|Irchester - On Saturday morning an inquest was held at the Bedford Infirmary by Dr. Prior (the Borough coroner), on the body of Fredk. Smith, a signalman in the employ of the Midland Railway Company, who was knocked down by the 8.38 express from the north while walking down the line to attend to his lamps on 17th April, between Irchester and Sharnbrook. He was taken to the Infirmary and it was found that his skull was severely fractured, and an operation was performed. Considerable hope was entertained at first of his recovery, and the doctors began to regard it as a very remarkable case. However, inflammation of the brain set in at the end of last week, and he died on Friday morning.
Mary Ann Smith, wife of deceased, was the first witness. She said she resided at Irchester, and the body now lying in the mortuary was that of her husband, Fredk. Smith, a signalman on the Midland Railway, at Irchester. He was 36 years of age. He left home at about 6.45 on Friday evening, the 17th, to attend to his duties, and on Saturday morning she was informed of the accident.
Charles Burdett said he was an engine driver for the Midland Railway Company. On the 17th, about 8.25 in the evening, he was driving the 7,35 express from Leicester to Bedford. When running between Wymington box and Sharnbrook he saw a man on the left hand side of the down main line with a signal lamp. He noticed a goods train coming down behind him, and must have crossed over after it got by him, thus getting right in the road of their engine. He knew no more until his mate asked him if he had seen a man with a lamp. He said “Yes, he was on the other side a minute ago.” His mate replied “Well, we have just knocked him down, I saw the lamp fly.” They stopped at Sharnbrook and gave information to the station-master. When he first saw the man he was on the outside of the down-line right away from them.
James Gilbert, the fireman on the same train, gave corroborative evidence.
Thomas Hills, a platelayer on the Midland railway, said on the evening of the 17th he was at Wymington on the side of the line. He heard the Leicester express pass about 8,25. He heard a man calling out for help and he went down the line to him, finding him lying on his left side in the “cess.” He complained of being hurt but didn’t know how. Witness knew him personally, and he had been a signalman for eleven years. He gave information at Irchester and an engine was procured and deceased was brought to the Bedford Infirmary.
George Crowson, the station-master at Irchester, said on the 17th, about 8.50, he received information of an accident on the line near Wymington. He procured an engine and proceeded to the spot; he found the deceased in a guard’s van, and he was immediately taken to the Bedford Infirmary.
The Foreman asked the widow, who was allowed to remain in the room, if her husband had complained during the time he had been in the Infirmary of any neglect on the part of the Company, and she replied that he had not done so.
Mr. R. H. Elliott, house surgeon at the Bedford Infirmary, said deceased was brought in about ten o’clock in the evening of the 17th. On admission he was suffering from compression of the brain, the result of a severe and compound fracture of the skull. An operation was performed, giving immediate relief, but his brain was found to be torn. He did very well for a week, but inflammation of the brain set in and he died on the 30th. He made an autopsy and found that he had had a large effusion of blood over the right loin corresponding with a bruise there, in addition to the brain injury. Death resulted from these injuries.
A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.