1856 – Brutal Attack on Stationmaster


1856, 28th November

Brutal attack and robbery near Barnsley

On Monday evening an attack and robbery, attended with brutal violence, were perpetrated upon Mr John Laughton, stationmaster, at Birdwell, near Barnsley. The station is situated in a lonely Place, on the South Yorkshire railway, about a mile from the village of that name.

On that evening Mr Laughton, who is 25 years of age, remained at the station as usual, until the arrival of the last train for Sheffield, which is due at Birdwell at eight o’clock. There were no passengers, and the only persons who came to the station to meet the train were two girls, who expected a parcel from Barnsley. The train having started, Mr Laughton proceeded to secure the station house (in which it appears no one sleeps) for the night, and after fastening the shutters and door, was just about to leave the place, when he was attacked by some ruffians, knockdown by a heavy instrument, and rendered insensible. That would be about 8:10 o’clock, and are recovering his senses about two hours afterwards, he found himself lying with his face on the desk in the station house, bleeding profusely.

His face was frightfully mutilated; he had also received some seriousblows upon the head and arms, which were stiff and painful.His pockets had been rifled, and a purse containing 30 shillings and three small keys had been stolen. His cap was missing, and his lamp extinguished, and he was in a very weak state from his wounds and the loss of blood.

Although he has no distinct recollection of what took place, Mr Laughton states that, after locking the doors of the station house and put in a key into his pocket, he was struck by some person or persons a heavy blow with a weapon, which Sunday, and after which they repeated their blows, and while in the state of insensibility, they must evolve the door, carried him into the station, and rifled his pocket of the amount; after which they had ransacked the desk, cashbox etc, then placed upon the stool is edible to the desk in the position in which you found himself.

The two girls, on leaving the station with a parcel, met two men in a few yards off, one with a hat, and the other with cap on, proceeding towards the station.

On Wednesday morning the unfortunate man’s cap was found in a field adjoining the station, saturated with blood, and a heavy hedge stake with marks of blood upon it, asks been since found near the place.

The poor fellow, who is now lying in a precarious state, has been removed to his home at Conisbrough. The affair has excited great consternation in the neighbourhood. The police are on the alert, but nothing as yet transpired to lead to the detection of the perpetrators.

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