Saturday, 12 July 2014

My ancestor was . . . a dock worker

A dock worker is a generic occupation for a person who worked on the docks, yet there were many different occupations and roles at the docks, in which case your ancestor may have been:

  • Loading and unloading boats AKA a Stevedore, which is derived from the Spanish estibador and/or Portuguese estivador meaning a man who stuffs or loads boats.
  • Lumpers - a docker who unloads fish at a dock
  • Railway workers
  • Carpenters - building or repairing ships
  • Engineers
  • Fitters - a person who assembles parts to manufacture a mechanical device
  • Blacksmiths
  • Wagon drivers
  • Grooms
  • Dockside police - I presume would have policed what came in and out of the ports and docks
  • Harbour officials
  • Watermen who worked on barges
  • Lightermen operated lighters which are a type of flat-bottomed barge
  • Roadsters
  • Rope makers
  • Lifting gear operators
  • Crane drivers
  • Chain makers
  • Sack manufacturers
  • Boiler makers - in the ship building industry
  • Colliers - a person who produced charcoal or mined for coal
  • Coal whippers - unloaded coal from transport ships

Dockers would be strong men who required great physical strength and there would be a great social atmosphere, yet dockers were prone to accidents as well as exposure to hazardous substances.

I have a few generations of dockers, mainly boiler makers in my family tree. My great grandfather, Walter Davidson was a dock labourer in the docks at Hull until World War II when he and the family relocated to north Leeds, West Yorkshire when he got a job at Kirkstall Forge. Walter's brother, Uncle Ted, father, Edward and grandfather, John were all boiler makers who worked at the docks in Hull and the East End of London. John's step-father, Michael Lester was also a boiler maker. You can read more about my Davidson ancestors at The Davidson Family.

Information from:

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