Yesterday’s blog looked at the accident at Holywell Junction on 1 September 1922. The next blog posts will look at the men involved. To be honest, the heart sank a bit when we saw we had a case which involved 3 ‘Jones’ – but we’ve found at least a little information about each of the men and their families. None of the Jones appear to have been related. Sadly we still know relatively little about some of the men, so the posts will be rather short.
We’re always interested in more information about the men, so please let us know if you have more detail – especially if you are related to any of them and know more from within your family.
Richard Jones left minimal formal record. He was born around 1888 to John and Caroline Jones. Richard was still living with his parents on the 1921 Census, at Level Cottage, Holywell. His mother was listed as undertaking ‘home duties,’ and his father as a general labourer for Coutalls silk works in Flint. Richard was a platelayer for the LNWR. All three could speak both Welsh and English. Richard was noted as supporting his parents, and his body was identified by his brother (Flintshire County Herald, 8 September 1922).
Richard and Josiah Jones were remembered at a service at the Ebenezer Welsh Congregational Church (Flintshire County Herald, 15 September 1922).
Alfred Jones was the ‘Ganger’ – meaning he was in charge of the group of men involved in the accident. He was born in 1872, in Bagillt (close to Holywell). When he was aged around 21 he married Louisa (probably nee Probert, born in Chester, around 1873). Over the next 15 years they had nine children, of whom seven survived to be named on the 1911 Census: Edward Henry (17), Gertrude (16), John Probert (15), Evelyn (11), Fred Albert (8), Louisa (6) and Alfred Vernon (3).
Whilst Alfred’s wife Louisa was looking after the household in Bagillt, we can see the cotton industry had a presence in this area: Edward and Gertrude were both listed as cotton spinners, and John was a bobbin carrier, all for the Flint Textile Works. The other children were all still at school in 1911.
By the 1921 Census, the Jones house was still full, albeit now in Greenfield – between their seven rooms they had six people. Evelyn had married, taking the surname Hughes, though her husband wasn’t present – but her one-year old daughter, Sylvia, was with the family. As both her parents were listed as ‘alive’ her father, Evelyn’s husband, must have been elsewhere on the night of the census.
Edward, Gertrude, John and Fred, other children of Alfred and Louisa, were no longer listed. Possibly one of the first three had died. Press reports of the Holywell Junction accident noted Alfred and Louisa as having seven children (if accurate) – and listed on the 1921 Census is a new(ish) child: Caroline Jones, age 6. Fred Jones identified his father’s body as part of the inquest, so we know that he was alive at the time. However, the report in the Flintshire County Herald (8 September 1922) might not have been accurate, as it notes that the youngest surviving child was 10, which doesn’t fit with the Census information.
Alfred himself was working as a platelayer, one of the grades of track worker, by the 1901 Census. Unlike the rest of his family, he spoke both Welsh and English. He joined the Chester branch of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS) in February 1897, listed as a platelayer. He appears again in the register of the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR, formed by a merger of the ASRS with several other unions in 1913) as joining the Holywell branch in July 1913. Whether this was a transfer from another branch into a newly created Holywell branch, or that his earlier membership had lapsed is unknown. In the ‘death’ column is a simple note ‘9/22’ – i.e. September 1922 – and that it was ‘natural’. Quite why the ‘accidental’ column wasn’t ticked is unclear, but this is something we’ve seen before.
Alfred and another of the men, Daniel Roberts, were remembered in ‘a most impressive service’ at Holy Trinity Church, Greenfield. The church was reported as crowded. Alfred had been a member of the choir, ‘a splendid tenor singer’, and his vacant seat was draped with a purple cloth (Flintshire County Herald, 15 September 1922).
We know relatively little about what happened to Alfred’s family after his death. An application was made – probably by an NUR representative – for £380 compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act. The judge heard from Louisa, and made an immediate award of £12, with 15 shillings per week for three years thereafter. This seems to have been intended to support Louisa and four children (Prestatyn Weekly, 23 September 1922).
The only person we found on the 1939 Register was Alfred Vernon, still living in the Holywell area, working as a ‘fibro spinner’ – presumably a textile worker of some sort.
In the next blog we’ll outline the remaining two men, Josiah Jones and Daniel Roberts.