Work 1901

There were a wide variety of jobs in Stowupland in 1901 mainly due to the expanding industries by the River Gipping which included the Gas House and a Chemical Works. Fewer men were working on the land as mechanisation swept through agriculture and they moved to jobs in the factories, in 1851 only 3% of the workforce worked in industry by 1901 this had risen to 24%. Here are a few of the jobs done by the villagers of Stowupland.

The Village Policeman

Robert Peel formed the first professional police force in Britain in 1829 to replace the old system of Parish Constables. ‘Peelers’ or ‘Bobbies’ had appeared in Suffolk by the 1830s and 40s.

Local Bobbies

By 1901 the Stowupland village policeman was George H. Salter, 33; he would have been equipped with a wooden truncheon, handcuffs and a whistle and he lived with his family in the Police Station on Main Road.

Policeman’s Kit – Whistle, Epaulettes, Badges, Buttons, Medals, and Policeman’s Gloves.
Policeman’s Kit – Whistle, Epaulettes, Badges, Buttons, Medals, and Policeman’s Gloves. Owned by Sergeant Derek Hazelwood of Stowupland

Not an Easy Life

Life as a policeman in 1901 was tough. Some officers found the working conditions imposed on them were just too much and many men resigned after only a very brief period of service. Officers had to wear their uniform at all times outside of their home, weren’t allowed to marry without permission and were expected to work 12 to 16 hour days without a break or a hot meal. They were also fined for such things as bad spelling.

By the turn of the nineteenth century the police in Suffolk were firmly established and working well. They had earned acceptance from the public by helping the local community and their efficiency had been boosted by the arrival of the telephone and the bicycle.

A Domestic Servant

It is believed that the number of people in domestic service reached its peak in the Various Domestic Staff at Abbot’s Hall Stowmarket
Various Domestic Staff at
Abbot’s Hall Stowmarket ©MEAL
1870s and domestic servants were common in many households until the 1930s.

They were not just a luxury for the upper classes; any family with disposable income would have had a servant of some sort even if it was just a maid of all work.

The majority of houses in Stowupland c. 1901 were low income homes but there were still 49 servants listed on the census and 32 of these were classified as domestic servants.

A domestic servant could be a man or a woman and they were responsible for all of the tasks that ensured a household ran smoothly, inside and outside.

Live at Home or Live In?

There are only two servants listed as living at Columbyne Hall in Stowupland;

  • Kate E. Forsdike, cook
  • and Caroline A. Pryke, housemaid.

There would have been more servants to run the Hall but it seems that many did not live-in.

A Railway Worker

Until the parish boundaries were changed in 1934 Stowmarket Railway Station was in Stowupland. The station was opened in 1846 but it wasn’t until the second half of the nineteenth century that the railways became a major employer.

The railway companies promised their employees a life time position, a pension, accommodation and free rail travel. All employees wore a uniform and had to memorise and abide by over 300 rules, their work was hard and hours were long.

A Variety of Jobs

A number of local people were employed by the railway company doing lots of different jobs. In 1901 there was:

  • a gatekeeper to look after the level crossing,
  • 2 signalmen to control the tracks and signals,
  • an inspector to collect tickets and check the carriage interiors,
  • 2 carriage examiners to check the wheels, tyres and outside of the carriages,
  • 2 truck shunters who used a team of horses to move carriages and wagons – a very dangerous job,
  • a carter to carry goods to the station,
  • 2 horsemen to tend to the carter and shunter’s horses,
  • 3 platelayers to repair the tracks,
  • 5 clerks to deal with the paperwork,
  • a craneman to operate a steam crane for loading and unloading goods wagons,
  • 6 porters to move goods help passengers and a hundred other small jobs
  • and of course the station master who ran the station.

There may have been others who did work for the railways such as engine fitters and other carters.


This exhibition is part of a wider sustainability project delivered through the Rural Museums East Partnership. It is funded by Renaissance East of England.

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