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

WESTMORLAND COUNTY COUNCIL

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: 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

1871: Lightning

On Friday afternoon … a thunderstorm of great violence burst over Kendal and the district. It commenced about 2.30, and continued till six o’clock. It culminated about 4 in a terrific flash of lightning., accompanied by an almost instantaneous peal of deafening thunder. Another flash and thunder clap fully as violent followed at six o’clock, after which the storm gradually rolled away. At the Kendal railway station the electric fluid entered the room where the telegraph instrument was placed, passed into an adjoining room, and again through another door on to the platform. At Oxenholme Junction it struck the telegraph instrument, burst a gaspipe, and fired the gas, which in turn set fire to some woodwork and the wall paper. At Staveley, about four miles from Kendal, the lightning set fire to a barn, destroying a quantity of hay, and also the roof of the building.

Bedfordshire Mercury, 26 August 1871

1868: Frightful accident at Oxenholme

Between ten and eleven o’clock on Thursday morning, a fatal accident occurred just outside Oxenholme Railway Junction, Westmorland. A platelayer, named John Cross, was at work on the line, and near him was an overlooker, Joseph Beard. Suddenly an engine was observed running towards the men, and the driver was heard blowing his whistle with great vehemence. Beard called to the platelayer to get out of the way, and then he himself moved aside. The next moment he was horrified to see Cross pass over the line; at the same instant the locomotive dashed on to the unfortunate fellow, lifting him from his feet, and causing him to turn a complete somersault in the air. When picked up the body was fearfully mutilated; life was extinct. On the same night C. G. Thomson, Esq., Coroner held an inquest on the body, when the jury returned the verdict, “Accidentally killed by an engine on the Kendal and Windermere Railway about half-a-mile from Oxenholme Station.”

Kendal Mercury, 4 January 1868

1861: Natland

This township is an instance of special circumstances, producing a considerable proportionate change. The establishment of the Railway Station (Oxenholme) and its houses, with one or two other dwellings, adds 25 per cent. to the population of 1851.

Superintendent Registrar, Kendal

Kendal Mercury, 15 June 1861