1871: A Gatekeeper killed at the Oxenholme Level Crossing

On Saturday last an inquest was held at the railway-station, Oxenholme, by C. G. Thomson, Esq., on the body of James Armer, gatekeeper at the level crossing at Oxenholme, who had been struck down and killed that morning by a luggage train, as detailed in the following evidence: –

Matthew Armer, of Old Hutton, labourer, deposed. – The deceased James Armer was my son. He was 21 years of age. He was not married. He was the gatekeeper at Oxenholme Station on the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway. He had been in the employment of the London and North-Western Railway Company for several years, but had only acted as gatekeeper at Oxenholme for about five weeks. Deceased had been on day duty for the last fortnight. His hours were from six o’clock in the morning until six o’clock in the evening. He took all his meals with him to work.

Robert Armstrong of Carlisle, deposed: – I am an engine driver in the employment of the London and North Western Railway Company, and have been in the service of the company for nearly 23 years. I was this morning driving a luggage train which leaves Carlisle at 3.30 a.m. It is due at Oxenholme at 6.18 a.m., but is it not marked to stop at Oxenholme. We were rather more than an hour late this morning, and approached Oxenholme about 7.30 a.m. We ran through Oxenholme Station at about a speed of fifteen or twenty miles an hour; certainly under twenty miles. Just before the engine reached the cabin on the south side of the gates, on the east side of the line, I saw the deceased come from the direction of the cabin and went right in front of my engine. It was not quite light at the time. I whistled, but could see nothing of the deceased. I looked at the other side and saw his cap fly off, and I was sure the engine had struck him then. I stopped the train and came back, and found deceased had been removed to the porters’ room. He was not dead, but insensible. There was a train on the down line running north as we passed the level crossing. My engine would be about ten or fifteen yards from the deceased when I first saw him, and I think that if he had gone direct across the line he would have cleared it. I saw no one near deceased. The signals were all right for our passing through the station. I afterwards examined the engine and found marks on the ash box as if it had come into contact with deceased.

James Robinson, of Upperby, near Carlisle, deposed: – I acted as fireman on the engine driven by the last witness this morning. We passed through Oxenholme Station at a speed of about twenty miles an hour. The driver whistled just before we reached the level crossing, and I saw deceased’s cap flying off as we passed the gates.

Henry Nelson, of Oxenholme, deposed: – I am a foreman platelayer in the employment of the London and North-Western Railway Company. About half-past seven o’clock this morning I was in deceased’s cabin, with himself and John Park, the pointsman and signalman at the south end of the station. We were all talking. We had not been more than two or three minutes in the box when the north end signalman gave four gongs, which is the signal that a goods train is approaching from the north. Park returned the signal with one gong, which means all right – that the road is clear. Deceased asked me to open his gates, and I said “well, when I have more time,” and he then took down the gate keys and went and opened the goods yard gate on the east side of the line, and I afterwards heard him run down past the cabin, but I did not see him. The next thing I heard was the goods train passing and whistling for breaks. After the train had passed we found deceased lying in the four foot about twenty-three yards below the gates. He was lying with his face downwards. We lifted deceased into the six foot, and then went for assistance and removed him into the porters’ room, where he remained and died in about twenty minutes. Deceased was very much injured uponhis head, and one foot was smashed. He was never sensible after we found him.

Verdict – “Accidentally killed.”

Westmorland Gazette, 16 December 1871

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

1853: The Queen at Oxenholme Station

The disappointment which was felt by the lieges of Kendal, when the Queen did not stop at Oxenholme on her journey to her Highland Home, was amply compensated yesterday, by the opportunity which was afforded them to testify their loyalty, on her return to Buckingham Palace.

The intelligence reached Kendal on Monday evening that it was intended that the royal train should stop for a few minutes at that station to take in water, and every preparation was forthwith made to do fitting honor, such as the time and occasion required.

The Mayor convened a meeting of the Corporation, and it was resolved that the body should be in attendance to pay their respects to royalty.

The preparations at the station were altogether under the management of the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway Company, to whose line the station belongs, and they appear to have been made with much judgment and ability. Platforms were erected on the up-line of the station, to which admission was given by ticket and though the space was ample, it was by no means sufficient for the numbers that presented themselves. Each member of the Corporation had a ticket for himself, and also one for two ladies; and the other tickets were entrusted to gentlemen, directors and otherwise connected with the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway, for distribution.

The down-side of the station, to which access was free to all comers, was also crowded with spectators; and the tops of the carriages which brought up the throng, and which remained on the line to take them back again were also covered with spectators, whose point of view was by no means the worst.

There was a numerous body of police in attendance, but the order that was observed was, upon the whole, admirable, and redounded greatly to the credit of the people. A special train was in waiting for the Mayor and Corporation of Kendal, which left the Kendal Station shortly after eleven o’clock, and on its arrival at Oxenholme, the municipal body took their appointed station, where they were joined by the High Sheriff, and Mr Ald. Thompson, M.P. for the County.

The royal train, contrary to its wonted punctuality, was nearly 20 minutes behind time. Its arrival was anxiously waited for, and on its drawing up at the watering spot, a burst of enthusiastic cheering took place, with a waving of handkerchiefs, hats &c., which must have convinced her majesty and her escort that the sentiment of loyalty glows as ardently in the bosoms of the people of Kendal, as it does in the bosoms of the denizens of any other of her towns.

The train staid not more than five minutes, but a very good opportunity was afforded for a sight of the Queen. The only drawback was from the reflection of the glass windows, which acted more as a mirror for reflecting the features of the spectators, than to enable them to gain a distinct glimpse of the royal travellers.

Thusfar, however, we were enabled to note, that in the royal saloon carriage were the Queen and her Consort, together with the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal. Her Majesty, who bowed repeatedly in gracious acknowledgment to the acclamations sent forth from both sides of the station, looked remarkably well. She had on a Paisley tartan plaid shawl, and a bonnet with tartan ribbons. The Prince also most affably acknowledged the greetings with which he was received.

The Mayor and the Corporation were ranged alongside the carriage, and it was expected that her Majesty would have interchanged a few words of courtesy with his Worship. But, as we understand, the Duke of Newcastle, the Lord in Waiting, was precluded, by the prescribed etiquette, from introducing either the Mayor or the High Sheriff, from the circumstance that no previous arrangement had been made for such a ceremony.

The requisite supply of water having been taken in, the train was again put in motion, and slowly left the station, amid the united plaudits of the assembled throng. It is computed that between two and three thousand persons were present, and hardly had the carriages disappeared from view, then they were on their return home.

At two o’clock, on the invitation of the Mayor, a number of gentlemen met together at the Commercial Inn, to lunch. The party comprised about 30 guests, including the members of the corporation. The Mayor was supported on his right and left hand by Mr Hilton Halhead, of Liverpool; the Rev. W. Chaplin, the curate of the parish church; Lieut. Stuart, Dr Proudfoot, Rev. J.W, Black, master of the grammar school, Mr. Cropper, Mr. J.J. Wilson, &c. Mr R. Wilson acted as vice-chairman. After the company had done justice to the repast which was set before them, and which was highly creditable to the purveyor, Mr Barrow, whether as regards the elegance of its details or its more substantial requisites. The cloth was drawn, and the Mayor gave a few appropriate toasts. In proposing the health of The Queen, he alluded with much gracefulness to the visit which she had that day paid, and expressed a hope that she might be induced, at some future time, to pass through the town on her way to the Lakes. We have not space, on the eve of our going to press, to enumerate the different toast which were proposed, but we must take the opportunity of putting before our readers the announcement made by the Mayor of the offer of Mr Hilton Halhead to replace the great East window in the Parish Church, with stained glass. This window he proposed to make partly a memorial window to his father; but in case the Vicar should object, the matter would be left altogether in his hands, The party broke up about five o’clock, and the day will be long remembered in Kendal.

We have only to add that the weather was “the Queen’s own.” Had the day been bespoken for the occasion, it could not have been more propitious. The next stoppage was to be at Preston, where preparations were made for the royal reception on a very grand scale,

Kendal Mercury, Saturday 15 October 1853

1851: Coroner’s Inquests … Death by Drowning

On Saturday morning last the body of a young woman, named Eleanor Hayhurst, was found in the canal, close to the Highgate Settings Bridge.  An inquest was held the same day at Oxenholme, before R. Wilson, Esq., when the following circumstances were given in evidence:-

James Cleasby, of Oxenholme, in the township of Kendal, farmer, deposed – Eleanor Hayhurst, the deceased was my servant. She has served me since last Martinmas and was intending to leave my house at Whitsuntide. Some wearing apparel had been misplaced a short time ago, and I named it to the deceased last night about ten o’clock. The doors of my house were then bolted and made fast for the night, and we were about going to bed. We had no high words, and I told deceased that if she would take the things to their proper places nothing more should be said about them. He was then standing in the passage on her way to bed.  She made no reply to what I said, but stood still about five minutes. She then moved to the out-kitchen, extinguished the candle, placed it and the stick upon a table as she passed, and unbolted the doors and hastened out of the house. She did not add anything to her dress, nor did she speak to any one. I hastened after, and ran into the garden calling her by name, and I looked about for her but could not find her. I therefore returned and called my men-servants, and we searched all the outbuildings, but we could not find her there. It was then so dark we thought it useless to search the fields. We sat up to daylight, and the recommenced the search. Having searched various other places, we went to the canal, and, after searching there some time, I found a knife which one of my servants identified as her property. We then returned home and took drags with us. We very soon found the body of the deceased. She was in the canal, quite dead, and had apparently been drowned. We found the body under the Highgate Settings Bridge, in this township, and we removed it here. There are some very steep steps down to the canal bank from the road, and it was very dark when she left my house. If she had been intending to go on the canal banks to Kendal, these steps would be her direct road. The deceased was about twenty years of age.

James Parkinson, of Oxenholme, farm-servant, said- The deceased was a fellow-servant of mine. I assisted to search for her after she was missing yesterday night, and was there when her body was found. My master asked me to name to her that some clothes were missing, and I did so whilst we were milking yesterday. She denied that she had taken them, and desired me to go and search her boxes, which she said were open. She said she wished she was dead, and appeared very much distressed in mind.  She said such stories were enough to drive anyone mad. I believe I was the first to name the missing clothes to her and she at once desired her boxes to be searched.

Verdict – Found drowned.

Westmorland Gazette, Saturday 31 May 1851