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Margaret Birchley Death Inquest 1929 – From May 20 1929 To May 21 1929, Whitchurch, Shropshire, England, UK
This fatality was long remembered in our family and my Father - Harry Birchley actually made me promise him not to ever own or ride a motorcycle while he was alive. He hated motorbikes in fact, and would often refer to this incident about the tragic death of his elder sister Margaret as reason for his intense dislike of them. He said if I ever brought a motorbike home he'd destroy it.
3 years ago
In the week Alma Cole nee Birchley is buried it is perhaps pertinent to recall the sad death of her eldest sister 83 years previous. She being the first and Alma the last of my father's family - all now sadly departed this life. God bless them all.
A Transcript of the Inquest - Published in the - Shrewsbury Chronicle - Friday May 31st , 1929
Whitchurch Holiday Fatality - Child Killed.
MOTOR-CYCLIST GUILTY OF NEGLIGENCE:
Dr Hall and a jury resumed at the Working Men's Hall, Whitchurch, on Monday, the enquirey into the death of Margaret Birchley, the 12 year old girl from Charles Arthur Street, Netchells, Birmingham, who was killed as a result of a road accident on the outskirts of Whitchurch on Saturday, 18th inst. Mr Freeman, of Liverpool, represented Mr Daley, the owner of the lorry and trailer which the motor-cyclist was endeavoring to pass at the time the accident happened; and Mr Charles C Ladds, of Corporation Street, Birmingham, represented Samuel Wood, the motor-cyclist.
P.S. Teague gave measurements of the road at the Doddington-Bridgewater Street corner, where the accident happened shortly before six o'clock on the morning of the 18th, and said that marks of the tracks of both vehicles were plainly discernible when he arrived on the spot a few minutes afterwards. The child's head struck the road at a point near the end of the straight line in Bridgewater Street, and a few feet nearer Doddington there were marks where a portion of the sidecar had cut into the metal of the road. The lorry had evidently rounded the corner on its proper side of the road, and the brakes of both lorry and trailer were found to be in good order. Both brakes of the motor-cycle wee inefficient and one was practically useless; but this of course was after the accident. The motor-cycle had evidently mounted the pavement some 20 feet before reaching the corner, where the turn to the right took place, and the rounding of the corner the motor-cycle seemed to have gone out into the road again, before overturning. The sidecar was in a damaged condition, and the lid of the dicky seat where the deceased child was sitting, was broken off.
In reply to Mr Freeman, Sergt Teague said it was a "blind" corner. There was a danger signal, which could be seen plainly from the Doddington side than the other.
John Richard Daley of Tithebarn Street, Liverpool said he had spent the night of the 17th on his lorry on Press Heath and started off to Whitchurch en route to Liverpool at 5:30am. Just before six he passed through Whitchurch and before rounding the Bridgewater Street corner put out his right hand. looked through his mirror, and saw that there was nothing in sight behind. He then applied the brake gently and rounded the corner, just after which he saw the motorcycle. He knew the road quite well and was aware that it was a difficult corner, he had travelled that way four times a week.
Samuel Wood, of 3 Poplar Terrace, Charles Arthur Street, Netchells, Birmingham, said that he started from Birmingham that morning at 2:40, and all went well till his arrival at Whitchurch shortly before six, when he saw the lorry in front of him with a trailer, and sounded his horn several times, but heard no other saond. He was only very slightly deaf at the time of the accident, but the deafness had become much worse since. The driver of the lorry made no signal, amd witness thought he was justified in passing the vehicle. He intended going straight on down into the town, not knowing there was a main road to the right; he thought it was a side road. When he saw the lorry turning to the right he had passed the trailer, and had no option but to mount the foot-path with the view of keeping clear. On rounding the corner the sidecar went into the road and overturned and the child was thrown out on her head.
The Coroner: Dont you think it was adangerous thing to pass another vehicle at this corner? - I could see round the corner.
But you couldn't see through a brick wall. How do you account for the condition of your brakes? - They were all right before. They were tested the night before I started.
How do you account for not stopping your engine? - Well it was out of gear. Did you see the danger signal? - No sir.
Mr Ladds: Were you near the lorry or the trailer when you were picked up? - I cannot say.
Mr Freeman: Why did you not stop your machine if you were only going seven miles an hour? - I believe the lorry or trailer pulled over.
Superintendant Roberts: You say you did not see the danger signal. Is that what you told the police after the accident? - I cannot say.
Well in any rate, you signed it. And why did you say after the accident that the other vehicle didn't touch you? - I might have said things I didn't know about after the accident. I had been knocked out, and didn't know what I was saying.
Mrs Alice Fleet, Netchells, said that Wood was her nephew, and she was in the sidecar with the deceased child in the dicky seat. She gave similar evidence to the accident and said she was suffering from shock; she had suffered a good deal prior to this occurrence, on acount of another accident in which she was involved some years ago.
The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death," due to the injuries recieved from a fall on the road. They added that in their opinion, Wood was guilty of negligence, in having attempted to pass the other vehicle on approaching the corner. They also thought that drivers of vehicles should be provided with better warning at this point, as the existing signal was insufficient. The driver of the lorry was exonerated from all blame.
one year ago
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