1890: Porter killed at Oxenholme Junction

Another of those shocking accidents, which have during the past few years been numerous at Oxenholme Junction, occurred on Thursday evening. The unfortunate man was named William Langhorn, he was 25 years of age, and lived at Helmside, leaving a widow and three children to mourn his loss. The circumstances are very simple and are easily told. It appears that about 7-40 p.m., Langhorn was engaged in shunting operations at the north side of the station, near to the signal box, when he became caught between a horse box and a railway carriage. He was very much crushed, and expired almost immediately. Mr. Moffatt, station-master, and the foreman porter (Armitage) both witnessed the sad affair, which was quite an accident. The body was removed to one of the waiting-rooms to await an inquest.

Westmorland Gazette, 18 October 1890

1890: Shocking accident at the Oxenholme railway station

On the evening of New Year’s Day a terrible accident happened at Oxenholme Railway Station to John Pears, the foreman porter, causing his death. The deceased was married but had no family, and resided at Helmside, a row of cottages a little south of the railway station. When coming on duty about six o’clock it would appear that the deceased crossed the line, and was run into by the London express and literally cut to pieces. The deceased was a steady, quiet man, and much respected by his fellow workmen and the travelling public. An inquest was held on the body on Thursday evening by Mr. F. W. Watson, deputy coroner, when the following evidence was adduced:-

Sarah Pears, of Helmside, deposed: I am the widow of John Pears, the deceased. I last saw him alive last evening, about twenty minutes to six o’clock. My husband was foreman porter at Oxenholme Railway Station. He was due on duty at six o’clock. Before leaving home he was in his usual health and spirits. I had not the slightest reason to think that deceased contemplated any rash act. I am quite satisfied on this point. I attribute his death purely to accident. The deceased was 42 last March.

Henry Paine, brakesman, living at 8, Black Hall Yard, Kendal, deposed: I am in the employ of the London and North-Western Railway Company . I have known the deceased, John Pears, since I commenced work at Oxenholme nine years ago. He was a sober, steady man, and thoroughly acquainted with his duties. When I was coming off duty last evening, about six o’clock, I crossed the shunting yard to get to the platform. I walked along the six-foot way. When near Oxenholme Station I found a can and basket; the can had the deceased’s name stamped upon it. The evening was rather foggy and wet. I suspected that an accident had happened. On proceeding to search a little further south I found a human foot lying on the up loop line, on the shunting side. I then came to the office and told the station master what I had found. The station master and I proceeded back to the place, where we found the trunk of the deceased’s body lying in the four foot of the up main line. The trunk was mangled into a heap. Another person found some other portions of the body further south. I could not identify John Pears from his clothing, nor from any portion of the body that had been found. I cannot account for how the deceased got on to the line. The remains were found about forty yards from the southern end of the platform. I am not aware that the deceased had any duty which required him to cross the rails, but it is commonly done by the railway officials instead of using the sub way.

Thomas Moffat, station master at Oxenholme deposed: I have known the deceased, John Pears, nine years. He was a steady, trustworthy official, and acted as foreman porter. The deceased was due on duty at six o’clock last evening. I did not see him come on duty. A few minutes after six o’clock, the last witness came and reported to me the finding of the can and basket and a human foot. We returned together to continue the search. I corroborate what Paine has said as to the result of the search. Deceased might have been crossing the rails in the ordinary course of his duty. He had continually to do this when on duty. The London express is due to pass Oxenholme at 5-33 p.m., not stopping. Last night the express was late, passing through the station at 5-49. It was proceeding at a high rate of speed. I have no doubt the deceased was killed by that train. It is quite probable that he would think the express had passed and that the line was clear. By a juryman: A lamp underneath the bridge was not lighted; it was moonlight. There was no fog at the time. The platform lamps were all lighted. The lights from the signal box gives a good light where the remains were found. I could identify the deceased by the clothing and can.

Thomas Rumney, of Crewe, deposed: I am an engine-driver, and was in charge of the London express las evening due to pass through Oxenholme at 5-33. I passed through at 5-50. I neither saw, heard or felt anything in passing through Oxenholme, which we did at a rate of about 45 miles an hour. We ran through to Preston without a stop, and on arriving there I found portions of brains scattered against the side frame of the engine. I also observed the peak of a railway cap on the smoke box on the same side. The right buffer lamp was missing when we arrived at Preston. The lamp would be 4ft. or 5ft. from the ground, and this might probably cause death of deceased. The evening was a little hazy, but not so bad at Oxenholme as it was about Hayfell.

Inspector Shepherd, of Lancaster, here stated that there was another train on the down line being shunted when the express went through Oxenholme.

The Deputy-Coroner, however, did not think it was necessary to encumber the dispositions with this.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.”

Westmorland Gazette, 4 January 1890

1889: Application to take over road


The quarterly meeting of this body was held on Wednesday, at the Town Hall, Kendal. The Chairman, Mr. James Cropper, presided, and there was a large attendance of members.

– An application was made by the promoters and subscribers of a road adjoining Oxenholme Junction with Helmside cottages to take over the road as a main road. A generally favourable view was expressed as to the convenience of the new road, but as the preliminary steps had not been taken the matter was allowed to stand over. – The main roads committee stated that an arrangement had been come to with the Kendal Corporation that the latter should be paid at the rate of £120 per mile for the maintenance of about two miles of road in the borough. –Mr. W. H. Wakefield opposed the confirmation of this on the ground that it was excessive, pointing out that the contribution should be in proportion to the wear and tear caused by traffic to the railway station from outsiders. –The Mayor of Kendal (Ald. Baron) contended that Kendal was receiving too little instead of too much, referred to the committee as being the most penurious in the matter. Kendal last year contributed £3,141 to the rates of the county, and did not get back half. They only wanted what was fair, and would be satisfied with no less. –The minutes of the committee were confirmed, there being only two dissentients (Mr. W. H. Wakefield and Mr. W. Wakefield).

Lancaster Gazette, 28 September 1889

1887: Struggle on an engine

A serious affair has just occurred between an engine-driver and fireman on one of the passenger trains running on the loop line between Oxenholme and Windermere. A dispute took place with regard to the work, and the driver, pouncing upon the fireman, gripped him savagely by the throat and knocked him down. The driver then produced a pocket knife, but owing to the greater strength of the fireman, his purpose was averted. On reaching the first station, Staveley, the fireman acquainted the station-master and guard of what had taken place, and at Oxenholme he left the engine and proceeded to a doctor to have his injuries attended to. The fireman’s neck was much injured, the wind-pipe being affected. An inquiry was held by the officials of the London and North-Western Railway Company at Oxenholme, with the result that the driver was dismissed the services of the company.

Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 20 August 1887

1880: Fatal Accident at Oxenholme Railway Station

An accident of a very distressing nature occurred on Saturday last at Oxenholme Railway Station, to a man named Stewardson Martin, who was employed at the works now going on there, and who sustained such injuries that he died the same night, after being conveyed to the Kendal Memorial Hospital. On Monday an inquest was held at that institution, before C. G. Thomson, Esq., coroner, and the following evidence was given:-

Mary Martin, of Yard 94, Kirkland, widow, deposed: The deceased, Stewardson Martin, was my husband. He was 50 years of age. He was a waller by trade, and in the employment of the contractor for the additions to Oxenholme Station.

Joseph McKenna, of 118, Silk Street, Manchester, joiners’ labourer, deposed: I am working at Oxenholme Station. At a few minutes past 12 o’clock at noon on Saturday last, I was standing at the south end of the platform at Oxenholme Station, near the Booking Office. I saw the deceased, he had just received his wages at the office of the contractor at the south end of the station, and proceeded to cross the line. He walked into the six-foot, and appeared to be counting his money. When in the six-foot he suddenly stopped and appeared to be going to turn around to go back the same way. Just at that moment a train came up, and as he turned round he saw it and endeavoured to proceed to get across and out of the way. Just as he was getting on to the parapet wall on the west side, the engine caught him and knocked him down between the parapet and the rails, and he lay there until the train had passed. I went to his assistance, and deceased was immediately removed to this hospital. The train from the South was slackening speed as it came up to the deceased. It stopped within forty yards of the place. I was too far away I could not hear any whistle. I did not see the train coming from the south until it was close upon the deceased. The subway is not yet completed. If deceased had been looking south he could have seen the train at a distance of 500 yards.

John Thomson, M.B., of Kendal, deposed: I attended deceased from the time of his being brought to the Hospital on Saturday, until his death. When he was brought to the Hospital on Saturday, until his death. When he was brought to the Hospital he was suffering from a broken arm, internal injuries, and one of his legs was all but severed from his body. Dr. Leeming amputated the leg in my presence, and, although he was very ill during the operation, he rallied well, and lived about eight hours after the operation. I saw deceased at eight o’clock on Saturday night last. I attributed deceased’s death to shock and internal injuries. I asked deceased how the accident happened, but he did not seem inclined to talk, and said he did not know anything about it until he found himself here. When I saw deceased on Saturday night, I was of opinion deceased might die of collapse at any time.

James Wilson, of South Street, Carlisle, engine driver, deposed: I was driving a passenger train from Preston to Carlisle, on Saturday last. We were timed to reach Oxenholme at 11.59, but we did not arrive until 12.9. Before coming to Oxenholme I shut off steam below the distance signal, and on coming to the Station I should be driving at the rate of between four and five miles an hour. I did not see deceased upon the line, but just as we were stopping I saw a hat and heard a crack in front of the engine. I took up the hat and gave it to one of the porters, and gave information. So far as I could see the line was perfectly clear. I blew my whistle just before the iron bridge which crosses the line, a distance of about 60 or 70 yards from where the accident happened.

Thomas Mitchell, of Carlisle, extra fireman, deposed: I was on the engine with the last witness on Saturday last. Just before entering Oxenholme Station, on looking out I saw the line was clear. I saw a man standing in the six-foot, and when we were about an engine length from him he made a rush across the rails on which we were travelling. The engine buffer plank struck him and knocked him down.

Helena Dickie, Matron of the Hospital, deposed: The deceased was admitted into Hospital about half-past 12 o’clock on Saturday afternoon last. Deceased died about 20 minutes to 10 o’clock in the evening.

Verdict: “Died from injuries received by being accidentally run over by a passenger train at Oxenholme Railway Station.”

Kendal Mercury Friday 17 September 1880

Note: Stewardson Martin was around 4 years younger than his widow stated.  They had six children ranging in age from 1 up to 16 years. 

1880: A Terrible Tragedy!

A case which came before the Mayor and other magistrates, on Monday last was the means of putting to an end one of the most absurd rumours that could have been set afloat, with or without an ultimate intention in the excitement of electioneering.

On the evening of last Saturday week, a feeling of indignation was generally expressed when it became bruited about that Dr. Iliffe, in driving by the gate of Oxenholme Park, had been struck with a large stone, and seriously injured.

It was soon afterwards stated that a dastardly outrage had been intended upon the person of Mr. C. W. Wilson, a prominent supporter of the Conservative Party, and for whom Dr. Iliffe in the gathering darkness had been mistaken. The big stone, it was said struck him on the shoulder, having evidently been aimed at his head, and that had the intention succeeded he most indubitably have been killed.

As Dr. Iliffe dropped the reins “it was the greatest wonder in the world” that the horse did not run away and kill both the doctor and his attendant, though this was not made clear; and it seems moreover that the horse behaved remarkably well, as it stood quite still while the doctor got out of the trap, and found the would-be assassin (so it was said) behind a tree, when he (the miscreant) ejaculated, “By – it isn’t Kit Wilson, after all!” This explained the whole detestable plot! There were other harrowing details which our readers may fill in as their imagination prompts, and when complete they will be as near the actual facts as was the foolish rumour, which the more credulous so greedily swallowed.

The facts adduced in the magistrates’ court, where George Stubbs, was charged with assaulting Walter Iliffe, were as follows: – Dr. Iliffe (the plaintiff) was driving with his attendant near Birklands when he was struck with something – it might have been the stone produced which his attendant had picked up in the road. He got out and overtook a lad who told him it was the defendant who had thrown at him. Defendant pleaded guilty, but declared it was a sod he had thrown. He would not have done so, but a companion, William Graveson, hearing the vehicle approach said, “Whose carriage is this? – let us sod them.” They didn’t know at all who was coming.

A witness, Henry Graveson, said he was with his brother and defendant when the latter said. “Here’s a carriage coming. I’ll sod them.”

Dr. Iliffe said it might have been a sod that struck him. His arm was not bruised at all.

The magistrates decided to fine the defendant 10s. including costs, allowing a month for payment.

Previous to the notable trial there were many who held to the belief that “there was something in it which would come out,” which of course was correct.

Kendal Mercury, 16 April 1880

1878: Fatal accident to a mail driver

On the morning of Christmas Day, William Phillipson, engaged as driver of the mail cart from Windermere to Oxenholme, was about to return with his bags from Oxenholme railway station, when a quick goods train for Liverpool passed. The unfortunate man appears to have been struck by the train, his dead body being thrown  on to the platform, shockingly disfigured about the face and head. One of his shoes was torn off and thrown a few yards away, and the bags he was carrying were damaged.

Liverpool Mercury, 27 September 1878

1875: Painful accident at Oxenholme Station

An accident of a very painful and serious nature occurred at Oxenholme railway station on Tuesday morning, by which a head porter named Thompson Holmes sustained such injuries as to render his case one of a very critical nature. From what we can learn it appears that at about a quarter past two in the morning a goods train, proceeding northwards, stopped at the station, and, for the purpose of giving some instructions to the driver, Holmes got on to the engine. Immediately afterwards a train from the south, due at 2.17, entered the station, and Holmes jumped into a six-foot way for the purpose of crossing to the platform. By some means, however, the unfortunate man was caught by the moving train, and one of his arms was torn completely out from the socket, as, on assistance being procured, it was found to be hanging by a small portion of flesh and skin. As speedily as possible, the necessary steps were taken and Holmes was brought to Kendal, and at once taken to the hospital, where, on his injuries being examined, amputation of the injured limb was pronounced necessary. The pain from the injuries appeared for some time to be but little felt by the sufferer, the shock having produced a numbness of sensation, though he was perfectly conscious, and repeatedly much distress on account of the condition of his mother, with whom, being a single man, he had lived, and to whose support he had contributed. He is regarded as a faithful and useful servant of the Company, and has been much liked by all with whom his avocation has brought him into contact.

Lancaster Gazette, 6 March 1875