Henry Church

Date published: 30/04/2013
© Newbury Weekly News






          Great consternation was experienced in Newbury that “Mr. H. Church, Sanitary Inspector of Newbury” on Tuesday evening on the receipt of the evening papers, which contained a paragraph bury, [sic] had jumped out of a train at Reading, and had been so dreadfully injured that he had died almost immediately. The facts appear to point to Mr. Walter Church, who is Sanitary Inspector to the Newbury Rural District. Fortunately Mr. Church was at home, and able in his own person to contradict the alarming rumour which had received such widespread publicity. Inquiries began to pour in from relatives and friends at a distance, and Mr. Church had to prevent their making long journeys to Newbury.

          Although the report was absolutely incorrect as regards Mr. Walter Church, it was nevertheless only too true of Mr. Henry Church, also a Newbury man. The latter was a carpenter, and for many years lived in Vine's-cottages, West Mills. He had been employed by a Reading firm, but up to Christmas had been working for Messrs. Hopson and Sons, in the alterations to Messrs. Hickman and Metcalf's business premises in the Market-place. Church had just been engaged by Mr. Frank Cosburn, who is commencing a builder's business in Bartholomew-street, and was returning to Newbury on Tuesday morning to commence work. He had taken a ticket from Reading to Newbury at 7.48 on the morning named, but in mistake entered the train known as the Birmingham Express. Soon after leaving the Reading station the train slowed down, and Church, who had, undoubtedly, prior to this time noticed that he was on the wrong route and that he could alight with safety, jumped out, with the result that he came into contact with the carriage and falling under the wheels was literally cut to pieces. One of his legs (both were cut off) was found lying some yards away from where the upper portion of the body was found.



          The inquest was held at Reading during the afternoon of Tuesday before the Borough Coroner, Mr. Weedon. The following evidence was called:-

          Wm. Church, of Chichester-road, Kilburn, deposed that he was a bookseller's assistant. His father's age was 50; he enjoyed good health. He frequently visited witness but that was as he had been living alone for three years, his wife having died ten years ago. Deceased he thought had been worrying over family matters. Witness was aware that he was going to get married, as he talked about it a great deal. His intended wife was a Hungerford woman, very respectably connected. From what witness had heard he had advised his father not to marry again. On the previous evening witness and deceased had talked the matter over. The letters that had passed between them were burnt at his father's request. His father was evidently much upset. On Monday evening they departed, his father booking to Reading. He had asked his1 father to stop with him, but he would not. It was at his request that he remained the night at Reading. Deceased, who had been out of employment for nearly six weeks, appeared to be glad to go back to work. He was going to work for Mr. Frank Cosburn. He was not in need. He had never known his father either threaten or attempt to commit suicide, and he was an extraordinary affectionate parent. He was excitable at times. His (witnesses' brother)  had been led into bad company, with the result that he had left his father, and this, no doubt, accounted for his being occasionally depressed.


          William Hunt, employed by the G.W.R., stated that about twenty minutes past eight that morning he found the body of a man lying on the loop-line rail close to the main line. He was dead, but still warm. One leg was many feet away on the inside line on the down rail, and deceased was no doubt knocked down by the train. Witness called for a ganger, and a trolley was fetched for the removal of the body, which was frightfully injured.


          Frank Thompson Hopkins, booking clerk at Reading, said a ticket to Newbury was issued at 7.48 that morning to the deceased. The train left punctually and the one by which deceased must have left five minutes previously. The Newbury train left from the left hand side, and the other from the right.


          The Coroner here remarked that the telegrams which had been received appeared important. “No trace of any mark on engine or train of 6.30”. Guard states “Third class door open at Didcot.” Another message stated “Guard Hart says door open on left hand side of train.” He (the Coroner) thought it as well to mention that the body was found on the left hand side of the rail. The supposition was that the deceased got into the wrong train, and seeing he was mistaken, jumped out.


          Inspector Thomas gave it as his opinion that deceased, after jumping out, fell back on to the train, which was travelling at quite twenty miles an hour.


          The Coroner said everything led them to suppose deceased was going to Newbury, and having got into the wrong train, jumped out, and so fell under the wheels.


          It was stated that £8 3s. 9d., a penny stamp, and a completely smashed watch and sundry other articles were found on the body.

          A verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned.

          The body was conveyed to Newbury yesterday afternoon, and the funeral is arranged to take place on Friday at Newbury Cemetery.


Newbury Weekly News 17 January 1895

Sources:Newbury Weekly News 17 January 1895

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