Hello Readers. Here is my final blog concerning my third and newest true crime book which should go live on Amazon on Christmas Day ( and if not then on Boxing Day!) It is a very different kind of book to my first two. It does not concentrate on one single story as they do. It is actually a casebook of railway crime, calamities and mysteries from 1830-1899 and contains 12 chapters. The final chapter is devoted to railway mysteries and there were many of those. One of the greatest mysteries was the frequent discovery of bodies on the railway lines throughout the country. In such circumstances the law dictated that a county or town coroner should convene an inquest. The most important task was to identify the individual and determine the cause of death. Take this actual example which is mystery number 2 out of 32 in my final chapter, produced verbatim here…
“A coroner’s inquest was held August 13th 1867 in the Canterbury Arms in Brixton. It was tasked with discovering the cause of death of railway guard Louis Williams Masson, aged 24 years. His body was found in a very odd place, on top of the 11.45 pm train from Victoria to Ludgate Hill. He was found flat on his back with his feet towards the engine. His wounds were severe. He had a fractured skull and cuts about the head and face. It was believed he had been killed by walking or crawling about on the roof of the train and had been struck by a bridge. The court considered two theories to explain how he died. The coroner pointed out that on some lines society had been outraged by guards watching a man and a woman when they got into a compartment believing they were going to do wrong. Only the previous week a guard had been killed whilst standing on the running board, watching a lady and gentleman. They were shocked at seeing him killed with his face pressed close to the glass. The other theory concerned a 10 shillings reward offered by the railway company for apprehension of felons who had been cutting carriage linings. They climbed onto the roof, cut the roof material, removed the horsehair then put their hands into the compartments to steal curtains and brasses. The court considered the possibility the guard was on the roof trying to catch the felons. Inspector Harris pointed out it was a breach of duty for the guard to leave his brake for any purpose. The jury could not decide which was the correct theory but reasoned this was an accident and recorded such as their final verdict. The mystery of what the guard was really doing on the roof was never solved.”
Here there were two possibilities that might explain how the guard died. Was the guard a peeping Tom spying on the couple in the compartment? Or was he doing his duty trying to catch felons damaging the train? The jury certainly could not decide. When passengers jumped or were thrown out of a train they usually died quickly of terrible injuries. If the fall did not kill them they could be knocked unconscious and then be run over by a train. Both men and women often seemed to be falling out of trains. Inquests considered many possible reasons including some odd ones like sleepwalking. Drink or should I say too much drink seemed to be involved on some occasions. Men would get into arguments or fights or lose their inhibitions about their behaviour with a lady in the carriage. Physical assaults would drive some men out onto the running boards and sexual advances would do the same to most ladies. In short the mystery of why a body came to be lying dead upon the rails often remained a mystery – despite a coroner’s inquest. My final chapter is full of these odd mysteries and I invite my readers to read and solve them……if you can!
Well my book is complete and should be available very soon. For those who have been following and reading my blogs or who may be interested in my work I now have a very special offer. For a very short time on Christmas and possibly Boxing Day 2015 YOU can help yourself to a free download. Just click on the hyperlink below and if my book is showing a zero price it will be free to download. DONT MISS it, I have no plans to offer it free again in the near future.
This is researcher and writer Mike Sheridan signing off for Christmas 2015 .BEST WISHES and a MERRY CHRISTMAS to YOU ALL!!