Thomas Smith

There were many Smith families in Sawley.  This is about the family of Thomas Smith (1852-1929) who was the stationmaster at Sawley Junction around 1900.

Thomas Smith was born about 1852 in Gloucestershire.  He started work on the Great Western Railway but later transferred to the Midland Railway.  In 1879 he married Elizabeth Haynes in Eggington (between Derby and Burton).  They lived in Darley Dale, then Willington (where he became the station master at Repton and Willington Station).  Their children were:

  • Edith Mary                    (1880-1952)
  • Ernest Robert               (1882- )
  • Percy Thomas               (1885- 1922) 
  • Sidney John                   (1887- )
  • Frederick William        (1889-1958)
  • Albert James                  (1891- )

In 1895 they moved to Sawley, where Thomas became the stationmaster at Sawley Junction.  The following year he bought a plot of land on Victoria Street from the wife of Ernest Terah Hooley of Risley Hall. They seem to have had a pair of houses (38/40 Victoria St) built on the site, as by 1901 Thomas and Elizabeth were living there with their four younger children, the eldest of whom (Percy, 16) was working as a railway clerk.

In 1911 Thomas was posted to Saltey station near Birmingham, moving his family to the nearby suburb of Aston.  Before he left Sawley, 132 residents clubbed together to buy him silver gifts and an illuminated address (made by Samuel Clegg).  While he was away, 38 Victoria Street was rented out to Frances Coldicott, a 72-year old widow from Stratford and her daughter, Frances Nellie, an elementary school mistress.  During WW1 they moved to Nottingham Road, where Frances Nellie was a Red Cross volunteer.

Around 1918 Thomas retired from the railway and moved back to 38 Victoria Street with Elizabeth and her sister, Fanny Haynes (she’d also been with them in 1901 as a ‘mothers help’).   Thomas, a devout baptist, died in 1929 and is buried in the churchyard of the Baptist Chapel.   In 1939 Elizabeth was incapacitated and living with her daughter Edith.

This is what happened to their children:

Edith Mary Smith married Franklin Slight, a pharmacist. They moved to Carlton.

Ernest Robert Smith married Annie Wright at the Baptist Chapel in 1905.  In 1921 they were at 83 Nottingham (Tamworth) Road and he was a depot manager.

Percy Thomas Smith started as a railway clerk, but by 1911 (when the family were in Birmingham) he’d started working for a brewery.  In 1921 he was in Carlisle, working as an assistant superintendent for the Central Control Board (an experiment started during the Great War involving the Government taking control of the pubs in the Carlisle area).  He’d recently married but died the following year.

Frederick William Smith married Elizabeth Wilcox at the Baptist Chapel in 1911. By 1939 they were living at 40 Victoria St.  After their mother died in Feb 1942, Edith and Ernest seem to have inherited the houses and tried to sell them.  But later that year they were acquired by Frederick.  After Frederick died in 1958, his widow Elizabeth continued to live at No 40 until she died in 1963. 

38 Victoria St was then sold to George Mansfield Hayler, who may have already been renting the house.  George had become a postman after leaving the Army in 1946, retiring in 1973. 

Alfred James Smith also became a clerk with the Midland Railway. He stayed in Birmingham where he married Nellie Upton in 1920.


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