A Dictionary of Occupational Terms Based on the Classification of Occupations used in the Census of Population, 1921.
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Sub-order 1.—Railway Workers

704.—Shunters, Pointsmen, and Level Crossing Men

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assistant district traffic foreman
supervises running of goods trains in specified area, e.g. section of district covered by district inspector (700) q.v., or in large goods yard, under control of yard master (700) q.v.; in latter case, has rather more responsible duties than yard foreman q.v.
backing-out porter
a shunter q.v. who directs, by hand signalling, engine driver (701) q.v. when backing train out of station, siding, or shed.
bank foot man, incline
stands at foot of bank or incline and releases brakes of goods wagons as they reach level; cf. banksman.
bank head man, incline
see brakesman, bank.
banksman ; incline man, plane man
a shunter q.v. engaged in shunting operations on a bank (hump) or incline; uncouples trucks on incline so that they descend by own gravity, are steadied by bank brakesman q.v., and are directed into appropriate sidings at foot by pointsman q.v.
a shunter q.v., employed in yard, who applies brakes to stop goods wagons, as necessary, during shunting operations; depresses brake levers, by hand, or by sitting on them, cf. spragger; work done by goods guard (702) q.v. when travelling.
brakesman, bank; incline brakesman ; incline bank head man
stands at top of bank or incline, and applies brakes of goods wagons, before they descend bank, cf. banksman.
branchman (shunter)
a shunter q.v. shunting mainly on branch lines, instead of mainly in shunting yards; sometimes travels on goods train from one station siding to another to do shunting where no shunter is kept.
breaker ; train receiver
a shunter q.v. responsible to yard foreman (traffic department) q.v. for receiving goods trains on arrival at shunting or marshalling yard, and breaking them up into sections of one or more trucks to be shunted into appropriate platforms, sidings or stages for unloading.
chain horse driver
see shunt horse driver.
chain horse lad ; slipper boy or lad
assists shunt horse driver q.v.; attaches and detaches (slips) chain hook from truck to slacken speed, etc.; holds horse when not working.
coach worker ; coaching shunter
a shunter q.v. shunting passenger train vehicles.
connector, train connector ; coupler, hooker-on
a shunter q.v. who couples up trucks into sections in goods yards or sidings; or who couples-up passenger coaches and joins up brake connections in readiness for journey.
connector, passenger train ; carriage coupler
a connector q.v. who couples-up passenger train vehicles.
see connector.
coupler, carriage
see connector, passenger train.
crossing keeper, level crossing keeper ; gatekeeper, gateman (level crossing), level crossing gateman, level crossing man
in charge of a level crossing on a railway line, opening and closing gates by hand-worked mechanism, or by hand, for passage of trains, or for passage of road vehicles and (sometimes) pedestrians; sometimes also lights, trims and cleans lamps on crossing gates; performs duties of crossing policeman, flag man, signal gateman, or of gatekeeper and pointsman q.v.
crossing policeman, crossing watchman ; policeman (protecting crossing)
a crossing keeper q.v. stationed at a level crossing or at cross roads where railway traffic, rail, motor, or horse, is continually passing across a public highway, to warn travellers of approaching traffic and to prevent trespass; is not member of railway police force, ef. policeman (709).
despatch foreman
a yard foreman (traffic department) q.v. responsible for seeing that marshalling proceeds so that trains start at scheduled time; precise function dependent upon yard organisation.
flagman, train flagman
a crossing keeper q.v. who waves a red flag to warn road travellers of approaching traffic at a level crossing, etc.
foreman (passenger) shunter
a yard foreman q.v. engaged at carriage sidings and stations in making-up and altering composition of passenger trains.
foreman shunter
see yard foreman (traffic department); obsolescent.
foreman shunter (coal mines)
see traffic shifter (coal mines).
gatekeeper and pointsman ; pointsman and level crossing keeper
a crossing keeper q.v. who also operates, by hand lever, a set of points adjacent to his post, cf. pointsman.
gatekeeper, gateman (coalmines)
is in charge of gates at coal mining company's railway crossing; opens and closes gates to allow passage of coal trucks, workmen or general public.
gatekeeper, gateman (level crossing)
see crossing keeper ; cf. gatekeeper, gateman (962).
gateman, relief
a crossing keeper q.v. who takes place of any crossing keeper absent from duty in a specified district.
gateman, signal; gateman and signalman
a crossing keeper q.v. who also operates set of signals, npt block signals, at his post.
opens and shuts gates at level crossing to allow road or railway traffic, as case may be, to pass.
ground frameman, ground pointsman, ground signalman, groundsman ; outdoor pointsman
a pointsman q.v. who moves hand levers in the open to work single points or ground signals and points in ground frames.
head shunter ; leading shunter
is in charge of a number of shunters q.v. at large goods yard; obsolescent.
see connector.
horseman (shunting), horse pilotman
see shunt horse driver.
incline man
see banksman.
latcher, loco latcher, latchman
see pointsman (or boy) (mines, quarries, works railways, etc.).
leading shunter
see head shunter.
level crossing gateman, level crossing man
see crossing keeper.
arranges shunting of trucks and wagons in goods yards or sidings to make up trains, or sections thereof, in readiness for journey; if mainly engaged in supervisory duties, is graded as yard foreman, otherwise as shunter q.v.
mineral foreman
a yard foreman q.v. employed at a mineral depot.
see banksman.
point box man
a pointsman q.v. who operates points from box in shunting yard.
point holder
a pointsman q.v., working in yards or sidings, who holds back, by moving hand levers, "spring-points," (points which have no locking levers) releasing them when rolling stock being shunted has passed.
points boy, points lad ; switch boy, switch lad
pulls levers, etc., under instructions of pointsman q.v. anti learns his work.
pointsman ; switchman
operates set of points or switches in shunting yards or sidings; sometimes gives and receives bell signals, but is not in charge of block posts; usually works in open, if working ground frame or single point levers, cf. ground frame man; works under cover, in a point box, cf. point box man, where there is an electric valve system of point working and yard signalling, orin large yards, where point levers have been assembled in point box; cf. point holder, point turner.
pointsman and level crossing keeper
see gatekeeper and pointsman.
pointsman (or boy) (mines, quarries, works railways) ; latcher, latchman, loco latcher, shunter (mines, quarries, etc.)
rides on locomotive with driver, couples and uncouples wagons, and alters points on works railway or sidings to control movements of vehicles.
pointsman, outdoor
see ground frameman.
point turner
a pointsman q.v. who operates turn-points, points worked by horizontal arm, instead of usual pullback levers.
policeman (protecting crossing)
see crossing policeman.
porter gateman
combines duties of porter (706) and of crossing keeper q.v.; obsolescent.
porter horseman (shunting)
combines duties of porter (706) and of shunt horse driver q.v.; obsolescent.
porter, mineral
a shunter q.v. employed at a mineral depot; obsolescent.
porter pointsman
combines duties of porter (706) and of pointsman q.v.; obsolescent.
porter shunter, porter yardsman
combines duties of porter (706) and of shunter q.v.; obsolescent.
regulator, yard regulator
obsolescent; see yard foreman (traffic department).
scotcher, scotch lad, scotch spragger
see spragger.
shunter ; train setter (obsolescent), yardsman
couples and uncouples loaded or empty railway vehicles, to enable them to be moved into position or arranged in order (marshalled) in yard or sidings; signals, usually with his arm, movements required to engine driver (701) or to shunt horse driver q.v. to move vehicles backwards or forward or to stop, as necessary; lifts, with his coupling rod, lever at wagon side to apply brake, as required; marshals and couples-up passenger coaches or goods wagons in readiness for journey; breaks-up trains on arrival at goods depot, or on return to carriage sidings after a journey, and directs shunting of units or sections into appropriate sidings; when employed at passenger stations, couples and uncouples locomotives and horse boxes and shunts horse boxes into and out of sidings; sometimes specifically designated, e.g. carriage and wagon shunter, coaching (i.e. passenger carriage) shunter, dock shunter, freight shunter, goods shunter, passenger shunter, wagon shunter.
shunter and lampman
combines duties of shunter q.v. and lampman (706) q.v.; obsolescent; graded as shunter or, alternatively, as lampman, according to work upon which mainly engaged.
shunter, coaching
see coach worker.
shunter, horse; pilot shunter
see shunt horse driver.
shunter (mines, quarries, works railways, etc.)
see pointsman (mines, quarries, works railways).
shunter, relief
takes place of any shunter q.v., within a prescribed district, who may be absent from duty.
shunter, shed
a shunter q.v. employed in shed to move local coal wagons about and to arrange in order for despatch; uses a pole to move wagons.
shunter signalman (railway)
operates signals in shunting yard or siding as required by shunters q.v.; cf. yard signalman.
shunter, trip
travels with goods train to do shunting work at a small yard or siding where no shunter q.v. is stationed; sometimes does work of goods guard (702) q.v. and is so graded; otherwise graded as shunter.
shunt horse brakesman
a brakesman q.v. who applies brakes as directed by shunt horse driver q.v.; normally only driver is employed.
shunt horse driver ; chain horse driver, horseman (shunting), horse pilotman, horse shunter, pilot shunter, truck horse driver
is in charge of horse which draws trucks or coaches into or out of railway sidings or on to branch line during shunting operations; yokes and unyokes horse to and from truck or coach, as necessary; grooms and attends to horse where there is no stableman (725) q.v.
shunt minder, sidesman (coal mines)
directs shunting arrangements in sidings and branch railway at colliery; cf. landing minder (043).
signalman, yard (railway)
controls and operates signals in a goods yard or a passenger coach yard; cf. shunter signalman.
slipper boy or lad
see chain horse lad.
spragger ; scotcher, scotch lad scotch spragger
applies extra brake power to mineral train trucks at top of steep incline by inserting sprags or scotches, i.e. billets of wood, between wheel spokes and axle guards to prevent wheel turning; rides on train to bottom of incline, where he removes sprags; or is similarly employed in shunting yards under direction of shunter; cf. brakesman.
switch boy, switch lad
see points boy.
switch keeper (colliery)
a pointsman q.v. in a colliery district who operates points to run coal trucks into various coal sidings.
see pointsman.
traffic shifter (coal mines) ; foreman shunter (coal mines)
is responsible for moving of railway wagons to and from railway sidings at screens; supervises pointsmen (mines, etc.) and shunters q.v.
train foreman
obsolescent, see yard foreman.
train receiver
see breaker.
train setter
see shunter.
a pointsman q.v., employed in coal mining district, who switches or "traps" individual coal trucks or wagons (or groups of trucks or wagons) into different sidings as they are "hit up" by shunting engine driver (701) q.v.
truck horse driver
see shunt horse driver.
truckman (metal mines)
a shunter q.v. on surface of iron ore mine, who moves railway wagons about; may also work point, see pointsman (mines).
under shunter
under direction of shunter q.v., couples or uncouples railway vehicles, applies brake to wagons, directs units into sidings and otherwise assists in shunting operations.
wagon berther
a shunter q.v. who detaches trucks and shunts them into required berths in yard for loading or unloading.
wagon changer
wagon lowerer, wagon runner, wagon shifter; changes wagons when filled at screen or washer, i.e. runs out full wagons and replaces by empty ones.
wagon distributor
see wagon sorter.
wagon lowerer
see wagon changer.
wagon runner
(i) see wagon changer;
(ii) name sometimes given to shunter or pointsman q.v. in shipbuilding yards.
wagon shifter
see wagon changer.
wagon sorter ; wagon distributor
a shunter q.v. who sorts out and assembles empty wagons in goods yard according to their home stations, ready for return.
yard foreman (traffic department)
(obsolescent) foreman shunter, regulator, train foreman, yard regulator; directs work of shunters and of pointsmen q.v. in passenger or goods marshalling yard; is responsible to yard master, yard inspector (700) q.v. for shunting operations generally, and in particular for disposal of trucks at appropriate platforms for loading and unloading, for movement of traffic in yard, and for marshalling trains in readiness for departure from yard; in large sheds above work may be subdivided among two or more yard foremen.
yard foreman, passenger
a yard foreman q.v. who directs work of shunters and pointsmen q.v. marshalling passenger train vehicles.
see shunter.

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From: A Dictionary of Occupational Terms Based on the Classification of Occupations used in the Census of Population, 1921,
Ministry of Labour, 1927. Digitised by Peter Christian, August, 2016.   This text is in the Public Domain.