Southern Queries

Sometimes we get queries that the list members are unable to answer, and who better than ask in this case than other visitors to the site?  Any contribution you can make will be welcomed.  Or, if you have a poser to ask, please contact the The Webmaster for it to be added to the list.  Please remember to specify if you would like your email address to be added so you can be contacted directly, or if you would prefer to be contacted through the webmaster.  Queries that have been answered to the satisfaction of the poster will be removed in due course.

Latest enquiry:

James Blaxter (great grandson of Douglas Earle Marsh) writes:
I have a model/prototype steam engine and wondered if anyone could help me with what it is.
Below are photos of the engine, it connects to a base and I think a small fire can be lit in the base as the 'pit' can be lined with small fire bricks.
I hope you have an idea of what it is, it's really interesting.

Steam EngineSteam Engine

Anyone with any information is invited to contact the SEmG Webmaster with details.

Outstanding enquiries:

Norman Church writes:
I have been passed the attached photograph by my father who is now 85.
He unfortunately can tell me nothing about it.
I can only assume it may have had something to do with my grandparents on my mother's side.

Frank William Smith

My mother's father was Frank William Smith, he is not in the photo, was a passenger guard based at West Croydon when he retired. He spent all is life on the railways. His wife, my grandmother Florence was originally a Steer and I understand that some of her family also worked on the railways.
The only reference on the reverse of the photograph is that is taken by the Croydon Times and has a copyright reference number of R2005. There is no date.
Unfortunately not only did the Croydon Times close in 1967 but all its archives have been destroyed. All that remains is microfiche copies of the paper at Croydon Library.
With out a date for this photo it would be near impossible to track and many of the photographs taken by the paper were never used.
One line of enquiry on the telephone leads me think the photo may have been taken in the 1930s on the site of what is now the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. Until 1933 it was railway sidings and a bowling club. They used an old railway coach, without wheels, as is in the picture, as the pavilion.
I also have the following information that may help and I would always be pleased to here from anyone who knew Frank:

Frank William SMITH
NUR Membership No. 771721
Joined Brighton & South Coast Railway 27th December 1916 as Signal Lad at South Croydon Junction Signal Box.
27th August 1917: Signal lad at Norwood Junction South Box.
17th June 1918: Lad Porter No.25 at Sanderstead, C.O. Railway.
22nd January 1919: Lad Porter No. 370 at Mitcham
29th July 1919: Lad porter No. 343 1533 at Tulse Hill.
23rd December 1920: Porter No. 1347 at Waddon.
January 1921: Porter at Crystal palace Low Level.
1929: Goods Porter at Crystal Palace Low Level.
November 1931: Shunter at Battersea Yard.
May 1942: Appointed Passenger Guard, Victoria, and went to Victoria in June 1946.
January 1947: Head Shunter at Battersea Yard until September 1949.
27th September 1949 Passenger Guard based at West Croydon.
Last Day of Working 25th October 1967.
Date of actual retirement 4th November 1967.
Frank and his wife Florence, with their daughter Gwendoline, my mother, lived for much of their time at 26, Broadway Avenue in Croydon.

If you or anyone else can help me I would be appreciative or of being pointed in the right direction or pass this e-mail onwards.
Many thanks for your time.
Norman Church
E-mail address:

  • Does anyone have any pictures of the communications unit found in the cab of the Class 450 Desiro units?

  • David Wilson is looking for information about Robert George Twine, who was mentioned in the Southern Railway Magazine 1942 Jan-Feb. He is beleived to have been 65 years old, and this may be a retirement notice for him. Can anyone locate a copy of this issue for him or provide any information as to what the article may have said?

Anyone with further information is invited to contact the webmaster with details.

A couple of Great-Grandfathers still to find:

  • Mrs Grace Naunton writes: My Great-Grandfather, Augustus Sabine, worked on the railway in Kent all his life. He was born about 1847 and died in the late 1920's. He was a Stationmaster at various locations I believe and I have found from an archive website that he is mentioned in Southern Railway Magazine Jan. 1840 - 1942. I would be very interested if this is so especially if there is a photo of him.

  • Richard Pepin writyes: My Great-Grandfather was an Engine Driver for the SR, and I would like to find out more about his working life, particularly the locos he drove. Any pointers to finding information would be much appreciated. His history that I know so far is: born William "Bill" Carter, he started work in the 1890's with LSWR at age 14, shovelling coal in the yards, then went on to become a fireman and then a driver. He drove through both World Wars, including munitions trains during air-raids. He also drove the Bournemouth Belle many times.

Can anyone with further information is invited to contact the The Webmaster with details.

  • Alan Barrow asks: do you have any photographs of the signals at Okehampton?
    Unfortunately, not as yet.  Indeed, we are missing pictures of this station in it's heyday, the earliest we have was taken in the 1990s! Please email Alan if you can help.

  • Jeffery Grayer asks: do you have any photographs of the Sadler Pacerailer Railbus?
    The only picture we curently have is on the Droxford station page. Anyone with further pictures is invited to contact the SEmG Webmaster with details.
    Another picture has been found on the Subterrenea Britannica website, and can be found by following this link.

This page was last updated 29 August 2012

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