Tuesday, August 9, 2016

John Jones

Our next guided walk at Radnor Street Cemetery takes place next Sunday, August 14 meet at the chapel at 2pm.

And for those of you who missed the Swindon Heritage History Day and the GWR themed walks, I will be publishing a selected few during the upcoming week.

This is the final resting place of Jones Jones, who as we can see from the inscription on the headstone, was foreman of the Rolling Mills.

John was born in Tredegar, Monmouthshire on March 13, 1815. As you can imagine, tracing a John Jones born in Wales is quite tricky, but he chose some distinctive names for his sons so I think I have the correct family here, living at Thomas Road, Llanelly in 1851 with his wife Sarah, and their children Edwin who at the age of 14 was already working as a forgeman, Elizabeth 13, Isabella 11, Ephraim 9, Emma 7, Enos 5 and Elijah S. who was 5months old.

John was a highly experienced worker by the time he entered the GWR service here in Swindon on May 25, 1861 as a Foreman Roller paid 7 shillings a day (that’s 35p) although worth considerably more 155 years ago.

The Rolling Mills opened in the 1860s and saw the arrival of a large Welsh community in Swindon. In 1869 the manager Mr Ellis told the Advertiser there were about 310 men employed in the Rolling Mills, divided into a day and a night shift working alternate weeks.

The arrival of so many families placed huge pressure on the available accommodation in New Swindon. The families were first housed in the Barracks – this is the building on Faringdon Road now known as The Platform. It was originally built as accommodation for the single men in the Works but was extremely unpopular. The men would rather lodge in the overcrowded cottages then abide by the rules and regulations of living in the Barracks. It later became a Wesleyan Chapel and then the Railway Museum until the opening of STEAM in 2000.

The first Welsh families in the Barracks lived in appalling, insanitary conditions, and work soon began on Cambria Place and it was here at No 22 that we find John and his family living in 1871.

John is buried here with his granddaughter Evelyn Alder who died in 1917 aged 32 and his daughter in law Harriett Ann Jones, Evelyn’s mother who was the wife of Elijah Stockham Jones, John’s youngest son.

Aerial view of Cambria Place in the 1950s

Cambria Place in 1968 photograph courtesy of  Local Studies

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