Job Starbuck

A Railway Clearing House junction diagram showing the lines through Methley.

Job Starbuck was in charge at Woodlesford for just over three years from 19 May 1863 until November 1866. His father was an agricultural labourer and he was born at Ilkeston in Derbyshire in 1835.

At the age of 16 he was as a coal “higler” delivering coal to customers by horse and cart. After marrying a girl called Fanny from Mapperley in Derbyshire, Job’s first job on the railway was probably at Wickwar in Gloucestershire where his second child was born in 1858. The line through there had originally been the Bristol and Gloucester Railway, built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to the 7 foot “broad” gauge, but by the time Job Starbuck arrived it had been taken over by the Midland Railway and converted to standard gauge.

His next move appears to have been about a year later in 1859, back north to be station master at Rothwell Haigh, a goods only station about halfway between Woodlesford and Hunslet. The main traffic there would have been coal from the collieries owned by J. & J. Charlesworth Ltd.

After the birth of another child at Rothwell the family moved rapidly south again for Job to become station master at his home town of Ilkeston in June 1860 when he was still only 25 years old.

Three years later the family moved back to Yorkshire to Woodlesford. His salary there was initially £65 a year with an increase to £75 in August 1864. Little else is known about his stay in the village apart from the birth of two more children.

In 1866 he resigned from the Midland Railway and may have moved to Leeds where another child was born. By 1871 the family was back locally at Methley Junction where the census lists Job as a railway agent living next door to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway station master. A further two children were born in Methley bringing the total to eight, 6 girls and 2 boys.

The railways around Methley in those days were much more extensive than they are today, having their origins both in the civil engineering of George Stephenson and the political manoeverings of the so-called “Railway King”, George Hudson, who was the Mayor of York and the first Chairman of the Midland Railway.

Three company’s lines met in the vicinity and in the 1840s the section from Methley through Woodlesford was the only route carrying trains from London, York and Manchester into Leeds.

To further complicate matters another line was built from Methley through Stanley to Lofthouse. This line, known as the Methley Joint Railway, opened for traffic in 1865. It was owned collectively by the Great Northern, the Lancashire and Yorkshire and the North Eastern railways and was run by a committee with members drawn from the three companies.

The committe minutes, held at the National Railway Museum at York, record that in 1875 Job Starbuck was a station master again, this time at Methley Joint station, later to be renamed Methley South. There, in February 1875, he received a pay rise from 22/6 to 25/- per week. By January 1879 he had left the railway and was employed at Wheldale colliery but regularly visited Methley to see friends. On one visit he was drinking in the Junction Inn on a Sunday. A policeman claimed the pub was serving beer out of hours but the magistrates agreed that as Starbeck had walked there from several miles away he was classed as a traveller so the landlord hadn’t acted illegally.

By the time of the 1881 census the Starbuck family had moved to Hull where Job was a shipping clerk. Ten years later he was living at 17 Newton Street in Hull and is described as a Timekeeper’s Engineer. In August 1893 he was still going strong and went to an old boy’s reunion at his school at Ilkeston. The Derby Mercury reported that he was one of those who responded to the toast.

Job Starbuck died in 1896 at the age of 61.

A Methley Joint Committee bridge number plate.