George ASTLE – A GUARD KILLED ON THE W. M. & C. Q. RAILWAY 1878

by Annette Edwards.

George Astle was born in Marford about 1838, he was the son of Job Astle and Ann. Both father and son worked on the railways. In 1862 George married Sarah Ellis and moved to Wrexham, by 1871 they had 3 children, William 8, George 6 and Ann aged 2. Another son Charles Herbert was born in the summer of 1876. Later that year George was killed in an awful accident.

A GUARD KILLED ON THE W. M. & C. Q. RAILWAY.

On Monday night a shocking accident occurred on this line of railway, by which a guard, named George Astle, a man about 40 years of age, living in Park-street, Rhosddu, met with his death in a singular manner. Astle had been in the service of the Company for 12 years during nine of which he had faithfully and satisfactorily filled the responsible situation of guard and on Monday evening he was coming as usual with the train from Connah’s Quay to Wrexham at 7.0 p.m. In front of the engine of this train there were five empty waggons which had to be propelled into the siding at Castle Brick level crossing, near Northop. It appears that the deceased was riding on the front waggon, carrying his lighted hand-lamp, so as to be ready on the arrival of the waggons at a given point, to turn the points and so let the waggons run into the siding. It seems, however, that at this particular level crossing, a man, named Robert Peters, is constantly stationed, and his duty is to remain at his post until the passing of the last train each evening. On this particular evening it would appear that the man unfortunately left the place earlier than usual, and proceeded to Buckley, where he was informed by the foreman at that station that another train had gone down the line, and it would appear to have been his duty to have then and there returned to the crossing, the gates of which seem to have been all right when the train passed down. A period of about two hours then elapsed before the train returned to Buckley, and during this interval someone seems to have opened the gates at the level crossing, and left them open across the line, and the man who should have been in charge of the crossing being absent, the wagons referred to as being in front of the engine came into collision with the gates some of the wagons being upset, and one heavy truck falling over upon the deceased, who was discovered in a few minutes afterwards quite dead, the body being very slightly mutilated the head being the part chiefly injured. The general manager, Mr Broughton, Wrexham, received information of the accident at nine o’clock the same evening, and immediately issued prompt instructions which were as promptly carried out by the Buckley and Connah’s Quay station masters with a gang of workmen, being quickly on the scene of the catastrophe. The body was speedily extricated from its position under the wagon and conveyed to a convenient house near Northop to await the inquest, which was formally opened on Wednesday before Mr Peter Parry, coroner and adjourned until Friday next. We understand the deceased leaves a widow and four children, for whom much sympathy is expressed.

Wrexham Advertiser. 9th December 1876

The verdict was published in a later issue.

After some consultation, the jury returned a verdict of Accidental death,” and censured the railway company for great negligence in management, as well as the persons charged with working the line.

Sarah remained in Park Street and became a grocer and a provision dealer, she eventually settled down with another man and died in 1928.

Also buried with George is his eldest son William who went to live with Job and Ann, he stayed in Summerhill after their deaths. At first he worked as a sawyer but then went to the colliery. In January 1908 he married spinster Rebecca Parry at St Paul’s Church Brymbo. Rebecca was the daughter of James Parry a colliery worker and Catherine Mathias, she had been born in Broughton where the family lived for many years. The couple moved to Woodland Road , Moss then to Lilac Cottage in Summerhill where William died in may 1934 aged 71, Rebecca died there in January 1941 aged 84.

Researched by Annette Edwards, with help from Cari Pugh. October 2019.

IN AFFECTIONATE REMEMBRANCE OF GEORGE ASTLE, RHOSDDU, WREXHAM. GUARD ON THE WREXHAM, MOLD & CONNAHS QUAY RAILWAY WHO WAS KILLED AT CASTLE BRICK DECEMBER 4TH, 1876, AGED 37 YEARS. ALSO WILLIAM, SON OF THE ABOVE, WHO DIED MAY 7, 1934, AGED 71 YEARS.

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Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery J-02801