In memory of William Smith

William Smith was born in Banbury, Oxford. His father was a maltster (producing and/or selling malt). The family moved to Grays Inn Lane, London, and William became a licensed victualler. In 1852 he married baker’s daughter Emma Sarah Kindell from Limehouse. William, Emma and their children lived at 47 King Street, Camden Town.

By 1861 William was working for the London & North Western Railway as a guard on the Irish Mail. He had sandy hair and a beard. He was “very much respected as an attentive and polite servant of the company”. One of his friends was fellow guard Thomas Hinton, who started work on the Mail at the same time as William. On the day of the accident, the Mail left Chester with William in the front guard’s van and Thomas in the rear.

Photo of the Irish Mail train c1900The old photo shows the Irish Mail near Harrow c.1900, with more modern rolling stock than in 1868. Behind the engine is the tender, carrying coal and water, followed by the front van.

When the crash happened, Thomas was temporarily knocked unconscious. Coming to, he and some of the passengers tried to help those in the burning front carriages. At the inquest concerning William’s death, Thomas broke down and had to be helped from the court.

Emma had given birth to a son a week before the accident. On 19 September she registered his birth and named him Timothy Remnant William Smith in memory of his father. The local community rallied round the widow, who had eight children to care for. A visitor described Emma, still weak from her pregnancy, as “quite bowed down by grief”. She talked about her husband and “kept looking at his whistle and his bent buckle, all blackened by the fire, the only things left to her of him”.

A committee was formed which invested funds donated in aid of the family. The annual income allowed Emma to open a boarding house. One of her daughters became a schoolmistress. Timothy became a solicitor’s accountant and after his marriage provided a home for his two unmarried sisters. They lived in Pinner, where Timothy named his house Abergele.

Return to train crash grave page