|Wellingborough News, 23rd June 1883, transcribed by Kay Collins
Fatal Accident on the Viaducts - One Man Killed and Another Seriously Injured
A shocking accident occurred on the viaducts which span the river Nene between Irchester and Wellingborough, on Monday afternoon, resulting in the death of Richard Salter, and of serious injuries to Wm. Bennett (40), of Wymington Huts. It is stated that Salter was crossing the bridge to go to his brother who was fishing on the opposite side. At the time the two men were on the bridge a mineral train was going over on the up line, and the unfortunate men stepped on to the down line to let it pass, and did not observe that an express, running from 46 to 50 miles an hour, was approaching them. The fireman of the express when forty yards away sounded the whistle when he saw the men were in danger, but their attention was taken from it by the noise made by the goods train. A labourer called out to them, and when the train was almost upon them they became aware of their danger, and attempted to step into the six-foot way, but it was too late, the corner of the buffer-plate of the engine catching Salter and knocking him down, killing him instantly. The other man (Bennett) was also caught by the same engine, but, as the driver said, only slightly. This man, who had four of his ribs broken, and received other injuries, was conveyed to Bedford by a special train, and now lies in a very precarious state in Bedford Infirmary. On the way to Bedford he was examined at Ampthill by a doctor. The deceased's remains were removed to the Carpenter's Arms Inn, Irchester, awaiting the inquest.
At 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, the inquiry into the cause of the death of Richard Salter was held in the large room of the Carpenter's Arms Inn, kept by Mr. Cooper, before the divisional coroner, Mr. J. T. Parker, and a jury of whom Mr. J. Austin was foreman. The Midland Railway Company were represented by Inspector Potter and the Irchester station-master, and Mr. W. J. Bassett appeared for Mr. Oliver.
The Coroner said they were met to inquire into the cause of the death of Richard Salter. He was walking on the line of the Midland Railway, and it appeared that in stepping out of the way of one train he walked in the way of another. He himself was not aware of any blame being attached to anyone.
The jury then viewed the body, which presented a very ghastly appearance, and on their return, the following evidence was taken:
Thomas Bond, a labourer in the employ of the Midland Railway Company, of Irchester, gave the usual evidence of identification, and said that the deceased lived at Wymington, and was an agricultural labourer before he worked for Mr. Oliver. On the previous day witness was at work on the main line of the Company near the viaducts, and about twenty minutes after four in the evening he saw deceased standing in the 4ft. way just before the express came by. The express was going in the direction of Leicester. The man was standing still, with his back towards the approaching train, while a mineral train was passing him on the upline. When this train had gone by he saw the deceased lying in the 6ft. way. He went to him and found he was killed, having received several wounds on the head.
By a juror: Could the driver of the train see the deceased any distance?He saw him because he whistled when he was about 120 yards from the deceased.
Did you see anything more?I saw deceased make a leap on to the 6ft. way just as the train was upon him. That was the last I saw of him alive.
In answer to some other questions from the jury, witness said he could see the other man, and he was thrown on to the wall of the bridge. Both the men were not close together. He did not know whether deceased was looking out or not, or whether he was in the act of preparing any tobacco.
How far was Bennett on the bridge at the time he was knocked down?I cannot say. He might have been 10 or 15 yards. I saw the man Bennett thrown against the wall. I glanced at the men as soon as the mineral train had passed. I cannot say which way the man was leaping, neither can I say which train struck him. Deceased lay with his head toward Wellingborough.
Thomas Maddams, an old labourer, a native of Shefford, said he was employed as platelayer on the line. On the day previous he was at work near the viaducts, when he saw the deceased in danger, and he beckoned and called to the man, when he attempted to get out of the way, but was knocked down by the engine. The driver, he thought, began to whistle as soon as he saw the man, and was about 150 yards from him when he commenced to whistle.
By the Foreman: The man appeared to have had his attention drawn by the mineral train. As soon as I called to him he attempted to get into the six-foot way.
Henry Leadbeater, the driver of the express, deposed that he was driving a fast passenger train between London and Bradford, and on nearing the bridge his fireman saw two men on the line and opened the whistle to warn them. He was between thirty and forty yards from them when he opened the whistle. He could not see them before. One of the men looked as if he was in the act of flinging something into the river. The engine caught the man with the corner of the buffer plate as he was attempting to step into the six-foot way. He and the fireman were looking out, as it was the practice to keep a sharp look-out on that part of the line as so many men were at work about there. The mineral train had hardly got by, and that was making a noise. When the whistle was blown on his engine the driver of the other train looked round. He stopped at Wellingborough and gave information, and someone was sent down there. When he arrived at Kettering he examined his engine, and found marks of blood on the buffer plate; it was only just on the corner. They were running at the rate of 45 or 50 miles an hour.
By a juror: Did you see the second man?I saw them both. It was my engine which struck each of them. It did not strike the second man very hard.
Mr. Edmund Freeman, surgeon, of Rushden, said he had examined the deceased, and found that he had a large fracture on the top of the skull, and a severe laceration of the back part of his head. The brain was exposed, and he must have been killed instantaneously.
P.C. Thomas produced the articles which were found on the deceased, and the parish constable was also in attendance.
The Coroner briefly summed up, and the jury at once returned a verdict of "Accidental death."