While browsing through railway company staff files, I came across Mrs Elizabeth Ainsworth, who was listed as an office cleaner at the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway's Ardwick Station in 1892. Just to see what I could turn up, I thought I would briefly look into how Elizabeth came to hold this post, as most women who were employed on the railways and were listed as 'Mrs' were widows of railwaymen who had been killed while on duty.
Elizabeth was appointed to her post on 29 November 1892 on the pitiful wage of eight shillings a week (£20 6s per year). Therefore, I figured that the next thing to do was to look for her in the 1891 census. On finding her, I discovered that she was forty-nine when the census was taken and had been born in Farnsfield, Nottinghamshire. At that point she was living with her five children and husband, Henry, who was a railway porter. The hunt was then on to find out what happened to Henry.
Unfortunately, his staff record has seemingly not survived. Yet, I did find out that a Henry Ainsworth died in the June quarter of 1892 in Chorlton, which is only four miles from Ardwick. Therefore, it is possible that this was my Henry, although the birth year on the Birth, Marriage and Death register does not match that on the 1891 census. Nevertheless, on the 1901 census, when Elizabeth was still living with four of her children in Ardwick, she was listed as being a widow. Consequently, while much searching did not turn up how Henry died, I am almost certain that Elizabeth received the job because he had passed away.
Later records show that Elizabeth continued in the company's service until 1 February 1913, and that her wages were only advanced once, in October 1893, when she started receiving ten shillings a week.
 The National Archives [TNA], RAIL 463/309, MS & L Railway & Canal general staff book, p.45
 TNA, RG 12/3169, 1891 Census, Lancashire, Ardwick, District 26, p30
 TNA, RAIL 463/243, Staff register: 4841 - 5342 No. 10, p.4932
 TNA, RG 13/3678, 1901 Census, Lancashire, South Manchester, Ardwick, District 29, p.32