Sad Accident at Conisboro’ Cliff – Killed By Train

February 1928

Mexborough and Swinton Times, February 24, 1928

Killed By Train.
Sad Accident at Conisboro’ Cliff to Doncaster Girl.
Friend’s Narrow Escape.
Warning Whistle Not Heard.

A verdict of ” Accidental death” was returned at an inquest conducted by Mr. W. H. Carlisle at the Montagu Hospital, Mexborough, last Friday, into the death of Grace Constance Aspin (24), a typist employed by the Conisborough Cliff Co., and living at 28, Copley Street, Doncaster, who was knocked down by a passenger train on the London and North-Eastern railway at Conisborough the previous Wednesday.

Cecilia Aspin, sister, gave evidence of identification, and said her sister had worked for the Conisborough Cliff Co. for about four years. Her hearing and eyesight were good.

Mary Amelia Peel Nicholson, of 16, Young Street, Doncaster, said she was employed by the Conisborough Cliff Co. Soon after 1 p.m. on Wednesday she and Miss Aspin had occasion to go to the goods office.

The Coroner: Did you go there on business, or was it just for a walk?—No, it was just for a walk.

The Accident.

The goods station, continued witness was at Levitt Hagg. Mr. Taylor was with them and they went down to the railway. They kept on the side of the line until they were opposite the goods office, when they crossed and went to the office. They entered              the office, had a look at the clock, and returned straight away, leaving Mr. Taylor there.

Coming back they kept on the side of the line until they got to a platelayers’ cabin. Miss Aspin was behind witness, and they were stepping from one sleeper to another at the side of the track. A goods train going in the direction of Doncaster passed them, and they turned round and watched it out of sight. The line was straight there, and they could see a considerable distance in both directions. After having watched the goods train out of sight they continued towards Conisborough.

“Then I heard a whistle. I turned round to shout Miss Aspin, but the train was flashing past me and she was thrown in front of me. I had just stepped off the sleepers into the track at the side when it happened.” The track at the side of the line was a “good width,” and that was the reason they had always walked upon it. The witness knew they had no right to walk along the track, and they had only once been there before.

Not On Business

Mr. A. P. Williamson (for the Conisborough Cliff Co.): So far as you were concerned personally, you had no object whatever in going there except for the walk? — No.

Miss Aspin had no object?—No; I don’t think so.

Mr. Taylor had an object—yes.

It was to see a book?—Yes_

Did Miss Aspire want to see the same book?—I don’t know, except that she was interested. We had just brought that subject up.

You say you just looked at the clock and came out. Did Miss Aspin look at anything else?-She just glanced at the book in which she was interested.

On the return journey the track at the side of the line narrows at a bridge?—Yes.

After you have got over the bridge, and before you come to it, there is a wider space at the side of the sleepers?—Yes.

Before you came to the bridge had you not been walking at the ‘side of the track?—Yes.

If Miss Aspin bad succeeded in getting over the bridge she would have come to where there is a wide pathway?—Yes.

You had just left the sleepers. Had you just got to the end of the bridge where you could get off the sleepers to this wide track? —Yes.

So you got off the sleepers quite independent of any train that might have been coming?—Yes.

Miss Aspire was behind you, quite close?—Yes, one sleeper away.

Did she touch you?—Yes.

It comes to this, then, if you bad been one sleeper behind, or if Miss Aspin had been one further forward, it would have either been a double fatality or a double fatality or a double escape? – Yes

Clerk’s Warning

William Aubrey Taylor, of 12, Exchange Street, Doncaster, clerk in the employ of the Conisbrough Cliff Co, said that on Wednesday, about 1 o’clock, he left the office for the purpose of going to the goods office in company with Miss Aspin and Miss Nicholson, to see a railway rate book.

Miss Aspin was rather curious to see the mileage book, when they arrived at the office he showed her briefly what the book was. As Miss Aspin had several letters to do, and he would not be finished at the goods office for a quarter of an hour, the two girls returned alone.

Shortly after they left, a man came running to the witness say that one of the girls had been knocked down by a passenger train. Witness ran a quarter of a mile out of the place and found the guard


, the driver and three or four other men do what they could for Miss Aspin. A stretcher of two planks was improvised, Miss Aspin was placed upon the train and taken to Mexborough station, from when she was taken to the Montagu hospital. It was in consequence of having promised the stationmaster he would go down to the goods office take particulars of new race and he went down to the office. He did not notice when it was windy. The last words he said to the girls was, “Now, be careful of the train.”

Mr Williamson: Is there any other reasonable way of getting to the goods office? – No, sir.

Driver’s Story

George William Sayles, engine driver, of 4, Milton Road, Mexborough, said he was driving a passenger train which left Doncaster at 1.20 p.m., on Wednesday. He was running tender first, and was travelling at about 35 miles an hour when he approached the place of the accident. He was keeping a good look out, and saw the two girls when crossing Warmsworth sidings, 30 to 40 yards in front. Twenty or thirty yards higher up he had whistled for the platelayers.

On seeing the girls he opened the whistle wide, but could not get their attention. He thought this was because of the awful wind and the fact that a train was travelling on the up-line at the time. The engine of the goods train passed him about a quarter of a mile before the accident. The witness applied the brake as soon as ever he saw them and. blew the whistle. He just touched the brake, then pulled it to the bottom putting on full pressure, and reversed the engine, but he was unable to pull up. Miss Aspin was walking on the end of the sleepers with Miss Nicholson by her side. They had been walking like that for the whole of the rime. The tender struck Miss Aspin and hurled her clear of the track. The witness pulled up as soon as he could and then got out and rendered assistance. He brought Miss Aspin on the train to Mexborough.

Mr. Williamson: From the Warmsworth goods office you can see past Conisborough Cliff box?—Past there.

The place where this unfortunate girl was knocked down is a quarter of a mile from the goods office in Warmsworth sidings?—Yes.

How far was that from where the accident happened – I should say it would be about 100 yards.

So that you say you could get a view of 100 yards? – Yes, for the wagons were there.

Mr Ellison: what distance could you reasonably pull up when you were going at 35 miles an hour I had a very short train on.

Under the most favourable conditions what distance you would you like to pull up in travelling at 35 miles an hour? – From 300 to 400 yards.

The deputy coroner: How long have you been a driver? – 35 years.

You have been a driver of a passenger train for 23 years out of 35? – Yes.

Mr Arthur Mason (associated Society of locomotive engineers and firemen): quite apart from whether you are a mile, half a mile, or a quarter clear view, you told the coroner that instantly you saw the girl you applied your break at full? – Yes

And not only did you do that you, but you reversed the engine? – Yes.

And did all that was humanly possible? – Yes.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death,” and sympathy with the family of Miss Aspin was expressed by the court.