good year for Solomon, he was tried and acquitted of manslaughter arising from a railway accident when he had been driving a train that crashed at Ashchurch near Gloucester, killing a guard.

As a result of the accident he lost his job as an engine driver and moved to Hereford where he worked as an engine cleaner. It was at Hereford that he married Hannah.

By 1871 they had moved to 19 John Street, Brecknock (Brecon) where Solomon was able to get work “Attending Steam Engine”- an improvement on cleaning engines. Here they had four children :

During this time Solomon was employed as a Railway Engine Driver

By 1879 they had moved to 27 Mather St, Radcliffe, Lancs where they had a son Charles John.
Solomon was still employed on the railways as a Driver.

In 1881 Solomon, together with his eldest son William Albert, was boarding at 102 Shobnall St, Burton Upon Trent. Both of them were working on the Railway, Solomon as a driver and William Albert as a Foreman. Hannah was living at Liverpool Rd, Penwortham (a cottage next to the Fleece Inn) together with Rosina Ellen, Mary and Annie Elizabeth. While there she had four more children :

By 1891 Solomon was also living at Liverpool Rd, Penwortham and was working as a “Stationary Engine Driver” an occupation associated with the steam engines used in cotton mills, and one which would mean less travelling around. William Albert had married by then and went to Argentina to help with building and running the railways there - he died in Buenos Aries, drowned in the harbour in 1888, leaving a widow and son.

Solomon died in Preston in 1900 and in 1901 Hannah, a widow, was living in larger house at 6 Taylor St, Preston – just across the river. Living with her were :

None of these were married at the time. Rosina was no longer with the family having married William Hodson, a blacksmith in 1892, and Elsa Hannah had died in 1896.

Charles John who had also been living at Liverpool Rd, Penwortham in 1891 was not with the family in 1901. He apparently joined the Army and served in South Africa during the Boer War. Family tradition has it that he was a “Major”, he returned to England with a Boer bride – Kit and settled in the Plymouth area.

Hannah died in Preston in September 1906, just five months after Edward Henry.

It is interesting to reflect on how Solomon's employment on the Railways meant that a family which originated in rural Gloucestershire migrated via Wales, finally settling in Lancashire.