Bush, Charles

Bush, Charles       1883 May 5th        Bishopstoke

An inquest was held on Saturday by Mr Bernard Harfield, acting for Mr R Harfield, the County Coroner, on the body of Charles Bush, aged 45, whose death occurred under the painful circumstances disclosed in the following evidence.

George Moores, labourer, of 15, Melbourne-street, Southampton, said he knew the deceased, who lived at St Denys. He was foreman in some works in course of erection at Bishopstoke station, and in the employ of Messrs Perry and Co., contractors, of Bow, London. For the last four months witness and deceased had worked together at Bishopstoke, and that morning they were working close together for half-an-hour. Some time between nine and ten o’clock deceased left off working, and walked towards the yard, in which some shunting was going on. It was the goods yard, on the other side of the line leading to Portsmouth, some distance – possibly 300 yards – from where he was working. He might have had business in the yard, as he had often loaded waggons arrived with materials. Witness had noticed a difference in deceased’s manner for the last four months. He used to be of a joking disposition, but since witness had worked with him this time he had been different altogether. When he had met him he hardly spoke. He had several times heard him say he wished he had been dead of this job, referring to the work at Bishopstoke. He had also noticed that he looked changed in his face, and was thinner. This had been noticed and spoken of by others as well. Owing to the soak of the water to the works at Bishopstoke, they had to knock off work, and this seemed to trouble deceased, as they did not get on with the work fast enough. He had never heard deceased say he would commit suicide.

George Over, bricklayer, of 2, Mount-terrace, Southampton, said he had been working at Bishopstoke about seven weeks, and had known deceased for 30 years. He was a very steady man, and pretty cheerful, but lately he had been very dull. He had said to witness, “I feel nearly out of mind, and think this job will drive me off altogether.” He did not know why he said this but he believed he was in a difficulty with the job, as the dimensions had not been set out quite accurately, and this preyed on his mind. He never heard him say he should commit suicide. He saw deceased that morning, but did not notice anything particular in his manner. Before witness arrived at the works at Bishopstoke deceased was foreman of the building, but when he came he was made foreman of the men, and deceased was timekeeper. He had been both foreman and timekeeper when witness came.

Frederick Boyes, of Middle-street, Bishopstoke, head shunter in the goods yard, stated that about 20 minutes past nine o’clock that morning he was standing at his shunting distance, when he saw deceased walk from No4 road to No5. He laid down, and put his head across the rail. Shunting was going on in the yard at the time when this happened, and the carriage which passed over the neck of the deceased was a length or two from him, having been shunted from the direction of Portsmouth towards Bishopstoke. The carriage was moving and detached from the engine when he laid down. Witness was of opinion that deceased laid down on purpose for the carriage to run over him. He had been to him in the earlier part of the morning to inquire whether there were any goods for him, and he replied that there were some three waggons. Witness pointed them out to him and he had no further occasion, as far as he knew, to come over again.

Mr Wm Edward Salt, architect, of Winchester-road, Romsey, said he had charge of building works under the L. and S.W. Co.’s engineer. He had known deceased more then five years. He was always a steady man; cheerful until very recently; and was in charge of the works at Bishopstoke till the morning of the 17th February last, when he came to witness in a very dejected mood, saying that a mistake had been made by him in setting out the work – this was the second. He asked witness to remedy it if he could; and on the part of the Company he allowed the work to proceed. On that morning he said he supposed he would not get further places as foreman, having made these mistakes. Since the day referred to he had certainly been more dejected in his manner. Within a few days he saw the witness Over had been appointed to assist him.

The verdict of the jury was that deceased “did kill himself by putting his head on a railway metal, over which a carriage was being shunted, and which, passing over his neck, caused immediate death, and at the time of so doing he was in an unsound state of mind.”

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