Railway Tragedy – Conisbrough Shunter’s Terrible End

January 1921

Mexborough Times, January 15

Railway Tragedy
Conisborough Shunter’s Terrible End
Death Race.

On Friday night, about 10.55, William Hughes (28) of 46, Blythe Street, New Conisborough, a shunter in the employ of the G.C.Railway Company, was killed on the railway at the Conisborough station. The inquest conducted by Mr Frank Allen, was held on Monday.

Sarah Hughes said her husband left for work on Friday afternoon. He was in good health, and his hearing and eyesight were good.

Ernest Knight, of 9, Calder Terrace, Conisborough, ticket collector at Conisborough, said that he and deceased were at the booking office waiting for the 10.49 ex-Sheffield passenger train.

They heard an engine whistle, and thinking this was a passenger train, deceased ran out onto the platform and called out to witness, “it is here.” Deceased jumped on to the line and hurried across. He failed to find the step on the wall of the opposite platform, and witness saw the light of the engine coming rapidly nearer. Deceased also noticed that the engine was travelling at a high-speed, and when it was close upon him he lost his presence of mind, and instead of jumping onto the other metals out of the way, he commenced to run along the line in the direction of Doncaster.

He had taken about seven paces when the engine (which turned out to be a light goods engine and not a “passenger”) struck him, knocking him about 12 yards and killing him instantly.

Witness added that his opinion, the light engine would be travelling at about 25 miles an hour

The coroner: Doesn´t a bell ring at the single box when a passenger train is signalled? – Yes, on this occasion we thought we had missed hearing the bell

In regard to the step on the other side the witness said it was in good order. It was not whitewashed, and was rather difficult to locate in the dark.

The coroner: is there nothing to enable the men to find this step in the dark? – Nothing at present.


Don´t you think a white background would be of some use? – It would show up better than it does now.

Mr H.Rimmer, District Secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen, suggested that a bridge was provided for people to cross the line.

The coroner: The step has been there for 25 years to my knowledge.

Witness: it is the same all over.

The coroner: is it usual for servants to walk across the line? – Yes.

Is it forbidden to cross the line?

Mr C.Billington, of the G.C. Traffic Dep artment, said he did not know of any restrictions. There was a rule to the effect that servants of the Company should not expose themselves to unnecessary danger.

The coroner: is there any rule to prevent a server crossing the line, except by the bridge?

Mr Billington: No.

In returning a verdict of “accidental death” the coroner said it was not for him to make any recommendation to the company as to precautions they might take to prevent a recurrence of this kind of thing. He thought some method might be found to indicate more clearly the position of the steps, because it was a well-known fact that whether there were regulations to the contrary or not, that railwaymen did walk across the line at all stations. If there was a regulation it was a dead letter. He did not see our railwaymen could do their duty without crossing the line at times

Mr Rimmer: you agree it was an accident due to impulse?

The coroner: to say there was any blame attached to Hughes, dead or alive, is out of reason. You cannot suggest such a thing.


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