More than a list
of names - Sudbrook
Most of Sudbrook was built as a new village for workers on the Severn
Tunnel, on which construction began in 1873. The first cottages were
built by contractor T. A. Walker in 1877, and rapid development took
place over the next decade, including a school, post office, mission
hall and infirmary. Some of the houses - originally known as Concrete
Row - are believed to be the first concrete houses built in Britain.
Also built was a large pumping station, required to pump water from the
tunnel, including three large brick engine houses housing six steam
engines, and ventilation towers. The steam engines were replaced by
electrical engines in 1962, and the chimney stacks taking smoke from
the furnaces were demolished in 1968.
After the tunnel was opened in 1886, Walker started a shipbuilding
business at Sudbrook, using the same labour force. This continued in
operation, building steamers of up to 700 tonnes, until 1926.
The Severn Tunnel (Welsh: Twnnel Hafren) is a railway tunnel in the
United Kingdom, linking South Gloucestershire in the west of England to
Monmouthshire in south Wales under the estuary of the River Severn.
Built by the Great Western Railway (GWR) between 1873 and 1886, it is 4
miles 624 yd (7,008 m) long, and was the longest mainline railway
tunnel within the UK.
Problems arose when a natural spring was discovered. Two men,
experts in their specialist field were called in to block the spring.
Alexander LAMBERT, 5ft 8in tall but immensely strong. He had to be; his
normal diving dress consisted of 9kg diving boots, 18kg breastplate and
27kg helmet as well as the heavy airhose. Alexander LAMBERT was
born in Scotland around 1844 and in the 1881 census he is living with
his wife Eliza at Mile End Old Town, London. His occupation is
given as Submarine Diver.
A search on the internet found a photograph of Alexander LAMBERT.
The other expert was Henry Albert FLEUSS, his birth was registered in
the June quarter of 1851 at Hungerford, Wiltshire. The
christening on 21st December 1851 at Ramsbury, Wiltshire (IGI) gives
his father as Henry Joseph FLEUSS and mother Charlotte. Henry
Joseph FLEUSS, born in Germany 1811 and was an Artist of subject and
Portrait Painter. The marriage of Henry Albert FLEUSS to Rosabella
FANE, was registered in The Isle of Wight, December quarter 1878. I was
not able to find an entry for Henry A and Rosabella FLEUSS on the 1881
census. At the time of the 1891 census, Rosabella and
daughter Ethel R. and son Albert H. are found at Staines,
Uxbridge. An item in the London Times July 4th 1880, describes
Mr. FLEUSS (Henry A.) as …a young and vigorous man, who has served in
the steam-boats of the Peninsular and Oriental Company. His apparatus
is certainly very ingenious and effective and well worthy of
attention. We can only assume at the time of the census Henry A.
was on the ocean. His apparatus consisted of a tightly
fitting waterproof facemask, connected by two rubber tubes to a
flexible breathing bag or counterlung worn on the diver's back. The
bag, which was connected to the cylinder of oxygen, contained a
chemical which would absorb the carbon dioxide. When the oxygen in the
bag was on the point of being used it was manually replenished from the
It was completely self contained; instead of an airhose, the diver
carried a supply of compressed oxygen in a small knapsack to supply his
helmet as required. There is much written about Henry A. FLEUSS a
pioneering diving engineer, and Master Diver for Siebe, Gorman &
Co. of London.
Sudbrook School Admission Register – Mixed 1881-1896.
The first school in Sudbrook Monmouthshire was built for the children
whose parents moved here to work on the new Severn Railway Tunnel.
Hence we find lots of strays from all over England, Wales, Scotland and
Ireland. The admission registers show where the children came from,
when they left and where they went to.
The admission registers begin in 1881 through to 1996 a set of 4
I viewed the first cd of the set and sought other records of the first
to be admitted, #1 and the last #500.
The Sudbrook Girls Home, the Boys Orphanage, the Girls Orphanage all
sent pupils to Sudbrook School.
Boys Roll - Admission no. 1, Jesse ANDREWS, born 15 July 1870. Date of
admission September 1881.
Name of guardian, Mark. Residence: Severn Tunnel Works. Previous
school: Portskewett, Monmouthshire. Last day 22 May
See how many discrepancies there are between information given amongst
the various available records. I have printed in BOLD the names, places
or dates which vary.
The first record checked was the 1881 census on cd and microfiche.
Living in the Cottage, Portskewett, Monmouth were the family of:
Mack ANDREWS, head, age 48, Engine Driver.
Mary Ann ANDREWS, wife, age 45. Mack ANDREWS, son, age 14, General
Labourer. Robert ANDREWS, son, age 12. Jessie ANDREWS, daughter, age 9.
(All the foregoing born Almondsbury, Gloucester, England.) Arthur
ANDREWS, son, age 2, born Porskewet, Monmouthshire. Lodger in the house
was John DOUDING, unmarried, age 24, Fireman Severn Tunnel, place of
birth: Frampton Cottrell, Gloucester, England
The name Portskewett is said to derive from the Welsh Porth-is-Coed,
meaning the harbour below the wood, or alternatively from Porth
Ysgewydd, the port of the elder wood.
By the 18th century, a regular ferry service crossed the Severn estuary
from Black Rock to New Passage on the Bristol side, carrying
passengers, cattle and iron ore. The Black Rock Hotel served travellers
and became a popular local entertainment venue; it was later destroyed
by fire. In 1863, the Bristol and South Wales Union Railway built a
branch from the main line to Black Rock. Trains would travel out onto a
wooden pier, where the passengers would get off before climbing aboard
the ferries. The pier was severely damaged by fire in 1881 and
demolished after the Severn Tunnel opened in 1886, but parts can still
be seen at low tide.
The birth date of Jesse is given on the school admission entry,
as 15 July 1870, though the age of Jesse on the 1881 census is 9,
making the birth date 1871-2. The next step was to look in the 1871
census for the family. For this record I used Ancestry.com. The
entry for the family is given as:
1871 census – Almondsbury, West Gloucester, Woodland.
Mark ANDREWS, age 38, Ag. Lab. Mary Ann, age 35, Elizabeth, age 12,
George, age 10, Ellen Maria*, age 8, Mark, age 4, Robert, age 2.
You can see that Jesse is not listed. Also that the father’s name
is given as Mark, as well as the son Mark aged 4.
Civil registration indexes viewed (freebmd) and a birth entry at
Thornbury, district # 6a. Thornbury is the registration district
for the parish of Almondsbury. September quarter 1871, ANDREWS, Jesse.
To establish whether Jesse is a boy or girl, purchasing a copy of the
birth certificate would hopefully confirm this.
However, there are still other records we can check. Back to the
1881 census and using ancestry.com and viewing the actual image of the
enumerator’s book we find…………….. Knowing that the father’s name
and that of the eldest son should be given as Mark, I can see from the
image why it has been transcribed as Mack. The relation of the 4
sons (Mark, Robert Jesse and Arthur) is given as son for the first one
and “do (ditto) for the following three. Jesse is written as
Jesse. The transcription as Jessie is incorrect and also the
relationship as ‘daur’. The ages of all 4 sons is firstly written
in the ‘female’ column and then a line drawn through from top to
bottom. Always, always check further records if you are not
comfortable with what you first find. With the very best
intention of taking care transcription errors do occur.
The 1891 census added confirmation that Jesse age 19, Stationary Engine
Driver was a male and the son of Mark ANDREWS. By this time wife
to the head of the house (Mark) is Eliza ANDREWS. The family is
living at 3 Old Row, Sudbrook, Portscuett / Porstkewett, Monmouthshire.
Registration district: Chepstow.
Civil registration indexes to deaths: September quarter 1882,
ANDREWS, Mary Ann aged 46 registered at Chepstow.
Civil registration indexes to marriages: March quarter 1885, ANDREWS
Mark and JENKINS Eliza, registered at Bristol.
Obviously if this was your family, you would obtain both the death
certificate and subsequent marriage certificate to prove the assumption
I have made in order to give you an example of where to go next.
Sudbrook Boys. Admission no. 205 Arthur ANDREWS, born
8th March 1879, Date of admission, December 14 1885. Name
of guardian, Mark. Residence: Old Row. Previous school: Infants.
The 1891 census search resulted in more information about the ANDREWS
Address: 1 Old Row, Sudbrook, Portscuett / Porstkewett, Monmouthshire.
Registration district: Chepstow.
ANDREWS, Robert, head of house, unmarried, age 28 (Age could be wrong -
see 1871 census result) Fitters labourer, place of birth
WOODHOUSE, *Ellen, sister, widow, age 28, place of birth Almondsbury,
WOODHOUSE, Walter M, nephew, age 6, place of birth Portskewett,
WOODHOUSE, Ellen, niece, age 2, place of birth Portskewett,
ABSALOM, Thomas, boarder, single, age 22, Boiler maker, place of birth,
*Ellen Maria is with the family in the 1871 census.
A birth for ANDREWS, Ellen Maria is registered in the June quarter 1863
There is a civil registration entry for a marriage, December quarter
1883 for ANDREWS, Ellen and WOODHOUSE, Walter.
Chepstow. In March quarter 1889, a death is registered for
WOODHOUSE, Walter, age 30, registration district Chepstow.
Sudbrook School Roll. No. 389, born 7 March 1885, Walter
Woodhouse. Admission, 9 February 1892.
Guardian Mrs (Widow) Woodhouse. Address: 1 Old Row. Last school:
Sudbrook School Roll. No. 428, born 5 July 1888, Woodhouse,
Ellen. Admission, 7 January 1895, Guardian: Ellen. Address:
13 Old Row. Last school: Infant school.
6 Danygraig Ter. Swansea, Glamorganshire
Jesse ANDREWS, age 29, Driller Ship Building Yard (census index gives
occupation as Driver Ship Building Yard – Image shows Driller)
Mary A.E. , wife age 27, Born Glamorgan, Dowlais
Austin J. son age 2, Born Glamorgan, Swansea.
Sudbrook School Admission #500 is Isaac BATCHFORD, born 5
September 1888. Date of admission 14 December 1896. Name of
guardian, Albert. Residence: Black Rock cottages. Previous school:
The index is not complete as there was no entry for Isaac BATCHFORD.
Admission #417, BATCHFORD, Rose, date of birth 29 April
1886. Date of admission 1 October 1894, Name of guardian, Albert.
Residence: 37 Seaview.
Admission #449, BATCHFORD, Jefferey, date of birth 21 February, 1883.
Date of admission 5 November 1894. Name of guardian,
Albert. Residence: Black Rock Cottages. Last School:
Sources: Sudbrook School Admission Rolls. CD
Web pages: findmypast.com ancestry.com
Last Updated 18 August 2008
Web Page by Val C Gregory