Train accidents ran in the family

To have one son killed while working in a railway yard is unfortunate, but to have a second son die almost the same way three years later is beyond words.

Twenty-seven-year old Robert Webster was a shunter at the Kelso railway station, the other side of the Macquarie River to the Bathurst Station, New South Wales, in 1880.

The station had only been open for five years when Robert tried to jump from one moving wagon to another but fell onto the line.

The wheels of the wagon crushed his thigh. He was brought to Bathurst where the leg was amputated.

“…the man got into such a weak state from loss of blood and exhaustion, that he did not rally, and died this evening,” reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

“No blame is attached to any one except the man himself, who met with the accident through his own carelessness.

Sydney morning herald

With those words farewelling her son, his family  surely could not have felt comfortable with his younger brother John working on the nearby Bathurst Railway Station.

Their fears would have been realized when, a week short of the three-year anniversary of Robert’s death, John also made a fatal mistake at work.

He accidentally uncoupled two wagons, and got between them to reattach them – while the train was still in motion.

A wheel went over his arm, crushing it and his leg stopped the truck, breaking it badly.

Both arm and leg were amputated, but again, the injuries were too much and he died.

Bathurst cemetery: Robert Webster who was killed whilst shunting at Kelso station, 28th February 1880 aged 27 and of his brother John Webster also killed whilst shunting at Bathurst station, 18th February 1883 aged 26. Images Sharyn Moodie
Bathurst, NSW

SOURCES: Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW : 1881 – 1938) Friday 23 February 1883 p 15

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) Monday 1 March 1880 p 5

Published by Sharyn Moodie

Travelling around Australia for work, I've found so many amazing headstones. But what is more amazing is the stories behind some of these deaths, and the way newspapers of the day reported them.

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