Having spent the past 24 months or so researching and writing up the lives of the 28 men, women and children who perished as a result of The Great Thorpe Railway Disaster 1874, I have recently begun looking into my own family tree and the lives of my ancestors. To my amazement, I discovered (firstly through a tip from a long lost cousin from Yorkshire) that my Great-Great Grandfather (on my mother’s side), one William Atkins, a farmer from Yeadon in the Yorkshire Dales, was killed when he was 49 years old, as a result of trying to run across the railway line as the goods express from Liverpool to Bradford was pulling into Apperley Station. I was shocked and saddened. During my research I had learnt many people regularly died during the age of Victorian railways, but never imagined there would be a casualty amongst my own direct kin. I found the newspaper report below via British Newspaper Archive online, and applied for his death certificate, just to be sure. Now to write it down as part of the narrative building up about my family.
The newspaper report reads:
A Yeadon Farmer run over and killed
On Thursday morning about twenty-five minutes past six o’clock, a shocking fatality occurred at Apperley Bridge Station. At the hour named, William Atkinson (sic), aged 49, farmer of Stone Top Farm, Yeadon, was crossing the metals by the level crossing, when he was caught by the engine of a goods express running from Liverpool to Bradford, and was killed. Atkins was found about 40 yards from the crossing by a porter, lying in a pool of blood on the down line with his skull terrible smashed. He had evidently been struck on the head by the buffer, and death must have been instantaneous. The body was removed to the gentleman’s first-class waiting room to await an inquest. At the time of the accident he was carrying a milk-can, which was not in the least damaged. He has been in the habit of driving to the station every morning for the purpose of sending his milk to Leeds. The Leeds train had just slowed up this morning when he attempted to run across the level crossing.
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