Tag Archives: Upper Mitcham

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.”

Edward Snell Crewes

Grocer and sub-postmaster of Upper Mitcham from after 1901 to 1932. Listed in the 1930 commercial directory as

Crewes Edwd. Snell, grocer & sub-postmaster, 19 Upper grn. east. T N 0840

early 20th century view of ES Crewes's shop and postoffice

early 20th century view of ES Crewes’s shop and postoffice

Edward Snell Crewes was originally from Cornwall, as he points out in a letter about eggs from that county he was selling at the post office.

In the 1901 census, he was listed as a grocer and they were living in the parish of Tong, in Bradford, Yorkshire. They had a daughter aged 2, called Millicent M. A public family tree on Ancestry says that Millicent Marjorie Crewes died in 1904 in Epsom.

In the 1911 census, he was shown as being 43 and having been born in about 1868 in Truro, Cornwall. His wife Lydia, also 43, was born in Mount Hawke, Cornwall and their son Stanley M B aged 15 also lived with them at the post office. He was born in Bradford, Yorkshire.

He died 29th May 1932, and left £4,381 13s. 1d. to his wife. The probate entry on Ancestry shows his middle name as Ivell.

His wife Lydia, nee Bennett, died 1947.

World War 1 Connections
Gunner Stanley Maxwell Crewes

Related News Articles


—We are sorry to learn that Mr. and Mrs. E. S. Crewes, of the Upper Mitcham Post Office, have this week sustained a bereavement which is unusually sad owing the circumstances related below. On Monday Mr. Harry Bennetts, Mount Hawke, Cornwall, Mrs. Crewes’ brother, died at his home there after being ill for some time from a disease know as miner’s phthisis,” which he contracted in South Africa. Mr. Bennetts was an experienced miner, having worked in the mines of Montana and Idaho, United States, for two different periods, and in the gold mines in South Africa. Last December while working at the Raudfontein South Gold Mine, Krugersdorp. there was an explosion of gelatine which caused the death of four miners by asphyxia, and Mr. Bennetts made a effort to rescue a number of native workers who had been overcome by the fumes. He descended to a depth of 200-ft. under circumstances which called for the greatest courage, and as a result his heroic action was reported the King, who, as stated, awarded him the Edward Medal. About three weeks ago he returned to his home in Cornwall broken in health, and although he had a fine physique, he succumbed to the disease which is the bane of all miners. No doubt it was made worse by his experiences in the mine after the explosion. An Interesting point is that neither the deceased nor his relatives were aware that the medal for bravery had been awarded him, and it is supposed that the medal must have been sent to his last known address in South Africa. Probably it is now on its way back to England. Mr. Crewes brought the facts to the notice of King George in a letter that be wrote to him on Tuesday.

Source: Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 28 May 1910 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

To the Editor of the West Briton


— About three years ago you published letter of mine drawing the attention of farmers and dealers to the bad condition of new-laid eggs that were being for warded the Metropolis. To my great regret I must again write to tell your agricultural readers the very undesirable fact that large numbers of eggs which are absolutely rotten are being packed in cases labelled “English New-laid Eggs,” and sent in this direction from the delectable Duchy. One customer of mine to-day brought back three bad eggs she had out of ten, and several others have also expressed their disgust at my selling them as new-laid eggs. If sellers and senders in Cornwall could realise the damaging effect these things have and retail business in this part the country, they would be more careful and considerate, and not take money for new-laid eggs unless the eggs can honestly bear that designation. I appeal their sense justice, and ask them not pack eggs they have discovered in secluded spots on their hedges, without caring how long they have been laid.

Of late, eggs coming from Russia have been more reliable than those purchased from Cornwall, and at much less money. For the future I shall have to carefully examine all the Cornish eggs I sell. Being a Cornishman myself, I am very jealous of the good name of my native county. Trusting that the writing of this letter will have beneficial results.

Yours truly. E SNELL CREWES,
Post Office,
Upper Mitcham, S.W.

Source: West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser – Thursday 27 June 1912 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)