Tag Archives: 1855

1855 : Illegal Weights

Two stories of traders adjusting their scale in their favour. From the Croydon Chronicle and East Surrey Advertiser – Saturday 15 September 1855, via the British Newspaper Archive.

Illegal Weights.

— Mary Bateman, shopkeeper, of Mitcham, was charged by Mr. Dart, Inspector of Weights and Measures, with having an unjust balance, a quarter of an ounce against the purchaser.

Mr. Dart stated that the defendant was last April fined 5s. for the same offence, the scales then being half an ounce against the purchaser.

The defendant—I have been in business 40 years, and until this man came I never had a complaint made against me ; all the other inspectors used to allow me a turn, and the people expects it. I had a woman come in the other day, and because the scale did not go down, she said she would not have the butter; and after this man left, I asked an old gentleman who is lodging with me, and who was an ale connor, if it was not right for me to have the turn, and he said “Yes,” and that he always had it, and allowed it himself ; and I have asked my neighbours, and they all say that they are allowed a turn, and if I was not a poor lone widow, but a man that could speak for himself. I should not have been summonsed here.

Mr. Sutherland considered the defendant was quite able to speak for herself, and she must be aware that if the the scales were not allowed a turn, it was not right that the butter scales should. Mr. Dart said he had endeavoured to convince the defendant, that having scales like the butter ones, was wrong.

The Defendant : Yes ; but I am not convinced ; I have done so for forty years, and it takes some time to convince any one against that.

Mr. Sutherland : Then by that you have been cheating the public for forty years ; you must now know that the scales must be right ; you will be fined 5s., and the costs 9s.

The Defendant : Our profits are now so low that we cannot get anything out of the things, and if we are compelled to have the scales this way we shan’t be able to live ! !

The old lady, after some time, produced the money, grumbling all the while she was finding it; and as she was leaving the court reiterated her fear of not being able to get on, now this new-fangled method of weighing was come in.


W. Williams, of Mitcham, butcher, was charged with having an unjust balance.

Mr. Dart deposed, that he visited the defendant’s shop, and just as he drove up to the door Mrs. Williams went to the scale and took off the piece of fat produced ; it was on the scale in which the goods to be sold were weighed ; on testing the scales he found them exact without the fat, hence the addition of that made the weight against the purchaser.

In defence Williams said that the scales were made of wood, that his shop was an open one, and that the weather affected the scales, and the fat was put on to adjust them, without that it was in favour of the purchaser.

Mr. Sutherland considered that the defendant ought to have such scales as were not affected by the weather.

Fined 5s., and 9s. costs.

1855 : Fatal accident on Wimbledon and Croydon Railway

From page 6 of the 30th October 1855, edition of the South Eastern Gazette.


The above-named line of railway, which it was at first said would be opened on the 1st of October, then on the 15th of the same month, was opened on Monday, the 22nd. The London, Brighton, and South Coast Company issued bills, announcing that they would run 13 trains per diem. The South Western Railway Company also issued bills, stating that they intended running 5 trains per diem, by means of which passengers could be conveyed to the Waterloo terminus. These, however, were not to be what are generally termed “through trains,” but passengers wishing to go to Waterloo station would have to change trains at the Wimbledon station.

The line, which is a single one, is as near as possible upon the same route between Croydon and Mitcham, as that formerly occupied by the earliest railway in England, viz. the old tramway formed at the commencement of the present century, for the purpose of conveying stone and lime from Merstham. Those who recollect the old tramway are aware that after passing Waddon Marsh, there was a short cutting familiarly known as the “high banks,” after passing which it ran upon a level by the side of a farm now occupied by Mr. Atherfold and then across Mitcham-common.

On Wednesday afternoon the London, Brighton, and South Coast train, consisting of a small engine with tender attached, and four carriages, arrived at the Croydon West station, and proceeded on to Mitcham; at the time we learn there were not more than 8 or 10 passengers in the train. When it reached Mr. Atherfold’s farm, and was consequently between the “high banks” and the road leading from Beddington to the Windmill upon Mitcham-common, the engine got off the rails, after which it evidently continued to run for nearly a hundred yards, when the engine and tender went off at the right hand side of the line, and the carriages at the same time went off at the opposite side. The engine immediately tumbled over, and Bingham the engine driver, who it would appear was at the time working the lever, for the purpose of reversing the engine was with the exception of his head and right arm buried beneath the engine. His death must have been almost instantaneous. The stoker (Weller) jumped off and was much scalded, but not otherwise materially injured. The first carriage was completely smashed, but fortunately there were no passengers in it, and those who were in the other carriages escaped with very slight injuries, as did also the guard who was attending to the break, which fortunately was attached to the last carriage.

Intelligence of the event was immediately conveyed to New-Cross station, and an engine, with what they term the tool box, and about a dozen men arrived at the spot at about 7 o’clock; the remains of the unfortunate engine driver however, were not extricated from beneath the engine till past 8 o’clock, when they were conveyed to the Plough public-house, Beddington, to await a coroner’s inquest.

Another report mentions that one of the passengers was from Mitcham.

From page 351 of the 31st October 1855 issue of the Watchman and Wesleyan Advertiser:

On Thursday (sic) night a serious accident occurred on the Croydon and Mitcham Railway to a passenger train in the neighbourhood of the village of Beddington. The line from Croydon to Mitcham, a distance of four miles, was only opened on the preceding Monday. It consists of a single line of rails until its junction with the Croydon and Epsom line, about half a mile from Croydon.

The train to which the accident happened started from the terminus at London-bridge at 4.15. About midway between Croydon and Mitcham, the engine ran off the rails, dragging the tender and passenger carriages after it, for between fifty and sixty yards, until, falling over on its side, its career was suspended. One of the carriages was smashed to atoms, and the driver killed on the spot. There were, fortunately, but five passengers, all second class, and, with the exception of a Mrs. Jacobs, the wife of a retired gentleman residing at Upper Mitcham, who was very much shaken, they all escaped unhurt.

From page 564 of the 7th November 1855 issue of the Watchman and Wesleyan Advertiser, the inquest recommended a speed limit of 20 m.p.h.:

On Monday, the coroner resumed the adjourned inquest on John Bingham, the engine-driver who lost his life on the 24th ult., on the newly-formed West Croydon and Mitcham Railway. Colonel Yolland gave it as his opinion that the accident was caused mainly by the speed at which the engine was travelling. The jury found, “that the deceased met his death by accident, but recommend that the maximum speed, until the lines becomes consolidated, should not be greater than twenty miles an hour.”