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Rushden Echo, 4th October 1907, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Mr. Frank Whitworth Dies From A Fractured Skull

Appalling Motor Accident in Rushden - One Killed and Two Injured - A Mysterious Collision

  A terrible accident happened on Saturday night at Rushden, from the effects of which Mr. Frank Whitworth, of Church-street, Rushden, died on Sunday morning. The accident also resulted in serious injuries being inflicted upon Miss Ada Silburn, of Sartoris- road, Rushden and a friend, Mr. John Peacock, of Kettering.

  Mr. Whitworth, who was formerly a farmer near Buckingham, was a very well-connected gentleman.  He was a son of the late Mr. Henry Whitworth, of Thornton Hall, near Buckingham  who was the lord of the manor.  Before removing to Rushden – three or four years ago – Mr. Frank Whitworth resided at Brackley.  At one time he lived in America.  The deceased gentleman was

An Ardent Motorist

and it was while riding his motor-bicycle that the accident happened which resulted in his untimely death.  Mr. Whitworth seems to have been unfortunate as far as accidents are concerned, for on one occasion some years ago he sustained a fracture of the arm.

  Mr. Whitworth married a daughter of Mr. John Bird who at one time kept the Coach and Horses at Brixworth and was afterwards the landlord of a Daventry hotel.  Mrs. Whitworth’s sister is Mrs. Stephen Martin, of the Queen Victoria Hotel, Rushden, whose husband died somewhat suddenly on the 4th of May last, and thus in less than six months the two sisters have been bereaved, each in an untimely manner.  Mr. Whitworth, who was 37 years of age, and who of late years has followed no occupation leaves, in addition to the widow, three young children, the eldest of whom is six years of age.

The Fatal Ride

  On Saturday evening Mr. Whitworth had run over to Wellingboro’ on his motor-bicycle to have a chat with Mr. J. Cairns Parker, solicitor of that town. He was proceeding to Mr. Parker’s house but happened to meet that gentleman in Silver-street. This was at about 8.35 p.m., and Mr. Parker and the deceased were together until about five or ten minutes past nine. Mr. Whitworth then mounted his machine and rode off towards Rushden. At this time Mr. Whitworth, who was an experienced motorist, was looking very well, and Mr. Parker says that the deceased made no complaint of feeling ill. The machine, which, was a very heavy one, had a good acetylene lamp attached to it, and Mr. Parker noticed that it was burning brightly, throwing out a splendid light.

How The Accident Occurred

  Mr. Whitworth’s journey from Wellingboro’ to Rushden was accomplished in safety, and the evidence tends to show that he certainly was not riding at a furious rate, as, according to the witnesses at the inquest, about half-an-hour had elapsed from the time he left Wellingborough to the time he entered Rushden.  After passing Sander’s Lodge, Mr. Whitworth proceeded to Rushden by the Kimbolton-road and the Hayway, and it was here that the accident occurred which deprived him of his life.  The time was about 9.35 or 9.40, as near as can be ascertained, and it was

A Very Dark Night

Several cottages stand in a row in Hayway, and it was opposite these houses that the fatal collision occurred.  Mr. Whitworth was now travelling at what several eye-witnesses describe as a great pace.  There were a number of people about, and amongst others walking in the road were several courting couples.  Mr. Whitworth got safely past one young man and woman, but apparently did not see another couple who were just in front – and who were going in the same direction as the motor-cycle – until it was too late to avoid a collision.  The couple were Miss Ada Silburn, who lives at Sartoris-road, Rushden, and a young man, Mr. John Peacock, who was visiting from Kettering, where his home is.  What happened precisely is not known, but apparently Mr. Whitworth tried unsuccessfully to pass between the two.  All that Miss Silburn remembers about the affair is that something caught her jacket, which was pulled over her head, and the next instant she was

Flung To The Side

of the road.  At the same instant Mr. Peacock was also struck and was sent flying to the opposite side.  The young lady, though of course much frightened and shaken, was not very much hurt.  Mr. Peacock was rendered unconscious, and did not recover sensibility until a long time after he had been taken to Miss Silburn’s house and medically attended.  The occurrence attracted a number of people to the spot, and every assistance possible was rendered to the injured couple.

  Mr. Whitworth was so badly hurt that he died at half-past five on Sunday morning.  It would appear that after the motor struck the couple it oscillated violently, with the result that the pedal struck the ground twice, and Mr. Whitworth was

Thrown With Great Force

his head coming into contact with the hard metalled road.  When picked up blood was flowing freely from wounds in his head, but at this time there was no indication that the injuries were of the critical nature which afterwards proved to be the case.  The unfortunate people were taken to a house close by, occupied by Mr. Robert Skevington.  Dr. Baker and the police were at once summoned and the injuries attended to.  A landau was procured from the Queen Victoria Hotel, and Police-constables Archer and Knight conveyed the injured rider to his home in Church-street and the young couple to Miss Silburn’s home in Sartoris-road.

Mr. Whitworth’s Injuries

were very serious, there being cuts about the face and a fracture at the base of the skull, and in spite of every care and medical attention he died at half-past five o’clock on Sunday morning.

  The injuries received by others were not so serious, but both were severely shaken, and had a miraculous escape, as the motor caught them full in the back and knocked them a number of yards, tearing their clothes to shreds.

  Mr. Whitworth occupied the house at the corner of Church-street and Wellingborough-road, Rushden, which was formerly in the occupation of the late Mr. Woodward.

  Exactly how the accident occurred will never be known, but, from the evidence given at the inquest, the jury apparently endorsed the opinion of the foreman (Mr. Fred Knight, J.P.) that Mr. Whitworth saw the first couple, but did not see Mr. Peacock and Miss Silburn until it was

Too Late To Stop

  On Sunday morning, when Mr. Whitworth’s death became known, the keenest sorrow was felt throughout the town, and the deepest sympathy is felt for the bereaved family.  Touching references to the sorrowful occurrence were made on Sunday at several of the places of worship in the town, and during the day crowds of people went up the Hayway where the marks on the roadway caused by the accident were plainly visible.

The Inquest On The Victim

A Strong Warning To Pedestrians - “Keep On The Path” - Verdict “Accidental Death”

  The inquest was held on Monday afternoon in the Council Chamber, Rushden, before Mr. J. T. Parker, coroner. The jurors were Messrs. Fred Knight, J.P. (foreman), John Claridge, J.P., C.C., G. Miller, J.S. Clipson, B.Vorley, C.E. Bayes, S. Parker, F. Cowley, G. Bayes, Jos. Green, H.H. Hobbs, and W.H. Darnell.

  A brother of the deceased was present at the inquest.

  After the jury had viewed the body of the deceased.

  Mr. J. Cairns Parker, solicitor, Wellingboro’ – son of the coroner and himself the deputy-coroner for the division – gave evidence of identification. Mr. Whitworth, he said, was 37 years of age, and followed no occupation.  On Saturday night, Mr. Parker continued, he met Mr. Whitworth about 8.35 p.m. in Wellingboro’, Mr. Whitworth stating that he had come over to Wellingborough for the purpose of seeing witness.  They had a conversation together which lasted until five or ten minutes past nine, when Mr. Whitworth got on his motor bicycle to return home to Rushden.  Witness saw him get on the machine in Silver-street, which was

Crowded With People

at the time, and safely steer through the people.  On the bicycle there was an acetylene lamp, which was burning brilliantly.  Mr. Whitworth was an experienced rider of a bicycle, and the machine he was riding on Saturday, which he had ridden about two months, was a very heavy one.

  In answer to Mr. Claridge, Mr. Parker said he met Mr. Whitworth in Silver-street, Wellingborough, when he said he was just going to witness’s house, as it was, of course, after office hours.

  Mr. J. S. Clipson : You noticed that the lamp was burning?

  Witness : Yes, and I remarked upon its brilliancy, when he told me it was acetylene.

  Witness added that the deceased made no complaint of feeling ill or anything of that sort.  Mr. Whitworth was

Perfectly Sober

  Amos Robinson, 54, Washbrook-road, Rushden, said he was in the Hayway, Rushden, on Saturday night between nine and ten o’clock.  He was walking up the road away from Rushden when he saw someone coming down the hill on a motor bicycle.  He was riding at what witness would call a very fair pace, and passed witness on his right-hand side.  The rider was on his proper side.  The lamp on the cycle was burning.  Almost directly he had passed, witness heard a crash, and, running back, he found the rider and the bicycle on the ground in the road near the footpath.  His head was bleeding very much, and witness, after helping to get him up, stayed with him until the police came.

  The Coroner : Did he speak at all?

  Witness : Yes.  When I picked him up he said, “I’m Done Up”. Continuing, witness said that just before he saw the cyclist coming he had passed a young man and a young woman who were walking on the road on the near side.

  By Mr. Claridge: Deceased was not pitched off the machine, but he was lying on the road with the handle bars of the bicycle between his legs.

  Owen Green, Irchester, said he was walking with a lady friend along the Hayway about 9.40 on Saturday night, and saw another couple in front. A cyclist on a motor bicycle passed him, almost touching him. He felt the wind of the bicycle passing him. He heard the engine of the motor bicycle, but did not move, as he thought there was plenty of room for the machine to pass him, and thought he was quite safe. The cyclist was

Going Very Fast

down the hill, and after passing witness he seemed to run straight into the other couple who were in front. This caused him to fall from the machine, and the couple were also thrown down. Witness went to the help of the couple, others going to the assistance of the cyclist, and afterwards he went for the police. Witness was sure the couple did not step out in front of the cyclist. He heard no bell or horn sounded by the rider of the bicycle before it reached him.

  Mr. George Bayes : Do you think the accident would have happened if you and the others had been on the footpath ?

  Witness : I think, from the way he came, he would have

Gone Into The Hedge

  Mr. G. Bayes : I know it is most difficult for drivers through people walking along the roads at night.  They dodge about, and it is even more difficult for cyclists than the drivers of vehicles to avoid them.

  Mr. Fred Knight said the witness was nearer the cyclist than the couple into whom he ran.  He thought that what happened was that Mr. Whitworth went round the witness and was trying to get into his right position again when he ran into the couple, whom he did not see.

  The Coroner (to witness) : What is the matter with the footpath ?

  Witness : Nothing, sir.

  The Coroner : Don’t you think it would have been safer if you and the others had been walking upon the path instead of on the road ?  Probably if you had been on the path this accident 

Would Not Have Happened

You wouldn’t have thought it fair for the cyclist to ride on the footpath, and it is hardly fair to riders that you should be walking on the road when there is a footpath.

  Mr. Hobbs : There is a good footpath there.

  Mr. Claridge : Yes, four or five feet wide.

  Mr. Knight (to witness) : You heard the bicycle coming ?

  Witness : Yes.

  But you did nothing to get out of the road?  -  No, I thought there was plenty of room for him to pass, and that I was well out of his way.

  The Coroner said it would be as well if pedestrians would have a little consideration for people who had to use the roads.

  Mr. Darnell : They have very little consideration, sir.

Expected An Accident

  John Robert Clipson, engineer, Church-street, Rushden, son of Mr. J. S. Clipson, said he was walking along the Hayway about 9.40.  He was going from Rushden, and when he reached the row of houses he met two couples walking in the road.  Six yards further on he met a motor bicycle coming very fast down the hill about the middle of the road.  The machine was going so fast that witness, thinking it was a dangerous pace, and expecting that an accident would happen, looked round, and found that the cyclist had run into one of the couples.  On going back he found the lady lying on the left-hand side of the road and the young man on the right, the cyclist being on the road under the machine further on.  The cyclist was injured, but as others came to his assistance witness went and picked up the young man, and afterwards went for a doctor.  Witness heard a hooter sound a long way up the road, and from what he was afterwards told he believed that the rider

Sounded The Hooter

just before he turned the corner into the Hayway.

  The Coroner : Why were the people walking on the road?  Is there anything the matter with the footpath ?

  Witness : It is very gritty.

  The Coroner : Everyone seems to have had an objection to it, but it would be safer to walk there than on the road.

  Mr. Knight : You understand motor bicycles ?

  Witness : Yes.

  And you think he was going too fast ? – Yes, he was going too fast to be safe at night time.

  The Coroner: Do you mean too fast to be safe for himself or other people? – Witness: Both.

  Mr. Knight said the evidence showed that Mr. Whitworth had been half-an-hour coming from Wellingborough, so that he must have slowed down somewhere.

  Mr. J. S. Clipson said there was no evidence as to whether or not he stopped somewhere on the way. But according to the time given it would not be too fast.

  Witness said that as he was going down hill with a heavy machine he considered he was going much too fast.

Doctor’s Evidence

  Dr. H. S. Baker said he was called about 9.45 on Saturday night, when he found Mr. Whitworth in a house in the Hayway. There was also another man and woman injured. Witness had Mr. Whitworth taken home, where he examined him and dressed the wounds on his head and face.  Mr. Whitworth said nothing to him about the accident, and when witness first saw him he wanted to get on his bicycle and ride home, but witness would not let him.  Witness saw no sign of serious injury, although there was plenty of laceration, and after dressing his wounds he left him.  An hour or so later, however, he was called again, and then found he was unconscious, in which state he remained until his death about 5.30 on Sunday morning.  The cause of death was fracture of the base of the skull, but there was no external signs of it.  The first sign that there was a fracture was when

Deceased Became Unconscious

After I left him the first time – the doctor added – he got out of bed by himself.  He was quite conscious at that time – about 11.30.

  Inspector Cameron, stationed at Rushden, said he was called to the Hayway about 9.45 on Saturday night, and saw Mr. Whitworth, who had been taken into Mr. Skevington’s house.  Witness asked him how the accident occurred, and he replied, “I was coming along the road on my bicycle when I bungled into something or somebody, and this is the result.  But I’ll soon be all right.”  Mr. Whitworth did not complain of anything or anybody.  He was quite sensible, and witness at the time did not think he was seriously hurt.  Witness examined the bicycle, which was much damaged.  The brakes were not on.

  Mr. J. S. Clipson : If they had been put on they would go off.  I think they had been put on hard.

  Inspector Cameron said there were marks on the road as if

The Bicycle Had Swerved

towards the centre.

  Mr. G. Bayes : That bears out Mr. Knight’s idea of his having passed round the first couple and then running into the second as he was trying to get into his right place again.

  The Inspector said there were marks as if the bicycle had skidded for about twelve yards.

  Replying to a question, Mr. Clipson said that if the brakes were on tight and Mr. Whitworth was leaning over, that might pull him round across the road.

  This concluded the evidence.

  The Coroner, summing up, said it was not criminal for people to be walking in the road, although it might be negligent for them, and no doubt their doing so in this case was partly the

Cause Of The Accident

He hoped this might prove a warning.

  Mr. G. Bayes : I am surprised there are not more accidents.

  The Coroner : It is only fair to the users of the roads that pedestrians should walk on the footpaths when such are provided.

  Mr. Clipson said the practice of people walking on the road, particularly at night time, was a great strain on drivers and particularly to motorists.

  Mr. Claridge : There was no excuse for them being on the road.

  Mr. Knight thought it was very reprehensible that pedestrians did not go on the footpath.

  The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.”

  The sympathy of the jury with the widow and family in their terrible bereavement was voiced by the foreman.

The Funeral of Mr. Whitworth

Impressive Interment

  The funeral of the late Mr. Frank Whitworth, the victim in the Rushden motor fatality, took place on Tuesday afternoon in the Cemetery, Rushden, in the presence of a large congregation.

  At 2.30 the cortege left the residence of the deceased in Church-street, and proceeded slowly to the Parish Church, marks of respect and sympathy being evidenced on all hands on the route. The chief mourners were:- 

  Mrs. Whitworth (widow).

  Mr. and Mrs. Whitworth (brother and sister of the deceased).

  Mrs. Stephen Martin and the Misses Bird (2) sisters of the widow.

  Mr. J. C. Parker, of Wellingborough (family solicitor).

  At the entrance to the churchyard the body was met by the Rector (the Ven. Archdeacon Kitchin R.D.). after a brief and impressive service in the church, the coffin, covered with wreaths, was again placed in the hearse, and the cortege moved to the cemetery, where the body was reverently lowered into its last resting-place – a grave adjoining that of Mr. Stephen Martin. The grave was lined with moss and evergreens, with a few white flowers. The committal sentences were read by the Rector in sympathetic tones, and many of the congregation were deeply affected.

  The coffin, which was of polished elm, with brass fittings, bore on the breastplate the following inscription :-


Born Sep. 18, 1870

Died Sep. 29, 1907

  Among those present in the cemetery were Councillors John Claridge, J.P., C.C., Fred Knight, J.P.,, and C. E. Bayes, Mr. R. F. Knight, and others.

  The floral tributes of love and respect were as follow :-

  A beautiful harp of flowers, "In ever-loving memory, from his broken-hearted wife.  ‘In the midst of life we are in death.’"

  “From a loving mother.”

  “An affectionate token, from Annie and Arnold.”

  A basket of flowers inscribed “With love to dear Daddy, from Billy, Denis, and Eva.”

  “With my deepest sympathy, from Martha.”

  One of the mourners strew a beautiful bunch of flowers into the grave, and other floral tokens of sympathy were received.

  After the principal mourners had left the cemetery, many of the congregation filed past the grave in respectful silence, taking a last look at the coffin which contained the mortal remains of the victim of one of the saddest accidents which has ever happened in the Rushden district.

The Patients - Satisfactory Progress

  To-day (Friday), on enquiry, we learn that Miss Silburn is considerably better.  She has been able to get out once this week.  How she escaped more serious injuries is a marvel, as her clothing was almost to shreds.

  Mr. Peacock, too, is much better, and he is able to walk about.  His injuries are, however, of an internal character, and some time must elapse before he is able to work.  On Wednesday he returned to his home at Kettering.

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