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Wombwell Railway Tragedy – Two Brothers Cut To Pieces

March 1907

Barnsley Chronicle March 23, 1907

A Wombwell Railway Tragedy
Fatal Impetuosity at Level Crossing
Two Brothers Cut To Pieces

The level crossing on the Great Central Railway at Mitchell Main, Wombwell, was the scene of a shocking occurrence on Saturday night as two men, residents in the district, were killed by a passing train while in the act of crossing the line, which they persisted in doing notwithstanding that the gates were shut and the signal man told them to wait.

The two men were brothers – Thomas McHale, aged 36 years, and William McHale, aged 34 years – both miners, single, living at the Darfield Main Colliery cottages, about a mile distant from where the sad affair happened.

They left the Halfway House Hotel, only a few hundred yards away, at 9:30 o’clock, and had to cross the railway to get to their home. When they reached the crossing the signal man, William Henry Jones, had just locked the gates, and pulled his signals off to receive the market train from Barnsley to Wombwell, which passes box at 9:31 PM.

The signalman told the McHale’s to wait until the train had passed. They began to use abusive language, took no notice of the warning, climbed over the gates, and attempted to cross the rails in front of the approaching passenger train. Signalman Jones saw the men knocked down by the engine, and taking his lamp, he found them both lying dead between the rails.

One of the first person on the scene after the accident was a brother of the deceased. Hearing that two men had been knocked down, he went to the crossing to render assistance and did not know who the victims were until he came to examine them closely.

At the crossing in question there are six sets of rails, as the junction with the Sheffield branch line is close by, and besides, the coal and coke output from the Mitchell May Colliery as to be dealt with at this point.

There is a considerable amount of traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular, all the crossing, and only at their last meeting the woman Urban Council gives instruction for the railway company to be written to, urging them to provide a footbridge.