Schoolboy, Servant, GWR Apprentice
By David Wilkins
The History Press
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In 1890, after strings were pulled by his kindly mistress at the big house, 16-year-old page-boy Alfred Plumley unexpectedly found himself leaving domestic service and beginning an apprenticeship with the GWR. Based on his own eloquent memoir, this book uses Alfred's two years as a "lad porter" at a Somerset village station to explore the importance of the railways in 19th century rural life. High-spirited Alfred quickly comes to love his new life and, undeterred by an unhappy temporary posting to the "great city" of Bristol, ends up spending 45 years a GWR employee. Alfred's words evoke a time when life was harder but pleasures were simple, friendships were lasting - and the railway was king.
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