MP's widow cut in two by Preston train

Local historian Keith Johnson looks back at another horrific rail death from Victorian times.

Monday, 15th April 2019, 11:37 am
Updated Monday, 15th April 2019, 11:54 am
Brock Railway Station, scene of the tragedy

On the fourth Monday of June 1874 Anne Baines, aged 75, the widow of the late Matthew Talbot Baines, former MP for Leeds, caught the train from Lancaster to Brock railway station where she was met by the coachman for Mrs. Threlfall, of Hollowforth, who drove her to a farm of hers at Woodplumpton.

From thence she was taken to Mrs. Threlfall’s. After dinner she proceeded to Myerscough House. From there she went to Brock to make her journey home.

She arrived at Brock station at half past four o’clock and went into the waiting room which was on the opposite platform to the one at which her train to Lancaster would stop, meaning she would later have to pass over the crossing used by both carts and pedestrians.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Within minutes the northern express from Preston appeared in sight and thinking it was the train that she was to catch, she hurriedly attempted to cross the line. By the time she had crossed one set of rails the engine was almost upon her, but having been dashing she could not halt her momentum.

Within an instant the train dashed against her, knocked her down and fearfully mutilated her body. The engine driver saw her at the last moment and gave a whistle but could do no more, only able to pull up a distance past the scene. The lady had been killed instantly and her remains were collected and conveyed to the Green Man Inn at Myerscough.

On the following day an inquest was held at the inn before the district corner W. Gilbertson.

Surgeon Thomas Hewitt confirmed he had attended the scene and identified the victim as Mrs. Baines of Lancaster, who he had known for some considerable time. Amongst the witnesses was Thomas Martin, son of the station master of Broughton, who told the gathering: “I was on the platform at Brock waiting for the train to Broughton.

The deceased came out of the waiting room and the train was in sight. I said to her that if she tried to get across she would be run over, and that was not her train but a through express. I tried to catch hold of her as she was crossing. When the train had passed I saw her laid upon the rails.

James Blezard, signal man at Brock Station, stated that he had also seen her dash out of the waiting room and had shouted to her that it was not her train, but she appeared to take no notice of his cries. In his view the engine driver stopped the train as quickly as he could.

One of the first at the scene was Thomas Bibby, the local police constable, who was passing the station at the time, he told the court he heard the commotion. In the aftermath he had witnessed the deceased lying on a sheet with her body cut in two and had assisted in the removal to the Green Man Inn.

The Coroner then briefly summed up, and referred to the distressing circumstances under which the accident had occurred.

He remarked that it was a tragic ending to the life of a lady who was well respected in society circles. The jury retired only briefly and returned with a verdict of ‘Accidental Death’ to bring this melancholy incident to a close.

The Brock railway station remained open to passengers until May 1939 and finally closed in April 1954 when the goods services to Brock ceased to operate.