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 Barham Village History


History Genealogy The Barham Family

Frederick (Jack) Heathfield

Frederick Heathfield, known to everyone as Jack, was born in 1873. He first entered employment with the SER in 1899 as a porter at Walmer station.   In 1914 he transferred to Barham.

Jack lived with his family at No3 Railway Cottages next door to Joe Fox the porter.

In 1915 he was honoured with a medal awarded by the SER’s St John’s Ambulance Association and an inscribed clock for his courageous services when he tended a badly injured woman who deliberately threw herself in front of a train.

Jack added to the station facilities by introducing his allotment and a "Lord Derby" apple tree to the Up Platform. Chickens and turkeys were kept in the goods yard as well as ducks which swam in a small pond specially dug for them. Even pigs were located at the top of the railway land. At Christmas fowls and vegetables were distributed to each family household. 

Jack retired in 1938 but when World War II started the Southern Railway was short of staff - but Jack didn’t need to be asked twice offering to return at a reduced wage in order to serve his country and railway company – taking up his old life at the station he had become so associated with.

Even though the passenger services were withdrawn in December 1940 Jack was kept busy with the vital goods traffic which was brought by the military freight trains.   On alternate Sundays he also undertook level crossing duties at Elham.

Jack at Barham station in 1942
with his daughters Ada and Kitty and two grandsons.

Jack retired for a second time in June 1947 at the age of 74 - after closure of the line.   When a reporter asked him how he kept so active jack replied “… by taking to beer, "baccy" and a bike at the age of ten and keeping to ‘em…”.   Jack had bought his first bike – a penny farthing – for six shillings on his tenth birthday.

Jack lived out his days at Barham and passed away on 30th August 1955 leaving three sons, two daughters and twelve grandchildren.