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The Provender Stores

Selected biographies

J Bayliss
L A Francombe
A Granger
J Griffiths
Edward Hodkin
W James
J Pardoe
G Pittman
F W Trapp
J Trapp
W Wallace
G Wood
F Woolley

Ashchurch station was the location of one of the Midland Railway Provender Stores which provided stabling and forage for the many horses used by the railway before the coming of motor transport. It was housed in a large building just to the northwest of the station, with its own sidings. The workers there have not been found in any of the available station staff lists, but two are seen in other railway lists. They do appear in non-railway documents, which show in 1911 a staff of about a dozen men These were a manager and assistant/clerk, a stationery engine-driver, coaler, watchmen and a number of porters, particularly corn porters, and labourers.

The manager and his assistant were "outsiders", both having associations with Derby, location of the railway's HQ. In Ashchurch they lived in named houses and the manager (Hodkin) was listed as a resident in Kelly. The rest were local men, from Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, who lived in the community, with three of the railway cottages at the station occupied by Provender staff in 1911.

The staff may have been working for different departments of the railway. Joseph Bayliss, who was involved in an accident, was listed at the time as working for the Stores Department. John Trapp, at various times coalman, watchman and stationery engine-driver, was employed by the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon department. Details in the biographical notes below.

There are some interesting extracts showing the work practices and wages of those responsible for driving the stationary engine, for coaling and acting as watchmen. Jobs were done on alternate weeks and a man could be called upon to work up to 72 hours a week, albeit the hours over 48 were paid at overtime rates. See under John Trapp below.

The following were identified in 1911 as workers at the Railway Provident Stores. The term stationary engineer (for Harry Collins) is shown elsewhere (in other censuses) as stationary engine driver.

Edward Horace Hodkin manager Waverley, Ashchurch Road
Albert Granger assistant foreman and clerk Ashchurch Farm
Harry Collins stationary engineer 7 Railway Cottages (lodger)
Frederick Woolley coal stage and night watchman 7 Railway Cottages
Frederic Trapp watchman 1 Railway Cottages
James Pardoe corn porter 2 Railway Cottages
William Davis forage labourer Brickfields, Aston
George Pittman labourer Rectory (lodger)

All these lived north of the Tewkesbury-Teddington road, some, as is seen, in the railway cottages at the station. There others living south of the road. They are listed in a separate census list compiled by a different enumerator. Their place of work is not specified but the descriptions of their occupations are compatible with those above who were shown as working in the Provident Stores.

John Griffiths corn porter Homedowns
Frederick Crisp corn stores labourer Walton Cardiff
William Charles James forage stores Pamington
William Chamberlain labourer corn and hay stores Fiddington


Albert Granger was born in 1863 in Welbeck, Nottinghamshire, and was at home with his family in in 1871, his father a brickmaker. In the following censuses he was living with the family of brothers, no occupation given in 1881, and at age 27, living on own means in 1891. In 1901 he was in Bakewell, Derbyshire, working as a railway clerk; in 1909 in Tiverton, Devon, to marry Mary Ann French, but nothing else is known of his visit there.

Albert was in Ashchurch in 1911, living at Ashchurch Farm with his wife and working as Assistant Provender Foreman and Clerk. He would remain in the village until at least 1926, probably at the same location variously described in the electoral register as in Ashchurch (1914), near the church (1918). Church House (1920) and Northway (1921-26). He is then lost until the registration of his death in Cheltenham in 1938 at the age 0f 74, when he was living at an address in that town.

John Griffiths was a local man. He was born in 1870 and lived most of his working life in Homedowns, Fiddington near Ashchurch. He was at home until his marriage in Ashchurch, his father an agricultural worker. When he married he was working as a carter. By 1901 he was an employee of Midland Railway, in 1911 as a corn porter, almost certainly at the Provident Stores at Ashchurch station. He lived at Homedowns throughout.

After the war he moved to Tewkesbury, where he was listed at addresses first in the High Street and then Barton Street. He also owned land at Fiddington. There is no further information.

Edward Horace Hodkin was born in Bakewell, Derbyshire, in 1867. He was at home in Bakewell until at least 1891, he and his father working as farmers and millers, presumably in the same business. In 1893 he was living in Ashchurch, when the banns were read for his wedding; there is no information on his occupation at that point. He returned to Bakewell to marry. By 1901 he had joined the Midland Railway and was then working as the manager of the Railway Provident Stores at Wellingborough. Children were born there in 1899 and 1900.

He was living in Ashchurch between at least 1906 and 1914, Manager of the Midland Railway Provender Stores at Ashchurch, his predecessor William Wallace having been in post in or just before 1902, see below. His residence was a private house ("Waverley") on the Ashchurch Road. His social status is perhaps shown by his inclusion in the Kelly Directories of the period among the private residents in the village, a list usually limited to the top tier of people ("society")

Edward is not listed in Ashchurch after the war. He was presumably posted elsewhere, perhaps returned to Derbyshire, where his wife Dorothy died in 1924 and he himself died in 1951 at the age of 83. He is buried with his wife at St Peter's Church in Edensor in that county.

William Charles James was a local man who worked most of his life for the railway. He was born and baptised in Ashchurch in 1857, his father an agricultural worker. He initially followed his father's occupation, and was at home in in 1871. When he married in 1879 he was living in Pamington and already working for the railway as a storeman. By 1881 he had moved to Bredon, Worcestershire, working as a "railway servant". His wife died and by 1891 he had returned to Pamington, Ashchurch, where he and his children were living with his parents. He was working as a "railway servant". In 1901 he was a chaff cutter at the Provender Stores, and still there in an unstated post in 1911.

He lived at Pamington throughout and also after the war, until he moved to an address at Newtown in Ashchurch in 1926, where he lived to at least 1937.

James Pardoe was a local man. He was born in Tewkesbury in 1862, his father a labourer. He lived at home until his marriage in 1889. He was then working as a labourer, though in 1881 he had been shown in the census as an engine driver (not further specified). By 1891 he had joined the Midland Railway work force, and was a loader in the Midland Railway Provident Stores (at Ashchurch), and a corn porter there in 1901 and 1911. He lived at various addresses in Tewkesbury, though later records are unclear, The electoral register shows him with the freehold of a house Oldbury Road, Ashchurch between at least 1908 and 1914, whereas the 1911 census places him at number 2 Railway Cottages, Ashchurch Station, where he was certainly living from 1918. He was still working as a corn porter when his daughter was married in Ashchurch in 1921.

He remained at this address, presumably working for Midland Railway until his retirement and well beyond. He was still there when he died in 1953 at the age of 90. Probate was awarded to his unmarried daughter Christine.

George Pittman, spelt Pitman in some documents, was another local man. He was born in Didbrook, Gloucestershire, in 1856, his father a labourer. He was at home until at least 1871, when he was working as a groom. He may be the person of his name boarding at Lancarvon in Wales in 1881 and working as a carpenter, but in December the following year he was living in Ashchurch where he married Martha Belcher from Worcester. They remained in the area, he probably being one of the two people of his name recorded as living at Spring Gardens, Tewkesbury and Northway, Ashchurch in 1885-1889, and the person of that name in Merrett's Yard Tewkesbury in 1889-93.

Around the turn of the century he joined the Midland Railway work force as a corn porter (1901) and labourer (1911) in the Provident Stores at Ashchurch. He was boarding at Ashchurch Rectory where his wife Martha was housekeeper and daughter Nellie a servant. After the war, in 1918, the family was living in its own accommodation at 6 Council Cottages in Ashchurch. George would have been living at Ashchurch when his death was registered in Tewkesbury in 1919 at the age of 63. His wife Martha continued to live at the address until her death in 1932.

Frederick William Trapp, a local man and son of John Trapp (see below), was born in 1881 and was at home at Homedowns Lodge in Fiddington, near Ashchurch, until at least 1891. In April 1901 the family may have been living at one of the railway cottages in Ashchurch, Frederick working as a telegraph clerk (for the railway?); his father was a [unreadable - stationary engine?] driver. The following month Frederick was living in Dumbleton, about eight miles east of Fiddington, where he married. He was back in Ashchurch by 1911, living in one of the cottages, with wife and children, having taken his late father's job as watchmen at the Provender Stores. He had left Ashchurch and was living in Gloucester in 1913. He was a labourer, not further specified, when he enlisted for war service in the army in December 1915. He spent the war first in the Royal Berkshire Regiment, and then the Labour Corps. Details here. He returned to Gloucester after the war and remained there until at least 1939, occupation unknown (information from electoral registers) and probably until his death there in 1965 at the age of 85.

Frederick Woolley was born in 1865 in Brockworth near Gloucester and spent the first 35 years of his life in the Gloucester area, working for the Railways as a coal porter in 1891 and a hydraulic engineman in 1901. He married in Gloucester in 1892. He had moved to Ashchurch by 1906 and in 1911 he was a "coal stage and night watchmen" for the railway. In 1911 he had Harry Collins, a stationary engine driver at the Provender Stores, as a lodger. He lived in one of the railway cottages, and here he would remain until at least 1948, presumably well after retirement. His death was registered in Cheltenham in 1952, which was then the registration location for Ashchurch, at the age of 87.

Of the few identified as working in the Providender Stores before 1911 the following is known …

Joseph (Jos) Bayliss was a local man, born in Ashchurch in 1853. In 1881 he was at home, unmarried, working as an agricultural labourer, ten years later he was married and working as a 'railway servant', not further specified. In 1893 he was the subject of an accident report at Ashchurch, described as a 'Provender Man' and listed under the railway's Stores Department. Although not shown in the report the accident was probably fatal, as his death was registered in the same quarter of the year.

Louis Alfred Francombe was born in Keynsham near Bristol in 1852, registered at birth as Alfred Louis. He was at home there in 1861, his father an engineer/driver at the coal pit. In 1871 he was lodging in Gloucester and working as a mechanic. By 1881 he was married, living at number 1 New Buildings (probably one of the railway cottages) in Ashchurch, and working as a stationary engineman (described as stationary engine-driver ten years later). Here he remained almost certainly until his death, registered at Tewkesbury in late 1900 at the age of 48.

One of his sons may have joined the railways. In 1901 the family had returned to Gloucester, the son Louis Sam working as a shop assistant. By 1911 they had moved to Derby, the headquarters of Midlad Railways, and Louis was working as a locomotive fitter.

John Trapp was another local man. He was born in Aston-on-Carrant, near Ashchurch, in 1855 and was at home until at least 1871, when he was working as an agricultural labourer. He married in 1878 and moved to Homedowns Lodge, south Ashchurch, where he worked as a railway platelayer, his wife as a railway gatekeeper.

In January 1892 he transferred to the Provident Stores. Details in the Employment Records of the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Dept of Midland Railway provide an interesting commentary on terms and conditions of work:

Two of John's sons served in World War 1. Alfred, who was living at home in Elmstone Hardwick in 1911 and working as a railway clerk, served in the Railway Troops of the Royal Engineers. Frederick, living in Gloucester, and perhaps no longer employed on the railway, was an infantryman. Details here .

William Wallace is shown in the Kelly directory of 1902 as the manager of the Provender Stores. He thus preceded Edward Hodkin in the post. He has not otherwise been identified; a man of that name lived in the village in 1901 but was a railway platelayer and clearly not the man in question. Kelly is sometimes a little out of date and it may be that William was in post a short while before 1902.

George Wood was born locally, in Gotherington, in about 1854 and was first identified in Ashchurch in 1881 when he was lodging in Northway and working as a farm labourer. Ten years later, now married and living at Fiddington, he was working as a "railway servant". In 1901 he is described as a railway labourer and in 1911 a stores labourer, presumably in the Provender Stores. He was still living at Fiddington, in the hamlet of Natton. He continued to be recorded in local documents (electoral register) to 1914 but was absent when the register resumed after the war in 1918. He is not further identified.


This data has been researched and produced by Brian Harringman. Comments, additions, and especially corrections would be gratefully received.