3 January 1903
FATALITY AT ASHTON
Newton Heath Fireman Killed –
Mysterious Disappearance from a Railway Carriage
A singular fatality occurred on the Lancashire and Yorkshire
Railway near Oldham-road bridge, Ashton, on Saturday evening.
Two employees of the L and Y railway, one an engine driver
named Charles WILLIAMS, residing at 18 Tetlow-street,
Daisy Bank, Newton Heath, and the other a fireman, John
POMFRET, aged 23, of 4 Hugo-street, off Lightbown-road,
Newton Heath, entered the 5.15pm train from Charlestown
station to Manchester, having been relieved of their duties
at Charlestown goods station shortly before.
According to the statement
of WILLIAMS, when about 300 yards from the station, and
near to Oldham-road bridge, fireman POMFRET suddenly disappeared
from the compartment. When last seen by WILLIAMS and another
passenger who was in the compartment he was standing near
the carriage door on the left side traveling in the direction
of Manchester. On arriving at Droylsden Station, WILLIAM
alighted and ran to a signal box and telephoned to Ashton
to search the line. He then caught the next train back
Information was conveyed to
the Ashton Police Station and Constables FERNLEY and ALFORD
proceeded at once with the horse ambulance, and to their
credit be it said that in less than 15 minutes POMFRET,
who was suffering from a severe scalp wound and crushed
leg, was being surgically attended at the Infirmary. Death
took place about nine o’clock the same night.
The inquest was held at Ashton
District Infirmary on Tuesday afternoon by Mr J F PRICE
(district coroner). Mr A E G CHARLTON, (solicitor, Manchester)
appeared on behalf of the driver Williams, and Mr A MEAR
represented the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants.
Mr DAWSON (solicitor) was present on behalf of the Lancashire
and Yorkshire Railway Company, and there were also present
Messrs j MARKLAND (locomotive superintendent, Newton Heath)
and C H MONTGOMERY (Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway carriage
and wagon department, Manchester.
Mary POMFRET said the deceased
was her husband. She last saw him alive on Saturday morning
about 5.30 when he left home to go to work and bade her
good morning. Some days he acted as engine cleaner and
others as fireman. On Saturday evening she heard that
he had been injured and taken to Ashton Infirmary. She
proceeded there, but he was dead when she arrived. She
had never heard of driver WILLIAMS before Saturday. WILLIAMS
came to her and told her that her husband had happened
an accident. She had no reason to doubt but that her husband
and WILLIAMS were on good terms.
Charles WILLIAMS said he was
an engine driver. Deceased had never worked along with
witness prior to last Saturday. He had seen deceased at
the engine shed, but only knew him by sight. They commenced
working together at 5.45 in the morning, deceased having
been instructed to act as fireman. During the daytime
they worked a special goods train between Miles Platting
and Stalybridge, and made one journey. At 5pm they were
relieved at the passenger platform at Charlestown Station,
and he and deceased went into a third-class compartment
in the third carriage from the end.
There was a passenger in the
compartment when they got in. Witness took his seat on
the right-hand corner of the compartment facing the engine,
and the passenger sat right opposite. Deceased went to
the other side, but did not sit down. Witness did not
know why. He stood with his face to the door. He never
spoke. The train moved out of the station and they had
got about 300 yards when deceased disappeared like a cloud
through the window.
The Coroner: Was the door open
or shut? It was shut. – Did he go through the window?
I don’t know whether he went through the door or
window. – It is a strange thing. Surely you would
see him, you would see the door open. – Have you
any idea how the glass got broken? None whatever. After
he disappeared the handle of the door was half turned
and it was fastened on the first catch.
The foreman (Mr W CHADWICK):
It is rather a narrow bridge. – Mr YATES: There
are no marks on the carriage door. – A Juryman:
If the door had flown open the wind would have closed
it again. – Mr MONTGOMERY: There was blood on the
glass found inside the carriage. – Coroner: What
were you doing at that moment? – WILLIAMS: I was
talking to the other passenger. – A Juryman: Was
he subject to fits? I don’t know. – You would
hear the bang of the door? There was a kind of thump and
then the glass flew in. There was a strong wind at the
time. – Mr MONTGOMERY said the carriage was locked
up after the accident. He found the broken glass on the
seat with blood on it.
Continuing his evidence, WILLIAMS
said that after the disappearance he went across the compartment
and was almost on the point of following deceased. Witness
pulled the communication cord, but it did not appear to
act as the train did not stop until it got to Droylsden.
Deceased was quite sober and had never tasted drink all
Harry MOULDEN, clerk, 56 King-street,
Ashton, deposed to joining the 5.15pm train. The last
named witness and deceased followed him into the compartment.
Shortly after the train started witness noticed deceased
lower the window. He was then standing up. A conversation
commenced about the train service between witness and
WILLIAMS and they got near Oldham-road bridge when witness
heard a crash and breaking of glass and on turning his
head and looking in that direction he found deceased was
The Coroner said it was an
extraordinary case as to how the man got through the window.
The most important point was to clear the other passenger
in the carriage. – A Juryman: The window must have
been struck from outside. – The Coroner: Probably
he was leaning through the window and was dragged out
by the bridge. Mr CHORLTON: He had a fractured skull.
– The Coroner: That might have been fractured by
falling out. – A Juryman: There is no one to prove
that the door was fastened. He must have been leaning
forward and fallen out and his head come in contact with
the bridge, and the door would bang and cause the side
window to break.
The Coroner: It looks as if
he had caught the bridge and it had thrown him against
the window.- A Juryman: But there would not be time for
the blood to flow into the carriage. – The Coroner:
The question is was his death an accident. We shall never
find out exactly what happened. – A Juryman: It
is singular the two witnesses did not see anything. –
The Foreman: My opinion is that he was caught by the bridge.
What distance is it from the carriage to the side of the
bridge? – Mr YATES: About 3 feet 2 inches from the
rail to the wall of the bridge. I found blood on the ashes
close to the wall and it seemed as if the dirt had been
rubbed off the wall in one place.
The jury ultimately returned
a verdict of accidental death caused by falling through
a carriage window.
SUICIDE AT MOTTRAM
Trial at Dukinfield
At the Dukinfield Police Court on Thursday a young woman
named Alice BARLOW was charged on remand with attempting
to commit suicide by jumping into a mill dam off Stalybridge-road,
Mottram, at three o’clock pm on the 30th December.
– Superintendent CROGHAN informed the magistrates
that this was a very painful case.
The young woman resided with
her father on Mottram Moor. It appeared she became very
depressed about a young man and attempted to commit a
rash act on the 30th. She jumped into a pit off Mottram
Moor. Fortunately, she was seen, immediately rescued and
taken to her parents’ home. She was attended by
Dr ANBURN, and she was subsequently brought before Alderman
KERFOOT on Wednesday, and remanded until that morning.
She appeared to be all right now, and expressed great
regret for the rash act, and promised never to do it again.
Leslie MORGAN, aged 11, was
called. He said he lived with his parents at the Star
Inn, Mottram. On Tuesday last, about 3pm, he was in Stalybridge-road,
Mottram, and saw the defendant on the bank of a mill dam.
He next saw her jump into the water. He called to a man
named John RHODES, who was passing, and he, with the assistance
of Robert BLACKBURN, got her out of the water. She was
then taken to her home on Mottram Moor.
The Clerk charged the defendant
with feloniously and maliciously attempting to murder
herself by casting herself into a certain pond of water
called a mill dam. Defendant: I have nothing whatever
to say, only I got depressed, that is all. – The
Clerk: Is her father here? – The reply was in the
affirmative, and he came forward. – Defendant said
she knew she had done wrong.
Alderman BEELEY: You are not
disposed to do this sort of thing again? – Defendant:
No, sir. – You should not think because one thing
happens in life that everything is going to go wrong with
you. You must take a more cheery view of things, and think
there are plenty better things in the world than what
has happened. You must fight against any tendency of again
To the father: If we let your
daughter go home with you, will you undertake to take
care of her to the best of your abilities? – Mr
BARLOW: I will, your Worships. – Alderman BEELEY:
In that case you the defendant will be allowed to go home
in the expectation that in future you will do better for
yourself. – The defendant thanked the Bench, and
subsequently left the court with her father and two sisters,
who were deeply affected.
BOROUGH POLICE COURT
VEHICLE WITHOUT LIGHT. – Herbert
MAKIN was summoned for using a vehicle without having
a light attached thereon on the 19th December. –
Constable SMITH said defendant gave a false address. –
Fined 1s and costs.
BAD LANGUAGE. –
Winifred TRAVIS, a young woman, was summoned for using
bad language in St Michael’s-square on the 22nd.
She pleaded guilty, and said she had a drop of drink.
– The Chief Constable said she had not been up before.
– Mr PARK said the magistrates were determined to
put down bad language for the sake of the purity of the
streets. – Fined 5s 6d for costs. Alice Ann SCHOFIELD
was fined 5s 6d costs for using bad language in Higher
Wharf-street on the 27th.
A FRIENDLY CHRISTMAS
WRESTLE. – Harry MONKS and Albert LAW were
summoned for committing a breach of the peace by fighting
in Katherine-street on the 25th. – The Clerk: “Peace
on earth and goodwill,” and here you are fighting.
– Defendant LAW said under the circumstances they
pleaded guilty. – The Clerk: What do you mean by
circumstances? – Defendant: We were not fighting.
We had been singing at this house, and had a friendly
wrestle. – (Laughter.) – Constable FURNESS
stated that on Christmas morning he was on duty and saw
the defendants fighting. They were kicking one another.
He separated them and took them into custody.
The Clerk: This friendly wrestle
developed into kicking one another whilst down. –
LAW: We were not outside the house two minutes and down
we went. – The Clerk: Where were the other singers?
– LAW: Inside the house. – (Laughter.) –
The Clerk: Did you come out to have this friendly wrestle?
No; we came out to go home. – The Bench bound the
defendants over to keep the peace for three months in
their own recognisances of 40s, and the costs, in default
A FOOLISH AND DANGEROUS
PRACTICE. – A lad named John ASPINALL was
summoned for throwing a missile in Cavendish-street on
the 19th December. He pleaded guilty. A witness stated
that defendant threw a sow’s head bone at a shop
door. It struck the spar and bounced through the window.
– The Clerk: What did you do this trick for? –
Defendant: As we were coming down King-street, I said
“Watch me bring those people out of the shop.”
– The Clerk: Why did you want them out? Had you
any orders to give? – Defendant: No.
The Clerk: The result of you
throwing that bone at the shop door has cost the shopkeeper
15s for the window. He has not sued you for the damage,
but your action has cost him 15s for your satisfaction
in trying to bring him out of the shop door. – The
Chairman: Are we expected to throw the expenses upon him?
– The Clerk: No, the shopkeeper very good-naturedly
takes no action in the matter. It will be at his own expense
unless he does. – It was elicited that the defendant
had no father, and a medical certificate stated that Mrs
ASPINALL was too ill to appear.
The Chairman (to defendant):
You have been a very naughty boy, and you ought to be
careful what you do. Your mother is a widow, you know.
You have entailed an expense upon the shopkeeper by your
foolish act, and he evidently thinks your mother cannot
pay. If your father had been living and in a position
to pay, we should have fined you. You can go. –
Defendant: Thank you, sir.
DRUNK AND DISORDERLY.
– Sarah RYAN was charged with being drunk
and disorderly in Canning-street on the 20th December
– A constable said he saw the defendant very drunk,
and using bad language to her husband. – She had
been up four times and was fined 5s 6d for costs.
Frank TAYLOR was charged with
being drunk and disorderly in Old-street on Christmas
Eve. – Defendant said he blacked his face and put
women’s clothes on. It was Christmas, and he did
not think there was any harm in it. – The Chief
Constable said defendant had been up seven times. –
Fined 5s 6d and costs, or 14 days, the Chairman telling
defendant he had his character to redeem.
Edward OWEN was charged with
a similar offence in Stamford-street on Christmas Eve.
– Constable WILD said defendant was behaving in
a disorderly manner, and had gathered a crowd of children
around him. – The Clerk: They fancied he was a Santa
Claus perhaps. – (Laughter.) – Have you ever
been in a police court before? – Defendant: No,
sir. – Not at Stockport? Oh, yes sir. – (Laughter.)
What did they give you there? Fourteen days last time.
That was the first time I was in gaol. – The Chairman:
You are very honest. Give over these habits. We shall
dismiss you this morning, don’t come here again.
– The Clerk: You may now go to Stockport, or elsewhere.
Joseph GREENWOOD was charged
with being drunk in Old-street on the 28th. He pleaded
guilty. – The Chairman: The usual story, Joseph,
Christmas time? – Defendant: Yes. – The Chairman:
See that you don’t do it again; dismissed.
Sarah Jane ROBERTS was charged
with being drunk and disorderly in Duke-street on the
27th. – She pleaded guilty, and was fined 5s 6d
DEATH AT HURST
Information was to the Hurst Police Station of the death
of Mary MASON, widow aged 49 years, residing at 18 Hope-street,
which took place on Sunday morning. Deceased had been
troubled for a considerable time with bronchitis and a
swelling in her throat. She retired to bed about 10.30
on Saturday night after having partaken of supper. The
following morning about, five o’clock, her daughter,
with whom she was sleeping, was awakened by hearing her
complain of choking. She tried to restore her, but death
took place shortly afterwards.
The inquest was held at the
New Inn, Whiteacre-road, on Tuesday afternoon by Mr J
F PRICE, district coroner.
Eva MASON, machinist, said
deceased was her mother, and she lived with her at 18
Hope-street, Hurst. She was 49 last birthday, and had
not been in very good health lately, having been troubled
on and off with bronchitis and a swelling in her throat.
She consulted Dr PEARCE about 14 months ago for bronchitis,
and a few weeks ago she was again troubled with the complaint.
She had a slight cough, but had never complained of dizziness.
She was in her usual health
on Saturday night, and went to bed about 11 o’clock,
after having supper. Witness slept along with her. She
wakened witness about five o’clock on Sunday morning,
and complained of a choking sensation. Witness got up
and lighted the fire downstairs, and deceased was assisted
downstairs. She was in a bad way and had great difficulty
breathing and vomited a little blood. Witness and her
grandmother tried to give her some brandy, but she could
not swallow anything, and fell on the sofa exclaiming
“Lord help me.”
Witness went for Dr BRADLEY,
but her mother expired whilst she was away. The swelling
in her neck seemed to affect her breathing. The doctor
never told her what it was. She did not know if it was
Derbyshire neck or not.
Ann GORDON, mother of deceased,
deposed to deceased being troubled with bronchitis, and
said she had not been able to walk very far without being
out of breath. She had often complained on awakening in
the morning that she was afraid of being choked. She commenced
rattling in the throat on Sunday morning and went very
dark about the lips.
The jury returned a verdict
of death from natural causes.
At the Police Court, on Thursday, before Alderman Thomas
BEELEY, Alderman J KERFOOT, Mr W UNDERWOOD and Dr TINKER.
A boot and show salesman named Thomas O’BRIEN, of
129 Pickford-lane, applied for an order of exemption from
vaccination of his child, Maggie.
Mr G J WESTBROOK (magistrates’
clerk): On what grounds? – Applicant: I have a conscientious
objection, sir. – Why? I think it will be dangerous
to the health of my child. – Alderman BEELEY: In
face of what is going on. I don’t feel satisfied,
I must say, to grant it. – Dr TINKER: I have said
so much that I shall say no more, except that I am entirely
against it. – The Clerk: You know about the smallpox
epidemic? Applicant: Yes. – And that does not alter
your view at all? No, I have a conscientious objection.
Mr UNDERWOOD: You know we have
smallpox in Dukinfield? Yes. – Alderman BEELEY:
It is a very serious matter. We are only here to administer
the law, but I am bound to say that if it is granted,
so far as I am concerned it will be with the greatest
reluctance. In face of the epidemic going about the country
I don’t know whether we are really doing our duty
in saying we are satisfied with the ground for your objection.
The Clerk: If you are not satisfied,
you could refuse the application. – Applicant: But
I have a conscientious objection. – Alderman BEELEY:
Anyone who has had any experience with these cases, relieving
officers, and medical officers, feel that it is the greatest
wrong is being done to their neighbours by persons not
having their children vaccinated. With good lymph and
careful attention to the child, there should not be any
danger to the child. The very fact that we see so few
people pitted with smallpox nowadays ought to be a guarantee
of the efficacy of vaccination.
The Clerk: Do you persist in
your application? O’BRIEN: Yes. – Alderman
BEELEY: We grant it, but under protest.
Jonathan SCHOFIELD, hatter,
2 West-street, made a similar application. – The
Clerk: What is your objection? – Applicant: I believe
it will be detrimental to the child’s health. –
That is your only ground, is it? No, sir; my wife was
vaccinated five years ago and she has never been the same
since. – What else? I believe it to be injurious
to the child’s health. – There has been no
ground stated for granting the exemption yet. –
I have a conscientious objection to vaccination. –
It has taken you a long time to find it out.
Alderman BEELEY: You are doing
a very wrong thing to your neighbours, I am certain about
that. – Applicant: The law allows me to make that
objection. – Alderman BEELEY: We know all about
the law, my boy, you need not teach us that. But there
are epidemics going on all round about. – Dr TINKER:
The peculiar part of it is that a number of people get
these exemptions and then come with their children to
have them vaccinated. – Alderman BEELEY: I dare
say you will find that to be so. – Mr UNDERWOOD:
You know there is a case of smallpox within 100 yards
of where you live? – Applicant: Yes, sir. –
Alderman BEELEY: We grant it most reluctantly.
A political economist remarks: “Sir, I have read
in the papers that a child has met its death through swallowing
a reel of cotton. This is not the right way of putting
the event, having regard to its most important feature.
It should have been, ‘A reel of cotton was lost
to industrial purposes through being swallowed by a child.”