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I ■! J ARLIAMERTAHY JOTTINGS.…

THE FRIGHTFUL ACCIDENT AT…

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THE FRIGHTFUL ACCIDENT AT S TAPLJER UBS T. The adjourned inquest on the bodies of the ten persons' whc) werekiued in the unfortunate accident which took place near Staplehurst on Friday week, was resumed on Monday before Mr. William Tanner Neve, the coroner for the Weald of Kent. Mr. Peter Ashcroft, resident engineer of the South Eastern Railway Company, said that he had ap- pointed Mr. Gallimore, about eleven years ago, to hia position as inspector of the district, and that he (Mr. Gallimore) had charge of the works going on at the time of the accident. It was Mr. Gallimore's duty to see to the safety of the line under his control, to see everything carried out properly, to see that fog signals were used, and to report any irregularity. Mr. Gallimore had about twenty gangs of men under him. He could know what was going on at one place while he was at aaother. The signalman was a very steady man, and had been twenty years in the service of the company. Joseph Gallimore was next called, and. said: I am inspector of the permanent way of the South-Eastern Railway Company, and have under my care the dis- trict from Ashford to Tunbridge, and from Paddock Wood to Maidstone. The distance is about thirty-six miles. I appointed Benge. He has been under me for ten years, and for about a year and ten months he has been foreman of this district. I have about 150 men under me. Benge made the usual declaration the foremen do on entering the service. (It was here put in and read.) I gave Benge the usual instructions to be very careful, and not to break a line up when there was any danger of a train coming. I-said nothing about the fog signals to him. Benge is the foreman of the gang, and he has three under him. He has < £ 1 Is. a week and the others have 18s. His duty is to look after the line under his charge, to walk over it night and morning and see that the keys are all right, that the metals are in a proper state, that the gates are kept closed, and the fences in a proper condition. He has also to see to the breaking up of the line, and to the repairs being done, and to examine the metals on the bridges specially once a month. He would report specially to me if necessary. Benge had about two miles of the line to look after, and I have frequently seen him looking to his keys with his hammer in his hand to keep them right. I ordered the work at the bridge, but at the time I ordered it I did not think it would have occupied the time it did. When we came to examine the sleepers we found they were worse than we had anticipated. George Crambie was called, and, having been cautioned, was sworn. He said: I live in the Old Kent-road, and am a driver in the service of the South- Eastern Railway Company. I have been so for ten and a half years. I was on the engine of the tidal train on Friday, the 9th inst. We left Folkestone at 2.36, and passed all stations. I do not know the time I passed Headcorn Station, but I kept good time. When I first saw the signalman I was aboat 350 yards from him. He was in the FAix-feet way waving a red flag. That was about 150 yards from the bridge. When I saw the signal I shot off the steam, gave the fireman and guard the signal to put on the breaks, secured the engine, and reversed it. That was all I could do. I do not think I went over the viaduct at the rate of twelve miles an hour. I cannot say how long it took me to put on the breaks. I knew that repairs were going on, but did not know what they were. I was never cautioned. The signals at Headcorn was "all right." I do not know that the flag was exhibited before I saw it. We had a beam- ing sun in our face, and it was very strong. To pull up on that part of the line, at the rate we were going,, and with our break power, I should want three- quarters of a mile. There were no fog signals out. j Mr. Cornelius Eborall said: We do not hand our rules to uneducated men. We take more pains than any other railway company. Benge is not an unedu- cated man. I did not hear it given in evidence that some fof the men did not know the rules regulating their duty. It was the duty of Benge to instruct the signalmen. I wish to say, ia answer to a remark from a juryman, that these men are not uneducated men. They are not highly educated, but they are men of intelligence, of education, and of nêrve, and they would more efficiently discharge their duty than edu- cated men. The prisoner Benge is a very steady man, and I am sorry to see him in such a position, as I con- sider him a very good man. The coroner then proceeded to sum up, and read over the evidence very carefully. The jury retired at twenty minutes past five, and, af ter an absence of upwards of two hours, returned into the inquest-room. The Foreman (the Rev. Mr. Moore) then said: Our verdict, Mr. Coroner, is one of manslaughter against Joseph Gallimore and Henry Benge. The Coroner: How many of you have agreed to that P The Foreman: Twelve against Joseph Gallimore, and sixteen against Henry Benge. I am desired by the majority of the jury to append to our verdict the following: — "The jury, fully recognising the general efficiency of the company's rules to ensure the public safety, yet strongly recommends that, when possible, notice should be given from a pre- vious station of any works involving the breaking up of the line." Mr. Eborall (the general manager): Mr. Coroner, and gentlemen of the jury—I will take care that that recommendation is placed before the directors of the South Eastern Railway Company, and I am quite sure they will give it their most serious consideration. Before leaving here to-day, I have to express my re- gret on behalf of the company that you should have been called upon to inquire into so serious a calamity, and I trust that means will be taken to prevent another such occurrence. I have also publicly to i,- y°u all resident in this neighbourhood for the bind, humane, and Christian attention paid to the un- fortunate sufferers by this dreadful calamity. These remarks were received with approval by the jury, and the Coroner then made out the warrant for the committal of Benge and Gallimore to prison, the warrant being Placed in the hands of Superintendent Ovenden for due execution.

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