Article in the Macclesfield Courier on 10 Nov 1877
Article in the Macclesfield Courier on 10 Nov 1877
" On Saturday night, Mr William Snelson, of the Brookhouse Farm, Old Withington, 43 years of age, met his death on the railway near Congleton, under very melancholy circumstances.
On Tuesday, Mr Dunstan held an inquest on the body at the Railway Hotel, when evidence was taken which conveys the facts connected with the sad affair. Inspectors Harris and Yates were present at the inquiry; on behalf of the Company, James Wood Colliery Clerk; Fegg Hayes, near BLACK BULL, deceased's brother-in-law, identified the body, and said he expected deceased at his house on Saturday night to spend the weekend with him. Thomas Hall, engine fireman no. 20, in the employ of the North Staffordshire Railway Company, said that on Saturday night he was on the 7pm passenger train from Stafford to Macclesfield and Manchester. The driver was Abraham Briggs. The train was due at Congleton at 8-26 but it did not leave until 8-40, and it was a dark night.
Between Congleton and North Rode, past the Biddulph Junction, and about a mile and a half from Congleton Station, between the first bridge and the three-arch bridge on the left hand side of the engine, he saw a man by the reflection of the lamp in front of the engine. He was standing, and as soon as the engine passed him - he was gone altogether. He said to Briggs,
" Mate, I saw a man, I don't know whether we have knocked him down or not ? ".
They stopped the train and examined the engine round, but found no marks to form any clue of having knocked anyone down. They proceeded on to North Rode, and Briggs informed the station- master. They were going at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour. By Inspector Harris : " Not a minute elapsed from the time we first saw the man to the period we lost sight of him ". Abraham Briggs, the driver of the train in question, gave corroborative evidence. Mr. John Ratcliffe, the station-master at North Rode, said that in consequence of what Briggs told him, he went down the line, accompanied by Preston, a pointsman. It was nine o'clock when they started, and they walked up the line towards Congleton and the body of the deceased lying dead on the embankment, and his coat tail in the ditch, on the down side of the line. He lay on his face. There was no blood about. He went on to Congleton Station and informed Mr. James Parkes, the station-master there.
The deceased's watch lay about two yards from him and it had stopped at 25 minutes to nine. There was not the least smell of drink about the body - Superintendent Hall said that on Saturday night, about a quarter to eleven, information was received at the police station, Congleton, of the body of a man being found on the line. He went to the place indicated, accompanied by Dr. Beales, the station-master and others . The body lay in Buglawton Township; it was placed on a lorry and removed to the Congleton station, and from thence to the Railway Hotel, and their examined by Dr. Beales when it was found that there was a fracture of the skull at the back of the head. He received the watch from the station-master Congleton, and searched the deceased's pockets; He found a pocket book containing two cheques, one for 39 pounds seven shillings and sixpence and the other for 9 pounds ten shillings; two Bank of England notes for 20 pounds and 10 pounds; a purse with 6 pounds 10 shillings and 11 pence in cash, gold guard, keys, chain, knife, pipe, tobacco pouch and railway ticket for Black Bull to Congleton; a receipt for 8 pounds 16 shillings, for money paid at four o'clock on Saturday afternoon at Congleton market to Mr. Hesketh of Winsford.
Mr. James Parkes, station-master Congleton said that on Saturday night he saw the deceased on the platform about eight o'clock, standing with his back against the wall. He could not tell whether he was under the influence of drink or not, and he stood by him while the express passed. The Black Bull train, timed to,leave at 8-45 was waiting for the express to pass. Could not say whether the deceased went by that train or not. The Biddulph train had to be shunted at the junction, which is about half-a- mile to where the body lay. After the Biddulph train left, he missed the deceased from the platform. He received the watch produced from Mr. Ratcliffe North Rode station-master which he handed over to Superintendent Hall.
This being the whole of the evidence, a juryman remarked that he had known parties leave the Congleton station by the Biddulph train and alight therefrom for Key Green, Buglawton &c - Inspector Harris said he would see that this evil was remedied. He should represent the matter to the General manager, for it was certainly very improper for parties to leave the train at the junction under any circumstance.- The Coroner pointed out that there could be no other verdict than that of accidental death. There was no evidence to show that the deceased was intoxicated, and the probability was that the deceased might have travelled by th Biddulph train and left at the junction, and trespassed on the line, where he unfortunately met his death.- The jury immediately returned a verdict that the deceased was accidentally killed ".