The Stevens Family

1871 saw an influx of English railway labourers into Rhymney and Bute Town - all seeking work on the extension of the LNWR which would link Rhymney to the Merthyr Tydfil tOrdnance Survey Map 1880o Abergavenny line that follows a steep gradient through The Clydach Gorge. Railway building required large gangs of men to physically cut through the land and then to lay the heavy metal rails - it is incredible to image this being done without the help of JCB's and other machinery.

Whilst many labourers travelled alone in search of work, there were also families that moved together across the country - the Stevens Family are one such family, and the birthplaces of the 11 children illustrate the efforts taken to maintain employment.

In 1871 we see William Stevens as the head of the family living at No 30 Bute Town. He is aged 49, a Labourer on the Railway from Southampton. His wife is Harriet aged 36 from Truro. In searching it appears that William married Harriet Keast on 19th June 1853 in Truro. In 1851 (and 1841) it appears that William was living with his parents, William and Grace, in Portsea Town where he worked in the Brass industry, whilst a 16 year old Harriet was living with her parents in Truro. So how did they meet?

Whilst we cannot be certain, we can summise that William moved to Cornwall to work on the West Cornwall Railway which reached Truro in August 1852. This set the pattern for their lives.

The Rhymney Express

Following the Stevens Family

1841 - William Stevens is living in Portsea with his parents William and Grace. He is a Brass Founder. Harriet Keast living with parents William and Betsey and 7 siblings in Truro.

1851 - William is still living in Portsea with his parents. Harriet is still in Truro but now just with her parents - initial research shows that some of them moved and spent the rest of their lives in Australia.

1861 - William and Harriet are living in Hanley, Staffordshire with Eliza, William, James and John - William might have been working on the North Staffordshire Railway.

1871 - The family are living in Bute Town.

1881 - The family have moved to Clase, Swansea, where William is still a Labourer. William died in Swansea in 1887.

1891 - Harriet is still living in Clase, Swansea with her 4 youngest children - her daughter Harriet 23 is working at the Tin Works whilst her son George 18 is a Haulier.

1901 - Harriet, now 66, is living with her daughter Emma Jane and her family (7 children) in Swansea.

Harriet died in Swansea in 1902.

The Birthplace of the Stevens Children

Name Birth Year Birthplace
Eliza 1855 Truro, Cornwall
William 1856 Southill, Cornwall
James 1859 Willisback, Staffordshire
John 1861 Newtown, Staffordshire
Thomas 1862 Silverdale, Staffordshire
Eliza 1864 Newhaven, Sussex
Emma Jane 1866 Hornsey, London
Harriet 1869 Somerset
George 1872 Rhymney, Glamorgan
Charles 1874 Glamorgan
Elina 1878 Glamorgan

Rhymney Iron Company wagon

Useful Links

Wikipedia entry about The Rhymney Railway green_link_icon.png

Buy - books on Rhymney Railway green_link_icon.png

Welsh Railways Research Circle green_link_icon.png


Bute Town is just 100m from A465, on A469. Leave A465 at The Twisted Chimney!!

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© 2011. Can Do Team. Written by Kim Colebrook.