The Railway at Souldrop
During the 1860s, the rector of Souldrop wrote in his diary three times that a parishioner had been killed on the railway. ref 4
Building of the railway from London to the north took place from 1857 to 1860, passing through part of Souldrop parish. There sprung up a ‘shanty town’ of huts to house the men who worked on the building of the up-and-down lines. Two men were killed during these operations, and were buried in the churchyard. Their graves were marked with iron memorials. ref 1.
The Wellingborough News reported various accidents and deaths during the building of this stretch of railway: ref 9 .
18th March 1882, a ‘Fatal Accident on The Midland Railway’ reported on an inquest held by Mr JT Parker, divisional coroner, at the Red Lion Inn, Irchester, respecting the death of John Clark, a navvy employed on the widening at Wymington. He had worked there for eleven weeks.
‘It appears that the deceased was crossing the line near the bridge below Irchester Station
to go into the village, when he was knocked down by an express train and killed’.
The 47 year old man, called “Soldier” by his friends, had left for work that morning to go to
work but was hit by the 9.30 express from London To Derby. The driver saw the man about to cross in front of the train and whistled, ‘..but the man did not turn his head or take any notice, and walked across right in front of the train… The engine caught him and knocked him down. It was impossible to avoid him. The driver stopped at Irchester and gave information to the station master. There was no other train near enough to have attracted deceased’s attention.
Thomas Wade, the fireman, gave confirmatory evidence. He had found the deceased near to the level crossing over the line ‘quite dead’.When Mr. Freeman, the surgeon, of Rushden, was interviewed he said that ‘he had attended the deceased ten days or a fortnight since for inflammation of the lungs. He was under the impression that he was slightly deaf.’ So the man had probably not heard the train coming.
The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.”
On 13th May 1882, The Wellingborough News reported an ‘ACCIDENT AT THE NEW TUNNEL WORKS’
When an ‘accident of a serious nature occurred…three men having deposited the charge for blasting and ignited the fuse,found the charge did not go off’.The men waited about an hour, then ‘ventured to approach’ to attempt to place a second charge, ‘but as they were in the act of removing some of the earth the explosion took place and the men were hurled something like 15 feet, and severely injured. It was thought for a time that one of the three could not live, but it is now hoped that they will all recover.’
On 9th September 1882, ‘ANOTHER ACCIDENT AT THE WIDENING’. Another ‘fall of earth’ occurred at the railway widening near Irchester, by which a navvy named James Roberts, aged 33, was badly injured in his chest and back. The unfortunate man was afterwards conveyed to Skerry’s lodging house at Wellingborough, where he has been living’.
On 16th December 1882,‘ ANOTHER ACCIDENT’ On the widening, ‘a young man called “Pincer” was at work on the tunnel, his foot got in between the wheel of one of the trucks and the rails, and was fearfully mangled. He was at once taken to the Bedford Infirmary where he was attended to, and it was hoped that his foot would not have to be amputated.’
On 21st April 1883 the newspaper carried this announcement :
‘WYMINGTON TUNNEL WORKS, BEDFORDSHIRE IMPORTANT TO BUILDERS, CONTRACTORS, FARMERS, AND OTHERS’
Messrs. Pendered and Son
‘ARE instructed by Messrs. Young & Williams, sub-contractors under Thomas Oliver, Esq.,
To SELL BY AUCTION, on Thursday, 26th April, 1883, in consequence of the tunnel works being completed, the whole of the MATERIALS of the Workshops, Contractor’s House and Offices, Workmen’s Huts, and other Buildings, comprising:—150,000 good sound Bricks, deal boards,scantlings, battens, joists, sashes, doors and frames, large quantity of felt roofing, oven and boiler grates, 10,000 feet of double partitioning, &c., and the following useful buildings, which will be sold standing, the contractor’s house and offices, grocer’s shop and store rooms, with brick gables, roofs boarded and covered with felt, walls of double boards, the excellent interior fittings; blacksmith’s shop, forage and harness rooms, brick lean-to, wooden portable office, and 20 workmen’s huts, with double boarded walls, and on brick foundations. Also a great number of tables, bedsteads, grocer’s shop fittings and utensils, 4 strong and useful Ponies, 8 sets of trace harness, 2-knife chaff cutter, grindstone, tools, barrels of tar, firewood, &c., also the erection of Coffee-house, built of brick and timber, containing kitchen, cook house with cooking range, and other offices, with the interior fittings.
N.B.—Special facilities for loading and delivering on the Midland main line adjoining, have been arranged.
The place of sale is about half-way between the Sharnbrook and Irchester Stations, and adjoins the road known as the “Forty-foot,” which communicates with the turnpike from Wymington to Souldrop.
Sale to commence at eleven o’clock, am’ ref 9 .
© Ella Jo Street