Monday, 7 January 2013

Coroner's report for William Henry Ball, 1892-1941

Following the tragic death of William Henry Ball at the Ealing Broadway Train Station, a coroner's inquest was held. These are the details from that inquest conducted by Mr. H.G. Broadbridge, coroner for West Middlesex, on 18 June 1941 at Ealing Town Hall.

This is an image of the Ealing Town Hall:

By P.g.champion (Own work) [CC-BY-2.0-uk (], via Wikimedia Commons

William died as a result of being hit by a train at Ealing Broadway station, an east-west National Rail and London Underground station in Ealing in west London, located here:

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William was 48 years old. He had lived at 34 Stanley Crescent, Southall, with his wife, Kate Matilda Ball (her name appears as 'Matilda Kate' in other records), and had been a carpenter's labourer for the Great Western Railway.

Francis Paynter, who had known William for 12 years and lived at the same address, described him as a 'temperate man' in his testimony.

Kate Ball noted that William had suffered from asthma and bronchitis and took medication for these conditions. He did not gamble, had no financial worries and had been a teetotaler since the previous October. She noted that he been worried when she was ill recently.

On the morning of Saturday 14 June 1941, William went through his normal morning routine and showed no signs of distress or upset. He usually travelled by trolleybus to Acton, where he worked, but often stopped at Ealing, due to his illness, which had been aggravated in the last two years of his life. However, he never turned up at work that day.

The report notes that William bought a ticket for Ealing Station late that afternoon. At 6pm, James Matthew, a railway porter, heard on man on Platform 4 shouting that a body was on the main line. Unable to stop, the express train to Paddington hit William with such force that his body was left in pieces. The train had been travelling at 60mph and the driver's view was obscured by engine steam. Although the brakes were applied, the driver was unable to stop the train in time.

The pathologist reported that death was due to multiple injuries and the coroner was unable to determine why William fell onto the tracks, so an open verdict was recorded. William's wife, it was noted, felt that it had been an accident and had to be helped away.

Had William jumped or fell onto the tracks? Given his failure to turn up at work, I am tempted to say that this was indeed a suicide, but there may have been other circumstances at play, including his health. It is such a tragic end to William's life. I also can't help but feel sad for the poor train driver who had been unable to stop in time.

Many thanks to the Ealing Library Local Studies Centre and Dr. Oates for their assistance in tracking down this information. I have ordered additional news reports of the accident and will update details upon their receipt.

Cheers, K.

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