Thomas Silvey started out in the coal business after working as a travelling inspector for the Gloucester wagon company, initially in partnership with the Hendy brothers (Hendy & co. of Bristol). By 1889 Thomas Silvey was running his own coal business working from the Upper Railway Wharf at St Philips, the Midland Railways' station in Bristol. Thomas died in 1900 and the company was continued by his widow and their second son (Thomas' eldest son Frank later set up F H Silvey dealing mostly with household coal) and by 1914 the Thomas Silvey company is described as 'coal merchants, factors and shippers'.
Supplying a range of steam, gas and manufacturers coals Thomas Silvey's held contracts to supply many industrial consumers and gas companies around Bristol, Bath, North Somerset and Gloucestershire. The ready availability and range of coals supplied by Silvey and other coal factor companies is probably why so few Bristol area manufacturing companies owned wagons.
In addition to a large fleet of railway wagons Thomas Silvey and company operated ships in the Bristol Channel, Thomas Silveys' Yarrah being the last ship to load coal at Lydney in 1960.
The Thomas Silvey wagons seen on the rear of Weston, Clevedon & Portishead train may well have carried South Wales or Forest of Dean coal discharged from one of Silveys' ships at the light railways' Wick St.Lawrence wharf for delivery to industries and towns served by the line.