Unsolved Murders

James Ford

Age: 44

Sex: male

Date: 20 Aug 1902

Place: Buriton Tunnel, Petersfield

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

James Ford fell from a train with a friend and was cut to pieces although his friend survived.

The circumstances of how they came to fall from the train were mysterious.

The inquest heard that as the train went through a tunnel on the London and South-Western Railway James Ford opened the carriage door and as he was falling grabbed his friend who fell out with him.

They were both engineers and had taken the 9.10 train from Waterloo to Portsmouth. As they were 150 yards inside the Buriton Tunnel some platelayers who were engaged on the line saw the carriage door suddenly thrown open and the two men fall on to the up line.

Both of James Ford's legs were severed from his body and mangled and his right arm was broken near the shoulder. There was a ragged wound one inch long on the chin and another two inches long on the lower jaw.

The other man suffered three broken ribs and a sprained ankle.

The official ruling was that the death was accidental but it was still considered a mystery. All the wounds had the appearance of being produced by violent contact with more or less blunt objects and there was no cut in the throat.

They were both engineers in the shipbuilding yard of J Brown and Co of Clydebank, Glasgow and had left Clydebank on Monday to come to Portsmouth arriving in London on Tuesday morning and then taking the Portsmouth train.

The company had received a contract for work in Portsmouth and James Ford had been sent to help do it and his companion sent to help him.

From London they had a third class carriage to themselves. Coming from Glasgow to Kings Cross James Ford had 1s 2d worth of whisky which he brought at Crewe and his companion had 2 penny worth of whisky. At Waterloo James Ford bought some more spirit and just before reaching the tunnel took a little of it from the bottle.

His companion was sitting with his back to the engine close to the window on his left hand but afterwards put his feet on the seat and had his back to the window and James Ford was sitting opposite him. When nearing the tunnel James Ford asked his companion if he would take half the whisky that was in the bottle but his companion declined and James Ford said he was going to have a half and took a draught of it.

The coroner asked his companion at the inquest if they had had a quarrel but his companion said they didn't and that they were the best of friends.

The companion then said that James Fords stood up and said that he wanted to relieve himself and opened the door and as he did so the door immediately blew back and in a second they both went right out of the carriage.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


see Western Times - Wednesday 20 August 1902

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Wednesday 20 August 1902

see Portsmouth Evening News - Thursday 21 August 1902