Albert James Hammond

Date published: 07/08/2013
© Newbury Weekly News




The afternoon of Good Friday was saddened beyond degree by the harrowing
intelligence that two little boys had been killed on the Lambourn Valley
Railway. The
mournful tidings spread with that celerity which has passed into a proverb that "
news spreads apace" and its reception cast quite a gloom over the town.
The sad
event was in everybody's thoughts and for the remainder of the day became th
e one
topic of conversation. The incidents of the disaster were truly pathetic in their tragi

Two boys, Edmund WaIter New, aged 13, son ofMr E. New of the "Two
Brewers", West Mills, and Albert lames Hammond, aged 11,
son of Mrs Hammond
living in West Fields, in the morning attended St
Nicolas Sunday School and
afterwards the service in the Parish Church. They arranged to go for a walk in th
afternoon, and like so many, both old and young, were attracted by the La
Valley Railway, which had been opened for traffic only on the previous Monday a
the dangers now attendant upon a w
alk along the embankment had not come to be
realised. The two boys got upon the line, either at the Craven road level crossing,
climbed up the embankment at the Canal Bridge. They walked along the rails to the
viaduct over the Kennet in Speen Moors and after the manner of boys,
stood upon the
ironwork of the bridge to look over and watch the boats passing underneath. The la
time they were seen alive, full of health and vigour was by some y
oung men in a
boat. They disappeared as if to run across and greet the occupants on the other side
but in the meantime a terrible tragedy had happened. Unperceived by them a trai
was approaching from Speen, a high wind was blowing at the time and as they ma
a rush to cross the line they were caught by
the engine. Albert Hammond was struck
on the head and rendered unconscious, to all appearances dead. Edward (sic) New
fell across the lines and the train passed over both his legs,
nearly severing them and
crushing them in a dreadful manner besides inflicting wounds on his arm and head
The train pulled up, but marvellous to relate not because of any knowledge of the thi
terrible disaster that had happened, but to avoid running down three women who

were walking calmly down the metals a few yards ahead. It was then that the fireman,
looking back to the guard for the signal to start, saw the two boys lying on the line
. It
flashed upon him that they had run them down, and he said so to the engine driver
who told him to go back and see what was the matter. But the stoppage of the train at
such an unusual place had excited the attention and alarm of the passengers,
were quickly alighting from the carriages. Among them was Mr Gipps, the genera
manager who had joined the train at Speen, and Mr Brain the Lambourn Statio
Master. The appalling character of the accident was only too obvious. There lay t
apparently lifeless body of Hammond, and New with his mangled legs
. Mr Gipps
took in the situation at a glance, the tra
in was backed, and the unfortunate boys were
placed in a carri
age. The guard, who was the only person in the compartment with
stated that Hammond died shortly after being placed in the train. At Newbury
station the ambulance was in readiness, and while Hammond's body was taken to the


hospital mortuary, poor little New was tenderly carried to the Hospital, to see if
medical skill could alleviate his pain, or if possible save his life, although there was
but little hope.
The whole of the medical staff assembled in consultation and it was
agree to amputate both the crushed legs. The agonised parents agreed to the
operation, which was skilfully performed by Dr Jenner Clarke. But the poor little
fellow succumbed soon after indeed as all felt it to be, a merciful release from hi
excruciating sufferings, though they had been temporarily relieved by the inhalations
of ether. The terrible calamity had everywhere produced the greatest sorrow, and very
sincere sympathy was generally expressed with Mr. and Mrs. New,
who had lost their
only child, and with the widowed mother of the other boy.


The inquest was held on Saturday evening in St John's Parish Room, before Dr
Watson, LP. and a jury, of whom Mr Walter Church was foreman. The follow
evidence was taken.

Edmund New, landlord of the "Two Brewers", identified the body of his son.

He said the boy went out for a walk on Good Friday afternoon, saying he was going
up the Lambourn line,
as he and others had been in the habit of doing. Lots of
children went there, and made it a regular play
ground. He saw nothing more of him
until he had heard of the accident, and went to see him at the Hospital.

Edward Hammond, labourer, of Cheap Street, identified the body of Albert
James Hammond as that of his brother, whom he last saw alive at dinner-time,
past twelve, Good Friday. He went off for a walk,
and his mother cautioned him not
to go to the Larnboum line. He next saw his dead body at Newbury Station.

The Foreman: "1 suppose the lad was in the habit of going there". 1 don't know, sir.

William Young, engine driver on the Lambourn Valley Railway, said on Good
Friday he left Lambourn at 2.15, due at Newbury at 3[?]pm. He arrived at Speen a
the usual time and found that one of the axles was heated. He got a signal from th
guard to proceed to Newbury, and their usual speed was 15 miles an hour, but ow
to the heated axle he was going about ten. When he got to the Speen cutting and on to
the level road he sighted three females at a distance. The road was otherwise clear
but he kept his ey'
e on them, and had to come to a standstill between the two bridges
to let them get off the line. He said to his mate the fireman "What do you t
hink of
that" and told him to get the signal from the guard as it was not a usual place to s
The fireman said "Mate 1 think we have knocked down somebody on the viaduct
Witness said "Go at once and see what i
s the matter". The fireman went back up the
line and found two bodies. Witness did not leave his engine and did not see the bodie
until they got to Newbury.

Ernest Gardiner, fireman, said Young, the driver, was in charge of the train. All
went well till leaving Speen, when after coming under the bridge the driver called his
attention to some women on the line, and he whistled to warn them. He stopped the
train between the two bridges, and being an unusual place to stop at he looked round
to get the signal from the guard. He said "By God, I believe there is somebody


down." The driver told him to jump off and go and see. He found two boys lying by
the side of the line, both dreadfully injured. Mr Gipps, the manager, and Mr Brown
Lamboum station master, who were both on the train, came back to the spot. Mr
Gipps told him to get on the engine and proceed to Newbury as quickly as possible to
obtain the assistance of a doctor. Whilst he was going back to the engine Mr Gipps
signalled to them to back the train and pick up the bodies.

The Coroner: But hadn't you seen the boys? No sir not until the train had
stopped and I looked back.

The Coroner: Did you feel as if the train had gone over anybody? I felt i
nothing. What rate were you going? About 10 or 12 miles an hour.

The Foreman: What distance were the women from the bodies? About 150

Was it impossible to see the boys? We might have seen them had not our
attention been directed to the women.

It is a straight bit of line? Yes, 600 yards straight.

A Juror: Were the women on the Speen side of the bridge? On the Newbury


The Coroner: When you pulled up for the women you had run over the boys?


Coroner: I cannot understand why if he could see the women he did not see the

The Foreman: No, more can 1.

P.C.Mansbridge, Coroner's Office, explained that the boys were looking over
the side of the Kennet bridge to see a boat passing below. They ran across to see it
come through on the other side, and were killed. It was impossible for the driver or
fireman to see the boys.

Mr William Henry Houston Meyrick Gipps, general manager of the Lambourn

Valley Railway said on Friday afternoon he p ............... ed the 2.15 train from Lamboum at

Speen. Shortly after leaving that station, just as they were passing over the Kennet ,
Viaduct he felt the continuous brake applied, and at the same time he heard someone
call out. He immediately looked to see if anything was wrong. He first looked ahead
and saw two or three women on the metals. At the same moment somebody said "
believe you've killed two lads." Witness looked back and saw two boys lying down in
the rails, a yard or two on the Newbury side of the river viaduct. One lad was lying
clear of the rails and had evidently not been on the metals, but close to the side and
was caught by the engine, or perhaps the carriage steps. He appeared to be quite dead.
The other had both legs across the rail, and they were badly crushed, also a plainly
marked bruise on his head. He was not then dead.

The Coroner: Did you hear the whistle? No I did not and I am so accustomed to
it that I should not have noticed it. I had the bodies removed to the hospital within 15
minutes of the accident.

The Coroner: Mr Gipps has cleared up what we wanted to know.

The Foreman; I think it was fortunate that Mr Gipps was on the train.

Dr Jenner Clarke said on Friday afternoon he received a message to go to the
hospital and on going there found most of the medical staff had arrived. One of the


boys, Hammond, was already dead, but the other, New, was alive. He had received
very severe injuries to both legs which were crushed almost to a pulp.
The boy was in
a very collapsed state.
He had also great contusion on his right arm, and a severe cut
on his head.
After a consultation with the whole of the medical staff, it was decided
that the only chance was to remove the legs. Both legs were amputated above the
and although he stood the operation, the poor little fellow collapsed soon
afterwards and died.

The Coroner said the boy was under ether, and did not feel the pain of the

Mr Gipps said he could not add anything to the evidence already given, but on
behalf of the Company he wished to say how very much they regretted the accident,
at the same time feeling that no possible precaution, in addition to what had been
done could have prevented it.

The Foreman: I should like to know if any notice boards have been erected
since the line has been completed. I have been given to understand that there has
quite a fair along the line, that it has been frequented largely by pedestrians. If I think
this is so some noticeboards should be put up.

Mr Gipps: There are no notice boards but men are at work on the line and the
crossing keepers have instructions to warn everybody off the line.

The Coroner: It has been disused for many years, people have walked up and
down, and children have made a playground of it.

The Foreman: I think where the line is accessible to the public that notice
boards should be put up.

Mr Gipps: This particular place is not accessible to the public; it is at the top of
a steep embankment.

Mr Paulin: It is my opinion that notice boards should be put up.

The Coroner: Of course the line is fenced in and anybody on the line is a


Mr Gipps: Certainly sir.

The Foreman: This will be a terrible warning to people.

Mr Gipps: I have reports of people trespassing on the same part of the line

The Coroner: That is out of morbid curiosity. No doubt the only course is for
the Company to caution them.

Mr Gipps: We shall have no alternative but to do so.

The Foreman: I think that the Company should be asked to put up notice

Mr Gipps: We could put them up at level crossings, but it would be out of the
question to put them up at inaccessible places such as this.
I have been a railway man
for twenty years, and have seen these accidents happen periodically, and the only
thing the Company is to do is to put up notice boards at the crossings to warn people
from walking down the line.

The Foreman: Notice boards should be put up near the canal bridge.

The Coroner: The Company seem to have done all they can do in fencing the
line, and anybody on it is a trespasser.


Mr Gipps: Ishall be most happy to give the question of notice boards my best

The Foreman: No doubt the line will continue to be used unless people are

The Coroner: Ithink it is a lucky thing that we are not holding an inquest on
four or five persons instead of these two poor boys.

Mr Gipps in answer to a question, said that the train was brought to a standstill
within about ten yards. On the Didcot Line with which he was connected,
boards were erected, but it did not stop people from trespassing.

The Coroner: The only deterrent is to summonses people.

Mr Gipps: That is what we must do. We warn first and then summons.
The Coroner: We all very much deplore this very unfortunate affair, and

sympathise with the sorrowing parents.

The Foreman: The jury wish to express their deep sympathy with both families.
The Coroner: We can only bring in one verdict, that of accidental death. There
is no one to blame, and these unfortunate lads have paid the penalty with their lives.

The jury concurred, and returned a verdict of "Accidental death through being
run over by a train."


An effort was made to arrange that the funerals of both boys should take place
ata the same time so that their school fellows might have an opportunity of attending
but this was found impracticable. The funeral of Albert Hammond took place on
Tuesday afternoon, the first part of the service being in the Parish Church. The little
coffin was covered with flowers, including a cross from the Sunday scholars and
teachers of St Nicolas. The Rector conducted the service, and the beautifully pathetic
hymn "Thy will be done" was sung. The coffin was born out of the church on the
shoulders of four young lads, and from thence to the cemetery for the final interment.
Again was the same sad scene enacted on Wednesday afternoon, when the body of
the other little fellow Edmund Walter New, was also carried from his home, under the
shadow of the Parish Church, when the first portion of the service was rendered and a
hymn from the Children's Service was sung.

                                    >                                                                           "Safely, safely gathered in,

Free from sorrow, free from sin.
No more childish grief or fears
No more sadness, no more tears,

F or the life so young and fair
Now hath pass'd from earthly cares.

God Himself the soul will keep,
Giving his beloved sleep."

The "Dead March" was played at the close. The polished oak coffin was covered with
flowers, including the cross from the scholars and teachers of St Nicolas Sunday
School. The mourners were the father and mother, grandmother, uncles and aunts. As


the dead boy had been a ringer, and showed great promise of becoming proficient, the
ringers rang a muffled peal before the funeral, and also paid the same respect to
Albert Hammond on Tuesday. A large number of people were present on both
occasions, in church and at the cemetery.

From the Newbury Weekly News

Note: Good Friday in 1898 was on 8th April.



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