James, Gwynne

James, Gwynne               1883 April 28th            Swindon

On Friday evening, at a few minutes after eight o’clock, another fatal accident occurred at the Rodbourne-lane crossing over the Great Western Railway line. It appears that about eight o’clock Mrs James, wife of William James, an employee at the Great Western Railway works, and residing at 24, Percy-street, Rodbourne-lane, having to go to New Swindon shopping, took her little son, Gwynne Hawkins James, aged eight, with her. At first Mrs James tried to persuade the lad to stop at home, but on his wishing particularly to go with his mother she consented to take him.

Arriving at the crossing a few minutes after eight o’clock, the express train from Weymouth, due in Swindon at ten minutes past eight, was signalled. In going across the line the boy led the way, and just before the train arrived opposite the gates he attempted to cross the line, and nearly succeeded in doing so. The right hand buffer struck the child, knocking him a distance of about 77 feet from the opposite gate, death resulting instantaneously.

On Monday morning Mr Coroner Baker held an inquest at the Dolphin inn, New Swindon, on the body of Gwynne Hawkins James, aged eight, son of a railway fitter in the Great Western Railway works, the child having been knocked down and killed in attempting to cross the Rodbourne-lane level crossing about 8.8pm on Friday.

From the evidence adduced it appeared that the lad’s mother and sister with the deceased were journeying to New Swindon, having to cross the line, and the lad seeing the signal board down ran off towards the gates, telling his mother that the signal was down, and the mother and daughter thought he intended to watch the train pass; but instead of this the child attempted to cross the line before the train passed, notwithstanding a signalman, who heard someone running down the road, telling him that the train was close upon him, and the lad was nearly clear of the line, but the right-hand buffer struck him, and when found he was quite dead a good distance from the crossing.

The jury returned a verdict “that the deceased was accidentally killed at the Rodbourne-lane level crossing of the Great Western Railway line by being knocked down by a train,” and added a rider that, “The jury wish the Coroner to represent to the Board of Trade the urgent necessity of providing some means at this point for the protection of the public, other fatalities having there occurred,” and the coroner said he would gladly do so.

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