Sunday, 6 December 2015

Postman's Park (34): travel deaths

Even in the apparently more sedate days of travel by horse and steam, transport posed many dangers. We have already seen the deaths of Elizabeth Boxall and William Drake from runaway horses; the crew of the Windsor Express and Daniel Pemberton died while working on the railways. This round-up of five similar cases gives a sense of the variety of dangers travel posed.


When James Hewens (wrongly spelt as Hewers on the plaque) saw a young man fall in front of a train, he attempted to rescue him. In doing so, the 34-year-old gardener and former soldier put himself in the train's path and was killed. John Charles Jepson, who was drunk when he fell, also died from his injuries.
JAMES HEWERS ON SEPT 24 1878 WAS KILLED BY A TRAIN AT RICHMOND IN THE ENDEAVOUR TO SAVE ANOTHER MAN
Frederick Alfred Craft's name was also wrongly named on the memorial, as Croft. Craft, an Inspector on the South Eastern Railway, died in similar circumstances to Hewens. On 11 January, he was on duty at Woolwich Station; among those waiting for a train were officers in charge of Eliza Newman, waiting to be taken to Barming Lunatic Asylum. As their train arrived, Newman broke free and jumped in front of it. Craft managed to drag her out of the path of the train, but at the cost of his own life.



Another worker on the railways, William Goodrum, was employed by the North London Railway Company. He was the flagman for his team, watching the four lines of track to warn of approaching trains. The other men were clearing the gutterings of the bridge. At 1.30, a train from Kew approached and Goodrum signalled to his colleagues. However, one didn’t hear the warning so Goodrum stepped into the track of the train to shout a louder warning, waving his arms. The labourer finally heard the shout and got off the track, but Goodrum failed to reach safety and was knocked down by the train, dying instantly.


Meanwhile, the roads posed particular dangers to the young. The Watts Memorial commemorates two such cases. First, William Fisher was walking on Rodney Road with his two-year-old brother James. When the toddler ran into the street in front of a horse and van, William rushed after him to pull him to safety but was killed himself. Sadly, James would also die of his injuries two days later in Guy's Hospital.
WILLIAM FISHER, AGED 9, LOST HIS LIFE ON RODNEY ROAD WALWORTH WHILE TRYING TO SAVE HIS LITTLE BROTHER FROM BEING RUN OVER, JULY 12 1886.
Similarly, fifteen years later, Soloman Galaman was out with his four-year-old brother. John Price has done a great deal of detective work to establish that the family were Russian Jewish immigrants, whose surname also appears as Gellman. As they crossed Commercial Street, the little boy slipped and fell. Saving his brother from being run over, Soloman was killed. His last words perfectly fit the Victorian mood of the memorial: 'Mother, I saved him but I could not save myself.'
SOLOMAN GALAMAN AGED 11 DIED OF INJURIES SEPT 6 1901 AFTER SAVING HIS LITTLE BROTHER FROM BEING RUN OVER IN COMMERCIAL STREET. 'MOTHER I SAVED HIM BUT I COULD NOT SAVE MYSELF'




4 comments:

Christopher Bellew said...

Caroline,
I'm sure you know this but an early casualty was William Huskisson in 1830. At the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway he was hit by George Stephenson's Rocket and died later that day.
Christopher
www.christopherbellew.com

Ralph Hancock said...

The trains are stopp'd, the MIGHTY CHIEFS OF FLAME
To quench their thirst the crystal water claim ;
While from their post the great in crowds alight,
When, by a line-train, in its hasty night,
Through striving to avoid it, Huskisson
By unforeseen mischance was over-run.
That stroke, alas! was death in shortest time;
Thus fell the great financier in his prime!
This fatal chance not only caused delay,
But damped the joy that erst had crown'd the day.

--- T. Baker, The Steam-Engine

He is supposed to have been the very first member of the public to be killed by a train. There is a statue of him on the Embankment in the Pimlico Garden near Dolphin Square, slightly ridiculous in a toga.

CarolineLD said...

Yes, there's something astonishing about how soon railway travel proved fatal!

I hadn't come across that poem before, I do like the penultimate line.

Ralph Hancock said...

The Steam-Engine is a vast epic occupying a whole book, by turns hugely dull and unintentionally comic. These lines are from Canto Ten, quoted from the excerpts pilloried in The Stuffed Owl. There was a partial version on the web, I think in Google Books, which I found once but can't find again. By the way, no one now knows what the man's initial T stood for.

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