1889 – Benjamin Ezzy was a porter at the Bathurst Railway Station who made a fatal mistake.
The 21-year-old had worked there for four years, having risen from the dirty position of lamp cleaner to porter by 1889.
It was 2.30 one October afternoon when the goods train from Wallerawang arrived on the “up line’.
It usually arrived on the down line, but the inquest into Ezzy’s death heard that it was also known to use the up line if the down line was in use.
Before he died in his hospital room, Ezzy told a visitor that he was in the lamp room, heard the train and rushed out to meet it to do his porterly duties, was mistaken about which line the train was coming in on, and “did not see his error until it was too late”.
Suffering a dislocated left hip, fractured pelvis and lower left leg, as well as a lacerated thigh from his unscheduled crushing between the train’s engine and the platform, he died at 3am the next morning.
The inquiry ruled that death was accidental.
Benjamin Ezzy was a brother of the temperance movement, the Good Templars, and his Bathurst lodge, the Pride of the West, “unusually regretted’’ his death.
He seemed to be a favourite among them, as at a meeting dedicated to unveiling a photo of the young teetotaller, they lamented the death of one so good, so generous, while hundreds of young men who were not only doing injury to themselves, but luring others on to destruction, were left.
To mark their appreciation of Ezzy’s worth, an enlarged and framed photograph of the youth was hung on the wall of the lodge, to the right of the chief templar’s chair.
“They were certain that he was better off, and had been taken from the evil of this world”.
A Mr Farquhar, speaking emotionally to the gathered lodge and visitors, including Ezzy’s mother, said that after the accident and while in terrible agony, his medical adviser ordered him to take some brandy.
“He protested, saying that he had never tasted any spirits in his life, and could bear the pain without it”.
In a weird twist of fate, another man called Benjamin Ezzy was killed by a train at a crossing 25 years later near Rooty Hill, Sydney, just after he had alighted from another train.
Below is a portion of a poem written and spoken by fellow Good Templar Brother Lew at Benjamin Ezzy’s send off.
Ben was on the Bathurst Station
(I need not the case explain),
When, without an intimation,
In there dashed that fatal train,
Down the cruel engine threw him,
Wounded on the railway line,
Bruised until we scarcely knew him,
Taken up by friends so kind.
Carried from the Bathurst Station
To a ward on yonder hill,
There, in calmest resignation,
He submitted to God’s will !
SOURCES: Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal , Saturday 12 October 1889 p 2
Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, Friday 5 September 1890 – Page 2
National Advocate Saturday 12 October 1889 – Page 2