Sunday, 18 September 2011

Obituary Sunday-The Curious Death of Francis William Bradford Swanwick

Perhaps one of the more interesting deaths in my family was that of my great-great-grandfather, Francis William Bradford Swanwick,  an organ and harmonium builder. Below, I've transcribed his obituary, or rather, the report of his inquest:
Dr. Thomas held an inquest, on Monday, at St. Pancras on the body of Francis Swanwick, aged 56, an organ builder, lately residing at 81, Raleigh-road, Hornsey. He was engaged in business at Holloway, and was in the habit of travelling home by the Great Northern Railway, holding a season ticket. On Dec. 20 a postman, named George Walker, while standing on the up platform at Holloway Station, noticed a gentleman, who proved to be the deceased, lying between the platforms and near the metals. Walker got onto the line and heard deceased say 'Pick me up'. Witness was about to do so, but a train approaching he fled. When the train had passed porters lifted Mr. Swanwick on to the platform. It was then found that he was minus an arm and leg, limbs which were left on the metals,-replying to Superintendent R. Parish, of the railway police, the witness said that there was a notice board at the end of the slope of the platform, cautioning passengers against crossing the line to down trains. There was, however, a subway by which passengers might reach the down platform in safety. Mr James Londland, station master at Holloway, said that the passengers, notwithstanding the witness's caution, had persisted in crossing the line. They were trespassers, and liable to a fine of 40s. The deceased was found 11 yards from the up platform. Witness's belief was that the deceased was knocked down by an empty coach train as it rounded the corner-a train which he would not be likely to see until it was upon him. The jump from the platform to the metals was one of 4 feet-Dr. F. Edison, house surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital, said Mr. Swanwick was in a very collapsed condition when received. He had lost his right arm and leg. Death speedily ensued. Before he died he said he did not know how the accident had happened-Mr. Londland said electric lamps shone upon the notice board. The edge of the platform was not whitened. The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death".