Sunday, 10 June 2018

Stand Back from the Platform Edge

April 13th 1857, and nearby the clock shows 6pm. Returning to the station yard, and his job in managing the engine shed, is 42-year-old William McCabe. Having gone home a couple of hours earlier for his tea at his home in Newton, he walked coming along the siding before encountering a shunting engine and thus crossing the up line to the engine shed on the opposite side.

Some twenty years earlier McCabe had lost his leg in an accident when it was crushed by a wagon on the Manchester to Liverpool line. Because of this he wore a wooden leg and no longer worked on the engines but employed in the 'stationary job' in the engine shed. Whether it was the shunter that distracted him, or perhaps the difficulty negotiating the lines with a wooden leg, likely both, but he did not take notice of the warning whistle and shout from Thomas Pattison, the driver of the shunting engine warning of the engine approaching him from behind on the main line. Seconds later he was dead.

Coming along the up line in reverse, tender first, the locomotive travelling at 6mph was but 10 or 12 yards away from McCabe when the shout went up. Hit by the buffer he fell, with his head across the rail. The wheels pushed him along for a short distance before severing his head completely. The first person to reach the body was the driver from another nearby shunter - this man was none other than William McCabe's eldest son.

The body was quickly removed to the Vine Inn, Newton where the inquest was held the next day. A verdict of accidental death was recorded. William McCabe left a widow and six children.

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