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

1857: Correspondence – Oxenholme Level Crossing

To the Editor of the Westmorland Gazette

Sir,

It is now time to ask whether the Board of trade or the Judges of Assize will allow a turnpike road to be crossed on the level where at least ten passenger trains, and probably as many more luggage engines and trains are passing during the twenty-four hours: – where a branch line also comes in which has to communicate with the main line over the level crossing, where the crossing is between the goods’ station and the passengers’ station, and where the watering and cokeing of the goods’ engines has to be done by passing over the level crossing.

Nothing need be said about the traffic to and from the railway station, although I don’t see that ought to be endangered, but to a person going along the highway there could scarcely be a more dangerous crossing place, and when taking the steep road into consideration, and the amount of traffic, I don’t think there is so dangerous a railway crossing to be found in the United Kingdom.

I shall be very glad, as one who has to cross the Oxenholme road to some extent, to put down my mite to a fund, if such be required, to compel the railway company to give the public a bridge over or under the line.

I am, your obedient servant,

Hutton, sen., not Old Hutton.   R.R.

Westmorland Gazette, 7 February 1857