Martin, Bell

Martin, Bell        1883 March 31st              Bishopstoke

An inquest was held on Saturday afternoon before Mr Bernard Harfield, acting as deputy for the county coroner, at the Junction Hotel, Bishopstoke, concerning the death of Colonel Bell Martin, to whom a fatal accident occurred at the Bishopstoke Railway Station on the previous day. Mr Willmer, superintendent at the Bishopstoke station, and Mr Supt Hoskisson, of the South Western Company’s police, were present at the inquiry.

The jury, of whom Mr Frederick Bemister was chosen foreman, having been sworn, the Deputy-Coroner remarked that it was his painful duty to call them together to enquire into the death of this gentleman, who yesterday, about one o’clock, owing to an occurrence which he thought, from the evidence they would hear, the jury would be perfectly satisfied was a mere accident, met with an untimely death by being run over by a train. Their duty on this occasion would be particularly simple, as from what he was told the evidence would conclusively prove that whilst endeavouring to get into a train in motion the deceased became entangled in some way, and afterwards one or more of the wheels passed over his head, almost severing it from the body, and causing instantaneous death. They would only have to enquire as to the cause of death, and whether death was brought about owing to any omission on the part of the Company’s servants, or was due simply to a pure accident, and from what had reached him, as he had already said, he did not think they would have the slightest difficulty in settling either of these points.

The jury then viewed the body, which was at the hotel; after which the Deputy-Coroner asked them if they would like to see the locus in quo, which had been shown him by Mr Willmer, but there was really nothing to be seen. The jury thought it was unnecessary, and a gentleman present said, as representing the deceased’s relatives, he had no desire for it. The following evidence was then taken,

Lieutenant Charles Blair Mayne, of the Royal Engineers, living at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, identified the body as that of Colonel Arthur A G Bell Martin, who lived at 25, Rue St. Malo, Dinan, France. Deceased was a retired officer, having formerly been in the 9th Lancers and 7th Dragoon Guards. He was about 50 years of age. He last saw deceased on Wednesday last, when he was in good health.

By the Foreman : Deceased lost a son some twelve months ago from typhoid fever in India, but he did not think this affected his mind, except that he suffered great grief on the occasion.

Alice Elizabeth Mears, a barmaid in the employ of Mr Glasspool, stated that yesterday afternoon she was serving in the refreshment room on the downside of the Bishopstoke Railway Station, when deceased came in about twenty minutes past one, and partook of a cup of coffee and a bun. On looking round he saw a train in motion, and asked what train it was, and witness told him for Southampton. He was about to leave the bar, and witness had to remind him, “You have not paid me, sir,” and he turned and with his left hand threw her a shilling, and then went out in a very hurried manner, striking himself against the doorway as he went towards the train. She noticed nothing unusual in his manner.

Alfred Powell, a porter in the employ of the L & SW Railway Company, at the Bishopstoke Station, said he was on the down platform when the Southampton train, which had come from Waterloo, moved off. Witness was between two posts, coming up the down platform, a yard or two from the refreshment room door, when he saw deceased come running out and make a rush at the train. He made a grasp catching hold of the train, but knocked against one of the posts supporting the roof of the station, and this threw him off his legs down against the train. He also with the violence of the fall was turned right round, and his head struck the next post. He then fell towards the footboard of one of the carriages and went beneath, all but his head, which was dragging along the platform, and that was all witness saw of him until he was picked up dead. Witness was unable to render him any assistance, the train was going so fast, and witness himself was nearly knocked down by deceased as he passed. No one else was near at the time of the accident. Witness attributed deceased’s fall to his desire to get into the train whilst in motion, and believed it to be a pure accident.

By the Foreman : Deceased just caught hold of witness’s arm as he rushed by, and it turned witness round.

By a juryman : The post against which deceased knocked himself first was just outside the refreshment room door.

The juryman said that three accidents had happened in consequence, as he believed, of these posts being so close to the edge of the platform that there was hardly room for the passengers to pass them with ease.

The Deputy-Coroner said the jury might, if necessary, make a representation to the Company on this point.

Richard Henry Pearce, a platform inspector at the Bishopstoke station, stated that he was in attendance when the 10.15am train from Waterloo arrived about 1.18 at Bishopstoke. He did not see deceased alight, but when the train was again in motion he saw deceased about 16 yards from the refreshment room door lying on the footboard of one of the carriages. His head was towards Southampton, and he was carried along by the footboard to he end of the platform, for there was not room for him to fall between. As the carriages, however, left the platform he rolled over from the footboard, and with his head nearest to the train fell, and the train went over him, the wheels going over his right hand before witness could get at him, and then over and gripping his head. Witness caught hold of him by the legs and pulled him out. He should say that deceased was insensible as he was dragged along on the footboard before he got to the end of the platform. Witness could not get to him in time to rescue him, but there was no one nearer. He was quite dead when they picked him up.

By the jury : Unless he went between the carriages it was impossible for deceased to have fallen between the platform and the train until the end of the platform was reached, the footboard of the carriages being nearly even with the platform.

The Deputy-Coroner, addressing the jury, said he had no doubt that deceased was rendered insensible by striking his head against the post, and afterwards was carried along on the footboard until the train came to the end of the platform, when he fell down and the train went over his head. He could not suggest that the occurrence was other than purely an accident.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death,” exonerating the Company’s officials from any blame in the matter, the Foreman remarking that he knew that frequently the Company’s servants prevented similar casualties by catching passengers who ran out from the refreshment room at the last moment just as trains were starting.

We understand the deceased gentleman leaves a widow and four children.

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