Inquest into the Death of Frederick Charles Burton

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Date published: 16/04/2012
© Newbury Weekly News 19/01/1928

FREDERICK CHARLES BURTON 

 

          The accident to Mr Frederick Charles Burton, of Kimber's Almshouses, which was recorded in our last  issue, unfortunately had a fatal termination. Mr Burton who was crossing the London road in Speenhamland about noon last Wednesday, fell in front of a motor. The owner of the car, a retired engineer, living at Putney Hill, who was proceeding to Bath from London, was only going slowly at the time, and so was able to pull up promptly, but Mr Burton was pushed about two yards along the greasy surface of the road. He was taken to the Newbury District Hospital suffering from concussion and shock. Owing to his advanced years- he was 86- his injuries terminated fatally, death taking place on Sunday morning. An inquest was held on Tuesday afternoon, when a verdict of Accidental Death, due to the fall and the resultant shock, was returned, the jury exonerating the driver of the car from all blame.

 

          Mr Burton, who was born in Hamstead Marshall, had lived and worked in Newbury for over sixty years. He was a carpenter and joiner, and when employed by the late Mr William George Adey was engaged on the work of the restoration of the Newbury Parish Church in 1867. He was afterwards with the firm of Mr Samuel

Elliott at the Albert Steam Joinery Works, doing much of the carpentry in connection with Greenham Lodge, Greenham Court, and other well-known country houses which Mr Elliott erected. He married a Miss Perry, who came from an old Newbury Family, her father being for many years the collector of tolls in Newbury Market, Michaelmas Fair and St Barthomew's Fair, in which duties she succeeded him. Mr Burton had spent the evening of his days at Kimber's Almshouses, where he had been resident for fourteen years, and was the oldest almsman. He was also the oldest Oddfellow in Newbury. Although he had outlived all his contemporaries, Mr. Burton was widely respected by a large circle of townspeople. For his age he was an exceptionally healthy and active man, and but for the sad accident apparently might have lived for several years. Much sympathy is felt for his sons, Messrs. Arthur Samuel and Walter Burton. 

          The inquest was held at the Newbury District Hospital by Mr S.V. Pinniger, the Borough Coroner, who sat with a jury, the foreman of whom was Mr D.G. Baird. Mr Kenneth R. Leader  of Messrs Gardner Leader & Co., watched the proceedings on behalf of the driver of the car, Mr. Rutter and Supt. Simmons was also present.

          The first witness was Mr Walter Burton, Secretary of the South Berks Brewery Co., who said that the deceased was his father and was 86 years of age. He lived at 8, Kimber's Almshouses. He was a healthy, hearty and active man for his age, his only apparent infirmity being a slight deafness.

          In answer to the Coroner, witness said his father's eyesight was quite good for his age and he was capable of getting about by himself.

          The Coroner: Do you know if he had fallen down recently? - I did hear that about three weeks ago he was startled at Lloyd's Bank corner and he fell, but he did not hurt himself.

          Mr Burton said he last saw his father alive on the evening of the 11th. He had visited him every other evening for the last ten years. His father used to go to Steptoe's every other morning for a shave, and he was no doubt on the way there when the accident happened. 

    Mr Henry Fillmer Rutter, the driver of the car, was the next witness. He is an elderly man and said he was a retired engineer, living at 33a Chartfield-avenue, Putney Hill. On the 11th inst., he was passing through Newbury driving a light saloon car from Bath to London. When just beyond the Broadway and entering the London-road, witness said he observed Mr Burton about to cross from his (witness's) right to left. Witness said he was proceeding at a slow pace with his foot off the accelerator. He should estimate his speed at something under 10 miles an hour. He assumed, as Mr Burton was looking towards him, that he was proceeding slowly across the road in order to give him time to get by. Just as the car was approaching  him he appeared to pause, and then he lurched forward and fell full length exactly in front of the car, parallel with the front wheels. Witness said his car was fitted with four-wheel brakes, which he immediately applied with all his power, and pulled up in a very short distance. No portion of the car passed over the deceased body, but it seemed to come to rest with the near front tyre touching his head and the off front tyre his leg.

The Coroner: You don't think the car pushed him forward?

Witness: It is difficult to be sure of that. It may have pushed him forward a short distance. I think it probably did, but I felt no sense of shock.

Was there any traffic approaching from the London way? I did not notice any. In front of me, on the near side was  a standing vehicle, and owing to its presence, I was proceeding cautiously because I couldn't see round it to see if anything was coming.

          At the conclusion to his evidence, Mr Rutter said he should like to express his deep grief that unwillingly he had been the cause of Mr Burton's death.

          In answer to questions put by Mr Walter Burton, witness said he saw his father fall in front of the car. The car did not hit him, but it was possible the wheels pushed him along.

          Mr Kenneth Leader: Are you perfectly sure that your car did not knock Mr Burton down? Mr Rutter: I am quite sure on that point, and there were no marks on the wings.

 THE MEDICAL EVIDENCE

           Dr Allan Finn said on Wednesday, the 11th, he was operating at the Hospital when he was told that an accident case had been brought in. As soon as it was possible he went into the ward and saw the deceased in bed. He was suffering  from injuries to the right side of the head and there was some blood in the right ear. He was only partially conscious and never really rallied. He died on Sunday morning. The cause of death might have been from a fracture of the base of the skull, but it was difficult to say for certain, as, on account of his age, the shock he sustained was sufficient to cause death.

          The Coroner:Were his injuries consistent with falling on the road without being knocked down by a motor? -Yes he had bruising to the right side of his head which seemed to indicate this.

          The Foreman of the Jury:- Supposing there had been no motor there, would Mr Burton have succumbed to the injuries caused by the fall? Dr Finn: It is a difficult thing to say, but it is quite possible for a man of 86 to fall heavily on his head and the result to be fatal.

          Mr Franks, a juror. Was Mr Burton conscious when he was brought in? - He was semi-conscious, but could not answer questions, and he never really gained consciousness. He certainly had concussion, because he was very restless, showing his brain was irritated.

           Mr W. R. Stoneham, household removal contractor, whose place of business is where the Broadway opens out of the London road said his attention was called to the accident by a crash, and looking out of his shop window he saw a car with a man lying on the ground. The wheel of the car appeared to be on his shoulder. The near side front wheel was locked and was pushing the man along the ground. He should think the distance the car pushed the man was roughly eight or nine feet.

          In answer to the Coroner, Mr Stoneham said he did not actually see the accident; it was the crash which drew his attention to it. The road was greasy at the time.

          Mr Brice Bland, Relieving Officer to the Newbury Union, said that at 11.50 he was coming up the London road, towards the Broadway on his motor-cycle. He saw Mr Burton standing on the pavement by Mr Jones', facing towards Mr Stoneham's. He was looking at the car coming through the Broadway from the direction of

Oxford Street and evidently waiting for it to pass. Before witness got to him, Mr Burton stepped on to the road and was about half-way across hesitating. All at once, when the car was no more than two yards from him he appeared to make a sudden rush and fell on his right side directly in front of the car. He was on the ground before the car got to him. The wheels of the car then pushed him along. The marks on the road showed he was pushed along for a distance of not more than two yards.

Mr Bland said he was exactly opposite as the car touched him. The car was going slowly and he should estimate the speed at about 10 miles an hour.

The Foreman: Is Mr Bland practically sure that the deceased was on the road before the car touched him?

Witness: Before. All at once Mr Burton made a sudden rush and fell forward. I was exactly opposite him when the car touched him. He was on the ground before that.

Mr Castell (a juror): Would it be likely that Mr Burton rushed forward because you came up on the other side of him on your motor-cycle:

Mr Bland: No, I was only just crawling along with my clutch out.

PC Bune, who was called to the spot after the accident, said he examined the car and the driver pointed out to him that the registration plate and also the the starting handle was slightly bent. He said the marks on then were caused by the body being pushed by the car.

This concluded the evidence, and the Jury returned a verdict of accidental death, due to a fall and the shock resulting there-from, and absolved the driver of the car from all blame attached to the death.

          Mr Coroner said he would like to express to Mr Burton his sincere sympathy in the death of his father, who was so well known as an old inhabitant of the town. He was sure he would be expressing the wishes of the Jury in extending to the driver of the car their sympathy he must have been put to.

          Mr Burton thanked the Coroner and all those who had so kindly tended to his father after the accident. He also said that he would like to associate himself with the Coroner's remarks about the driver of the car.


          The funeral took place yesterday (Wednesday afternoon), the service at the Parish Church being conducted by the Rector (Rev. L. R. Majendie). The mourners were Messrs Arthur, Samuel and Walter Burton, Mrs F. Marshall (daughter). Representing the Newbury Oddfellows were Messrs J.R. Witts, T.S. Jordan and A. Wellington; also present Messrs F. Marshall, R. Hood, Frank Stephens (collector of St Bartholomew Fair tolls), Messrs Dyson and Punchard, Mrs Bailey and Miss Davis (Kimber's Almspeople), Mr J. Stephens. Mr Jordan read the Oddfellows service at the graveside in the Newtown-road Cemetery, and the brethren dropped sprays of rosemary on the coffin.

The following contributed wreaths; Arthur Lizzie and family; Sam, Rose and Val; Olive and Wal; Flo and Bess; Bob (grandson); Mrs Owen and family; Mr and Mrs H.S.Neate; staff of the South Berks Brewery.

The undertaker was Mr T.R. Cullum, Northcroft.

Sources:Newbury Weekly News

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