Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Thomas and Susannah Hughes

This is the last resting place of Thomas and Susannah Hughes. This is another memorial with lots of symbolism.  The inscription is on a scroll, a symbol of life and time. Both ends rolled up indicate a life that is unfolding like a scroll of uncertain length with the past and future hidden.  Passion flowers represent Christ’s suffering on the Cross.  At the bottom of the monument are various leaves, including the holly, a symbol of friendship, fidelity and immortality.

Thomas Hughes was born in Smethwick in 1842.  He worked as a railway engine fitter, eventually becoming a foreman and at the time of the 1881 census the couple were living at 8 Faringdon Road.

The foremen in the GWR Works had a formidable reputation.  Swindon’s Hammerman poet, Alfred Williams wrote in Life in a Railway Factory published in 1915.

“Most foremen are excessively autocratic and severe with their men denying them the slightest privilege or relaxation of the iron laws of the factory.” 

He does go on to say however that “a few, on the other hand, are generous and humane.  They hold the reins slack, and without the knowledge of their chiefs, grant a few small privileges and are rewarded with the confidence of the workmen and a willingness to labour on their part amounting to enthusiasm.”

I’d like to think Thomas came from this second category as the inscription on the stone reads:

This memorial was erected by the family, friends and workmen under his supervision.  A token of respect and esteem.

Death of Mr Hughes

We regret to announce the death, which took place on Friday morning, at his residence, 8 Faringdon Street, Swindon, of Mr T. Hughes, a foreman in the GWR works. Deceased, who had only been ailing a short time, passed away somewhat suddenly. He had been a foreman in the GWR works – over the A Shop (New Work & Erectors), B Shop (Erectors), and P Shop, for 30 years, having been employed in the GWR Works 40 years. He was well known as a member of the Council of the Mechanics’ Institute, in which he took an active interest, especially in the Library and Reading Room, having been a member of the council for seven years. Deceased leaves a widow and grown up family, for whom the deepest sympathy will be felt, especially as Mrs Hughes is lying seriously ill. Mr Hughes was also a prominent member of the GWR Fire Brigade.

Death of Mrs Hughes

An extremely pathetic sequel to the death of Mr T. Hughes, a GWR foreman, which took place on Friday last, is the fact that his wife passed away yesterday morning. She had been ill for some time, and was lying prostrate when her husband died. The funeral takes place tomorrow, when the bodies of Mr & Mrs Hughes will be buried in the same grave in the Swindon cemetery.

Join the Swindon Heritage team for a guided cemetery walk, this Sunday August 14. Meet at the chapel 2 pm


  1. A most sad tale. At least they have a nice resting place and live on in your post.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to comment.