He was a railway platelayer in 1881 and lived with his parents in Garners Cottages, Etchingham. In 1891 he was living with his wife and family at Churchh House Cottages, Etchingham and was still a platelayer. In 1901 he was living at Hammerden Cottage, Stonegate, Ticehurst and was still a platelayer. In 1911 he was a raiway labourer but that could still have been a platelayer. He was a Sapper in the Royal Engineers during World War 1..
Plate layers were trackmen. Some early railway lines were of wood, capped with metal plates to protect the wood from wear. The men who laid the track were therefore called "platelayers". The name stuck, even though that form of construction soon went out of favour.
The upkeep of the rails, sleepers, plates and permanent way are vital to the safe running of trains A plate layer would be responsible for all aspects of track maintenance such as replacing worn out rails or rotten sleepers, packing to ensure a level track, weeding and clearance of the drains etc. There was little available to them in the way of mechanical assistance in those days and it often involving arduous and uncomfortable work. They were usually assigned to each mile or two miles of track, with a platelayers' hut as shelter and working base. These were generally a single room, immediately adjacent to the running lines, equipped with a table, chairs, and a simple heating stove.
The status and pay of a platelayer, fixing and maintaining the track day in day out, was far lower that the engineman driving the train passed him.
Etchingham station building dates from 1851, when both the station and the first section of the Hastings line opened.