Thomas Grainger and Gogar

Our graveyard boasts, at the latest count, some four B-list celebrities(i.e on the scale where Rabbie Burns and William Wallace would be A-list).

Amongst these is Thomas Grainger, a pioneering Victorian railway engineer responsible for the building of many of the earliest railway lines in Scotland and the North of England . I mention this just now because this last week seems to have been THOMAS-GRAINGER-WEEK-AT-GOGAR. On Monday, out of the blue, we had a visit from descedents Paul and Margaret (nee Grainger) Parker accompanied by Prof. Roland Paxton of the Heriot Watt Uni Civil Engineering Dept. Although enthusiastic to have found the graveyard, they were disappointed to discover how overgrown the grave had become ( to the extent that the inscriptions could not be read). I agreed to take my chainsaw to some of the bigger vegetation. The picture shows the state of the grave even after some large limbs have been removed.

It is actually there,looming large in the middle of the frame, but completely obscured by young trees.

Prof Paxton kindly sent me a picture he took in 1983 (when things were black and white, and the grave itself must still have been maintained)

So, as the picture taken this week demonstrates,  turn your back for 27 years and just see what has happened……..

Then on Wednesday, and unbeknown to our previous visitors, another couple of descendants turned up from Ireland (the Kilpatrick branch of descent). Amongst other things they knew that Thomas left £250 in his will (a not inconsiderable sum in 1853) for the maintenance of his grave. Which rather begs the question as to who has been trousering the money these years?

Yesterday I had a real good go at it and this is how it is now looking:-

Thomas Grainger' grave at Gogar 2010

Thomas Grainger's Grave at Gogar

Thanks to Neil Robson’s comment, I looked up Yarm Viaduct and, sure enough, we find some stunning pictures, e.g.

and even due credit to the man himself

Yarm Viaduct, the inscription to its makers


It cost £44,500 and is 760 yards long and was built to extend the Leeds and Thirsk Railway from Northallerton to Stockton and Hartlepool. The viaduct has 43 arches, two of which carry the railway over the River Tees, these are 65ft high and have spans of 67 ft and took 139,000 cubic feet of stone to build.

Over seven and a half million bricks went into the building of the viaduct which was designed by Thomas Grainger and John Bourne of Edinburgh. The official opening was in May 1852.

Three years after the opening, it was to claim the first of a number of fatalities. On an exceptionally dark wet night, a train overshot the platform and an unsuspecting stranger to the area in alighting from his carriage, stepped over the parapet and fell 74 ft. An inquest jury recommended that “some fencing be erected”.

Remarkable what you can find out on the internet! I am already booking next years summer holiday to go and have a look at it. Freda is thrilled (she just finds difficulty expressing it).


18 Responses to “Thomas Grainger and Gogar”

  1. J & E. Scott Says:

    We were the two Irish people that turned up to see Thomas Grainger’s grave. My (E’s) great great grandmother was Thomas’s sister.
    We were very grateful for your help. Less pleasurable were the ongoing construction works, which made finding your premises something of a challenge. We were surprised that in these circumstances, the contractors have not provided direction signs to indicate clearly the way to your premises.

  2. Lynne Grainger Says:

    As another descendant of Thomas Grainger, I would like to thank Chris on the wonderful job he has done – the before and after pictures are amazing.
    I would also like to say hello to the Scotts -I take it you are a descendant of Thomas’ sister Helen who married Robert Kilpatrick. Margaret and myself (Lynne) – both ne Grainger are descendants of Thomas’ brother John, therefore we share distant grandparents in Hugh Grainger and Helen Marshall. On the off chance that you have been tracing your family tree and know who Hugh Grainger’s father was (ie Thomas’ grandfather) then it would be great if you could let me know as I have drawn a blank – my email address is:

  3. Margaret Parker nee. Grainger Says:

    Hello Chris,
    very many thanks for clearing the grave as arranged. You appear to have done a great job ! How interesting that other Grainger descendants turned up and on the same week,amazing!! Lynne,from whom you have had a response on your ‘blog’ is my niece.

    With regard to the legacy intended to be used for maintenance of the grave which I mentioned to you on our visit,I would imagine that it was
    probably in the possession of the church to pay their groundsmen for the extra work which would not be within their normal duties. I expect over the many years since 1853 it has all been used up and of course since the church has been out of use as a place of worship for so long that money left (if any) would have been lost when the affairs of the church were wound up. As I told you ,Thomas also left a legacy for ‘poor relations’ !! I aint seen nothing yet.!!!!

    Never mind,it looks good again now and I’m sure Thomas would be very pleased indeed.

    Please e-mail me regarding the clearing.

    Best wishes.

    Margaret Parker (Grainger)

  4. chris holmes Says:

    Hi Margaret
    If it is kept on top of, future maintenance, at least as far as vegetation is concerned, should not be so much of a problem. Hint-visitors should come armed with garden shears.
    I do not appear to have an email address for you.
    chris holmes

  5. Lynsey Boshier Says:

    I have read these pages with interest as i am trying to find out if i live in Thomas Grangers house in Bramhope near Leeds. I know he constructed the railway opposite our house and it is believed that he built this house at the same time. I cant find any information about it though.

  6. chris holmes Says:

    Hi Lynsey (and congratulations on finding the our post)
    Prof Paxton of Heriot Watt is an authority on Grainger and Tony Jervis of the Scottish Industrial Heritage Society is worth talking to (see his article refered to in my “Graveyard Denizens” page).
    Let us know anything you find out about Grainger in your neck of the woods.

  7. Neil Robson Says:

    As a native of Stockton-on-Tees and then undertaking my degree in Leeds I have grown up around Thomas Graingers legacy’s. The greatest for me being Yarm Viaduct.

    I also ventured into Engineering and now live overseas so I don’t get to see the UK much. As a fellow Engineer and admirer of Thomas Graingers works I would like to thank Chris for cleaning up his grave. I one day vow to visit the site so I’ll bring my shears and do my bit in keeping it on show!!

  8. Margaret Parker nee. Grainger Says:

    Hello Neil, I was pleased to learn about your interest in and admiration for Thomas Grainger. I am a direct decendant through the all male line of Thomas’ elder brother John to whom Thomas (on reading his will etc.) appears to have been very close.
    Last June I visited ,along with my husband,the Heriot Watt University where we spent a very interesting morning and lunch with Professor Ronald Paxman who showed us a good\ number of Thomas’ drawings,plans etc signed by him. Perhaps you may be able to see them if you ever get to visit the university. You must someday try to see the
    large,full length portrait of Thomas painted by Sir John Watson-Gordon.
    The portrait hangs in the Department of the Built Environment.

    Unfortunately at the time of our visit the room in which it hangs was being decorated and a couple of hundred or so chairs had been stacked
    against the wall at the window side of the room and close to the portrait
    and so we were unable to get to the windows to close the blinds. The result was that my attempts at taking a decent photograph were unsuccessful as they were ruined by reflection. Had I been able to I would gladly have sent you a copy. We love to visit Scotland so if I get another opportunity to view the portrait and take good picture i will let you know via this route and send you a copy if you would\ like.

    Very best wishes’
    Margaret parker(nee Grainger)

  9. marcia heaviside Says:

    Hi, my great grandfather was Robert Russell, born in Scotland c. 1807, possibly in either Fife or Midlothian. He was a railway engineer and worked on the Leeds and Thirsk Railway from around 1850 when he moved to Knaresborough and would presumably have known Thomas Grainger. I have a photograph of him and his wife in the gardens of Moor Park, Beckwithshaw, the home of James Bray, one of the ironfounders who financed the railway. There are a number of people on the photo one of whom may be Thomas Grainger. If anyone’s research throws up the name Robert Russell I would be interested

  10. John Padzinski Says:

    Two graves alongside the big Grainger one ,are my relatives. They were the blacksmiths at Gogar Smiddy just next to the Church.Their name was Weston.Their grandmother was Elizabeth Grainger married to Thomas Weston both in Ratho old church Yard. I checked the grave stones in Gogar last year to make sure they were sound,and they were OK. So if they have been flattened they have no respect for anything.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    This is the first time that I have viewed this site since January and was horrified to discover my mistake in my comments on January 12th 2011. My apologies to Professor Roland Paxton whose name not only did I misspell but got completely wrong!!! My only excuse is that I had been discharged (released!!!) from hospital earlier that day and although having a browse was perhaps not totally compos mentis!! Sorry.
    Marcia Heaviside,Hello Marcia,if you would like to e-mail the photograph you mention to me at ,having seen a portrait of Thomas Grainger I could probably tell you if he is in it. However I am not sure that photography had been invented before Thomas’s death in 1852. Best Wishes and good luck in your searching
    Margaret Parker (Grainger)

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Must have been a senior moment Margaret – the older you get, the better you was !! (sorry xxx)

    Are there any more decentants of Thomas out there ? I am sure Margaret, Elizabeth and I would love to find out.
    Thomas had 3 daughters, Isabella Helen, Jessie Francis and Agnes Catherine. Isabella married Charles Edward Stack (Bombay Lancers) on 20th June 1867 at Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, Westminster – children – Ethel J born about 1871 and Hugh T 1874 (both born in India) and Gladys H M born in1880 in Everdon, Northants. I wonder what happened to Isabella’s children? Thomas had an elder brother John (Margaret and I) Sisters Helen (Elizabeth), argaret, Agnes and Catherine

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  16. Lynne (Grainger) Says:

    Hi – if any descendants of Thomas Grainger, ie from Isabella Stack, read this and wish to get in touch. My new email address is, likewise any descendants of John (Thomas’ brother) or his sisters, Helen, Margaret, Agnes and Catherine. Best wishes to all who read this .-
    Lynne Pack (ne Grainger)

  17. John Grainger Says:

    Hi, I am descended from Peter Grainger, Thomas’s younger brother by 3 years’

  18. Lynne Says:

    Hi John, great to hear from you. I didn’t know Thomas had a younger brother -what a find – Myself (Lynne) and Margaret are direct descendants from Thomas’ older brother John and Elizabeth from Thomas’ sister. There is no mention of Peter in Thomas’s will (died 1852). Love to hear from you with more details, my email address is
    I can find no ‘Peters’ in my searches, however, James Grainger married Helen Lawrie (likely grandparents of Thomas)and they did have a son called Thomas (born 1716) who married Helen Wilkie in 1743 (4 children). It is thought that Helen died and Thomas moved to Ratho and married Agnes Thomson in 1756 – they had two sons, Ronald and Peter who were both witnesses at the baptism of Hugh and Helens youngest daughter, Helen (Thomas Grainger’s sister) in 1803. This is the only ‘Peter’ I have come across in my search. Looking forward to hearing from you. Lynne (ne Grainger)

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