Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
Rushden Echo, 6th July 1928, transcribed by Kay Collins
Mr Percy Sutcliffe
A Higham Builder Fatally Hurt
Terrible Crash on Road to Bedford
Enquiry Opened at Hospital — Higham Footballer Recovering

Two well-known Higham Ferrers sportsmen were badly hurt, one fatally, in a crash on the Bedford-road, near Milton Ernest last Saturday afternoon. Mr Percy Sutcliffe, master builder, a member of the committee and a former secretary of the Higham Town F.C., was riding his Norton motor-cycle, with Mr James Lush, a centre-half of the same club, on the pillion. They intended to go to the Ait Force display at Hendon, but near Milton Ernest, in trying to pass a car, they collided with a motor ’bus coming from Bedford. Mr Sutcliffe applied his brakes, and, on a dry road, might have pulled up in time, but is had rained recently and the cycle skidded on the wet road and crashed into the ’bus. Mr Sutcliffe was thrown under the ’bus and the wheels passed over the middle of him, inflicting terrible injuries. Mr Lush was injured in the chest. Both of them were rushed in a lorry to Bedford County Hospital, where they received immediate attention. Sutcliffe remained conscious, and he was able to talk to his wife, who was sent for and arrived within an hour or so. He gradually got worse and died at 9.25p.m. Mrs Sutcliffe was not with her husband when he passed away, as the doctors moved visitors out of the ward prior to a drastic effort to save his life, and he passed away before she could return. Mrs Sutcliffe was satisfied, however, that everything possible was done in a case that was practically hopeless from admittance. There was only a million to one chance, and had Mr Sutcliffe pulled through he would have been bereft of both legs.

Mr Lush was thought to be in a critical state at first. It was found, however, that his serious injuries were limited to broken ribs, and it was stated at the inquest on Mr Sutcliffe that Mr Lush was pulling through.

Mr Sutcliffe left a wife and five children. He came to Higham in 1916, and started his business in 1923. He was formerly a well-known steeplejack in Leeds, Yorkshire.

A few years ago Mr Sutcliffe stood as an Independent candidate for Higham Ferrers Town Council.

The Inquest

An inquiry into the causes of the death of Mr Sutcliffe was opened at Bedford County Hospital on Tuesday morning by Mr R G Rose, the Bedford Borough Coroner, and a special jury was sworn in. The deceased’s elder son and a younger brother attended, but only the son was called to give evidence.

The Coroner said he would not detain the jury long, as one of the principal witnesses was too ill to attend, and he would have to adjourn the inquest. He would call the doctor and the son of the decease and take their evidence.

Frederick Sutcliffe, of 35, Grove-street, Higham Ferrers, said his father was 41 years of age. Witness had identified the body. His father was a master builder. He last saw his father on Saturday, just after dinner, when he was in his usual health. His father said he was going to the air pageant at Hendon, and that Mr James Lush would accompany him. Witness’s father drove his motor cycle and Mr Lush rode on the pillion. The machine was a 1928 Norton, which his father had had for about two months; he had ridden a motor cycle since March, 1924. His father was an expert rider.

In reply to a juryman, witness said that the controls on the new machine were the same as on the old one. The pillion rider was a footballer, and probably weighed 10 to 12 stone.

Dr Swarbreck. Surgeon at the hospital, said that deceased was admitted at 3.15p.m. on Saturday. Witness attended him immediately. Sutcliffe was suffering greatly from shock but was fully conscious, lying on a stretcher. Sutcliffe told him that he had skidded. Witness examined him and found that he had a wound three inches long on the top of his head, not a very serious wound. There was a compound fracture of the left thigh, and the right lower leg had a compound fracture and the skin was stripped off of the right leg. Witness stopped the bleeding, took measures to restore Sutcliffe, and sent him into the accident ward. About 8.15p.m. Sutcliffe starting bleeding again, and measures were taken again to stop it. Sutcliffe gradually got worse, and died at 9.25p.m. Witness thought death was due to multiple injuries and shock.

In reply to the Coroner, the doctor said that Mr Lush had injured his chest and broken some ribs, and was getting on comfortably; witness thought that Lush would be able to attend in a week’s time.

The Coroner adjourned the inquest until next Tuesday at Bedford Police Station at 11a.m.

The Coroner’s officer was Mr J Wheatley. Mr H Kishere, manager of the National Omnibus Co., was present.

Mr “Bob” Jarvis, of Church-street, Rushden, driver of the ’bus, was not called. It is understood that he will give evidence at the resumed hearing next Tuesday.

The Funeral

The funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon at St Mary’s Church, Higham Ferrers, and the cemetery, the Rev B E Owen (Vicar) officiating. There was a large company of townspeople present.

The family mourners were Mrs Sutcliffe (widow), Mr Fred Sutcliffe (son), Miss Elsie Sutcliffe (daughter), Mr A Sutcliffe (father), Mr F Sutcliffe (brother), Mrs Easton, Mrs Collins, Mrs Waugh (sisters), Mr Phil Sutcliffe (brother), Mr B Thurlow (brother-in-law), and Mrs Mitchell (sister-in-law).

The bearers included the following employees of the late Mr Sutcliffe: Mr R Boliver, G Botwright, and R Gadsby. Other employees present were Messrs L Bishop, W Bray, T Hartwell, J Mayes, S Morris, T Morris, A Webb, L Webb, J Ward, and A Young. The Higham Ferrers Town F.C. representatives were Messrs J W Barker, E Cross, W S Middleton, A Thomas, and S Upton. Messrs R Cox, J C Blowey, and T H Parker (fellow contactors of the town), Ald F D Brazier, and Mr H H Carmichael were also present.

The wreaths were inscribed:

To my dear husband, from his broken-hearted wife. “Until we meet again”.

To dear dad, from Fred, Elsie, Mary, Eric and Basil.

With deepest sympathy, Dad, Fred, Beattie, Connie, and Phil.

In deepest sorrow, from Daphne and Jim.

From Freda and Doll, to Uncle.

With deepest sympathy, from Mr and Mrs L Seamarks (friends).

In friendship’s memory, J Lush.

With deepest sympathy, from Mr and Mrs R Cox.

With deep and sincere regret for the loss of our good neighbour and friend, Mr and Mrs Clark, Frank, and family.

With deepest sympathy, Mr and Mrs Maple.

In token of respect from officials and committee of Town Football Club, with deepest sympathy.

With deepest sympathy, Mr and Mrs Miller and Ella (Griffin Inn).

A token of respect, with deepest sympathy, from his employees. “At rest.”

With deepest sympathy from Solly and F Upton.

With deepest sympathy, Mr and Mrs W Sabey.

With sincere sympathy, from all at 39 and 41 Grove-street.

With deepest sympathy, from Mrs Mawby, Wharf-road.

The funeral arrangements were ably carried out by Messrs F Parker and Son, of Higham Ferrers.

Mrs Sutcliffe and family desire to express their gratitude and thanks to all for their sympathy, and for tokens of condolence in their great loss.

Note from his grandson Roger: The only information I have about Percy Sutcliffe is that he built the stand - pictured on page 118 of the Higham Ferrers a pictorial history book. On the same page is a photograph of the Higham Ferrers Town Football Team, and Percy is in the photo. His son, my father Eric Sutcliffe, is pictured on page 78, as Robin Hood.

Percy was born in 1887 in the Leeds area, and he states that he was a chimney builder. That is on my father’s birth certificate, in 1919.

In the 1911 census he was in Stoke on Trent, and at Crystal Palace [London] in 1919. Then in 1921/22 he was in Higham, and he lived at 35 Grove St Higham Ferrers.

Eric has passed away now and he not did not really talk much about his past, and only told me that Percy died in a motor accident.

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the villages index
Click here to e-mail us