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Solomon Tredwell (1821-1858)

Solomon Tredwell
Solomon Tredwell

Born 1821 Hadzor – Solomon married Alice Pickering 1846 in York. In 1851 they are living in Highfield, Leek, Staffs. with daughter Alice M (2) and Solomon`s mother-in-law Martha Pickering and other family members. Their son Mark John was born 1857.



Alice Martha Elizabeth (b. 1849) married John Wilson Gray a barrister 1865. On the marriage certificate she is of full age but in fact was probably only 20.  The marriage was by Banns. No Tredwells as witnesses. They had a daughter Alice Anna (b. 1868 (in fact there was another Alice Anna M born and died March quarter 1867)) and son Solomon John Tredwell (b. 1869).  In 1871 they are living in Park Lane Road, Endon, Staffs. John Wilson Gray died in 1872 and Alice remarried in 1873 to George Boydell Houghton also a barrister, and they produced 2 further children Alice (b. 1876) and Isabel (b.1877).  In 1881 Alice, Boydell and the 3 daughters are living at 34 Linden Gardens, Kensington, and Solomon J T was a scholar with the Bowers family in Gloucester Park, St Pancras in London.  In 1891 they (minus Solomon) are staying in the Bungalow, Shepperton, Middlesex, and in 1901 they are all back at Linden Gardens.  .   Solomon John Tredwell Gray (later Houghton Gray) attended Charterhouse and Trinity Cambridge and became a barrister. He served in the S.African war with Nesbitt`s Horse 1900-02.  He married Maude Liefeldt in 1908.  Isabel Tredwell Boydell Houghton married Hugh Lawrence Fletcher-Moulton in 1902.  According to Wikipedia at the 1923 general election he was elected as Member of Parliament  for the Liberals for Salisbury constituency in Wiltshire was defeated at the 1924 election.  He did not stand for Parliament again.  He died in 1962.


Mark John (b.1857) (see MARK JOHN TREDWELL)

Solomon was also a Contractor for Public Works and spent time abroad. He was born in Hadzor, Worcs and on the 1841 census is to be found living in Reigate along with many other railway workers. He lived in Leek, Staffs. (1851 census). He worked with Isambard Kingdom Brunel on the Great Eastern in 1857/8.

Print from NPG Isambard Kingdon Brunel preparing launch of Great Eastern (also includes William Harrison, William Jacob and Solomon Tredwell. 1857
Print from NPG Isambard Kingdon Brunel preparing launch of Great Eastern (also includes William Harrison, William Jacob and Solomon Tredwell. 1857

Solomon is the one on the right of the picture next to Brunel. Solomon then travelled to India to work on the Bhore Ghat, taking over from William Frederick Faviell. The sheer logistics of travel from Bombay to Poona over the Syhadree Range were daunting and earlier attempts at the construction of a road had been abandoned. The Bhore Ghat was chosen as the only possible route for a railway by J J Berkley, Chief engineer to the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. Even then a few years were lost due to opposition to the plan but Faviell was chosen to commence the task in 1856. When he gave up in 1859 Solomon travelled out to take over but died in Khandalla, Bombay in 1859, 15 days after his arrival.

Bhore Ghat - Solomon Tredwell Contract
Bhore Ghat -Contract for Solomon Tredwell and later his wife Alice Tredwell
Group photo of Bhore Ghat company
Group photo of Bhore Ghat company

I am trying to find my source for these photos and following info. Will insert when located.

Bhore Ghat, 15.75 miles in length was started in 1856. It was first taken up by Willliam Fresderick Faviell who later built railways in Ceylon. It was then taken up by Solomon Tredwell on 29th October 1859 when Faviell gave up the contract because of some problems but he died on the ghats from a disease on 30th November 1859. His widow Alice Tredwell took up and completed the contract in March 1863. About 42,000 workers (peak of 1861) including many tribals, 32 different classes of artisans and labourers (10,822 drillers/miners, 2659 masons, buttiwalas to load and fire blasts, storekeepers, timekeepers, interpreters, filemen, platelayers, trumpeters for mustering people, thatchers, harness makers etc. worked here.) Coolies travelled on an average of 15-20 miles a day and carried an estimated 6,296,061 cubic yards of earthwork on heads (Wheelbarrows were never successfully used).

His wife Alice took over the contract but it is interesting to speculate how much time she spent out there as presumably she attended at Bosley Church for his Funeral Sermon on January 15th 1860.  She is definitely back in 1861 as she is to be found with Alice and Mark John in Golders Green, Hendon, together with her Mother. Alice kept the two joint managers George Clowser and Swanston Adamson plus the workforce of 25,000 which after 2 seasons rose to 42,000 in 1861.  25 tunnels had to be built and 8 viaducts.  This work took just over seven years to complete. Full details of the project can be found with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in London. Alice returned to live at the Elms, Hendon and died in Ryde, in the Isle of Wight not long after in 1867.  She is buried at Edgbaston Old Church, Birmingham.

Alice Tredwell (nee Pickering)
Alice Tredwell (nee Pickering)

The above photo and information obtained from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The photo below has come to me from the descendant of John Tredwell and Maria Pittaway which again proves there has to be a connection between our two Tredwell families but it is intriguing to know how this photo came to be with this descendant by way of Miss Boydell Houghton.

Model 2-2-2 passenger loco built by Clarke's Strand, London about 1840.
Model 2-2-2 passenger loco built by Clarke’s Strand, London about 1840.

On the reverse of the photo are the words: ‘This model 2-2-2 passenger loco was built by Clarke`s Strand, London about 1840.  It resembles the ‘Worth Star’ built for the Great Western Ry by Stephensons in 1837 and is approximately a 1/5 scale model of this engine.  It was acquired by Victor Emmanuel II King of Sardinia (afterward Victor Emmanuel I King of United Italy) on one of his visits to London and was later given by him to Mr S Tredwell about 1858 on the completion of a railway contract in Italy.  In 1920 this engine was given to the Science Museum by Miss Boydell Houghton granddaughter of Solomon Tredwell.’

Solomon left about £70,000 in 1859. A memorial service was held for him in Bosley Church near his home Highfield, Leek on 15 January 1860 and a funeral sermon was preached by the Rev. William Sutcliffe M.D. incumbent of Bosley, Cheshire. Rev. Sutcliffe states in his sermon that Solomon had been a candidate of his at Gainsworth Church for the rite of confirmation in the year 1856. He had however been baptised in infancy but had omitted, at the usual age – the promises and vows – of confirmation. Solomon was confirmed at the age of 34. The news of Solomon`s death had caused a general feeling of regret throughout the town as he had taken up residence at Highfield since the construction of the Churnet Valley Railway and was held in very high esteem by all classes. A version of his character was given by the Staffordshire Advertiser, January 7th 1860 “He was a generous supporter of the institutions and charities of the town, liberal and unostentatious in his relief of the poor … being the architect of his own fortune and an example of what may be won by energy and self reliance”. Copy of Funeral Sermon held. Solomon`s Will was made a few days before his departure for India. He provides for his 2 children (unnamed!).

Alice`s Will, made 15th April 1867 while living at the Elms, Hendon (she died 14th June 1867) made provision for her mother, children and various household servants. It appears from this Will that there was some problem with the Gray family (her son-in-law – maybe something to do with a marriage settlement) and concerned land. Legal action was being taken in the suit of Tredwell v. Gray. Alice appointed her brother Joseph to care for son Mark John if anything happened to the Rev. Perkins. William Tredwell was an executor. Alice`s effects were under £7,000 in 1867.

The Tredwell family came from humble origins and developed to become important ironmasters and eventually railway contractors, particularly in the Black Country. At this time the expansion of the railway systems in England was at a high rate and easy fortunes were to be made by those who possessed the energy and the know how. The young brothers had those characteristics at a time when labour was cheap and the poverty was driving the workers to find work and wages anywhere.

The various Tredwell Wills mentioned have proved very informative as to offspring and relationships.

Hugh Conway-Jones furnished me with the following resume of Tredwell involvement in various projects.

‘F & T Tredwell worked on Lancs & Yorks Railway (1840)

Francis & Thos Tredwell worked on Chelt & GW Union Railway (1845)

W & S Tredwell worked on North Staffs Railway (1849)

Messrs Tredwell of Droitwich had the contract for woodwork for Over railway bridge 1849

Tredwell & Co rented yard by G&S canal 1851

Thomas & William Tredwell leased yard by G&S Canal from Lysons Trustees 1854

Thos Tredwell partnered Thomas Brassey on GWR line to Brentford 1852

Tredwells worked on Frome to Yeovil Railway (WSW-GWR) 1856

Tredwell involved with launching Great Eastern 1860

Launching the Great Eastern. The Great Eastern will be launched down two inclined planes, each about 250 ft long by 80 ft wide and nearly 140 ft apart, falling at an inclination of 1in 14. The contractor Messrs Tredwell of London and Gloucester have undertaken the excavation, piling and other works necessary for the foundations of the launching ways. Eassie of Gloucester has a very clever and ingenious patent pile driver, capable of driving 20 piles a day, which is in use preparing for the launch. c1857

Sale of equipment of Tredwell’s Railway Works following deaths of two of the partners 12 July 1862

Tredwell’s Premises to Let. To Railway Contractors, Timber Merchants, Engineers and Others. To be let the whole of the premises and machinery, now in the occupation of Tredwell & Co, occupying about seven acres between the canal and the Bristol Road, on which are erected saw mills, timber preserving tanks, workshops and machinery adapted for any kind of mechanical engineering. Apply to Mr David Hicks who resides on the premises or to Mr L Godsell, Winstone Farm, near Cirencester 15 Aug 1863 5 Dec 1863 ‘