Herbert Brooks Hancocke
Herbert Brooks Hancocke was born in Neath, South Wales, on 2nd March 1884, the son of a steam locomotive driver - David Hancocke, who worked for the Great Western Railway (ultimately driving Star Class locomotives on the Swansea to Paddington run in 1912). Herbert Hancocke served his apprenticeship with the GWR at the Neath Locomotive Works from 2nd March 1900 to 23rd May 1904 and then at Swindon to 1st March 1905, working in the Bolier making business. After moving to Newport in South Wales during 1906, he worked for the Alexandra Docks & Railway Co. where boilers were being made for locomotives, cranes and power stations and carried out his duties as a Foreman, becoming an Inspector in 1914.
Herbert Hancocke re-joined the Great Western Railway in 1922 as an Inspector, virtually travelling the whole of the system inspecting boilers. During this time, he moved to Caerleon at around 1934 and then in 1937 moved to "Berkley", Springfield Road, Swindon where he was promoted to Chief Boiler Inspector in 1938 for the whole of the GWR, working closely with Charles Benjamin Collett, the Chief Mechanical Engineer at Swindon Works. To help improve the health of his wife (Tilly Isles Hancocke), they bought a place at Dawlish in 1942, known as Hope Cottage, whilst he lodged at Swindon during the week. His Daughter, Gladys Cheale, had already moved to Dawlish in 1936 where she worked as the District Nurse for over 40 years. Herbert Hancocke was well known to many drivers and, with his position, would often take the chance to travel on the locomotive’s footplate, when travelling back home to Dawlish at the end of the working week.
On Saturday, 1st September 1945, Herbert Hancocke finally retired from the Great Western Railway when a presentation (a wallet of notes!) was made to him at the GWR's "Grand Victory Diner and Smoking Concert" held at the Westgate Hotel, Newport, South Wales. Herbert Hancocke remained living at Hope Cottage, Dawlish for his retirement years. However, rather than give up work completely, he became the Chairman of Dawlish Town Council and lived until 23rd June 1959, aged 75 years.