Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Who was Joyce?

Sentinel 7109 was named 'Joyce' after the daughter of Mr Sandeman, the chairman of Croydon Gas works where 7109 operated for 32 years until 1960. This is known from "The Locomotives of Croydon Gas & Electricity Works" by J. B. Latham and published in 1970.
New replica nameplate
But that was the easy bit. Current S&DRHT secretary and long standing member, John Baxter, began searching on the Ancestry.co.uk website and I subsequently continued the challenge.

The search began with 'Joyce Sandeman' and 'Croydon'. This revealed only one person 'Joyce Helen Sandeman' and, according to various records, she was born on 1st July 1902 and died a spinster on 12th December 1974.

'Sandeman' being an uncommon name and located in Croydon would appear to be the only lead. Thus all information here is based on Joyce Helen although it could be completely wrong!

Joyce's parents were William James and Annie Charlotte Sandeman. William James Sandeman was the Gas Works chairman and other members of the family had connections with the gas supply industry.
1911 Census Entry
As Joyce died a spinster, there are no children to seek to ask about her so there is no reliable information to tap.

Joyce had two cousins: Ronald Frederick Sandeman, who married Elsie Louise Docking, and Barbara Clare Sandeman who married Cecil George Hine. All of these relatives died in the 1970s or 1980s.

Although I have no public access to this family via the ancestry website, it would appear that there were children who could possibly still be alive and a source of information. It would be lovely to hear from anyone who really knows something about Joyce herself.

I have, however, been speculating a little. I asked myself: 'If I had a steam locomotive where I was chairman of the company, what would be the likely age of my child for me to honour by using their name for the loco?'. In the range 5-15 maybe?

Joyce, being born in 1902, would have been 26 when 7109 arrived at Croydon Gas works in 1928. Seemingly, Joyce was an only child so maybe this could make sense but I'm not convinced this was the reason.

The 1939 census shows Joyce to be in the Cedar Grange Nursing Home in Caterham and described as 'incapacitated'. In that context, 'incapacitated' suggests that she may have been an invalid either from birth or through the consequences of WW1. The incapacity may have meant that she was cared for by her parents and was so dear to them that 7109 was honoured with her name.

This is of course purely speculation. If anyone can shine a light on Joyce, I would be grateful for any information - please leave me a comment to this posting. And, of course, be my guest and come to visit 7109.


  1. Hi Andy,

    Following a brief chat yesterday with my cousin about our great aunty Joyce Sandeman and 'HER train', I decided to google her, whereupon I found your wonderful Sentinel 7109 blog.

    My email is ianhocken@gmail.com and I would be very happy to verify any information with you (courtesy of my mother, Joyce's 2nd cousin). Your above speculations, are however, remarkably accurate. I am Ronald and Elsie's grandson and knowing what I've learnt in the last 24 hours, I now cannot wait to come and visit you and Joyce!

    Thank you so much for taking such good care of her.
    Kind regards from Ian.
    (a fellow Bachelor in Electrical and Electronic Engineering)

  2. Thank you so very much for getting in touch. I'd been wondering for some years if there were any distant relatives of Joyce still about and had spent much time searching via ancestry.co.uk.
    I'd got to the stage of deciding to contact local Croydon newspapers but you rang me before I'd begun.
    I'm really looking forward to meeting you and hopefully finding out more about Joyce. If you can find me a photo, I think it would be fitting to use it with some background info as a tribute to the lady who provided the name which still lives on in her honour.
    Kind regards


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