I’d not even noticed this small shed during our many previous visits to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre despite having written about other corrugated iron structures on the site (please click HERE).
However, once you become attuned to looking for corrugated iron structures in the landscape they tend to pop up everywhere you look (I suppose it’s the same effect as I noticed when we first had the Twins, suddenly everywhere I looked there were twins!).
A lamp shed would once have been a ubiquitous feature of every railway, as previous ‘Wrinkled Tin’ Series posts have shown (for other examples please click HERE) and this one not only provided an opportunity to photograph the interior of a Lamp Shed but also prompted me to unearth the following fascinating vignette of Victorian entrepreneurialism:
Joseph Ash Ltd. was founded in 1857 by Joseph Ash, the son of Thomas Ash, a chemist in Birmingham’s Stafford Street.
Described as “one who, for considerably more than half a century, was a captain of industry in Birmingham,” in his obituary a 1915 edition of The Birmingham Post, Joseph was educated at King Edwards School and, at the age of 13, entered a zinc business founded by his father in High Street.
He branched out with his own firm at the age of 33, starting his own business in Meriden Street making hard ware items and railway stores.
The Great Western Railway Company extensively used Joseph Ash for many of its track-side requirements such as water towers and lamp sheds.
In 1864 Joseph Ash joined forces with John Pierce Lacy who provided galvanizing experience for his iron and steelwork.
Joseph also founded Joseph Ash & Son in Rea Street South, Digbeth making galvanized roofing and metal storage tanks, which in later years was managed by his oldest son Thomas Henry.
This gradually expanded to a site occupying hundreds of acres of land bordering on Rea Street South, Moseley Street and Charles Henry Street.
Two impressive Victorian office blocks were built in Charles Henry Street to house the growing number of administration staff which was required to run large expanding business.
Opposite the galvanizing factory in Charles Henry Street, slum back-to-back houses were demolished to make way for a new tank manufacturing unit.
As well as all the business activities, Joseph fathered eleven children and took a great interest in local philanthropic movements. He was for many years actively engaged in promoting the affairs of the Birmingham Blue Coat School and was a generous supporter of the hospitals of the city, of the General Dispensary, the Blind Asylum, the Deaf Institution, and the Harborne Industrial School.
He lived for many years in Yardley, but moved to Leamington Spa in 1885. He died aged ninety-one at his house Gaveston, in Guys Avenue with the funeral taking place on August 4, 1915 at Old Milverton Church, Leamington.
All that, found out as a result of looking at one small shed…