Skip to main content

Are you looking for an ancestor?

The Modern Records Centre and its records have proved increasingly useful to family historians around the globe who are tracing the lives and activities of their ancestors. Although the records in its care are not exactly tailor-made sources for the family historian, and those sources that can be used are few in number (the Centre does not generally take in membership records), nevertheless certain collections can yield useful information.

The Centre holds an unrivalled collection of British trade union archives, and these in particular have been used to explore more about the working lives of various individuals. This section of the website is intended to provide a guide to those collections and sources that are of particular interest and use to genealogists.

Researchers are encouraged to visit the Centre in person. The Centre's staff can only do a very limited amount of searching for a given enquiry. Thus we can only accept enquiries concerning one individual. For detailed or more extensive enquiries you are very welcome to use the Centre in person or to arrange for a professional researcher to visit on your behalf.

Please be aware that trade union membership registers rarely contain a great deal of information on each member and that if you have enough information to conduct a search it is very possible that you already have more information about the individual than the registers will provide. None of these sources provide detailed employment histories of individual members.

It is usually necessary to provide a reasonably firm date of admission or death in order for Centre staff to be able to conduct a search, as the sources are rarely indexed.

Digitised material

Some membership records and First World War records have been digitised and are available from findmypast on a pay-per-view or subscription basis.

Indexes

Several indexes to members appearing in certain volumes have been compiled.

Trades and occupations

Below is a list of trades and occupations commonly searched for in the Centre's archives with a definition (adapted from A Dictionary of Occupational Terms, Ministry of Labour, 1927), as many will be unfamiliar to modern researchers. The links provide more detailed information on the trade unions relating to each trade or occupation and the genealogical sources relevant to them available in the Modern Records Centre.

  • Account book binder: A stationer's binder (qv).
  • Angle iron smith: An anglesmith (qv).
  • Anglesmith: A blacksmith (qv) who specialises in working in angle and channel iron or steel (i.e. shaped structural metal pieces such as girders).
  • Ash filler: Shovels ash out of the ashpits in a locomotive shed into wagons for removal and removes grease and dirt from the engine pits.
  • Ash loader: An ash filler (qv).
  • Ashman: An ash filler (qv).
  • Ashpanman: A fire dropper (qv).
  • Ashpan raker: A fire dropper (qv).
  • Ashpit labourer: An ash filler (qv).
  • Ashpitman: An ash filler (qv).
  • Backer: A forwarder (qv).
  • Back hander: Assists a hammerman (qv) by manipulating hot iron or steel bars, rods, etc, with tongs.
  • Ballastman: Loads railway wagons with ballast and sand, travels with the wagons and shovels it out for the use of permanent way maintenance and construction gangs along the line.
  • Ballast and sand loader: A ballastman (qv).
  • Ballast trainman: A ballastman (qv).
  • Bank brakesman: Stands at the top of a bank or incline and applies the brakes of railway wagons before they descend the bank as directed by the banksman (qv).
  • Bank headman: A bank brakesman (qv).
  • Banksman: A shunter (qv) engaged in railway shunting operations on a bank or incline, uncoupling trucks so they descend by their own gravity, being steadied by a bank brakesman (qv) and directed into appropriate sidings at the foot by a pointsman (qv).
  • Beam erector: Fixes the iron or steel beams of a ship in position on a skeleton framework.
  • Beam hoister: A beam erector (qv).
  • Beamer: A beam erector (qv).
  • Beaterman: Operates a beating engine which disintegrates and softens rags, wood, etc, and mixes them with water, china clay, size, resin and dye to form pulp for use in papermaking.
  • Bender: Heats iron or steel tubing in a forge fire and bends it while hot to required shapes by hammering.
  • Binder: A bookbinder (qv).
  • Blacksmith: Heats iron or steel bars, rods, plates, etc, in a small furnace (forge) to a white heat and shapes them by hammering on an anvil or other metal block.
  • Block boy: A signal lad (qv).
  • Blocker: Stamps designs or lettering made from gold or silver leaf, foil or coloured ink onto book covers using a heated metal stamp, either by hand or using a steam press.
  • Body painter: A coach painter (qv).
  • Boiler cleaner: A washer-out (qv).
  • Boiler filler: A steam raiser (qv).
  • Boilermaker: Any skilled craftsman involved in the construction of boilers and also similar iron or steelwork (including ships, storage tanks, bridges, etc), including a boilersmith, plater, riveter and anglesmith (qqv).
  • Boilersmith: Forges angle iron or steel to the shape of a boiler or storage tank.
  • Boiler tester: Tests boilers and storage tanks for watertightness by filling them with water and connecting them to a hydraulic pressure pump.
  • Boiler washer: A washer-out (qv).
  • Bolt forger: A boltsmith (qv).
  • Boltsmith: Makes bolts by inserting hot steel rods into a bolt forging machine which hammers them into shape.
  • Bolt maker: A boltsmith (qv).
  • Bookbinder: Any skilled worker involved in bookbinding, including a forwarder, case maker, publisher's binder and stationer's binder (qqv).
  • Book cover maker: A case maker (qv).
  • Booking clerk: Issues tickets to railway passengers from a station ticket office and in smaller stations may also perform the functions of a parcels clerk (qv).
  • Brakesman: Operates the brakes of a train on which they are not operated by the locomotive driver (qv). Includes a goods brakesman, mineral brakesman and passenger brakesman (qqv). Often also the guard (qv).
  • Bricklayer: Lays bricks in mortar to build walls, foundations, damp courses, etc.
  • Brushmaker: Any skilled worker involved in the manufacture of brushes of all types.
  • Burner: Uses an oxy-acetylene torch to cut sheet metal into shape and may also work as a welder (qv).
  • Bus conductor: Works on a horse-drawn or motor bus, collecting fares, issuing tickets and indicating to the driver (qv) when to start and stop.
  • Bus driver: Drives a horse-drawn or motor bus.
  • Busman: Anyone who works on horse-drawn or motor buses, especially a bus driver or conductor (qqv).
  • Busworker: Anyone who works on horse-drawn or motor buses, especially a bus driver or conductor (qqv).
  • Cabbie: A cab driver (qv).
  • Cab driver: Drives a horse-drawn or motor hackney carriage, hansom cab or taxicab.
  • Cabinet maker: Constructs wooden furniture of all kinds, either from scratch or by fitting together pre-cut and -shaped pieces of wood.
  • Cabman: A cab driver (qv).
  • Caller: Calls out, from their labels, details of incoming and outgoing railway goods consignments for the checker (qv), and may also assist in loading and unloading goods wagons.
  • Caller-off: A caller (qv).
  • Caller-out: A caller (qv).
  • Capstan driver: A capstanman (qv).
  • Capstanman: Moves railway trucks along a loading dock in a goods depot by operating an automatic capstan (or jigger) which is connected to the truck by a cable.
  • Capstan porter: A capstanman (qv).
  • Carpenter: Generally any skilled craftsman who works in wood, including a cabinet maker, joiner and shipwright (qv), but specifically used for someone concerned with the internal structures of buildings or heavy outdoor woodwork. Unlike a joiner, which he may also be, usually works on-site and not in a separate workshop.
  • Carriage builder: Includes a wagon builder (qv).
  • Carriage cleaner: Washes and cleans the exterior and interior of railway passenger carriages in preparation for their next journey.
  • Carriage cleaning inspector: A district inspector or head office inspector (qqv) who inspects and supervises the cleaning of railway passenger carriages.
  • Carriage finisher: A coach finisher (qv).
  • Carriage greaser: A wagon greaser (qv).
  • Carriage guard: A passenger guard (qv).
  • Carriage labeller: Attaches labels to passenger railway carriages indicating the destination or that compartments are reserved, etc.
  • Carriage lifter: A wagon lifter (qv).
  • Carriage painter: A coach painter (qv).
  • Carriage and wagon inspector: A district inspector (qv) responsible for the mechanical efficiency and good repair of railway rolling stock within his district. May also function as carriage cleaning inspector (qv).
  • Carriage washer: A carriage cleaner (qv).
  • Case maker: Makes covers or boards for binding books.
  • Caulker: Finishes off iron and steel boilers, ships, storage tanks, bridges, etc, by smoothing off rivets and tightening up plate seams.
  • Chain horse driver: A shunt horse driver (qv).
  • Chain maker: A chainsmith (qv).
  • Chainsmith: Forges hot iron or steel rods into chain links by hand or with a power hammer or stamps them with a drop hammer and die.
  • Checker: Checks, by comparing with the waybills, consignments of goods before they are loaded onto and after they are unloaded from a railway goods wagon to make sure they are all in order and also works with a weigher (qv) to check the weight is correct.
  • Chief yardsman: A yard inspector (qv).
  • Cloth binder: A stationer's binder, publisher's binder or forwarder (qqv) who works in cloth.
  • Coach body painter: A coach painter (qv).
  • Coach finisher: Fits door handles, number plates, etc, to new railway coaches after they have been painted.
  • Coach lifter: A wagon lifter (qv).
  • Coach painter: Paints and varnishes railway rolling stock.
  • Coal getter: A coal hewer (qv).
  • Coal hewer: Hews coal from the coalface by hand with a pick or breaks it up after it has been cut by machine or blasted from the coalface.
  • Coal miner: Anyone who works at a coalface, including a coal hewer (qv).
  • Compositor: Sets up type from which printing is to be done.
  • Conductor: A bus conductor, railway conductor or tram conductor (qqv).
  • Connector: A hooker-on (qv).
  • Constructional iron or steel worker: Cuts, saws, straightens, bends, shapes, punches and drills, by hand or machine, iron or steel girders and plates to be used in constructional work by an iron or steel erector (qqv).
  • Corrector of the press: Reads newspaper proofs and corrects all errors in composition, grammar, punctuation, etc, before the newspaper's final printing.
  • Corridor train collector: A train ticket collector (qv).
  • Counter: Records the amount of work done by individual craftsmen for payment of piecework rates.
  • Counter porter: A parcel porter (qv).
  • Coupler: A hooker-on (qv).
  • Crossing keeper: In charge of a level crossing on a railway line, opening and closing gates by hand or mechanically, and sometimes also functioning as a lampman (qv).
  • Crossing policeman: A crossing keeper (qv). Not usually actually a police constable.
  • Cutter: Anyone who cuts materials to the correct size and shape, including a printer's cutter (qv).
  • Decorator: A highly-skilled house painter (qv) who also does more delicate work such as gilding, silvering, stencil work, and sometimes also paper-hanging.
  • Depot master: A yard master (qv).
  • Derrick maker: A mast maker (qv).
  • Digger: A quarryman (qv).
  • District inspector: A railway inspector (qv) who supervises a particular aspect of work within a district of a railway company, including a carriage cleaning inspector, carriage and wagon inspector, goods inspector, guards inspector, parcels inspector, signal inspector and traffic inspector (qqv), and may combine two or more of these functions in less busy districts.
  • Door boy: A furnaceman's (qv) assistant.
  • Draughtsman: Draws plans and elevations of a mechanism or structure.
  • Driller: Drills holes in metal by hand or with a drilling machine. Includes a hole cutter (qv).
  • Drop forger: A drop stamper (qv).
  • Drop hammer forger: A drop stamper (qv).
  • Drop hammerman: A drop stamper (qv).
  • Drop hammer smith: A drop stamper (qv).
  • Drop stamp forger: A drop stamper (qv).
  • Drop stamper: A stamper (qv) who uses a drop hammer instead of stamping by hand.
  • Electric train conductor: A railway conductor (qv).
  • Electric train guard: A railway conductor (qv).
  • Electrotyper: Makes copper plates for printing by suspending a prepared wax mould in a bath of copper sulphate through which an electric current is passed, causing a deposit of copper to form a shell on the mould.
  • Engine attendant: A stationary engine driver (qv).
  • Engine cleaner: Cleans a locomotive on arrival in an engine shed and greases moving parts. Traditionally the first step on the career ladder to locomotive driver (qv), with passed cleaner (qv) being the next step.
  • Engine driver: Either a locomotive driver or a stationary engine driver (qqv).
  • Engine fireman: A locomotive fireman (qv).
  • Engineman: A stationary engine driver or locomotive driver or fireman (qqv).
  • Engine minder: A stationary engine driver (qv).
  • Engine tender: A stationary engine driver (qv).
  • Engine tenter: A stationary engine driver (qv).
  • Engine tuber: Cuts and fits tubes in the boilers, barrels and fireboxes of railway locomotives.
  • Engineer: May refer to a professionally-trained mechanical, electrical, civil, etc, engineer, or to anyone working in the engineering industry, including a fitter, millwright, etc, or, mainly in North America, to a locomotive driver (qv).
  • Engraver: Includes a process engraver (qv).
  • Erector: Any skilled worker who fixes pieces of iron or steel in place, including a beam erector, frame erector, iron erector or steel erector (qqv).
  • Faceman: A coal hewer (qv).
  • Fairer: A shipwright (qv).
  • Finisher: Anyone who finishes articles, including a smith's finisher and stereo finisher (qqv).
  • Fire carrier: A fire lighter (qv).
  • Fire cleaner: A fire dropper (qv).
  • Fire drawer: A fire dropper (qv).
  • Fire dropper: Extinguishes the fire under a locomotive's boiler when it arrives back in the shed after a journey and rakes ashes and cinders into the ash pit, and in smaller sheds also does the work of an ash filler (qv). On some railways his work may be done by the locomotive fireman or sometimes by the engine cleaner (qqv).
  • Fire lad: A fire lighter (qv).
  • Fire lighter: Lights the fire under a locomotive boiler using live coals carried from the locomotive shed's hearth and ensures it continues to burn brightly before the steam raiser (qv) takes over. The two jobs may be combined in small sheds.
  • Fireman: Anyone who feeds a fire or furnace, including a locomotive fireman (qv).
  • First leading man: A sub-ganger (qv).
  • First lengthman: The sub-ganger (qv) of a gang of lengthmen (qv).
  • Fixer-up: A signal fitter (qv).
  • Flagman: A crossing keeper (qv) who waves a red flag to warn approaching road travellers to stop.
  • Flyman: A horse-drawn cab driver (qv).
  • Foreman parcel porter: A parcel foreman (qv).
  • Foreman porter: A station foreman (qv).
  • Foreman shunter: A yard foreman (qv).
  • Forge assistant: A forge helper (qv).
  • Forge furnaceman: Attends to and feeds the furnace in a forge and heats iron or steel bars, rods, etc, before passing them to a smith (qv).
  • Forge pressman: A stamper (qv) who uses a heavy hydraulic press instead of stamping by hand.
  • Forge helper: A smith's (qv) assistant.
  • Forgeman: A smith (qv).
  • Forger: A smith (qv).
  • Forwarder: Binds a book, either by hand or machine, after it has been sewn.
  • Frame erector: Fixes the iron or steel frame bars or ribs of a ship in position.
  • Framer: A frame erector (qv).
  • Freight clerk: A goods clerk (qv).
  • Freight guard: A goods guard (qv)..
  • Furnaceman: Anyone who tends a furnace, including a forge furnaceman (qv).
  • Ganger: Heads a gang of platelayers, permanent way labourers or lengthmen (qqv) on the railways.
  • Gatekeeper: Includes a crossing keeper (qv).
  • Gateman: A gatekeeper (qv).
  • Gate ticket collector: A ticket collector (qv).
  • Gate ticket examiner: A ticket collector (qv).
  • General inspector: A district inspector or head office inspector (qqv).
  • Getter: A coal hewer or quarryman (qqv).
  • Gilder: Applies gilt paint to fittings and furnishings. Also a decorator (qv) who specialises in gilding.
  • Girder erector: An iron or steel erector (qqv).
  • Goods brakesman: A brakesman (qv) on a goods train or a goods guard (qv).
  • Goods checker: A checker (qv).
  • Goods clerk: Receives goods for despatch by rail, collects payment, directs goods on their way and prepares delivery sheets for the train crew.
  • Goods foreman: Supervises the goods porters, checkers, callers, loaders, etc (qqv), at a railway station or goods depot.
  • Goods guard: A guard (qv) in charge of a goods train, responsible in addition to his other duties for seeing that deliveries are made correctly and that trucks for other lines are uncoupled at the correct stations.
  • Goods inspector: A district inspector (qv) who inspects the work of all goods stations and depots within his district, responsible to the district goods manager.
  • Goods porter: Moves goods around the goods yard or depot and loads and unloads goods wagons.
  • Goods yard inspector: Supervises a railway goods yard.
  • Greaser: Includes a wagon greaser (qv).
  • Guard: The official in charge of a train, signalling the driver (qv) to start, sometimes applying the emergency brakes and dealing with any problems that may arise. Includes a goods guard, mineral guard, passenger guard, pilot guard and porter-guard (qqv).
  • Guards inspector: A district inspector or head office inspector (qqv) who supervises and inspects the work of guards (qv) in his area.
  • Guillotine cutter: A printer's cutter (qv).
  • Hagger: A coal hewer (qv).
  • Hammer attendant: A hammer driver (qv).
  • Hammer driver: Operates a power hammer for a hammerman (qv).
  • Hammerman: A blacksmith (qv) who uses a power hammer instead of forging by hand. Can also refer to a striker (qv) in Scotland.
  • Hand driller: A hole cutter (qv).
  • Head office inspector: A railway inspector (qv) who supervises departmental work across an entire railway company or division.
  • Heater: A forge furnaceman (qv).
  • Heavy plater: A plater (qv) working with heavy-duty metal plates.
  • Hewer: A coal hewer or quarryman (qqv).
  • Holder-on: A holder-up (qv).
  • Holder-up: Assists a riveter (qv) by inserting the rivet into the hole and holding it in place.
  • Hole cutter: Drills holes in metal by hand using a brace and drill.
  • Hooker-on: Couples up rolling stock in a railway yard or siding in readiness for a journey.
  • Horse box porter: A horse loader (qv).
  • Horse and carriage banksman: A horse loader (qv).
  • Horse and carriage porter: A horse loader (qv).
  • Horse dockman: A horse loader (qv).
  • Horse loader: Loads and unloads horses, other animals (except cattle) and road vehicles onto and from railway horse boxes and wagons.
  • Horse pilotman: A shunt horse driver (qv).
  • Horse shunter: A shunt horse driver (qv).
  • Hot stamper: A stamper (qv).
  • House painter: Paints by hand the exterior and interior of houses and other buildings. May also be a decorator (qv).
  • Incline brakesman: A bank brakesman (qv).
  • Incline headman: A bank brakesman (qv).
  • Inclineman: A banksman (qv).
  • Iron erector: Places iron girders in position, usually with the assistance of a crane.
  • Iron plate worker: A sheet iron worker (qv).
  • Jigger porter: A capstanman (qv).
  • Joiner: Makes various kinds of woodwork in a workshop (as distinct from a carpenter (qv), who usually works outside a workshop), usually fitting together pieces of pre-cut and -shaped wood to makes doors, windows, staircases, cupboards, panelling, counters, showcases, woodwork for railway carriages, tramcars, ships, etc.
  • Kindler: A fire lighter (qv).
  • Labeller: Includees a carriage labeller and luggage labeller (qqv).
  • Lamp keeper: A lampman (qv).
  • Lamp lad: A lampman (qv).
  • Lamp lighter: A lampman (qv).
  • Lampman: Cleans, fills, trims, lights and extinguishes oil lamps. Includes a station lampman (qv).
  • Lamp porter: A porter-lampman (qv).
  • Lamp room porter: A porter-lampman (qv).
  • Lamp trimmer: A lampman (qv).
  • Leading platelayer: A sub-ganger (qv).
  • Leading surfaceman: A sub-ganger (qv).
  • Leather binder: A stationer's binder, publisher's binder or forwarder (qqv) who works in leather.
  • Lengthman: A platelayer (qv) in a gang assigned to maintain a specific section of line.
  • Letterpress binder: A publisher's binder (qv).
  • Level crossing gateman: A crossing keeper (qv).
  • Level crossing keeper: A crossing keeper (qv).
  • Level crossing man: A crossing keeper (qv).
  • Leverman: A hammer driver or press driver (qqv).
  • Light plater: A plater (qv) working on smaller and lighter boilers, storage tanks, etc.
  • Lighter-up: A fire lighter (qv).
  • Liner-off: A shipwright (qv) who indicates work still to be done by making marks on structural work already erected.
  • Linksmith: A chainsmith (qv).
  • Lithographer: A lithographic printer (qv).
  • Lithographic artist: Produces original work for reproduction by the lithographic process.
  • Lithographic designer: Designs borders, endpieces, monograms, lettering, etc, for reproduction by the lithographic process.
  • Lithographic printer: Anyone who prints from stones or aluminium or zinc plates etched using the lithographic process, including a printing machine minder, transferer and prover (qqv).
  • Loader: A goods porter (qv) who is mainly engaged in loading and unloading goods wagons.
  • Locomotive driver: Controls the running of a railway locomotive by operating valves, throttle, etc, watching out for signals, regulating the supply of steam to the engine, and applying the brakes.
  • Locomotive fireman: Feeds a steam locomotive furnace by shovelling coal from the tender and rakes the fire or regulates the supply of oil and cleans the burners in an oil-fired locomotive, sees that steam is maintained at the correct pressure, and generally assists the locomotive driver (qv). Usually hopes to become a driver, with the next step being a passed fireman (qv).
  • Locomotive foreman: Controls a locomotive shed or yard where railway locomotives are based and maintained, supervising preparation, cleaning and maintenance work and ensuring the locomotives are despatched at the scheduled times.
  • Locomotive inspector: Examines locomotives in one or more railway locomotive sheds, noting defects and reporting them to the locomotive superintendent (qv).
  • Locomotive shed foreman: A locomotive foreman (qv).
  • Locomotive yard foreman: A locomotive foreman (qv).
  • Loftsman: Lays down from plans, on a wooden floor, outlines of ship frames and plates using a sharp scrieving tool.
  • Luggage foreman: A station foreman (qv) who heads a team of luggage porters (qv).
  • Luggage labeller: Attaches labels showing the destination to railway passengers' luggage.
  • Luggage porter: A railway porter (qv) who only deals with passenger luggage.
  • Machine cutter: A printer's cutter (qv).
  • Machineman: Anyone who operates a machine, including a papermaking machineman (qv).
  • Machine ruler: Operates a machine which rules lines for account books, ledger forms, etc.
  • Marker-off: Marks, using wooden templates, the positions in which plates and rivet holes are to be placed on the frame of a ship by a plater (qv).
  • Marshalman: A shunter or yard foreman (qqv) who arranges shunting in railway yards or sidings in order to make up trains in readiness for their next journey.
  • Mason: A stonemason (qv).
  • Mast maker: Either a plater (qv) who specialises in the construction of iron or steel masts, derricks, spars, etc, or a carpenter (qv) who makes the same from wood.
  • Mineral brakesman: A brakesman (qv) on a mineral train or a mineral guard (qv).
  • Mineral guard: A goods guard (qv) in charge of a mineral train.
  • Modeller: Makes wax models of ships' hulls for use in experimental tanks.
  • Monotype caster: Operates a casting machine which makes metal printing type under the patented Monotype System.
  • Monotype caster assistant: Assists a Monotype caster (qv).
  • Monotype caster attendant: A Monotype caster (qv).
  • Monotype caster operator: A Monotype caster (qv).
  • Motor cab driver: A cab driver (qv).
  • Motor car conductor: A railway conductor (qv).
  • Motor conductor: A railway conductor (qv).
  • Motorman: Drives an electric train.
  • Moulder: Makes moulds (from wooden or metal patterns inserted into a moulding flask and packed with sand) into which molten metal is poured to produce castings in an iron foundry.
  • Number taker: Records details of railway wagons owned privately or belonging to other railway companies entering or leaving a goods depot so that the owners may be charged for the use of the facilities.
  • Omnibus conductor: A bus conductor (qv).
  • Omnibus driver: A bus driver (qv).
  • Painter: Includes a house painter and decorator (qqv).
  • Paper cutter: A printer's cutter (qv).
  • Papermaker: Any skilled worker in the papermaking industry, including a beaterman and papermaking machineman (qqv).
  • Papermaking machineman: Operates a papermaking machine which turns pulp into paper.
  • Paper ruler: Rules lines for account books, ledger forms, etc, either by hand or using a machine ruler (qv).
  • Parcel foreman: Heads a team of parcel porters (qv), responsible to the parcels inspector or station master (qqv).
  • Parcel porter: Loads and unloads parcels onto and from trains and assists the parcels clerk (qv).
  • Parcels clerk: Receives parcels for despatch by rail, collects payment, directs parcels on their way and prepares delivery sheets for the train crew.
  • Parcels inspector: Supervises the railway parcels offices in a district or the office at a large station.
  • Passed cleaner: An engine cleaner (qv) who has passed his tests to become a locomotive fireman (qv) and is waiting for a vacancy.
  • Passed fireman: A locomotive fireman (qv) who has passed his tests to become a locomotive driver (qv) and is waiting for a vacancy.
  • Passenger brakesman: A brakesman (qv) on a passenger train or a passenger guard (qv).
  • Passenger guard: A guard (qv) in charge of a passenger train, responsible in addition to his other duties for ensuring that luggage and parcels are correctly delivered and also often for checking passengers' tickets and sometimes for issuing tickets to passengers who board at halts without a booking office.
  • Passenger porter: A railway porter (qv).
  • Permanent way inspector: Periodically examines assigned sections of railway line to determine their condition and need for repair and inspects any work being done on those sections.
  • Permanent way labourer: A platelayer (qv) engaged in maintenance work instead of construction work.
  • Permanent way man: A permanent way labourer (qv).
  • Pilot guard: A guard (qv) who pilots trains over portions of train where single-line working is in operation or over bridges under repair.
  • Pilotman: A locomotive driver (qv) who picks up a goods train at one point and leaves it at another point or a pilot guard (qv).
  • Pilot shunter: A shunt horse driver (qv).
  • Pipe bender: A bender (qv).
  • Pit cleaner: An ash filler (qv).
  • Planeman: A banksman (qv).
  • Plasterer: Applies plaster by hand to the exterior and interior of buildings.
  • Plasterer's labourer: Assists a plasterer (qv) by mixing plaster and carrying it to him.
  • Plasterer's mixer: A plasterer's labourer (qv).
  • Plasterer's server: A plasterer's labourer (qv).
  • Platelayer: Lays and maintains railway lines.
  • Plater: Cuts and shapes iron or steel plates to be used in making ships, boilers, storage tanks, bridges, etc, and punches or drills the holes for the rivets.
  • Platform foreman: Supervises the railway porters (qv) on a specific platform of a large railway station, responsible to the platform inspector, station inspector or station master (qqv).
  • Plaform inspector: Heads the staff, including railway porters, ticket collectors, etc (qqv), and operations on a specific platform of a large railway station, responsible to the station inspector (qv).
  • Point cleaner: A point oiler (qv).
  • Point oiler: Oils and cleans railway points.
  • Points boy: Assists a pointsman (qv).
  • Points lad: A points boy (qv).
  • Pointsman: Operates points or switches in railway yards or sidings.
  • Porter: Includes a railway porter (qv).
  • Porter-brakesman: A porter-guard (qv).
  • Porter-guard: A railway porter (qv) who also works as a guard (qv) on local trains in order to learn the duties in preparation for promotion to full guard.
  • Porter-lampman: A railway porter (qv) who also serves as a station lampman (qv).
  • Porter-signalman: A railway porter (qv) who also assists a railway signalman (qv) in order to learn the duties in preparation for promotion to full signalman.
  • Press corrector: A corrector of the press (qv).
  • Press driver: Operates the press for a forge pressman (qv).
  • Press hand: A press driver (qv).
  • Pressman: Anyone who uses a press, including a forge pressman or press driver (qqv).
  • Press operator: Anyone who uses a press, including a forge pressman or press driver (qqv).
  • Press reader: A corrector of the press (qv).
  • Press reviser: A corrector of the press (qv).
  • Press telegraphist: Sends and receives telegraph messages between journalists and newspaper offices.
  • Printer: Anyone working in the printing industry directly involved with the actually printing process, including a compositor, printing machine minder and lithographic printer (qqv).
  • Printer's cutter: Cuts paper to the correct size with a guillotine in preparation for printing.
  • Printer's warehouseman: Works in a warehouse in which paper is stored prior to being used for printing.
  • Printing machine manager: A printing machine minder (qv) who supervises a number of machines in a large printworks.
  • Printing machine minder: Sets up, monitors and adjusts a printing machine as it operates and attends to defects in the machine and the printing process.
  • Printing machine setter: A printing machine minder (qv).
  • Process engraver: Uses hand engraving tools to outline work on an etched printing plate before it is passed to a router for cutting.
  • Process worker: Anyone involved in the printing, etching and engraving of printing plates, including a process engraver (qv).
  • Proofer: A prover (qv).
  • Prover: Prints proofs from lithographic stones or plates in a hand press.
  • Publisher's binder: A bookbinder (qv) who combines the functions of case maker, forwarder and blocker (qv).
  • Quarrier: A quarryman (qv).
  • Quarryman: Digs, picks, saws or blasts stone or rock from a quarry.
  • Rag beater: A beaterman (qv).
  • Rail motor conductor: A railway conductor (qv).
  • Railway carriage painter: A coach painter (qv).
  • Railway clerk: Any administrative worker in the railway industry, including a booking clerk, goods clerk and parcels clerk (qqv).
  • Railway coach painter: A coach painter (qv).
  • Railway conductor: The guard (qv) on a local electric train, usually of only one or two coaches, who often also inspects and issues tickets.
  • Railway gatekeeper: A crossing keeper (qv).
  • Railway gateman: A crossing keeper (qv).
  • Railway guard: A guard (qv).
  • Railway inspector: A railway official ranking above a ganger (qv) or foreman but below a manager or superintendent, responsible for supervising and inspecting work, including a district inspector, head office inspector, locomotive inspector, parcels inspector, permanent way inspector, platform inspector, shunting inspector, station inspector, ticket inspector, train timekeeper and yard inspector (qqv).
  • Railway maintenance man: A permanent way labourer (qv).
  • Railwayman: Anyone who works on the railways.
  • Railway porter: An employee at a railway station who performs various duties, including directing passengers and answering enquiries, carrying passengers' luggage, loading and unloading luggage, parcels, etc, onto and from trains, calling out the destination of an approaching train and the name of the station when the train arrives, opening and closing carriage doors, coupling and uncoupling carriages if necessary, cleaning the station, acting as a lampman, luggage labeller, carriage labeller and/or ticket collector (qqv), and sometimes issuing tickets at small stations without full-time booking clerk (qv) cover. See also goods porter, luggage porter, parcel porter, porter-guard, porter-lampman, porter-signalman and travelling porter (qqv).
  • Railway signal fitter: A signal fitter (qv).
  • Railway signalman: Works in a signal box, controlling movements of trains over a section of line by pulling levers to move signals and points.
  • Railway wagon builder: A wagon builder (qv).
  • Railway wagon repairer: A wagon repairer (qv).
  • Referencer: A checker (qv).
  • Regulator: A yard foreman (qv).
  • Relief signalman: A railway signalman (qv) who is available to be assigned to any signal box in a district to replace an absent signalman and who is otherwise usually posted to a busy signal box worked by more than one signalman.
  • Relief station master: A station master (qv) who is not assigned to any specific station, but who is held ready to be sent to relieve any station master who is sick, on leave, etc.
  • Rigger: Erects ships' masts and derricks, splices rigging, mooring lines, etc, and acts as crew when moving the ship from one dock to another.
  • Riveter: Attaches iron or steel plates, girders, etc, together using rivets, usually red-hot, by hitting them with a hand or power hammer or by using a riveting machine.
  • Rock getter: A quarryman (qv).
  • Rock hand: A quarryman (qv).
  • Rock man: A quarryman (qv).
  • Roller: A forwarder (qv).
  • Ruling machine minder: A machine ruler (qv).
  • Running shed foreman: A locomotive foreman (qv).
  • Scaleman: A weigher (qv).
  • Scalesman: A weigher (qv).
  • Scotch lad: A scotcher (qv).
  • Scotch spragger: A scotcher (qv).
  • Scotcher: Applies extra brake power to heavy mineral trains at the top of steep inclines by inserting pieces of wood called scotches (or sprags) between the wheel spokes and axle guards of the trucks to prevent the wheels turning, then rides the train to the bottom of the incline and removes the scotches.
  • Scriever: A loftsman (qv).
  • Scriever-in: A loftsman (qv).
  • Seaman
  • Shed foreman: A locomotive foreman (qv).
  • Sheerer: A marker-off (qv).
  • Sheet collector: A sheeter (qv).
  • Sheeter: Covers railway goods wagons with tarpaulin sheets before a journey and removes and stores them at the end of the journey.
  • Sheet hand: A sheeter (qv).
  • Sheet iron smith: Makes pipes, ducts, etc, by heating sheet iron and hammering it on an anvil.
  • Sheet iron worker: Cuts and bends thick iron plate into shape for use in any form of construction. Includes a plater (qv).
  • Sheetman: A sheeter (qv).
  • Shipbuilder: Any skilled worker in a shipyard.
  • Ship carpenter: A shipwright (qv) working in wood, especially in the North of England.
  • Shipconstructor: A shipbuilder (qv).
  • Shipper: A checker (qv).
  • Ship rigger: A rigger (qv).
  • Shipsmith: A blacksmith (qv) or hammerman (qv) who forges metalwork for use in shipbuilding.
  • Shipwright: Either a highly-skilled craftsman who works on iron and steel ships by laying down keel blocks, supervising beam and frame erectors (qqv) in their work, laying decks, fitting out the ship and supervising launching, or a carpenter (qv) who builds wooden ships and boats by hand.
  • Shunt horse driver: Moves railway wagons and carriages around a siding or railway yard at the direction of a shunter (qv) using a horse yoked to the vehicle.
  • Shunter: Couples and uncouples railway vehicles to enable them to be moved into position and marshalled (i.e. arranged in order) in a siding or railway yard, applies and disengages the brakes, and signals movements to the locomotive driver, shunting driver or shunt horse driver (qqv).
  • Shunting driver: A locomotive driver (qv) who only drives locomotives in yards or sidings and not on running lines.
  • Shunting inspector: Supervises shunting operations in a busy railway yard or sidings.
  • Signal clerk: A signal lad (qv).
  • Signal fitter: Erects, installs and repairs railway signals and associated mechanical equipment.
  • Signal inspector: Inspects the signals, signal boxes and signal equipment in a railway district and supervises the work of the railway signalmen (qv).
  • Signal lad: Assists a railway signalman (qv) by transmitting telephone and telegraph messages and maintaining the block book which records train movements in the section. At 18 he will be regraded as a signalman, railway porter or porter-signalman (qqv).
  • Signal learner: A railway signalman (qv) in training or a signal lad (qv) in training to become a full signalman.
  • Signalman: Includes a railway signalman (qv).
  • Signal porter: A porter-signalman (qv).
  • Sleeping car attendant: Attends to the needs of passengers in railway sleeping cars, answering enquiries, preparing sleeping compartments and doing other odd jobs.
  • Smith: A blacksmith (qv) or a general term for any craftsman employing similar forge and hammer (including power hammer) techniques, including an anglesmith, bender, boilersmith, boltsmith, chainsmith, drop stamper, hammerman, sheet iron smith, smith's finisher, spring smith, stamper or welder (qqv).
  • Smith's finisher: Assembles parts forged by another smith and finishes off the completed article. May also refer to a smith's assistant who finishes off rough forgings by hand filing or on an emery wheel.
  • Sorter: Includes a wagon sorter (qv).
  • Spar maker: A mast maker (qv).
  • Spare signalman: A relief signalman (qv).
  • Spragger: A scotcher (qv).
  • Spring maker: A spring smith (qv).
  • Spring smith: Makes springs by heating straps of steel in a forge fire and bending them to the correct shape on a metal template, then finishing them off by hammering, bolting and welding.
  • Stamp smith: A stamper (qv).
  • Stamper: Stamps out articles from hot iron or steel rods, bars, sheets or plates by means of a hammer and die. Includes a drop stamper (qv).
  • Station agent: Represents the interests of one railway company at a railway station run by another company, but which is also used by trains of his company.
  • Station foreman: Heads a team of railway porters (qv) at a railway station, responsible to the station master or station inspector (qqv).
  • Station inspector: Supervises the platform staff, including railway porters, ticket collectors, etc (qqv), and operations in a large railway station, responsible to the station master (qv).
  • Station lampman: Cleans, fills, trims, lights and extinguishes oil lamps in railway stations and on trains.
  • Station master: The official in charge of a passenger railway station.
  • Station superintendent: A station master (qv), especially of a larger station.
  • Stationary engine driver: Operates a steam-, oil-, electric- or hydraulic-powered stationary engine used to power machinery in a factory, workshop, mine, etc, monitors the gauges, cleans and oils the engine, and may also do running repairs.
  • Stationer's binder: Binds account books by hand in leather, buckram or cloth.
  • Stayer: Fits boiler stays and stay bolts.
  • Steam engine maker: Any craftsman involved in the manufacture of steam engines.
  • Steam raiser: Ensures that the fire is lit under the boiler of a railway locomotive and that the boiler is filled with water before the locomotive leaves the shed and that a sufficient head of steam has been raised by the time the locomotive driver (qv) boards. May also serve as a fire lighter (qv) in small sheds.
  • Steel erector: Places steel girders in position, usually with the assistance of a crane.
  • Steel presser: A forge pressman (qv).
  • Steel pressman: A forge pressman (qv).
  • Stereo finisher: Finishes off cast metal printing plates by planing them down to the required thickness.
  • Stereo founder: Casts printing plates from 'type metal' (lead, with some antimony and tin added) poured into a box containing a mould made from 'flong' (paper coated with paste and dried).
  • Stereo moulder: Makes moulds for casting metal printing plates from 'flong' (paper coated with paste) laid over the type or engraved plate to be printed, pressed with a brush and then dried.
  • Stereotyper: Anyone involved in the stereotyping process, including a stereo moulder, stereo founder and stereo finisher (qqv).
  • Stoker: A fireman (qv).
  • Stonemason: Cuts, shapes and dresses stone for use in building or as tombstones, monuments, etc, or erects stones in structures.
  • Stone miner: A quarryman (qv).
  • Striker: A blacksmith's (qv) assistant, responsible for heating the metal, holding it with tongs and doing some of the hammering.
  • Sub-ganger: Assists a ganger (qv).
  • Surfaceman: A platelayer (qv).
  • Switch boy: A points boy (qv).
  • Switch lad: A points boy (qv).
  • Switchman: A pointsman (qv).
  • Tackle maker: A rigger (qv).
  • Tank tester: A boiler tester (qv).
  • Tapper: A wheel examiner (qv).
  • Taxicab driver: A cab driver (qv).
  • Taxi driver: A cab driver (qv).
  • Telegraph lad: A signal lad (qv).
  • Template maker: Makes wooden templates for the use of a marker-off (qv).
  • Tester: Anyone who tests items made by others, including a boiler tester (qv).
  • Ticket checker: A ticket collector (qv).
  • Ticket clerk: A booking clerk (qv).
  • Ticket collector: Examines tickets of passengers entering or leaving a railway station platform.
  • Ticket examiner: A ticket collector (qv).
  • Ticket inspector: Examines passengers' tickets aboard trains, either assigned to a specific train or making spot checks, and may head a team of train ticket collectors (qv).
  • Ticket office clerk: A booking clerk (qv).
  • Ticket taker: A ticket collector (qv).
  • Traffic inspector: Inspects and supervises the traffic working in a railway district, enquires into delays and is responsible for running trains to the scheduled time, responsible to the district traffic manager.
  • Train booker: A signal lad (qv).
  • Train conductor: A railway conductor (qv).
  • Train connector: A hooker-on (qv).
  • Train flagman: A flagman (qv).
  • Train foreman: A yard foreman (qv).
  • Train guard: A guard (qv).
  • Train inspector: A traffic inspector (qv).
  • Train labeller: A carriage labeller (qv).
  • Train recorder: A signal lad (qv).
  • Train register boy: A signal lad (qv).
  • Train ticket collector: Examines passengers' tickets aboard corridor trains, usually assigned to a specific train but also by making spot checks, and may be responsible to a ticket inspector (qv).
  • Train timekeeper: Records the times of all trains arriving at and departing from a large station. Ranks as a railway inspector (qv).
  • Train wagon inspector: A carriage and wagon inspector (qv).
  • Tram conductor: Works on a horse-drawn or electric passenger tramcar, collecting fares, issuing tickets and indicating to the driver (qv) when to start and stop.
  • Tram driver: Drives a horse-drawn or electric tramcar.
  • Transferer: Prints transfers from engraved metal plates and attaches them to tin boxes, etc.
  • Travelling porter: A parcel porter (qv) who travels in the luggage van to sort parcels en route.
  • Travelling signalman: A relief signalman (qv).
  • Travelling ticket collector: A train ticket collector (qv).
  • Travelling ticket examiner: A train ticket collector (qv).
  • Truck horse driver: A shunt horse driver (qv).
  • Tube fitter: An engine tuber (qv).
  • Tuber: Includes an engine tuber (qv).
  • Underman: A platelayer (qv).
  • Vellum binder: A stationer's binder (qv) who works in vellum.
  • Wagon builder: Builds the body of a railway wagon from wood and/or iron.
  • Wagon distributor: A wagon sorter (qv).
  • Wagon erector: A wagon builder (qv).
  • Wagon examiner: Inspects railway wagons to determine whether they need repairing and checks finished repair work.
  • Wagon greaser: Fills the axle boxes of railway rolling stock with lubricating oil or grease.
  • Wagon inspector: A carriage and wagon inspector or a wagon examiner (qqv).
  • Wagon lifter: Prepares new or damaged railway wagons and carriages for lifting by crane or derrick and sets springs and axle boxes in position under them ready to be attached.
  • Wagonman: A wagon rider (qv).
  • Wagon repairer: Repairs damaged railway wagons.
  • Wagon rider: Accompanies a heavily loaded wagon down a gradient along which it descends by gravitation, either running alongside or hanging on by hand, applying the brake to check speed when necessary and sometimes operating a point lever at the bottom to allow the wagon to run into the correct siding.
  • Wagon sorter: A shunter (qv) who sorts and assembles empty wagons in a goods yard ready for return to their home stations.
  • Wagonwright: A wagon builder (qv).
  • Washer-out: Runs off water from a locomotive boiler by removing plugs, floods the boiler with clean water to wash it, removes scale from around the plugs and refills the boiler in readiness for the next journey.
  • Weigher: Weighs goods accepted for carriage on the railways before they are loaded and after they are unloaded so that they can be charged and also, working with a checker (qv), to check that the weight is the same at both ends of the journey.
  • Weighman: A weigher (qv).
  • Welder: Joins two pieces of metal together either by heating them in a forge and hammering them or by using an oxy-acetylene burner or an electric welding machine.
  • Wheel examiner: Tests the soundness of the wheels of railway rolling stock by tapping the edges with a long-handled steel hammer to see whether they sound cracked, often performing spot checks when the train stops at a station so that damaged wagons or carriages can be removed immediately before they cause problems.
  • Wheel tapper: A wheel examiner (qv).
  • Winner: A coal hewer (qv).
  • Yard foreman: Supervises the staff in a railway yard, responsible to the yard inspector or yard master (qqv).
  • Yard inspector: Supervises work in a railway goods or shunting yard, responsible to the yard master (qv).
  • Yard maker: A mast maker (qv).
  • Yardman: A yard porter (qv).
  • Yard master: The official in charge of a railway goods or shunting yard.
  • Yard porter: A goods porter (qv) who works in a goods yard.
  • Yard regulator: A yard foreman (qv).
  • Yard superintendent: A yard master (qv).

Workplaces

Especially as specialist unions started to merge into more general unions, many unions catered for all or most of the workers in a particular type of establishment. Below is a list of common establishments with links to further information concerning the trade unions associated with them.