Powell, Thomas

Powell, Thomas       1888 December 1st          Wylye

Dreadful Railway Accident to a Farmer near Wylye

On Tuesday morning a dreadful railway accident happened near Wylye to Mr Thomas Powell, aged 77, a farmer. Mr Powell was, on horseback, traversing the line at a level crossing and whilst he was unfastening a gate at the farther side a train came along and struck the animal, in consequence of which he was thrown and when the train had been pulled up and an examination made it was found that the unfortunate gentleman had been killed, his head having been severed from his body. The horse was terribly mutilated and had to be shot. The inquest touching the decease of Mr Powell was held on Wednesday, before Mr G M Wilson, at the house of Walter White.

Thomas Davis Powell, of Hanging Langford, son of the deceased, was called. He said that his father was a farmer and for upwards of 12 years had been in the occupation of a farm situated the other side of the Great Western Railway. To get to the farm he had to go across a level crossing about 500 yards below Wylye station. He was in the habit of going over the crossing about three or four times a day on horseback.

George Primmer, a bricklayer, living at Quidhampton, said that he was in the employ of the Great Western Company. On Tuesday morning, about ten o’clock, he was at the side of the line about half-way between the level crossing and Wylye Station and he saw the deceased on horseback going over the level crossing. He had got through the first gate and was unfastening the second when witness saw the train due at Wylye Station 10.3 come under the railway arch. It hit the horse in the hind quarters. The deceased was thrown off the horse and the train knocked him down. Witness ran to his assistance at once. The body was lying alongside the metals and the head was about five yards from the body. James Lush was working with witness at the time. Witness was on the same side of the metals as the deceased. The level crossing was about 150 to 170 yards from the bridge. Witness did not think one could see down the line from the outside of the level crossing gate where the deceased entered.

James Lush, of Bath, said he was a bricklayer’s laborer in the employ of the Great Western Railway Company. He was working on Tuesday morning with George Primmer. He had heard his evidence and corroborated it entirely.

William Harris, of Bristol, said that he was an engine driver in the employ of the Great Western Railway Company. On Tuesday morning he was driving the engine on the train leaving Bristol at 8.30 and due at Wylye Station at three minutes past ten. After passing the second railway bridge from Wylye station and about 150 yards from the level crossing he saw a horse and man on it going over the level crossing. He blew the steam whistle and applied the vacuum brakes, also the steam brake on the engine, and the fireman put the tender brake on. Witness used every exertion to stop the train, but he could not succeed in doing so. The horse appeared to witness to be standing with his head over the gate, and the engine passed without touching it, but he thought that the front carriage hit the horse. He pulled up the train about 150 yards past the level crossing and then heard that the man was killed. Previous to seeing the deceased on the level crossing he was going at the rate of 35 miles an hour but when he passed the crossing he was going about 10 miles an hour. The gate which the horse was near was shut. It was raining and blowing hard at the time of the accident.

Thomas Few, Bristol, said that he was a guard in the employ of the Great Western Railway Company and was the guard in the rear van of the train leaving Bristol on Tuesday morning at 8.30. Just before getting to Wylye Station he heard the driver whistle. He looked through the side light and saw a man and horse being knocked down by the front carriage of the train. They appeared to be on the off side of the level crossing. The train was pulled up as soon as possible and witness found the deceased lying alongside the metals, but his head was a few yards off. Witness examined the train and found bloodstains and horsehair on the steps of the front van. The brake was being applied before they got to the crossing.

William Thomas Forrester, of Trowbridge, said that he was a District Inspector in the employ of the Great Western Railway Company. The accident to the deceased was reported to him on Tuesday morning and he inspected the place of the accident in the afternoon. The gate on the village side of the level crossing was 9ft 6in from the metals, and the opposite gate was 6ft 9in from the metals. He thought they were put so near to allow persons to see down the line on the village side. They could just see through the arch, which was 100 yards from the level crossing. There was no man in charge of the gates.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.”


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