There are 54 cases in 1884, and quite a variety they are.

I have often contemplated the fantasy of travelling back in time to see how things were then – but I would definitely draw the line at rail travel in the nineteenth century!

The most serious railway accident in the collection (excepting the 1906 crash) is the Breamore Rail Disaster, in which a train plunged off the line close to the river Avon, with the loss of five lives and 41 injuries. There were two separate inquests and a Board of Trade inquiry which I have also added to the mix. Poor standards of workmanship and communication – as so often – seem to float to the surface by the end of the inquiry. I include a link to the Railway Archive website, where a dramatic drawing of the aftermath may be viewed.

Other railway fatalities occurred locally though, including Charles Coglan, stood in the wrong place at the wrong moment (seemingly 300 yards from the nearest light), and William Privett, who, whilst oiling underneath his engine, was unwittingly killed by the shunted trucks coming down to make up his next train. Again, A doesn’t know B was doing, etc. As a juror said, “Life is as nothing to the Company sometimes.”

One of the saddest cases I have seen was that of Charles “Taffy” Gale, a poor man who probably had tuberculosis, who hawked about the streets all the day, and was the butt of the gibes from lads about the town. His final short conversation with his neighbour was equally pathetic, even Dickensian.

Pregnancy and labour feature in several cases, including Clara Yoe, whose baby was crossed and unable to proceed, and Anne Payne, who died in confinement.

Robert Peach, one might suggest, got his just desserts for beating his young bull. In the case of the accidental shooting of Henry Jones, who was cleaning some firearms for a tenant, I could not help wondering why Captain Graham was not blamed for carelessness in leaving his pistol and cartridges unsecured.

Hannah Greenland, a 73 year old widow, had been digging potatoes in October, and fell ill. Her neighbour, Mrs Dowden, gives in her evidence a clear indication of the difficulties of gaining medical assistance in a hurry, seeing firstly a local overseer, then a tramp into Frome, to be told by the doctor there that she must then walk miles to Mells to see the relieving officer for his chit.

Yoe, Clara                                                     Swindon

Horroll, Eliza                                                Frome

Russell, Reginald                                          Timsbury

Unknown Infant                                            Market Lavington

House, Charles                                              Tollard Farnham

Major, William

Cooper, Elizabeth                                          Broughton

Spackman, William                                         Wilton

Snook, Edwin                                                Dinton

Peck, Jane                                                     Pewsey

Brikell, Thomas                                             Shaftesbury

Coglan, Charles

Mead, Emma                                                  Potterne

Hyde, George ; Hellier, Henry                        Yeovil

Lever, Thomas                                               Donhead St Mary

Shears, Francis                                               Winterslow

Coward, Rhoda                                              Trowbridge

Roles, infant

Wheeler, Alfred                                              Trowbridge

Chalke, Frederick

Triphook, Maria

Knight, George                                               Westbury Leigh

Privett, William

Breamore Railway Disaster

Lush, Mary ; Corbin, Emily ; Chandler, Lilian ; Waters, Mr.

Dent, Mathew

Board of Trade Inquiry

Breamore Inquest

Peach, Robert                                                Horningsham

Copp, James                                                  Chippenham

Jones, Henry

Moore, George                                               Shrewton

Axe, Alfred                                                    Yeovil

Heath, Mary                                                   Devizes

Long, Francis                                                 Frome

Few, Harriett                                                  Corton

Stillman, Herbert                                            Dilton Marsh

Carpenter, Samuel                                          Horningsham

Hart, Edward                                                  Sturminster Marshall

Wilmot, Emily                                                Winterbourne

Hiscott, Ann                                                  Crockerton

Miles, Richard                                               Maiden Bradley

Grey, James                                                  Horningsham

Lucas, George                                               Trowbridge

Read, Henry

Gale, Charles

Casbird, Joseph                                             Chippenham

Greenland, Hannah                                        Frome

Payne, Anne                                                 Longbridge Deverill

Barter, Joseph                                               Sutton Veny

Rogers, Mary                                                Trowbridge

Titt, Elizabeth                                               Chitterne

Fowler, Charlotte

Whale, Ernest                                                Overton

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