Solomon Tredwell
Born: March 1823 Hadzor Worcs ~ Died:1859
Occupation: Contractor
married Alice Pickering ~ September quarter 1846, Leeds

Solomon Tredwell was born in Worcestershire in 1823 the son of Elizabeth and William a canal digger, according to the baptism entry for Thomas in Burbage, and then a wharfinger on later entries. In 1841 he was living in Reigate and working as a contractor with many other people nearby all working on the railway. In 1851 was found living at High Field, Leek with his wife and daughter Alice Pickering and her family, the Pickering boys were also Contractors.

He worked on the Great Eastern (paddle steamer) 1854~1859 with Brunell, whilst the Great Eastern made history with its revolutionary design, the ship was never a great success commercially, and was plagued by a series of mishaps. Eventually, it ended its days as a tourist attraction, before being broken down for scrap. A sad end for a magnificent 'Wonder of the Industrial World'.

After the Great Eastern Solomon went to India to work on the railways out there, taking over from Willliam Frederick Faviell on 29th October 1859. In the early years the lines were designed by British engineers but built by Indian manual labour. The work was hard and took its toll. For example, the Great Indian Peninsula Railway lost nearly a third of its workforce through disease or accident during the eight years spent constructing the line from Bombay to Poona. Among these was Solomon, the line's contractor, who died in Khandalla, Bombay in 1859, 2 months after his arrival to start work on the Bhore Ghat contract. his widow Alice took over responsibility, appointed new engineers and oversaw construction through to the railway's completion in 1863. He left about £70,000 in his will. (see will)

Solomon and Alice had one daughter and a son. Alice Martha Elizabeth who married John Wilson Gray. They had a daughter Alice Anna and son Solomon John Tredwell. Alice`s (mother) Will (1867) arouses the suspicion that son-in-law John was not approved. He died in 1872 and Alice married again in 1873 to Boydell Houghton, and they had two more daughters  Alice and Isabel. Solomon John Gray attended Charterhouse and Trinity Cambridge and became a barrister and lived in S.Africa. Son Mark John was a ward of W. Pickering after his father`s death. He married Daisy Smith and had 3 children according to the 1881 census. His 2 daughters Patty and Daisy both died in 1885. He married again after Daisy`s death to Mercedes de la Quintana and had a son Mark Erik, and daughter Beatrice. T

The Tredwell family appear to have done well for themselves.  A local (Gloucester) canal historian Hugh Conway-Jones has furnished me with the following information. He had come across the name William Tredwell of Hadzor coal merchant, as one of the contractors who was involved in building part of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal 1819-20.  He was in partnership with Charles Pearce of Frampton-On-Severn, Glos, canal contractor. The Tredwell sons were also heavily involved. Below is Conway-Jones` resume of Tredwell involvement in various projects.


'F & T Tredwell worked on Lancs & Yorks Railway (1840)

Francis & Thos Tredwell worked on Chelt & GW Union Railway (1845)

W & S Tredwell worked on North Staffs Railway (1849)

Messrs Tredwell of Droitwich had the contract for woodwork for Over railway bridge 1849

Tredwell & Co rented yard by G&S canal 1851

Thomas & William Tredwell leased yard by G&S Canal from Lysons Trustees 1854

Thos Tredwell partnered Thomas Brassey on GWR line to Brentford 1852

Tredwells worked on Frome to Yeovil Railway (WSW-GWR) 1856

Tredwell involved with launching Great Eastern 1860

Launching the Great Eastern. The Great Eastern will be launched down two inclined planes, each about 250 ft long by 80 ft wide and nearly 140 ft apart, falling at an inclination of 1in 14. The contractor Messrs Tredwell of London and Gloucester have undertaken the excavation, piling and other works necessary for the foundations of the launching ways. Eassie of Gloucester has a very clever and ingenious patent pile driver, capable of driving 20 piles a day, which is in use preparing for the launch. c1857

Sale of equipment of Tredwell’s Railway Works following deaths of two of the partners  12 July 1862 

Tredwell’s Premises to Let. To Railway Contractors, Timber Merchants, Engineers and Others. To be let: the whole of the premises and machinery, now in the occupation of Tredwell & Co, occupying about seven acres between the canal and the Bristol Road, on which are erected saw mills, timber preserving tanks, workshops and machinery adapted for any kind of mechanical engineering. Apply to Mr David Hicks who resides on the premises or to Mr L Godsell, Winstone Farm, near Cirencester 15 Aug 1863 5 Dec 1863 '

Isambard Kingdom Brunel (second from right) preparing the launch of 'The Great Eastern'
(also includes William Harrison; William Jacob; Solomon Tredwell)

However, his widow Alice Tredwell (above) took over responsibility, appointed new engineers and oversaw construction through to the railway's completion in 1863.