Poor John put
his head on the line!
by Albert Jackson
The Sheffield & Rotherham Railway Co.
opened the first station at the bottom of Spital Hill/Saville Street
This was the original Midland Station, followed in
1870 by the present station. Between these dates the Woodhead line
connected Manchester with Sheffield, first to Bridgehouses in 1845
then via the Wicker Arches to Victoria Station in 1851.
The interim years also saw one of the most terrible
disasters in the City’s history – the Great Sheffield
Flood of 1864, when the platforms at Savile Street were submerged
after the almost complete Dale Dyke Dam at Loxley burst, cascading
over 690 million gallons of water onto Sheffield and beyond. The
official loss of life was declared as 250 (including 40 children),
although many more are thought to have perished .
As the railway networks grew, the Midland station
was linked to Bridgehouses by a tunnel, 300 yards long, to enable
goods trains to access both lines. The incline of the tunnel was
immense, engines had to reverse as far back along the line as Sutherland
Street in order to build up enough steam for loaded trains to climb
up through the tunnel. Likewise in reverse, a brake wagon had to
be attached to the end of the train to control its descent. Disaster
occurred for the Kidd family here, the gravestone at the chapel
at Hillsborough Barracks relates…
This stone is erected
in memory of John Kidd,
who lost his life at the end
of the enclined tunnel on
the midland line at Sheffield,
December 8th 1846, aged 29 years.
Here Lieth the body of John Kidd,
In eternal realms his soul is hid;
A railway engine did him kill,
And crushed his poor head so ill.
Poor John was a pointsman at the station, he was uncoupling
a wagon from the tender when his head was caught between the buffers.
At the inquest held in the Hall Carr Hotel the next
morning, the jury concluded that although not his job to uncouple
the wagons, only the deceased was to blame and returned a verdict
of accidental death. The Railway Company offered to pay the funeral