Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Mail Train

Postman William Windridge lived in Dean's Croft, Lichfield with his uncle. On the last day of 1894 he had not been to work due to illness but the next morning had left home at 4:50am, telling his uncle he was going for a walk.

At 10:30am that morning his Uncle William learned how a postman had been killed on the line and, not having seen his nephew for some hours, went along to see find his worst fears realised. Identified by the tobacco pouch he had seen him fill that very morning, for the mutilated remains were hardly recognisable. His skull shattered leaving the contents scattered along the line, one leg severed and missing. His remaining shoe, hat and marks on the body had also confirmed that New Years Day 1895 was the last for 27-year-old Postman Windridge.

At the subsequent inquest further details were revealed. While it had been his job to bring the mail bags to Lichfield Trent Valley Station, he had been suspended some six weeks earlier after the station master found him walking unsteadily and deemed him to have been at risk. While his uncle maintained this was due to illness, the landlord of the Blue Bell Inn, one John Oakley, stated he had been drinking heavily at his establishment the previous day. Indeed he had walked him home that day as he had been the worse for drink and had even been forced to wrestle him into bed and force him to stay there to sleep.

A thorough search did not reveal any blood an any of the engines to have passed through the station that morning. Nor did they ever find the missing limb anywhere near where the impact occurred, at the level crossing here used solely by the farm and not by the public in general.

The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death but strongly suspected this may well have been suicide.

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