Would Be Train Wrecker at Conisborough

January 1899

Mexborough & Swinton Times January 13th 1899

A would-be train wrecker at Conisborough


A small, delicate looking lad named Harold Ernest Chappel, aged 10 years, and living with his parents at High Street Mexborough was charged with having placed certain obstructions on the line of the Great Central railway at Conisborough the previous night.

The inspector who prosecuted, in opening, said although the defendant was of very tender years the company were bound to prosecute, as it might have led to serious consequences. It appeared that on the previous night, between seven and eight o’clock, at Conisborough station, there was placed on the downward line an obstruction consisting of a barrow, two bottle crates, and a hand lamp.

The barrow was an iron frame one, and no doubt their worships recollected the dire effect of one being on the line at Wellingborough. This might have been somewhat similar, as 15 minutes after the obstruction had been found a passenger train was due. Fortunately the driver of a light engine had noticed the obstruction. The company had no desire to press the case, but they must protect their line.

Walter Beaumont, engine driver, said while on his engine, in the sidings he saw a lighted hand lamp on the line at the East End of Conisborough station, at 7:40 pm. He left his engine and went to where the lamp was. He then found two empty bottles crates, a hand barrow, and an ordinary wheelbarrow in the 4 foot of the down line. He saw a little boy run away, but he could not recognise him. He shouted to the child.

The Conisborough stationmaster said, on the previous night, whilst leaving his house, his attention was caught something on the line. He found the things named by the previous witness. A train travelling on that line could not have avoided come into contact with the production. The lighted lamp was turned away from the direction the train would come. He removed all of the things and communicated with the police. He had previously seen the boy at the station.

Sgt Brown said he examined the line, from information received, and at 11:30 pm apprehended the boy at the home of his parents at Mexborough. He charged him with attempting to wreck trains at the Conisbrough station. The boy replied that he was “only wheeling” the things about.


In reply to the chairman (Mr Yarborough) the boy acknowledged that he had put the things on the line. G. H. Chappell, the lad´s father, who is well respected and well known for his industry, said the boy was subject to epileptic fits, and that he was very mischievous. He had been previously summoned and punished for offences. When at the Rotherham Court, certificates were received from Dr Sweeten and Dr Blythman to say that the boy was not responsible for what he did in any shape or form. The boy was not at any school, and he had to attend to him all along.

The Rotherham magistrates said if he was there again they would send him away. The chairman said there were previous convictions against the boy, and once he had been whipped. He would be detained at Doncaster until Monday, and would receive six strokes with the birch.

The father said since the boy was last whipped the boy had had fits 10 times worse. The boy was removed to one of the cells.



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