RAILWAY AND INDUSTRIAL HISTORY OF THE SOUTH WEST BLACK COUNTRY
Birmingham Daily Post
FRIDAY, 17th., SEPTEMBER, 1858
THE RAILWAY CATASTROPHE NEAR DUDLEY,
THE ADJOURNED INQUEST YESTERDAY.
EXTRAORDINARY SCENE AT THE INQUEST YESTERDAY.
SECESSION OF THE FOREMAN OF THE JURY
The enquiry before T. M. Phillips, Esq. Coroner, touching the deaths of thirteen of the persons who lost their lives in consequence of the late collision on the Oxford, Worcester, and Wolverhampton Railway, was resumed yesterday morning at the Bell Hotel, Brierley Hill. Mr. Sherriff, the general manager of the line, Mr. Adcock, secretary, Mr. Wilson, the engineer, and Mr. Wood, from the office of the general manager, were present, as was also Mr. Dudley Parsons, the manager of the Stour Valley Railway; Mr. King of he firm of Collis, Bernard, and King, attended as the legal adviser of the Company. Mr. Burbury was present on behalf of the friends of Marshall and Mills; Mr. Nelson, for Mr. Noakes; and Mr. Homer, for Mr. Harley, of Dudley.
Before resuming the enquiry,
the Coroner remarked that he had received a letter from a person who
tendered a statement on the subject of the enquiry.
The Coroner: I cannot hear statements; everything that is said here in reference to this enquiry must be upon oath. Does he mean that he can give important evidence?
Mr. Wheeler: Yes; I understand him to say he could give important evidence.
Mr. Bird of Birmingham, the inventor of an apparatus for communicating between the guards and drivers of railway trains, then came forward, and said the nature of the statement he wished to tender to the jury was that the accident having arisen in consequence of the severance of the train, the Company might have had an instrument, with which they were well acquainted, which would have communicated to the guard notice of the severance the moment it took place, and so have left him entirely without excuse for not applying his break.
The Coroner: I suppose you mean to say that if the instrument of which you are the inventor had been applied to the train, the occurrence would not have taken place?
Mr. Bird: I also wish to say that the Company have tried it, and know that it answers the purpose intended.
Mr. Sherriff remarked that the statement on the part of Mr. Bird was not altogether ex parte, but entirely wrong.
Mr. Wilson wished to correct the statement of Mr. Bird in reference to the alleged trial and approval of his machine, but the Coroner declined to hear it, as he could not take it as evidence.
Mr. Bird then stated that his brother was in the train at the time of the accident, and he felt it to be his duty, as the inventor of a scientific instrument which would have prevented the loss of life that had taken place, to show it to the Court.
The Coroner: You have shown it in the room below, upon several occasions, I believe.
Mr. Bird: I have Sir: but I wish to make a statement. Am I refused to be examined?
The Coroner: Anything you say must be on oath.
Mr. Bird: Then I tender myself for examination.
Mr. King here remarked the Mr. Bird was but the propounder of a speculative theory. There were all sort of inventions of a similar character, and the Company had received hundreds of letters from different inventors, all of whom might as well be examined as Mr. Bird.
The Coroner: But when a man comes and tells me his brother was killed, and tenders evidence, I must hear him.
Mr. King: Not killed Sir; in the train, but not injured.
The Coroner: Well, when a person tenders evidence, I am bound to receive it.
Mr. Nelson: I think, as I attend here on behalf of one of the persons injured—
The Coroner: Are you on the jury, Sir?
Mr. Nelson: No.
The Coroner: Then I have nothing to do with you.
Mr. Bird came forward to be sworn, upon which Mr. King said that if his evidence were taken, he should claim to be allowed to give evidence of the inutility of his machine.
The Coroner: This gentleman has been here every day of the enquiry, and he certainly ought to have tendered his evidence before.
Mr. King: If he had done so we could have completely answered him. Now unfortunately, all our scientific witnesses have gone away. Mr. M’Connell is thoroughly acquainted with the machine, and if he were here would satisfy you that it is practically useless. But Mr. Wilson has examined the invention, and I shall tender his evidence in answer to Mr. Bird.
Mr. Bird was then sworn, but the enquiry was not yet to progress. A still more unusual scene had to be enacted before the enquiry was resumed.
Mr. Wheeler rose and said that Mr. Haines had publicly mad a statement that impeached the character of the jury.
Mr. Haines was sorry that such was the case, but the statement referred merely to the foreman.
The Coroner said it was open for the jury to take any course they chose. If they thought Mr. Haines had acted with indiscretion, or that Mr. Bailey had committed any impropriety, either of those gentlemen might retire, as there were fourteen or fifteen on the jury.
The Foreman said he should not feel justified in retiring, unless he had an opportunity of vindicating his character. If the jury wished to go into the case he had no objection to give them the most ample information; but retire under the stigma that seemed now to hang over him, he could not, nor he would not.
Mr. King said he was quite satisfied that in what the foreman had done he had acted most impartially.
Mr. Homer then rose and said: Mr. King is not in possession of all the facts. If the finding of this does not attach blame to this Company, I shall under the advice of Mr. Kettle, who appeared her the other day, institute an enquiry—
The Coroner: What do you mean, Sir? Mr. Kettle: What has he to do with my inquest, or you either? If the jury should not find a verdict of negligence, you will institute an enquiry! It is most absurd. (Cries of “Shame, shame<“ from some of the jury.)
The Foreman again rose and commenced speaking.
The Coroner: Let one speak besides yourself, will you? You have heard the accusation against you. Are you prepared to say you have not, directly or indirectly, interfered in any way in this matter contrary to your duty as a member of this jury?
The Foreman: I will go into the circumstances and vindicate my character if necessary. I have not acted in any way disgracefully, either as a juror, a Christian minister, or an Englishman.
The Coroner: The simple question is, have you interfered in any way, directly or indirectly, with any person in reference to this enquiry?
Mr. Homer: Have you not seen my client, Mr. Harley, and settled the case for £100.?
The Foreman: I have not settled the case, nor had anything to do with it.
Mr. Homer: Did you not count the money, and pay it over to him?
The Coroner: It is not your province to examine the foreman.
Dr.Walker, one of the medical agents of the Company, here came forward, and wished to make a statement, but was cut short by the Coroner, who said that if the jury could not come to an arrangement he should adjourn the enquiry for a month, and lay the whole case before the proper authorities. He would not be detained longer by any squabble among them.
Mr. Holcroft thought the statement of the Foreman was quite satisfactory, and if it went forth to the public he had no doubt it would set at rest the many groundless rumours afloat.
Mr. Ford: Talk about rumours! Look at the ignoramuses who have published statements in the public prints, rashly rushing in where higher intelligences might hesitate, making all sorts of accusations against the jury! Now there is something fastened upon our foreman. I think it is a more impudent proceeding. It is trying to bias the jury. Let us settle it now.
The Coroner: The foreman denies in toto the accusation against him.The Rev. C. Perry: He is a minister of the gospel, and I think his word ought to be taken.
Dr. Walker: The accusation in reference to the case of Harley, of Dudley, is unfounded.
The Foreman: If you will allow me to make a statement of the circumstances, I will detail them as truly and as correctly as I possibly can. If you will hear me but patiently you will be able to form an honest opinion. Shall I speak. (“Yes, yes,” from several of the Jury.) Very well; I am prepared to do my duty. On a certain day, soon after the collision, I was requested by a friend to go and see a person, who is a member of the Baptist denomination, of which I am a minister, who had been injured in the collision, and who resides at Prince’s End. I understand the man had expressed a wish to see me, and obtain my opinion as to the amount of compensation he ought to get. I determined to go, and on my way, somewhere between Brierley Hill and Dudley, Dr. Walker picked me up in his gig. I do not know—positively and conscientiously I declare it—when I got into that gig, that Dr. Walker was going to Harley’s, at Dudley. But there he pulled up. He said, he was going in; the he should not be long, and asked me to go in with him, saying he would get a man to hold the horse. I walked after him, and stood at the door. The doctor commenced examining his patient, and then spoke to him about compensation. The moment he began to talk about compensation Mr. Harley asked him to walk up the stairs, and invited me to follow him. The kitchen was full of relatives and friends, and he appeared to wish that they should no hear what was said. I left the door open, but he requested me to return and shut it. A conversation then ensued between Dr. Walker and Mr. Harley. I heard the doctor offer him £100, as compensation. Having previous knowledge that Harley had committed his case to his brother-in-law, Mr. Armstrong, of Birmingham, I thought it possible some persons might infer that undue advantage had been taken, and I asked him if he would not like to see Mr. Armstrong before settling; but he replied, No; he was quite competent to settle his own business. That was the only thing I said in the matter. Dr. Walker then drew out a roll of bills, and counted out what came to £100., and laid them on the table. Harley asked me if I would go down stairs and get a pen and ink, being unable to walk very well himself, in consequence of his injuries, and I did so. He then signed the receipt. Now comes the point at which Mr. Homer seems to stick. Dr. Walker, in his hurry and confussion, after the receipt was signed, said he had some £10. notes amongst the £5. notes he had in his hand; and asked me to see if there were any amongst those he had laid on the table for Harley. I took up the notes, looked at the numbers in the corners, and said they were all fives. I cannot say whether there were twenty of them, for I did not count them. I gave the notes to Dr. Walker, who handed them to Harley; and I shall never as long as I live, forget the zest with which he thrust them into his pocket. I advised him to take care of the money, and not let anybody or everybody get it off him. That was all I did; and I solemnly declare this is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so far as Harley’s case is concerned. Having disposed of that case I proceed on my journey to Prince’s End.
The Coroner: This all took place since you have been foreman of the Jury?
The Foreman: Yes. On arriving at Prince’s End I called upon Rev. R. Nightingale, who is the pastor of Bailey, feeling desirous that if I were to see Bailey, Mr. Nightingale should accompany me. I found that Mr. Nightingale could not then accompany me, and rather than see Bailey without him, I fixed to go again on the following day, being anxious that there should not be the slightest shade of suspicion connected with any of my movements. Accordingly, on the following day I walked over again, and Mr. Nightingale accompanied me to Bailey’s home. We sat and conversed with him on temporal and spiritual things for some time. Bailey said he had been offered £50. as compensation for the injuries he had received; and that from what had had been told by his friends he thought he ought to have £100., and that five lawyers had been with him wanting to get the case into their hands. He said some friends of his had had a distant relative killed on the South Staffordshire Line, and they consequently wished him to press hard upon the Company, and get as much as he possibly could. I said to him, “If the Company will give you what will satisfy you, without going to law—don’t you think it would be wise to take it? Is there any use in going to law if you can have what you want without it?” He said,
“Well, If they will give me £100. I should be satisfied.”
The Coroner: I should think the jury are perfectly satisfied.
The Foreman: I asked to be allowed to speak without interruption. We talked the matter over as regarded his injuries, and as regarded the compensation, and I expressed my opinion to him frankly and fully, and so did Mr. Nightingale. Our opinion was, that if he were to get £75. it would be ample compensation for him; and I told him that I thought the Company would pay that, and as one of their agents was in the neighbourhood, he might have his compensation at once. He said he wanted to see me, because he thought I knew all the circumstances of the case, and being a minister of his own denomination should be able to tell him what he ought to get. I told him that I had no interest in the Company, that I had not received a penny for my expenses in coming there, and neither did I expect anything; but was acting from disinterested motives. Mr. Bailey then went on to say the man at length agreed to accept £80.; that on returning to Mr. Nightingale’s home he found Dr. Walker driving by; that he informed the doctor of the result of his interview with Bailey; that the doctor asked him and Mr. Nightingale to return to Bailey’s, promising to meet him there, which he did; and that the money was then paid, and a receipt taken, the man telling Dr. Walker that he would not have settled the case, except for the advice of his pastor, Mr. Nightingale, and his friend, the foreman. Now said the foreman in conclusion: I have had nothing more to do with the case; I have no connection with the Company or their officers, nor had I any understanding with them. I have not received one halfpenny from them towards my expenses; or from Bailey. All I have done with the purest motives, and a sincere desire to do good to my friend in his affliction. If I am unfit to sit upon any jury after that statement of the circumstances, I will retire.
Mr. Homer said he thought it unnecessary to say anything; Mr. Bailey had said quite enough to implicate himself.
The Coroner: His conduct has been tantamount to acting as the agent of the Company.
Mr. Holcroft was quite satisfied Mr. Bailey had acted from the best motives.
The Coroner: Yes; but he had no business to interfere.
Mr. Sherriff said he had not exchanged half a dozen words with Mr. Bailey, and was certain he was not acting as the agent of the Company.
The Coroner: He seems to have been acting in concert with Dr. Walker in settling claims, and therefore cannot come here with an unbiased mind.
Mr. Haines: Certainly not.
The Coroner: I think, under the circumstances I shall adjourn the enquiry for a month, if the Jury are not satisfied with what they have heard. I have heard quite sufficient, and do not want to hear another syllable. It was a most indelicate thing to interfere at all, being sworn as foreman of the Jury.
The Foreman: I will retire.
Mr. Wheeler and others expressed themselves perfectly satisfied that Mr. Bailey had acted from the best motives, however indiscreetly.
The Foreman said that having had an opportunity of stating the case as it really stood, he should now retire. He did not wish to be upon the Jury unless he could do some public service.
Mr. Holcroft said he was quite sure the jury regretted his retirement. He had been the means of eliciting much valuable information in the course of the enquiry, and hoped that jury, after having heard his statement, would request him to remain.
The Coroner thought it unnecessary to occupy further time about the matter.
It was quite clear Mr. Bailey had been negotiating with people who were wounded, with an agent of the company; and after that he did not think he should retract his offer to retire.
Mr. Bailey then withdrew from the Jurors’ table, and shortly afterwards left the room.
Mr. Bird’s evidence was then taken. He said he was an experimental chemist, living in Birmingham. In the autumn of 1856, in consequence of a request from Mr. Johnson, one of the directors of the Oxford, Worcester, and Wolverhampton Company, he took over to Worcester and instrument which he had constructed, which would indicate to the guard and driver of a train when any severance took place. Mr. Sherriff saw the apparatus, and suggested that it should be tried, requesting Mr. Wilson, the engineer, to make an experiment with it. Under the direction of the latter gentleman, it was affixed to a train from Worcester to Kidderminster. Mr. Wilson expressed his entire approbation of the action of the apparatus, and suggested certain alterations, which were afterward made. Permission was subsequently given him to work the apparatus on a train of the Company between Evesham and Birmingham for a month, to see how it operated in practice; but as no promise of business, in case the trial was successful, accompanied the offer, he did not accept it, and the trial never came off. He had received similar permission from the London and North-Western Company.
Mr. Bird’s “statement” was somewhat protracted, and Mr. Haines, one of the jury, occasioned considerable merriment by remarking while it was being made, that the jury had better give him an order and let him go.
Mr. Wilson, the Company’s engineer, was then sworn. As to Mr. Bird’s invention, he spoke unfavourably. The tube employed is made of gutta-percha, and in working along the carriages is chafed and cut. Mr. Bird could not satisfy him either how the water in the meter could be prevented from freezing. He (witness) did not see how it could be kept perfect, but offered to put it on a train for a month, so that it might be properly tested between Evesham and Bromsgrove. A rope would answer quite as well as Mr. Bird’s apparatus. There are 2,000 or 3,000 such inventions, and this was the least promising of any of them. It was neither useful nor ornament. I was a series of water-pipes, pumps, and “rattle-traps.” It was applicable as long as it could be kept perfect; but it could not.
In answer to questioning from the Coroner, Mr. Wilson then said his duties were to keep the permanent way and rolling stock in perfect order. In the 27th he accompanied the Government Inspector to the scene of the accident. On arriving there they examined the different points of the line between Brettle Lane and Round Oak. The engine-drivers and guards who accompanied the excursion trains from Worcester on the night of the accident were in attendance by his desire, and he examined them. He also examined the station masters, porters, and platelayer (Heeley), and others. On the following morning I loaded seventeen carriages with 22 cwt. of iron in each carriage, and can confirm his statements in every particular. I may say in addition that the guard (Cook) was requested to apply the break on arriving at the same speed as he did on the night of the accident; and the train stopped in a very short distance. I also witnessed Mr. Gray’s experiments, and can confirm his statements. I made experiments last Monday with 5 cwt. additional in each vehicle, and arrived at similar results. I had seventeen vehicles, containing 27 cwt. each.
By Mr. Wheeler: The responsibility for all rolling stock of the Company being in perfect order devolves upon one of my assistants. I do not test all the chains; those which I test I break; I think testing chains or any other things intended to carry weight is courting accident. Most of our side chains we make ourselves; the shackles we purchased. The storekeeper sends the orders, but submits the materials he receives to me for my approval. It is a distinct understanding that all shackles ordered shall be of the best material made in the country; of course we do not specify that they shall be of Swedish iron, though that is undoubtedly the best. I believe the price paid for the last that were purchased was 7d. per lb., including the cast-balls. It is specified that they shall be of a certain strength, and we examine them when they come in. They are submitted to a series of examinations before being used. All that appear faulty are sent back; and it is in our interest to examine them carefully. There is no specified limit to the number of carriages to be attached to one engine; it depends entirely on where they are to proceed, and we exercise a discretion over the matter. We work our goods engines from 100 to 120 horse power, and our passenger engines from 90 to 100; but I cannot speak exactly without making a calculation. We have no fixed rule as to the number of breaks to be used with a given number of carriages. We should not send fifteen carriages without two breaks. I believe the guard might have stopped the train considerably short of the point of collision, if he had applied his break, after running 300 or 400 yards. We applied the break after running 500 yards, and stopped 111 yards short of he place where the collision occurred. I am of the opinion that the nut on the screw of the break-van alluded to in the evidence of Captain Tyler, could not have been moved after the accident. I cannot tell whether the break was on at the time of the collision. I have not minutely examined the position of the screw on the nut. If, before jumping out of the van, the guard did not put the strap on the break, it would slack back a little. I cannot say whether the break would lock the wheels with the nut in the position in which it is now on the screw. When I came here I gave instructions for the best men to be engaged as engine drivers, and for them to be paid the best wages.
By Mr. Holcroft: The screw of the break would require to travel a great distance if the blocks were old than if new. I cannot tell whether the break of Cook’s van had new or old blocks. All the broken material that was portable was carried away. Everything was stolen except the wheels of the carriages, and I expect those would have gone if they had not been too heavy. I consider the break of the excursion train more powerful than the one with which the experiments were made, it having recently had new tyres upon the wheels. I believe the break was on when the collision took place. I think he put it on when he saw the second train coming. Captain Tyler was strongly of opinion that the break had not been applied; but I think, taking Cook’s own statement, and that of a man who said he saw the sparks flying from the wheels, that he must have put it on. We consider Cook one of our best guards, and I have no doubt he was perfectly sober.
Mr. Burbury: Are you, as engineer of the Company, prepared to contradict the evidence of Captain Tyler, as to the non-application of the breaks?
Mr. Wilson: I am of opinion the break was on, but that Cook did not put it on until he saw the second train coming, and then only very slightly.
Mr. Alexander Sherriff, the general manager of the Company was next examined. After giving details of what he saw when he arrived at the scene of the accident, he proceeded to say:- Having heard nearly the whole of the evidence given, I am pretty much of the opinion of Mr. McConnell, as to the breakage of the couplings and the non-application of the break in sufficient time, but I am not a scientific man, and can only give the same opinion as an ordinary person. I am clearly of opinion that the guard did not apply his break in time; but he may not be culpable on that account. He appears to have lost his presences of mind; and we are all liable to mistakes. If he had applied his break in time, I think the collision would not have taken place. I have never had a case of the kind reported to me of chains having broken before.
Mr. Wheeler: Is there any one responsible for this accident, Mr. Sherriff?
Mr. Sherriff: That the jury will have to say, I manage the line under the direction of the directors. It is part of my duty to promote additional traffic if I can. All the bills of excursion trains that have been published with my name attached this year have been issued with my sanction. Those trains have been worked in addition to the ordinary traffic. We have not increased our ordinary traffic; it is quite sufficient for such exigencies. We do not keep a supplementary staff of officers during the periods of the year when excursion trains are run; we keep a staff of officers amply sufficient for the necessities of the season. I cannot say we have the same number of servants in the winter as in the summer, because the traffic diminishes. The receipts fall off from £5,000 a week to £3,600, probably. I requested the Superintendent to give the Sunday school scholars along the line a treat to Worcester, at half the usual rate charged for excursion trains. I left details for him to settle. Mr. Adcock engages and discharges servants. He reports to me, and I confirm. I cannot state the number of passengers by the train who were not Sunday school scholars or teachers. I think the station masters who sold tickets to others than Sunday school children or teachers have been guilty of dereliction of duty. It might have been better if the tickets had been sent to the superintendents of the schools, but it did not strike him to do so, and therefore the station masters may perhaps have been placed in some difficulty. A train of precisely similar character came from Oxford the previous week, and none but the class of persons intended availed themselves of it. I assumed that there was honesty enough in any district of parties not to take advantage of a train not intended for the class to which they belonged; but it seems that I took too favourable a view of human nature. A station master is not expected to be at the station when every train passed. We have not separate station masters for passengers and goods, nor has any Company, except in large stations; and it is essential for the public safety that a station master should have the entire control of his station. In an ordinary case, where a train was too long for a platform at a station, the guard would have his van with the break on, and walk up to the station; but in the case of an excursion train, I fancy the passengers got out as they get in pretty much as they please. They are too strong for the guard, unfortunately. I have a fixed salary, and in addition a per centage from the increased net receipts of the line; and therefore this most unlucky accident will take a couple of hundred pounds out of my pocket.
By the Coroner: I have never had any complaints from the directors as to the staff being insufficient. I will back the staff of the line, both for efficiency and being well paid, against the staff of any line in the kingdom. I think the true economy is to get the best servants and pay them well.
By Mr. Burbury: The salaries paid since I came have been much greater than they were before.
By Mr. Ford: I cannot tell what time the broken carriages were removed next morning. On my return home on the night of the accident, I was taken exceedingly ill, and was not able to leave my home for two days.
Mr. Charles Harris: I am assistant to the superintendent at Worcester station. My duties are to instruct the guards what trains they are to work daily, and I pay the guards. I also act generally under the direction of Mr. Adcock. I accompanied the excursion train from Dudley to Worcester, by Mr. Adcock’s instructions. There was a coupling broken at Brettell Lane, and another at Hagley. The breakage at Brettell Lane occurred as we were leaving the station, and also at Hagley. There was no other breakage on the way that I am aware of. At Brettell Lane four links of the cable chain were put on in place of the coupling that broke. I do not know what was substituted at Hagley. I did not see any person in Cording’s van. In Cook’s van I believe there were three of four persons. I think they rode with him all the way from Dudley to Worcester. Cook was sober. I reported the breakage of the coupling to Mr. Adcock immediately upon the arrival of the train. I did not see the chains removed, but I know that when the train returned at night the couplings were all right. I went through the trains to see that they were all properly fastened. The first train left at 6.30, and the second at 6.47. Mr. Adcock instructed me to have the train divided. There were twenty-eight carriages and two breaks in the first train, and one engine. Cook and Cording were the guards. Cording was in the first van, and Cook in the second. The second train consisted of fifteen carriages, a break van, and an engine. I did not telegraph to any of the stations after the first train left Worcester. I saw Cook before he left Worcester. He was quite sober. There was a second-class break in the train, but no guard in it. I cannot say whether there was any other person. I did not see any one in the guard’s van.
By Mr. Wheeler: I rode in Cook’s van from Stourbridge to Hagley in going to Worcester. I did not see any of the persons in the van smoking, nor did I observe any one use Cook’s break. If I had done so I should have reprimanded Cook for allowing it. I am not aware of any breakage occurring between Kidderminster and Worcester.
By Mr. Holcroft: I am quite sure no person touched Cook’s break between Stourbridge and Hagley, or between Droitwich and Worcester.
By Mr. Haines: At Round Oak some Sunday school scholars, and, I presume their teachers, got into the second-class break van. If they had been mischievously inclined they might have applied the break between Brettell Lane and Stourbridge, or between Kidderminster and Worcester. I rode in that break from Dudley to Stourbridge, and from Hagley to Kidderminster, and should not have permitted any interference with the break while I was present.
Robert Deakin, porter and signal-man, was the next witness. He deposed: I was at the station on the morning of the 23rd of August, when the excursion train passed, and when it returned at night I was off duty. When I went off duty I left the booking-clerk at my post. I had gone to a public house to fetch some beer for my supper. I returned through the station-yard while the train was there. The train arrived about ten minutes past eight. It should have arrived at five minutes before eight. The booking-clerk was at my post when I left. When I arrived on the platform the guard told me part of the train had broken loose. I had finished duty that night at 7.50. William Mills, the booking-clerk; was the duty person at the station when the train arrived. In five or six minutes afterwards I went down the line to the scene of the accident; and then returned and signalled the first part of the train to return. I uncoupled the portion of the carriages that ran back that were not broken from those which were broken, and the guard attached them to the first portion of the train which returned to Round Oak. Prickett the guard, gave me the broken shackle and side-chains which he took off the carriages. I cannot swear to the shackle, but I can to the side chain.
James Healey was then sworn. He said: I am foreman platelayer on the portion of the road where the collision took place. When the excursion train arrived at Round Oak, on the night of the 23rd of August, I was standing on the up platform at the station. I saw the train come from towards Brettell Lane, and stop at the platform. The next thing I observed after the train came to a proper stand opposite the platform was the carriages rebounding from the engine. I then heard a “snap,” as if something had broken. After hearing the snap I saw the carriages drawing back the later part from the former part.
The Coroner: How many?
Witness: I cannot tell.
The Coroner: Several?
Witness: Ah! there would be more than “several.” I should think there were fourteen or fifteen. [Laughter] I then went and told John Burt, one of the engine drivers, that the train had broken loose. After that I went up to the station, and got a light from the booking clerk, Mills. I then followed the latter part of the train down the line, towards where the collision took place. On arriving there I assisted in removing the wounded.
By Mr. Hammersley: There was no servant of the Company on the platform when the train came in.
A conversation here took place as to whether further witnesses should be examined. The jury expressed a wish to hear the evidence of Mills, the booking clerk, Lockwood and Burt, engine drivers, Brett, who rode in the van from Worcester, and other persons. These parties were not in attendance, it having been understood on Tuesday, that no further evidence would be taken. It was therefore arranged that as it was now near six o’clock, the enquiry should be further adjourned for a fortnight, such a remote period as Thursday week, the 30th instant, being fixed upon, in order to suit the convenience of the jury.