Shergold, Frederick, or West, George

Shergold, Frederick, or West, George         1874 August 22nd         Great Wishford

Editors Note August 2013  – I have recently been contacted by an interested fellow researcher, and it seems that the Times report was incorrect in naming Frederick Shergold as the unfortunate victim of this accident.  The Times named Frederick Shergold when in fact it was a 46 year old man called George West.  According to a report in the Salisbury Journal on the same incident, both Simpson and George Smith had a limb amputated in Salisbury Infirmary, and it was feared that Oliver Smith had a spinal injury.  How the Salisbury Times made this error is not known.


A very lamentable railway accident occurred on the line of the Great Western Railway Company at Wishford, near to this city, on Thursday evening. It appears that four of the Company’s workmen, named Frederick Shergold, Richard Simper, and George and Oliver Smith, brothers, after leaving their work on the line had taken a trolly for the purpose of riding to a field belonging to Mr Galpin, farmer, at Langford, where they had engaged to assist in harvesting. While proceeding to the place they were run into by a special cattle train from Bristol to Salisbury, the result being that Shergold was killed, George Smith had his arm and hand severely crushed, Oliver Smith was cut about the face, and bruised in several places, and Simper was also injured to some extent.

The Smiths were conveyed to the Salisbury Infirmary, where George Smith’s arm was amputated below the elbow. From inquiries made at the institution we learn that the men are doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. Simper was conveyed to Wishford, as also was the body of Shergold.

An inquest was held at the “Goat” Inn, Wishford, yesterday morning, before Mr Coroner Wilson, and a jury, to investigate the cause of the death of Shergold.

The first witness called was George Turner, of Wishford, who said : I am a ganger on the Great Western Railway. I have been in the Company’s employ 19 years. I have known the deceased 14 years, having always worked with him. He was a flagman, and was under me. I was working with him all yesterday, and left him at the Wishford station at about half past five o’clock. He did not say what he was going to do. I know that latterly, after dong his work on the railway, he has been harvesting for Mr Galpin, at Langford, about two miles along the line. There were three others at the station with deceased – George Smith, Oliver Smith, and Richard Simper.

A little before nine, hearing a disturbance, I went to the Wishford station. I first met George Smith. He said they had been run in to. I asked how, and he said they had the trolly on the line. I went forward and found the deceased lying dead between the metals. Oliver Smith and Richard Simper were lying on the line. The deceased was lying nearly four rods from the others, and the trolly was knocked all to pieces. The deceased and his companions had no business with the trolly. When I left work, I locked it, and put the key where it was generally kept, and where the other men could find it. It was my business to see the trolly locked after work. I always have notice from the Inspector of any special train. Before using the trolly it is my duty to inquire at the station if there are any special trains. The deceased and his companions had no right to take the trolly without leave either from myself or after enquiring at the station.

John Slate, of Bristol, deposed : I am an engine driver in the Company’s service, and had been 13 years in their service. Yesterday I was in charge of a special cattle train from Bristol to Salisbury. I left Bristol at 6.35pm. The train stopped at Warminster, and from thence we were to run through to Salisbury. The train was travelling about 25 miles an hour. The train was a few yards from an object which I could not distinguish when it ran into the trolly. I stopped the train as soon as I could, which was at Wishford Station, a short distance from where the accident occurred. The line at this place is in a curve, and the deceased could not have seen the train for any distance if he had looked back. The signals were all right. It was about ten minutes to nine when the train stopped at the station. I had no time to sound the whistle before the collision took place, as it was so sudden. I had the proper lights on the engine.

Isaac Gage, of Bristol, said : I am fireman on the engine to John Slate, the last witness. I did not see anything of the trolly on the line before the collision took place. It was rather dark. I know the line well, having worked between Bristol and Salisbury for the last six years. I felt the collision, but there was not much injury done to the engine – only a mark, and no disability.

William Beckett, of Bristol, deposed : I was guard in charge of the special cattle train from Bristol to Salisbury yesterday. The train stopped at Warminster, and we were to run through to Salisbury. I was startled by hearing the break whistle, and immediately I felt a jerk. I put on the break, and the train drew up soon after the station, about a quarter of a mile from the place of the accident. I went back to see what was the matter. I first met one of the injured men, with his hand nearly cut off; I then went further back and found the other men; and further back still I found the deceased lying on his back, and he appeared to be quite dead. I then helped the other injured men. The train stopped at 8.50pm.

William Dilford, of Frome, deposed : I am Inspector of the Permanent Way on the Great Western line. I knew the deceased; he had been some time in the service. The ganger, George Turner, has command over the trolly, and also over the men. All the men have rules, and they use the trolly between the working of the trains. I am down here nearly every day, but I was no aware that the trolly was used by the men after work. They had no business to use it.

This was the whole of the evidence adduced.

The jury believed that the deceased and his companions had no right to use the trolly, that they were trespassing in being on the line at that time, and that the death was purely accidental. A verdict in consonance with this opinion was consequently recorded.


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