Middy Staff in the 1911 Census

May 27, 2020

In the latest published census, taken in 1911, we have identified at least 57 men & women who worked for the MSLR at that time, each with their age, address and occupation.

Although we know the names of many of the people who worked for the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway and its successors (the London & North Eastern Railway and British Railways), it can be difficult to get a full picture of the workforce at any given point in time. We have attempted to systematically identify everyone working for the Middy at a specific date, using the census taken on 2nd April 1911, which at the time of writing is the most recent census to have been published. Identifying the relevant entries in the census is not as easy as one might hope:

  • There was no standard way of recording occupation, for example ‘Clerk’, ‘Railway Clerk’ and ‘Clerk Railway’ are all used for what appears to be the same job. Some descriptions such as ‘Clerk’ or ‘Porter’ are also used for non-railway jobs.
  • Even where we can be sure that we have found a railway employee, the census entry does not always record which company the person worked for. This is a particular issue for those living near the Haughley end of the line, many of whom will obviously have worked for the Great Eastern Railway.
  • Related to the previous point, the address at which someone was living does not necessarily correspond exactly to their place of work. People in 1911 were used to walking or cycling several miles to get to work.
  • We know that several of the level crossings were operated by the wives of MSLR employees, as a quid pro quo for living in company accommodation. Five of the Permanent Way staff (George Bloom, Arthur Borley, John Curtis, Albert Howard and Alfred Stone) had addresses like “Gate House” or “Railway Cottage”, and all of them were married. So we assume that their wives acted as crossing keepers even though they are not shown as railway employees in the census.
  • We have used other sources of information such as Peter Paye’s book to identify other individuals who were (or might have been) Middy employees in the early years of the railway, and then tried to find them in the census. In many cases they were too young in 1911, or they were working but not on the MSLR.

For convenience we have grouped the MSLR staff alphabetically within each department. The lists below give the name, age, occupation and address of each person as recorded on the census form. We have also provided separate lists of those railwaymen living in the Haughley and Cotton areas where it is unclear whether they worked for the MSLR or GER. Where known we have indicated family relationships and shown when employees were boarding with other railway staff.


  • Thomas Hedley BRYANT (age 45) – Schoolmaster – Vicarage Road, Laxfield. (part-time auditor)
  • Thomas John DALGLEISH (47) – Accountant Railway – Bridge Street, Laxfield.
  • Harold Robert GILLINGWATER (34) – Railway Superintendent – The Villa, High Street, Laxfield.
  • William John PRIVETT (33) – Railway Traffic Inspector – Church Lane, Laxfield.
  • Charles David SZLUMPER (38) – Civil Engineer – Glanteifi, 4 Holmesdale Rd, Kew Gardens.

Station Staff

  • (Herbert) George ABBOTT (24) – Station Master – Yew Tree Cottage, Worlingworth.
  • George Alexander AVERY (36) – Railway Station Agent – Eye Road, Kenton.
  • William John George BROWN (26) – Station Master – Queen Street, Stradbroke.
  • Stanley Walter EMMENY (14) – Railway Porter – Churchyard, Laxfield. (family providing board to Engine Cleaner Ernest Taylor)
  • Thomas HAMBLING (19) – Porter Railway – Church Walk, Laxfield.
  • Ivan Reginald HAMMOND (16) – Porter – Debenham Road, Thorndon.
  • William Ernest Nicholas HUGMAN (18) – Railway Porter – Gate House, Wetheringsett. (boarding with family of Platelayer John & Crossing Keeper Katharina Curtis)
  • William KELLY (54) – Agent of Railway Company – Haughley.
  • William LINCOLN (18) – Railway Porter – The Street, Horham.
  • Reginald Walter MOSS (18) – Railway Porter – Churchyard, Laxfield. (brother of Clerk James Moss)
  • Samuel MUTIMER (19) – Railway Porter – Barlow Green, Stradbroke.
  • Joseph Henry POLLARD (18) – Station Master – Back Street, Mendlesham.
  • George READ (21) – Railway Porter – Glebe House, Haughley.
  • William Albert SHORT (24) – Mid Suffolk Station Master – Pitman’s Corner, Wetheringsett.
  • Frederick Ernest Charles SORE (25) – Railway Station Agent – The Street, Laxfield.

Clerical Staff

  • Harold Francis Lomax CULLINGFORD (15) – Railway Clerk – The Street, Laxfield.
  • Edgar Offin GLADWELL (16) – Clerk (Mid Suff. Lt. Rly) – The Street, Haughley.
  • Albert Orbell KINGSBURY (19) – Railway Clerk – High Street, Laxfield.
  • James Flemming MOSS (16) – Railway Clerk – Churchyard, Laxfield. (brother of Porter Reginald Moss)
  • Christopher NICHOLLS (18) – Railway Clerk – Park Field, Laxfield.


  • Arthur William BRYANT (26) – Railway Guard – The Street, Bedingfield.
  • Walter SNOWLING (23) – Railway Guard – Station Road, Laxfield.
  • Frederick Arthur WOODS (35) – Railway Guard – Stadhaugh Street, Laxfield.

Locomotive Staff

  • George BAKER (24) – Railway Engine Stoker – The Swan, Wickham Skeith.
  • George BENNETT (45) – Railway Engine Driver – Aspall Green, Debenham.
  • Clifford George BLOOM (22) – Railway Fireman – Bacton nr Stowmarket. (nephew of Permanent Way Inspector George Bloom and cousin of Stoker Josiah Bloom)
  • Josiah BLOOM (23) – Railway Stoker – The Street, Laxfield. (nephew of Permanent Way Inspector George Bloom and cousin of Fireman Clifford Bloom)
  • Alexander BOAG (45) – Railway Engine Driver – 2 Ladysmith Villas, Laxfield.
  • Charles Henry BRUNNING (16) – Railway Pumper – The Plough, Southolt.
  • Ernest William K TAYLOR (24) – Railway Engine Cleaner – Churchyard, Laxfield. (boarding with family of Porter Stanley Emmeny)
  • Ernest WEST (19) – Fireman on Railway – Bridge Street, Laxfield. (boarding with family of Platelayer Alfred Tacon)

Permanent Way

  • George Alfred BLOOM (35) – Railway Permanent Way Inspector – No. 1 Gatehouse, Silver Street, Old Newton . (husband of Crossing Keeper Minnie Bloom)
  • Arthur BORLEY (31) – Ganger Permanent Way – Railway Cottage, Old Newton. (husband of Crossing Keeper Florence Borley)
  • Robert COBBOLD (32) – Plate Layer on Railway – Church Street, Stradbroke.
  • John CURTIS (39) – Railway Platelayer – Gate House, Wetheringsett. (husband of crossing keeper Katharina Curtis, family providing board to Porter William Hugman)
  • William DICKINSON (19) – Railway Labourer – High Street, Laxfield.
  • George EVERETT (39) – Plate Layer MSLR – Vicarage Road, Laxfield.
  • Thomas FINBOW (30) – Platelayer Permanent Way – Back Street, Mendlesham.
  • Albert HOWARD (31) – Railway Platelayer – Laxfield Gate House, MSR Crossing, Stadhaugh Rd, Laxfield. (husband of Crossing Keeper Florence Howard)
  • Charles HOWARD (42) – Railway Labourer – Athelington Road, Horham.
  • Charles William MISSIN (39) – Platelayer Mid Suffolk Rly – Parish Row, Wetheringsett.
  • John MOSS (40) – Platelayer Railway – The Green, Haughley.
  • Allen PLEASANCE (26) – Platelayer on Railway – near the Vicarage, Old Newton.
  • Alfred James STONE (32) – Railway Platelayer – Gate House, Worlingworth. (husband of Crossing Keeper Mary Stone)
  • Alfred William TACON (34) – Platelayer – Bridge Street, Laxfield. (family providing board to Fireman Ernest West)

Railway Staff living in Cotton (MSLR or GER employees?)

    • John DIXON (39) – Railway Platelayer – Line House, Cotton.
    • Charles FINBOW (25) – Railway Labourer – Blacksmith Road, Cotton.
    • Thomas GULL (24) – Railway Labourer – Blacksmith Road, Cotton.
    • Thomas JAY (51) – Railway Labourer – Broadway, Cotton.
    • Ephraim John LUMMIS (34) – Railway Labourer – Cotton House, Cotton.
    • Frederick RIPPER (49) – Railway Servant – Jessamine House, Cotton.

Crossing Keepers

  • Minnie BLOOM (32) – no occupation shown – No. 1 Gatehouse, Silver Street, Old Newton. (wife of Permanent Way Inspector George Bloom)
  • Robert BLOOM (67) – Railway Gateman – Railway Crossing, Old Newton.
  • Florence BORLEY (29) – no occupation shown – Railway Cottage, Old Newton. (wife of Ganger Arthur Borley)
  • Katharina CURTIS (48) – no occupation shown – Gate House, Wetheringsett. (wife of Platelayer John Curtis, family providing board to Porter William Hugman)
  • Florence HOWARD (28) – no occupation shown – Laxfield Gate House, MSR Crossing, Stadhaugh Rd, Laxfield. (wife of Platelayer Albert Howard)
  • Annie ROOKYARD (16) – Gatekeeper Railway Crossing – Old Hall Farm, Mendlesham.
  • Mary STONE (32) – no occupation shown – Gate House, Worlingworth. (wife of Platelayer Alfred Stone)

Railway Staff living near Haughley (MSLR or GER employees?)

  • George Edward BRIDGES (37) – Railway General Labourer – Wetherden Road, Haughley Green. (step-father of Labourer William Murton)
  • Samuel Charles CODD (27) – Railway Porter – Silver Street, Old Newton.
  • Spencer Walter CUTTING (55) – Platelayer (Railway) – The Street, Haughley.
  • Thomas HONEYBALL (57) – Platelayer Railway Co – The Street, Haughley.
  • George HOWE (24) – Railway Labourer – Hill Farm, Old Newton.
  • James MOSS (64) – Platelayer Railway – The Green, Haughley.
  • William Ephraim MURTON (17) – Railway General Labourer – Wetherden Road, Haughley Green. (step-son of Labourer George Bridges)
  • Frank Harold TWEED (22) – Railway Porter – Belle Vue, Haughley.
  • Leonard Thomas WRIGHT (18) – Railway Clerk – Silver Street, Old Newton.


We have identified 57 individuals (51 men and six woman) employed by the MSLR in April 1911, which must be almost a complete list assuming that the payroll was similar to the 60 or so reported for 1908. One might note the comparative youthfulness of many of the staff, particularly the twenty employed on station and clerical duties, where the average age was 21 and only seven were older than 19.


We do not have many pictures from this period: those we do have tend to focus more on the trains than on the people, and the railway staff are often not named. The accompanying photos are mostly from slightly later, but the job titles given in the captions are those from 1911. All photos are from the Geoff Rice Collection except where otherwise shown.


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