Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The County of Pembroke

I was having a bit of a sort out yesterday when I came across this photograph of my great-grandfather, Alexander Rowland Jones (right), in front of his engine the County of Pembroke No 3839. The family then lived in Steventon which already had a special place in the annals of the Great Western Railway. His branch of the family had settled in Ironbridge Shropshire in the very early 1800s  having moved from North Wales, possibly Wrexham or Oswestry (which I know is in England - just). On their way they stayed in Wolverhampton, Aston, and Woolverton.

It took nearly a century before the Jones arrived in Steventon where his daughter married the son of the local postman who lived in Sumach Cottage, the name of which we suspect was a little bit of a joke, just one or two of my regular readers will understand why.

The   County Class locomotives   were first built in 1904 and Pembroke was amongst the first on the rails  so I do wonder if that is the reason for the photograph.

There was just one other aspect to the story of my great grandfather's career as locomotive driver. He used to do the Oxford to Paddington route and got to know the Prince of Wales, later  to become Edward VIII and finally the Duke of Windsor.

The Prince used his position to get to ride in the engine between Paddington and Oxford when he was studying at Magdalen College. He often rode with my great grandfather who fried up on the shovel a traditional locomotive driver's breakfast of  eggs and bacon washed down with tea made from water in the boiler. I have read this story elsewhere so I know that  my great grandfather wasn't the only driver offering this hospitality to the young prince. However the impact on our family was a profound loyalty to the Prince and a lot of heartache and misplaced sympathy when he abdicated.

Something completely different for a normally controversial blog. If anyone has more details about the County of Pembroke, I'd be happy for them to comment here.

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