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Railway Accidents and a One-Armed Railwayman

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GenealogyJude

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In my family, there was a story that a relative had lost his arm. I have recently discovered that this relative was my 2 x great grandfather, who lost his arm in a railway accident in 1888. I discovered what happened to him through using his railway employment records and newspaper records. He was also called as a witness in court after two further accidents. There was certainly a lack of safety precautions at the time, particularly when it came to shunting.

I thought my article on my research might be of interest to members, so I have posted the link here:


Jude
 
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Iskra

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Thank you for sharing this fascinating insight into railway safety and culpability. I found the court exchanges particularly interesting.

I concur that the railway probably saved his life, getting him to hospital quickly and securing him a suitable position afterwards. The general attitude towards safety however, is rather shocking.

Hopefully someone on here can clear up the significance of him becoming a railway policeman.
 

GenealogyJude

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Thanks very much, I really appreciate your feedback.
I would be very interested to hear more about the job of a railway policeman at this time. As there is nothing in his employment records about him joining the railway police after he became a gateman, I think it may another way of describing his job manning the crossing.
 

DerekC

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Yes - an interesting read about an area I know very well. As you probably know, railway signalmen did originally have the status of police officers and were known as "bobbies" - a term which I think is still occasionally used in driver to signaller communication. So it is possible that the term might be used for a crossing keeper. Others will know better than me. Did crossing keepers have pollce status so that they could stop road traffic?
 

Gloster

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I am not an expert on the GWR, but have two thoughts:

Could the difference in pay on transfer to Maiden Newton be due to an adjustment if a house was supplied, which was more likely in a rural area than in a town like Weymouth. If the transfer was a demotion for disciplinary reasons, then it would probably have been recorded on his record.

The layout at Weston was altered in 1884, with the current loop off the mainline being opened to replace the previous stub end branch, although the latter remained for a bit longer. The only crossing that I can find on the 1885 and 1902 25” maps was across the top of (Uphill) Drove Road to the gasworks. This may have been there before 1884.

The following is speculation: Could he have manned a gate leading into the goods yard and, if so, could have been enrolled in the police in order to give him the formal powers to refuse entry to anyone not wanted? Could he have manned a crossing that was abolished with the 1884 rebuilding and been redeployed?
 

GenealogyJude

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Joined
20 Jul 2020
Messages
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Location
Sevenoaks
Yes - an interesting read about an area I know very well. As you probably know, railway signalmen did originally have the status of police officers and were known as "bobbies" - a term which I think is still occasionally used in driver to signaller communication. So it is possible that the term might be used for a crossing keeper. Others will know better than me. Did crossing keepers have pollce status so that they could stop road traffic?
Thank you very much for your insights. I don’t think he was ever a signalman, (unlike his son), but I am definitely leaning towards the theory that he had could be described as a member of the railway police if he manned a crossing. Perhaps it sounded better too!

I am not an expert on the GWR, but have two thoughts:

Could the difference in pay on transfer to Maiden Newton be due to an adjustment if a house was supplied, which was more likely in a rural area than in a town like Weymouth. If the transfer was a demotion for disciplinary reasons, then it would probably have been recorded on his record.

The layout at Weston was altered in 1884, with the current loop off the mainline being opened to replace the previous stub end branch, although the latter remained for a bit longer. The only crossing that I can find on the 1885 and 1902 25” maps was across the top of (Uphill) Drove Road to the gasworks. This may have been there before 1884.

The following is speculation: Could he have manned a gate leading into the goods yard and, if so, could have been enrolled in the police in order to give him the formal powers to refuse entry to anyone not wanted? Could he have manned a crossing that was abolished with the 1884 rebuilding and been redeployed?
I like your theory about the reduction in pay being due to him being supplied with a house when he got the job in Maiden Newton. I hadn’t considered that before, thank you!
The history of the railway network at Weston seems a little complicated to me. I know for certain that he was manning the crossing at the Lower Potteries in 1895 when the accident with the boys and the donkeys occurred. Looking at maps, I believe this crossing was to the east of the goods yard, close to where Tesco is nowadays. After the accident, a footbridge was supposed to replace it but if so, what was my ancestor’s role afterwards? I would like to find out if the crossing was indeed removed. It is plausible that my ancestor got another job manning a gate/crossing, perhaps at the goods yard. He lived close by.
 
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DerekC

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At Weston, judging by the number of train movements (40-50 per day), I think the crossing must have been on the main line rather than the spur to the gas works. The 1:2500 OS map for about 1887 shows a bridge which is still in existence carrying Drove Road over the main line at the eastern end of the goods yard. However 400 yards further east the line is crossed by a lane (now Langford Road) which does indeed lead from the "Royal Potteries" and is the only access to the "New Pottery". I think this is likely the site of the accident in question. The crossing is shown on maps of the 1950s but is replaced by a footbridge in maps of the 1970s - so it did happen, but a long time afterwards!
 
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Gloster

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Having gone into it further, please ignore the third paragraph of #5.

One thing I have found out is that by the 1880s and up to around 1918 the police were mostly attached to the various departments of the GWR, rather than being a centrally organised force; although from 1863 there was a CID. Many of the jobs carried out by ‘constables’ were much closer to those of today’s security staff than those of modern policemen ‘on the beat’. It does seem that in some places level crossings were operated by policemen, although this seems a bit odd for a country crossing.
 

GenealogyJude

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Sevenoaks
At Weston, judging by the number of train movements (40-50 per day), I think the crossing must have been on the main line rather than the spur to the gas works. The 1:2500 OS map for about 1887 shows a bridge which is still in existence carrying Drove Road over the main line at the eastern end of the goods yard. However 400 yards further east the line is crossed by a lane (now Langford Road) which does indeed lead from the "Royal Potteries" and is the only access to the "New Pottery". I think this is likely the site of the accident in question. The crossing is shown on maps of the 1950s but is replaced by a footbridge in maps of the 1970s - so it did happen, but a long time afterwards!
Derek, I am indebted to you for clarifying the position of the crossing. I think you are right! The crossing is indeed where the footbridge over Langford Road is situated today. It appears that the road was formerly Sandford Road and the railway line bisects it before the road continues to Locking Road. All very confusing, as the New Pottery is shown on a different map. I really appreciate your help.

Having gone into it further, please ignore the third paragraph of #5.

One thing I have found out is that by the 1880s and up to around 1918 the police were mostly attached to the various departments of the GWR, rather than being a centrally organised force; although from 1863 there was a CID. Many of the jobs carried out by ‘constables’ were much closer to those of today’s security staff than those of modern policemen ‘on the beat’. It does seem that in some places level crossings were operated by policemen, although this seems a bit odd for a country crossing.
Gloster, thanks very much for your comment. The analogy of railway police being more like security staff at the time is apt. I'm convinced that Josiah continued working as a gateman until his retirement but used the general term "railway police" to describe his occupation.
 
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