Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Forgotten Enginemen of the Dunedin & Port Chalmers Railway Coy., 1872-73 (Part Five)


Gravestone of Frederick Gatwood
in the East Perth Cemetery, Western Australia
[Used with kind permission of a family descendant]

Mr Frederick Gatwood - Assistant Engineer

This Blog concludes my series entitled "The Forgotten Enginemen of the Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway". To go to my short history of the D&PCR Co. click HERE. In this blog series we explore these "forgotten" enginemen, their early lives, their engineering and railway backgrounds, their employment with the D&PCR Co., and their subsequent railway and post railway careers and lives. 

Our fourth and final biography, having been pieced together from published, on-line and private sources, charts the life of Mr Frederick Gatwood, being initially employed as an Assistant Engineer for the D&PCR Co. As we shall read, Mr Gatwood led a rather interesting and decidedly peripatetic life which would, unfortunately, be tragically and unexpectedly cut short in the prime of his life. From what I have read I would describe him as very adaptable and not afraid to try something new, a very practical minded person and not afraid of hard work, an honourable man, a family man, sociable, and it would appear, enterprising and very successful in matters of business. 

Frederick "Fred" Gatwood was, according to his son's birth certificate, born in Bristol, England, not as noted by Mr Sligo in 1928 and even in his own obituary, as in "Lancashire". A family descendant believes him to be the "Frederick Gattward" born in Bedminster, Bristol in December 1851 to Edward and Emma (née Custerson) Gattward. Phonetic spelling in the days prior to civil birth records was common and in fact the 1851 census records the surname as "Gattwood". 

Interestingly, Frederick's Father Edward, a "Civil Engineer", was in later years, the Manager of the Bristol Railway Carriage and Wagon Works Company. With an engineering background in his family it is probably not surprising that Frederick would also choose to follow a similar career path. But knowing that the latter company supplied the carriages, wagons and other rolling stock for the D&PCR Co., I do wonder if there could be a connection here to Frederick perhaps also having worked for the same company? Employing someone holding experience in the manufacture of the rolling stock would certainly have been an advantage to the D&PCR Co. half way around the world.

After moving with his family to Holmer, Hereford and then back to Upper Easton in Bristol, Frederick now followed in his Father's footsteps as an "Engineer's Apprentice". As the now twenty year old Frederick came out with Messrs Amos and Thomas with the Fairlie locomotives "Josephine" and "Rose" from Bristol on the "Wave Queen" in 1872, he must also have signed 'Articles of Agreement' through Robert Fairlie. And, as noted above, could Frederick have been working for the Bristol Railway Carriage and Wagon Works Co.? The connection with Fairlie and the Bristol works manufacturing the rolling stock (under the oversight of Fairlie) for the D&PCR Co. is intriguing, and in my mind at least, would make perfect sense.      

The Iron Clipper Ship "Wave Queen"
[From an old published print]

The first mention of Frederick Gatwood in direct connection to the D&PCR Co. is when he arrived at Post Chalmers New Zealand on the 853 ton "Wave Queen" from Bristol on the 28th August 1872 after a "fair passage" of 98 days (actually her fastest ever voyage out). Gatwood would then take up his employment as an Assistant Engineer with the Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway Company. Nothing is specifically known of his time with the company. He will almost certainly have assisted in the servicing of the locomotives and rolling stock under the direction of Mr Amos the Chief Engineer. 

While Gatwood's Obituary states that he came to New Zealand as a young man where he had "mining and other experience" I do not place too much store in this vague comment written years later by someone who would not have known him at this time and of course they also incorrectly gave his place of birth as "Lancashire". There are in fact gaps in a number of civil records relating to Frederick's past but family research has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that we have the right man. He may have had some mining experience before he left New Zealand but we do not know where. 

By April 1874 Gatwood was now apparently living in North Otago. An advertisement under "Missing Friends" in the "North Otago Times" of the 8th April 1874 advises "Fred Gatwood" to collect a letter from the Palmerston Post Office which indicates that he was residing in the general area. I hope he received it. I do know that from March 1874 the main south railway line between Oamaru and Moeraki was then under construction with Messrs Brogden & Sons holding the contract so this is a possibility should his employment with another railway construction firm after this date be taken as a guide. At any rate, he had been a locomotive driver since about May 1875 (as noted below) and would have had experience as a locomotive assistant or "stoker" prior to this date to gain the relevant qualification.

From around the 8th March to the 3rd April 1876 Gatwood is then specifically referred to as having been employed as an engine driver by the private railway contracting firm, W.G. Morrison & Co., who were then constructing the new Waiareka Branch Railway just south of Oamaru. During this time Gatwood had driven a small locomotive named "The Rover" being manufactured by Kincaid, McQueen & Co. of Dunedin, with his regular fireman being John Robinson.

Their former locomotive would suffer a boiler explosion in May 1876 due to a defective steam gauge and safety valve [which had been reported], the latter having been tied down to avoid blowing off steam at low pressure. On one occasion Gatwood was noted as having held the valve down with his hand in order to maintain pressure but it was the locomotive's then Driver, Mr D. Mitchell, who requested his fireman to later add the rope, believing the pressure gauge to be of sufficient warning. The Driver, Dugald Mitchell and the Contractor's clerk, Alexander Taylor, both lost their lives in the subsequent explosion. The fireman, John Orr, survived. 

On the 5th May 1877, and now employed by the New Zealand Government Railways and stationed at Oamaru, Gatwood was the driver on a passenger train from Timaru when the engine, and in darkness and at low speed, struck an object on entering the Oamaru Town Belt. After initially believing it had been a sheep on the line it was later found that a man had been run over and killed. At the inquest (the afore-mentioned) Mr GH Amos, in his capacity as Provincial Locomotive Inspector at Oamaru, stated that, "Gatwood had been driving about two years, but has been connected with the railways in Otago for about five years. He is one of the most careful, sober, and steady men on the line". The jury found the man to have died due to the effects of drunkenness "and that there is no blame attributable to the engine driver." The Coroner believed the man had simply fallen asleep on the line but no object had been seen by the ever attentive Gatwood. This was probably not surprising considering the relatively poor lighting of the colza oil locomotive lamps then in use.

But now a surprising twist. In early March 1882 we find Frederick Gatwood working in the Northern Hotel in Oamaru, being owned by his old D&PCR Co. associate, former Foreman of the Oamaru Locomotive depot, Locomotive Inspector, and friend, the above Mr George Amos. There is no published record of Gatwood having left the Railways service so I feel certain that he did not leave under a cloud. But the Hotel would be sold in March 1883 when Amos was declared bankrupt. Perhaps this is when the still single Gatwood undertook his "mining experience" in New Zealand? There is certainly a five year gap between late 1882 up to 1887.

A personal interest of Gatwood's is noted in August 1882 by his active membership of the Oamaru Jockey Club, this being the last mention of him in public and civil records anywhere in New Zealand. This would however serve as a clue to point towards another quite surprising twist and turn in his very peripatetic life - a move to Australia. I first confirmed this from Australian newspaper references but was then lucky enough to discover a family descendant who was aware of his connection to the D&PCR Co. and has been most helpful in providing further detailed information.

Frederick Gatwood had experience in engine driving, hotel keeping, and in horse-racing (as well as possibly mining experience) and he would, as we shall read, now put all three to very good use in Australia. 

After leaving New Zealand, and around 1886-87, Gatwood is first noted as being employed as an Engine Driver on the Great Western Railway at Dubbo, a major railway centre in New South Wales. This fact also confirms that he had previous locomotive driving experience. Gatwood is then noted as marrying his wife, Mary Ann ("Annie") Burness, on the 22nd February 1888 at Dubbo in NSW. By this date Frederick was working as a commission agent in Brisbane, Queensland, his wife and daughter soon joining him. Their son Ted's birth certificate clearly confirms Frederick as being born in Bristol, England. 

Gatwood then had "further mining and racing experience" in Queensland before selling up and leaving for Sydney on the 30th November 1889 and thence onto Perth to deliver a new "Patent Totalisator" to be used at the West Australia Turf Club New Year race meeting in Perth. It is clear that Frederick and Annie intended to then settle in Western Australia. Frederick would now become the Licensee of the "Imperial Hotel" in York, W.A. before moving to the "Globe Hotel" in Wellington street, Perth and opposite the Railway Station sometime after April 1892. By September 1892 he was carrying out major renovations to the hotel, being celebrated in November with "a grand dinner".

A Busy Wellington Street, Perth, circa late 1890's.
The Globe Hotel appears in the middle distance.
[Source : Battye Library, Perth]

His worst misdemeanour as a Publican appears to have been a charge of selling alcohol on a Sunday, being on the 4th December 1892. Despite a quite brilliant and rather humorous defense being based around what I would term deception and intentional entrapment by four plain clothed Constables, Gatwood was fined £50 He was, however a very successful Publican, turning the business from obscurity to "one of the most popular hostelries in the city". Frederick also continued his active interest in the Turf Club, being Manager of the Totalizator.

We then find that after being taken suddenly ill on the evening of the 31st July 1894, Frederick Gatwood, "the popular Licencee of the Globe Hotel", died of peritonitis aged 42 years. The interment took place on the afternoon of Wednesday the 1st August at the Church of England Cemetery, Perth, the funeral cortege consisting of "sixteen or seventeen vehicles, and quite a number of mourners who followed on foot" leaving from the Globe Hotel in Wellington Street at 3.30 pm. The service, being "very largely attended", was conducted by the Rev. H. Wallis.

A man of some means, included in Frederick Gatwood's estate was a block of six terrace houses valued at £22,500 His widow, who had the handsome gravestone erected to his memory, remarried in June 1897 to a Rockhampton born businessman, Mr George Henriques. Frederick Gatwood was survived by his four children. "Faith", "Ted", "Percy", and "Mollie".


A Close-up of Frederick Gatwood's Gravestone
in the East Perth Cemetery, Western Australia
[Used with kind permission of a family descendant]

"Of genial temperament and generous natured, he endeared himself to all with whom he came in contact."


Copyright : This blog may not be reproduced without my specific written permission and / or that of family descendants. Excerpts may however be quoted for non-commercial and academic use provided this site is acknowledged. Please feel free, however, to publicize this Blog.

Sources :

- Papers Past / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- Archives New Zealand / Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
- Heritage New Zealand / Pouhere Taonga
- "The New Zealand Railways Magazine", 1934
- Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin
- McNab Room, Dunedin Public Library
- "Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway - New Zealand's First 3ft 6in Gauge Line" by TA McGavin, 1973
- "Josephine and Her Friends" by JA Dangerfield, c.1994
- Genealogy.com
- Trove (National Library of Australia)
- With my grateful thanks to a Gatwood family descendant

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