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William Huskisson was killed on the opening day of the Liverpool to Manchester Railway. He was run over by The Rocket (1830) He was....
The first person IN THE WORLD to be killed by a steam passenge engine...
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William Huskisson, MP for Liverpool, was
the first man killed by a steam locomotive, at the opening of the Liverpool-Manchester Railway at Chat Moss near Manchester on 15 September 1830. Author
William Garfield in The Last Journey of William
Hutchinson chronicles Mr Huskisson's chronic accident proneness which afflicted him his whole life down to the famous accident in which he was mortally
The topic of William Huskisson's statues is another odd episode as well. After his death, he was interred with suitable pomp in a
classical mausoleum in St. James's Cemetery, in what had been an old sandstone quarry next
to and east of the Anglican Cathedral. This is the same cemetery where, in his Liverpool Oratorio, Paul McCartney speaks about "sagging off" from
school and smoking ciggies on the flat tabletop tombstones when he was attending nearby Liverpool Institute.
Inside the mausoleum, as originally
intended when Huskisson was buried there in 1830, was mounted a marble standing statue of the MP wearing a Roman toga.
In the seventies, the
Corporation cleared out many of the gravestones and made it a park, and Huskisson's statue was removed, the empty-of-statue mausoleum though being left.
From the link to a Liverpool Museums page on the
Huskisson statue, it appears that the statue was
removed in 1968 after being vandalized. The original statue is in safekeeping, apparently, under the care of Liverpool museums. There were though two marble
statues made and a bronze one.
I remember the bronze statue in Princes Drive near the Princes Drive Synagogue. It was removed in 1982 after vandals
attacked it because people thought he was a slave trader. That bronze statue is now in a new housing development off Duke Street in the city
Last time I was in what had been St. James's cemetery somebody had spray painted their name inside the old mausoleum and you can see from the
main photo in the link above the glass skylights in the roof are broken.
The disposition and preservation of the statue and the replicas is another
topic in itself, and if you go to the Liverpool museums site you can learn what is being done to preserve it/them. It looks to me as if there are two copies
of the statue in Liverpool (or is it two marble and one bronze?) and another in London in Pimlico Gardens, London. The story of the man's statues appears as
bizarre and subject to the whims of fate as the man himself was!!!!
Last edited by ChrisGeorge; 11-06-2006 at 12:56 PM.
Good info there
There's a marble tablet at the spot where the accident occured near Newton le Willows, although anyone going to take a look would be dicing with death themselves.
The actual cause of the accident isn't actually well known. People think that he tripped on the line and fell over and couldn't get up in time.
The actual event occured when he had to get out of the way of a train quickly, ran and jumped up on a train carriage door which swung out, bounced off the coachwork and then threw him off on to the floor.
Don't forget sLemon says that the Cemetary is haunted by Huskinsson!
Yes the contemporary newscutting on the site SteH directed us to gives me an entirely different view of the accident to the impression I had. I did know the Rocket ran over Huskisson's leg. I had been under the impression that he was standing on the line or crossing the line and unable to get out of the way. The account says he was trapped in a crowded carriage which was hit by the Rocket and thrown out then run over. I was also under the impression until recently that the accident took place at Edge Hill which is not so either!
I havent read that link yet but I did know the accident did take place halfway through the journey. I had always tought that they had to stop the train to let the engines cool down or something and many passengers got off.Huskisson then saw the Duke of Wellington and decided to go and have a chat, but got run over as he did so.
Originally Posted by ChrisGeorge
Oh, okay I see now, he seems to have taken cover between the carriages but the door of one carriage that he had caught hold of and the Rocket collided, throwing him down onto the track and under the locomotive.
Train Stop Midway
Apparently the train stopped to take on more water. There had been a disagreement between William Huskisson and the Duke of Wellington. Huskisson had approached Wellington's carriage in a gesture of reconciliation.
Somehow or other he did find himself in the path of the oncoming Rocket.
I have read several conflicting eyewitness accounts with contridictions as to the speed of the train and the circumstances causing him to fall into the path of the locomotive.
Holding the door to the carriage, which could have been clipped by the passing train seems plausible enough.
Ironically the Rocket, the vessel that maimed him, transported Huskisson for further medical attention.
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I wrote this poem for the Liverpool 800 poems site:
To be known as the first man
to be killed by a train
-- what awful luck!
You were our plucky MP,
in your prime when
you were struck,
as Stephenson’s “Rocket”
knocked you down;
now God’s got you
in his pocket.
Christopher T. George
This site has really awakened my interests, reading and viewing the articles and photos.
So many different forums to investigate and chat on.
Will keep me going forv years I think (hope).
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