Shunters and Track Workers

Chronology:    Bargery Number Main Themes:
1870-79    The dangers of the work
1890-99  225; 252; 566; 579; 687  
Uncertain  291; 300; 687  


The Songs & Poems:

May of the poems in this section were written by railway workers and informed by their personal experience. The railway worker and poet Alexander Anderson was the author of bar291, 687, 690 and 693

 Historical Background:



People on the trackside have always been in more danger than passengers or footplate men.

Of all the lineside workers shunters were the most vulnerable.
The Midland Railway company, for example, kept an ambulance wagon permanently stationed at Toton Marshalling Yard near Nottingham to give treatment to injured shunters.

During 1912, one in ten shunters was killed or injured.



Track workers (variously known as platelayers, or surfacemen) were frequently hit by trains. It is surprising to the modern ear that they did not hear the trains coming but steam locomotives are surprisingly quiet when coasting. The poet and surfaceman Alexander Anderson wrote Wylie's Stone and Jim's Whistle from first hand experience.