Worth More Than a Shilling


Eight days after Frank’s death, The Scarborough Mercury gave its readers an account of the deputy coroner’s inquest.

The ballast train’s task was to “fill up the permanent way” by tipping cinders from the wagons. This was most efficiently done while the train moved slowly, at about three miles an hour. Each wagon had four doors and these were opened in sequence by a worker on the track knocking out the restraining pin. The piles of cinders thus released would then be raked by the platelayers on the ground. Frank was aware of the danger of his position atop the ashes in the wagon. Perhaps the last words he uttered were, “I mustn’t be standing here when the door goes down.” He may not have heard the warning shout from below that his door was about to be opened. The drop was not particularly great and he landed on his feet. But, somewhat shaken, he lost his balance and before a friendly hand could grab him he fell back across the rail.

The flanged metal wheels of the train did not pass over his neck, as the first newspaper accounts stated, but crushed the lower part of his body. His fellow workers were unable to stop the bleeding from his wounds. When Dr. James HAWORTH attended he found Frank lying on his back in a goods wagon at Filey Station, “and quite dead”.

He had fracture of both thighs, the left thigh compound, had fractured-pelvis, whilst the abdomen was torn completely across, exposing the bladder and intestines. In witness’s opinion death was due to the shock of the fearful injuries and the loss of blood.

This procedure of tipping cinders had been adopted by all railway companies and, according to one witness, this was the first accident to occur in 26 years. The jury agreed that no blame for Frank’s death could be apportioned to anyone involved, or to the North Eastern Railway Company.

Mr. Maley, the foreman:  I understand the widow of this poor man is very poor.  I intend to leave the shilling the Coroner is usually so generous as to give us and put a trifle to it, and I am sure what small amount will be very acceptable.

Mr. Hutton said no doubt a fund would be started by the railway company. He thought it would be a paltry way of showing their generosity if they could not do more than leave the shilling.

Frank’s six children ranged in age from 14 to 24 when he left them. His widow Alice, née BARKLEY, died in 1931, aged 79. FamilySearch Tree has them but, as yet, few ancestors or descendants.

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