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What Is A Pointsman?

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Need help - on my great grandfather's marriage licence it says his father was a pointsman - is that related to a bricklayer's profession or a military position?

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Need help - on my great grandfather's marriage licence it says his father was a pointsman - is that related to a bricklayer's profession or a military position?

Changed points on a railway or a policeman directing traffic ... as a starter. Welcome to Sheffield History ...

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Need help - on my great grandfather's marriage licence it says his father was a pointsman - is that related to a bricklayer's profession or a military position?

Here's an amusing picture ?

http://www.heritage-images.com/Preview/PreviewPage.aspx?id=1150772&pricing=true&licenseType=RM

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Need help - on my great grandfather's marriage licence it says his father was a pointsman - is that related to a bricklayer's profession or a military position?

Fellow researches - thanks so much for your help!. Guess I better get my mind out of the middle ages - didn;t even think of the railway -- in Canada we would have referred to him as a switchman.

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Railway points get iced up or have stones in them and need cleaning out. Also he could have worked in a hump shunting yard. Where trucks were taken up a steep hill by a loco, then uncoupled - they then rolled down the hill and the track was split by points into sidings or bays. The pointsman would switch the lose trucks into each siding or bay till a new set of trucks was made up and these were coupled to a engine and go to thier next destination. This work was dangerous as a truck could weigh 40 tons and it wasn't under anyone's control, so if you fell or got in its way it would run over you. He might have had to run between the tracks to get to the point to pull the leaver.

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Need help - on my great grandfather's marriage licence it says his father was a pointsman - is that related to a bricklayer's profession or a military position?

I don't know if it relates to the time period, but on the old Sheffield Tramways system pointsmen were employed at a few places on the system where it wasn't possible to use automatic points. A couple of places I know of included Houndsfield Road/Western Bank junction and Fitzalan Square. They sat in a little sentry box and dashed out to change the points as required.

HD

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I don't know if it relates to the time period, but on the old Sheffield Tramways system pointsmen were employed at a few places on the system where it wasn't possible to use automatic points. A couple of places I know of included Houndsfield Road/Western Bank junction and Fitzalan Square. They sat in a little sentry box and dashed out to change the points as required.

HD

According to picturesheffield the ones on the trams were called points boys.

There are a few photos of the little shelters on there HD.

Search picture sheffield ------ Points_Boys_Shelters

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Need help - on my great grandfather's marriage licence it says his father was a pointsman - is that related to a bricklayer's profession or a military position?

My Grandma told me her Irish relations were all pointsmen & regularly sank numerous points of the Liffey Water!

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According to picturesheffield the ones on the trams were called points boys.

There are a few photos of the little shelters on there HD.

Search picture sheffield ------ Points_Boys_Shelters

I think that the photos date from the early days of the electric tram system.

The ones I'm thinking about are after the introduction of automatic points selected by the tram driver approaching the points either coasting or using substantial power. In places like Houndsfield Road the steepness of the incline meant that this method couldn't be used and a "pointsman" according to Kenneth Gandy's Sheffield Corporation Tramways book was employed. Certainly the photo in the book showing the Hounsfield Road pointsman shows a bloke who can't be a day under sixty, some boy !

Perhaps he'd been doing the same job since 1900 but I think it more likely that the job went to some employee on "light duties".

HD

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I think that the photos date from the early days of the electric tram system.

The ones I'm thinking about are after the introduction of automatic points selected by the tram driver approaching the points either coasting or using substantial power. In places like Houndsfield Road the steepness of the incline meant that this method couldn't be used and a "pointsman" according to Kenneth Gandy's Sheffield Corporation Tramways book was employed. Certainly the photo in the book showing the Hounsfield Road pointsman shows a bloke who can't be a day under sixty, some boy !

Perhaps he'd been doing the same job since 1900 but I think it more likely that the job went to some employee on "light duties".

HD

I must say I was surprised HD.

I fully expected to see points man in PicSheff search box but the only option was Boy.

Do I remember a tram photo on here of a points man near the junction of Pitsmoor and Barnsley Roads ?

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I think that the photos date from the early days of the electric tram system.

The ones I'm thinking about are after the introduction of automatic points selected by the tram driver approaching the points either coasting or using substantial power. In places like Houndsfield Road the steepness of the incline meant that this method couldn't be used and a "pointsman" according to Kenneth Gandy's Sheffield Corporation Tramways book was employed. Certainly the photo in the book showing the Hounsfield Road pointsman shows a bloke who can't be a day under sixty, some boy !

Perhaps he'd been doing the same job since 1900 but I think it more likely that the job went to some employee on "light duties".

HD

I'm sure I've posted this short clip in a previous thread but can I has hell find it ...... so here is the pointsman in operation on Houndsfield Road ......... as Hilldweller says hardly a boy!

http://s250.photobucket.com/albums/gg271/pdprop/?action=view&current=Pointsman.mp4

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Railway points get iced up or have stones in them and need cleaning out. Also he could have worked in a hump shunting yard. Where trucks were taken up a steep hill by a loco, then uncoupled - they then rolled down the hill and the track was split by points into sidings or bays. The pointsman would switch the lose trucks into each siding or bay till a new set of trucks was made up and these were coupled to a engine and go to thier next destination. This work was dangerous as a truck could weigh 40 tons and it wasn't under anyone's control, so if you fell or got in its way it would run over you. He might have had to run between the tracks to get to the point to pull the leaver.

People doing this job are generally classed as "shunters", not points-men.

I've actually done this work of this sort whilst I was employed as a student at British Steel Orgreave in the early 1980's. My father, who worked in the traffic department had the contacts necessary to get me engaged during the summer and sometimes, the Christmas Breaks, as the money was very, very welcome.

We used to "break up" a train of fully loaded coal wagons [16 - 20T] and drop these singly by gravity onto the wagon tippler roads.

Similarly, trains of empty coke wagons were likewise broken up and fed by gravity to stand under the loading chutes. When these had been filled, they were then taken away, again by gravity and made up into "trains".

You had two main "tools for this job;

1: a "brake-stick", essentially a wooden stick, cricket bat in length and in design, but with a blade that is square in profile. You used this to lever against the brake handle of the wagon [typically one on each side of the wagon] thereby applying the brakes.

2: a “shunting pole”, essentially a long wooden pole, about 6-8 feet in length, with a steel hook attached to one end. You used this to both unhook and to hook together the three link wagon couplings. Passing between wagons in order to do this job is very definitely dangerous and so it was never, ever recommended.

Swinging the heavy links in a smooth action and with enough accuracy in order to engage the hook was certainly a skill that you acquired with time. It was very, very hard work on the arms until you could do so with relative ease and my own arms did ache terribly until I acquired that skill.

It is certainly true that had to keep your wits about you, because once a wagon, or group of wagons started to pick up speed, they could quickly get away from you.

Fortunately however most escapees were stopped by those wagons that had already been processed and which had been dropped down and then pinned down on the rail lines below the tippler grate, or below the loading chutes. However, just about everyone within a mile radius must have known that you had “lost one” because of the magnitude of the “clang” that it made when it eventually “buffered up”.

When wagons are moved by gravity, they are almost completely noiseless [unless you allowed the brake handle to "bump"] and as riding lights were never attached to those wagons being “shunted” at night they are very difficult to see.

Having said all of that however, I do not believe that anyone was actually ever run over by rail wagons being moved around in this manner, although there were certainly a number of other rail related incidents, including at least one fatality.

My own biggest fear was always that of tripping over the rail chairs and ending up under the wagon, although this never happened to me or to anyone else that I can recall.

Looking back in hindsight, there were no high visibility jackets and minimal on the job training, so I suppose it is a wonder that weren’t more accidents than there were.

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Need help - on my great grandfather's marriage licence it says his father was a pointsman - is that related to a bricklayer's profession or a military position?

hi l would be inclined to say a railwayman

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