The First Stationmaster of Brynmenyn Station and the Coleman Family

(Kindly provided by David J.K.Jones of Porthcawl who is the Great Grand Nephew of Peter Coleman).

Peter Coleman was born on 23 May 1837, in Shoreditch in London. He married Jane Mathews in July, 1863 in Newport, Monmouthshire.

Jane was born in 1843 in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan.

Peter was the first Station Master at Brynmenyn Station and he died in Station House, Brynmenyn, on 22 November 1923, aged 86. His grandson, A.G.E Williams, is noted as the informant on the Death Certificate. His death was also listed in the Western Mail on Saturday 24 November 1923.

The 1881 Census for Station House ( also called Fairfield House) Brynmenyn, shows the family as:-

Head – Peter Coleman aged 43, Stationmaster

Wife Jane Coleman (nee Mathews) aged 38.

W.G.P.Coleman aged 16 E.J.Coleman aged 15 A.H.Coleman aged 13

Beatrice J.Coleman aged 9 A.E.Coleman aged 7 F.C.Coleman aged 5

Ellen E.Coleman aged 1

Maria Coleman and Fred Jones were married at Camden Town, London, on 22 June 1887. Alf Jones and Charlotte Coleman (David Jones’ Great Grandparents) were married at Stratford, London, on 23 September 1894.

Fred and Maria Jones had a son, John Peter Jones, who was killed on the Somme in 1918. He was wounded several times and had spells in field hospitals. Having enlisted in the Welsh Regiment at Cowbridge in 1914, he died in 1918 with just five weeks of the war remaining. His Regiment suffered very heavy losses at one stage and other survivors were transferred to the Sherwood Foresters, a normal procedure at that time. His name appears on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial on the Arras to Cambrai Road.

Alf Jones and his wife, Charlotte, had two sons and a daughter. Both sons were killed in a pitfall in an unofficial mine during the depression of 1926. Their names were Herbert Jones (aged 26) and Cyril Jones (aged 19). Their deaths were huge news at the time and the Gazette carried details of the accident. Charlotte was popular in Pantygog and was known as “Mrs Jones Cockney”.

Both couples made their homes in Pantygog after they were married. Maria and Fred in 30 Pant Street, there were members of the Jones family living in this house for 94 years. Alf and Charlotte lived in 8 Cuckoo Street, and their descendants lived here for 70 years.

Alf and Fred Jones’ parents were John and Sarah. They had 11 children and the family moved to Glengarw Cottages, Abergarw (now demolished) in about 1876.The entire family moving on to Pont-y-rhyl and Pantygog. John died on 31 December 1919, having been a Platelayer on the railway for 45 years. His obituary appeared in the Glamorgan Gazette of January 1920.

:The 1901 Census for Station House shows;-

Peter Coleman (Head) aged 63

Wife, Jane Coleman aged 58

Emma E.Jonesa aged 21 Gustavus W.R.Coleman aged 19

Sarah O.Jones aged 1

(Note the differences in some of the initials of the names of the children – obviously either an Enumerator’s error or a transcription error)

Also in the 1901 Census, Edwin Alfred Coleman is shown as living at 5, Thurston Street, Tondu with his wife, Esther(nee Gibbs) as a Railway Engine Stoker. They had a daughter, Doris aged 2.

EDWIN ALFRED COLEMAN (on the right) on the footplate of Loco 3386 – an express version of the Bulldog Class. Circa 1905

Edwin Alfred Coleman was the son of Edwin Coleman (Senior), above, and the nephew of Peter Coleman. He also worked on the railways as an Engine Cleaner. Edwin Senior was only 32 when he died, thus leaving Edwin Junior as a fatherless 5 year old. Edwin Senior (E.J.Coleman above) had previously been invalided out of the Royal Navy prior to working on the railways. The above picture was thought to have been taken at either Maesteg or Tondu.

Edwin James Coleman (E.J.above) appears in the 1881 Census as a Railway Worker. In 1891 he is shown as a Goods Guard. In 1901 he appears as a Foreman, Railway Yard, then living at 6, Brown’s Terrace Ogmore Vale. He and his wife, Beatrice, had two children, and he died in 1934. At the time, they had two English lodgers, who were porters, living with them. They were George Locke from Exeter and Archibald Tamlett from Tilshead,Wiltshire.

Arthur Henry Coleman (A.H.Coleman above) emigrated to Buenos Airies in Argentina (date not known but likely to have been during 1886 or 1887) and worked for the Great Southern Railway, designing station buildings and he also wrote a book on Trains. There is an article in the Western Mail, dated 9 December 1952 (the year in which he died) which describes “The Welshman of Bahia Blanca”. According to the 1895 Census of Argentina, he is described as living at the Main Railway Station in Bahia Blanca, where he was the Night Station Master. His old house ‘Casa Coleman’ is presently used as a museum in his honour for recitals, exhibitions and champagne receptions for visiting dignitaries. He was given a State funeral which was attended by the great and good, and there is a further cutting from a local paper in Bahia Blanca showing the glass sided hearse drawn by 6 horses. A remarkable progression from January 1882, when he started out as a Junior clerk at Brynmenyn Station.

Cutting from the Western Mail and South Wales News dated 9th December, 1952.

His younger brother, Gustavus, also went to Argentina. Note his initials GWR (Gustavus Wilmot Rufus) – apt, considering his Father’s allegiance to the railway ! The picture below shows them both and was taken in Buenos Aires.

Herbert Jones (the brother of Alf and Fred Jones) and his wife, Gwenllian,  used to keep the Braich-y-Cymer Pub in Pont-yr-hyl for many years, and also bought 25 Bryn Cottages, Pont-y-rhyl – in 1914, where the family descendants still live.

Of further interest is the website: which gives a fascinating insight in to Arthur Coleman’s railway exploits in Argentina.


Addtional photos sent by the author appear below:


22 comments Add yours
  1. Hi, David……….great to catch up with you and your Jones/Coleman ancestry.

    (Not a short note – hope it reaches you, OK)

    Hilary Whitton said she’s caught up with a David Jones. She’s been a fantastic source of photos – right back to Peter Coleman’s own father, Peter (1813) ! You, she and another 3rd cousin (Dr. John Coleman in Melbourne, Victoria) all descend from Peter Snr’s 2nd marriage to Louisa Rogers, whereas, I descend from his 1st marriage to Maria Roper. (John will be really tickled that your Jones’ are the link to Pont-y-Rhyl – his own father was there c.1915, but they couldn’t spell it or find it !)

    I’m the grandson of Edwin James Coleman (Peter’s 2nd son) – station master at Maesteg; Tondu then Bridgend. The description you’ve listed for him is actually that of his elder brother – 1st-born son, William George Peter – the ‘Goods’ specialist (he married Maria Llewellyn, and had 2 children: Harold Garfield & Beatrice Emma M.). My grandfather married Maria David & they had 2 children: Lillian Minerva & Peter (my father from a 2nd marriage).

    I have several photos of Edwin Alfred & Esther and their 5 daughters. He grew up at Rees Terrace in Tondu with his sister, (his mother, Francis Elizabeth Brimfield, married Thomas Rees) and lived at 5, Thurston St. where Doris (and Elsie Frances Thurston !) was born. He worked as a stoker for many years before becoming an express driver (as pictured c.1930) – London to Cardigan, I’m advised (letter written by his eldest daughter).

    His father, Edwin had to leave the Navy & died early from Rheumatic fever. (I have a photo of him in uniform taken in Malta c.1870). He turns up in Nottage in 1871 as an Engine Cleaner, but is signalman at marriage to Fanny in 1873. Younger brother of Peter (1813) & always known as Edwin but actually born ‘Edmund’ (1848)…….someoneobviously knew that ‘Edwin’ wasn’t his given name but they guessed wrong ? – his death reg is down as ‘Edward’ !

    Peter & Jane had 2 infants who didn’t survive &, you’re right, Ellen E. is Emma Elizabeth, who is pictured holding her first child Sarah Olive Jones on Bridgend station at Arturo’s 2nd visit in 1938. My own father is there as is Auntie Jinny’s son, Gus (Arthur Gustavus Edwin Williams). The Western Mail reporter must have interviewed Arthur on his 3rd return trip. Gus also returned at least once, and Alfred Edgar also went to Argentina, but returned due to ‘ill-health’. His grandson is my 2nd Cousin – another John Coleman in Australia !

    If you contact me, I’ll try to send you photos and file notes, if you’d like. There is a lovely one in Jinny’s garden from the 1st return trip – 3 brothers……….. Arthur, Edwin & William.

  2. I made one silly error but do have more info on Arthur Henry. It is not Emma Elizabeth Jones (nee Coleman) pictured holding baby Sarah Olive in 1938……….it’s her daughter Sarah Olive Seeley (nee Jones) holding her own 1st born, of course.

    I’ve also just found records showing Arthur Henry actually made 6 return visits from Argentina ! Every 9 years from 1911 (plus 1934).
    As more & more records reach the Internet, I’ve now found his DoB – 13.1.1868 and start date as Jnr Clerk at Pontycymmer (14.1.1882 – 5 1/2 yrs GWR). He arrived in Buenos Aires on 7.11.1887 after 29 days in a coal boat with 70 other passengers, and started work with the Southern Railway immediately as a Night Porter at the Main Station whilst he learnt Spanish. By 1895 he was the Night Station Master, but spent his last 47 years in Bahia Blanca, becoming Chief Superintendant. He only retired on 15.1.1949 (2 days after his 81st birthday) and saw his 750 page autobiography: “Mi vida de ferroviario Inglés en la Argentina” published on 16th May that year.

    On 3rd March 2011 a Bill was passed to honour him posthumously with (Google translation – sic:) “Declaration as Illustrious Citizen of Buenos Aires Province: Don Arturo H. Coleman”. It is a glowing citation of his “iconic personality” & “development of the city of Bahía Blanca and the region, who served the Southern Railway for 61 years.”………….not bad for a boy from the valleys.

  3. Dave, I’ve actually got a copy of his birth certificate. I’ll send you a copy. Dave J

  4. Can you please provide back ground above as to Lluest Institute.
    I lived in Pantygog until 1955 and attended early school years in village of Lluest.
    Respectfully Peter

  5. hi i am looking for information, i am now the owner of station house brynmenyn.
    my parents rented it before that as it went with my fathers job, neighbours then living in prospect house bought the houe from belfast bank when my dad retired.
    when they sadly passed away, i then bought the house of old ladies nephew.
    i am now having problems wih a neighbour who is blocking my access to my property, he says he owns it but i have it on authority that he doesnt own it.
    that it is in fact owned by network rail.
    i have lived an grown up in brynmenyn all my life 56 years, my parents before that lived there for 60 years.
    if anyone has any further information or can help me in anyway with regards to my access problem i would be more than welcome.

  6. Would be really interested about any photos on the railways around Brynmenyn Junction etc and when they all shut,last freight train Sep 1997 the final loco to come down the rails in amger….Are there plans to expand and go further?

    Also information on Williams terrace Brynmenyn

  7. My Grandfather Thomas James Williams was station master in Brynmenyn in the early 1920’s and died aged 43 in 1923
    He was a freemason and belonged to the Llangeinor Lodge
    He lived in Abergarw terrace with his wife Edith and children Glyn, Nancy, Marion and a young son aged around 2years who died when he was 11yers old in Bury St Edmunds
    Have n’t a photo of my grandmother who died soon after her husband so would appreciate any info from anyone about the family during their short stay in Brynmenyn

    75 years ago, the most distinguished of Bahiense society dinner is uttermost tribute to Arthur Coleman, maximum local authority of the Southern Railway, during the 50th years of his arrival in the country.

    At 69 years of age and 32 living in our city, Coleman was one of the most prestigious and powerful figures to the point that many mentioned him as “the Viceroy”. Divisional Traffic Superintendent, was in charge of handling all local railway lines and ports of Ingeniero White and Galvan.

    That big party was held at the Argentine club and started with the delivery of an artistic scroll decorated by the painter Ubaldo Monacelli, and a gold medallion and symbolic allegory entrusted the artist John Re

    Among those attending were Mayor Martin Dithurbide and his wife, Susan Forgue, Ramon Latorre and Ema Julio. Mercedes Rodolfo Miranda Dillon and Lavie, Monacelli and Celia Walter Erquiaga, Enrique Gonzalez and Elena Estevez, Eduardo Gonzalez and Angela Vergara, Luis Meduas and Mary Sheriff, Carlos Cisneros and Ines Lasa, Carlos Vitalini and Maria Luisa Parodi, among many.

    “Bahia Blanca has grown before our eyes and, looking ahead, we see an extraordinary call to economic development and civilization. Pride prograsado must feel to have her,” Coleman pointed out in his speech.

    Coleman retired from his role 12 years later, in January 1949 after 61 years service. He was born in South Wales and died on this earth on 7th November 1952.

  9. Translation:

    This is a caricature of Arthur H. Coleman, conducted by Bahiense cartoonist, A. Massera. It was hung over the fireplace in the living room of this house and now belongs to the gallery of the Old Garage. If you pay attention, you will see: railways, gas, running water, Victoria market, silos, etc. port.

  10. Hi, I recently found your web site and enjoyed reading it. My father, Aurthur William Coleman, was the son of Edgar Alfred Coleman
    my grandfather , whose father was Peter Coleman, my great grandfather. Edgar also went to Patagonia but returned to Wales. He died in 1922 of a brain tumor in Cardiff.
    We recently visited Brynmenyn and were intrigued to see little of the railway left, apart from the old steel bridge over the river.

  11. Hi, I have just found this website,and on reading it I have discovered that we have a relative in common! I,ll explain…. My Grandmother Mary Catherine O’Keefe,was the Daughter ofAdelaide Brimfield and David O’Keefe, Granddaughter of William Brimfield and Frances Worker….and thus a first cousin to Edwin Alfred Coleman. I would be interested to see any photographs you may have of Edwin , Esther and their Daughters…who I remember as being my mother’s cousins. Thanks.

  12. Arthur Coleman of Bahía Blanca has again recently featured on FaceBook at:—
    This political cartoon appeared in the left-wing “Hoja del Pueblo” in September 1909.
    Harding Green was his opposite number on the Bahía Blanca North Western Railway.

  13. Hello Mr David E. Coleman, my great grandfather William Henry Smith ( born 1865 West Bromwich ) left for Argentina to work at the same railroad as Arthur Coleman, I don’t know on what year he got to Buenos Aires but we know that his bride , Maria Goldsworthy ( Newport Wales ) got there in 1890. My question to you will be if there is any records I can search regarding William’s employment on the railroad. I will appreciate any information I can get.
    Thank you !!

  14. Steve, This is the first time that I’ve entered the First Stationmaster . . . site since my last entry. I’m not a Coleman, but a historian ineterested in Argentine railways. I’m sorry to disappoint you by saying that there is no general record surviving of staff employed by any of the railways. Any information about British, or other, employees of the railways is generally found accidentally in the likes of reports in local news papers (eg reports of accidents) which means that the chance of finding information is virtually nil. The most easily accessed and searched records are those of people arriving in the country; running out of space for reply. David Sinclair

  15. I’ve received a copy of a reprint of Arturo H Coleman’s book “Mi vida de ferroviario inglés en la Argentina”. This was recently done by the Universidad Nacional del Sur in Bahía Blanca ISBN 978-987-655-249-3. It good to see such an important work available again.

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