Unsolved Murders

Ernest Atkinson

Age: 33

Sex: male

Date: 25 Mar 1926

Place: Lea Road

Ernest Atkinson died after falling from a train late on a Saturday night.

He was taken to hospital from the railway line and died the following day, Sunday. He was admitted to the Victoria Hospital in Blackpool at 12.20am on the Sunday morning suffering from shock due to his injuries. a series of operations were carried out but without success.

He was badly bruised internally and his left forearm was fractured and the right one bruised. He also had abrasions to his face and had a broken skull.

He had been in a carriage full of men after a football match. He was involved in a scuffle in the carriage after which it was said that he then decided to get off and jumped out through the door while the train was in motion.

When his mother went to see him he had a temporary return to consciousness and told her that on his return journey on the train from the football match there were a lot of men in his carriage and that they had had some drink and were kicking up a row. He then told her that he thought he had a dream and after that he saw no more.

His mother said that he was not a drunken man and was a very steady man.

His stepson said that when he was with Ernest Atkinson he heard him say 'I thought I was at a station. I thought I was dreaming, but I was not'.

Another man that had travelled on the 10.35pm train from Preston to Blackpool that night said that he had got into a carriage filled with men, including Ernest Atkinson. He said that at first they were all singing together and then a man got up on his seat and remarked that it was better to sing than to quarrel and that if there was any quarrelling to let them have it when they got off at the station. He said that when he sat down, another man in a light coat rose in a very excited state and tried to get to where the man was. He said that they appeared as if they were about to fight and that Ernest Atkinson then got up and caught hold of the man in the light coat to prevent any disturbance but could not hold him and then consequently remarked that he was getting out of the carriage.

The man said that told Ernest Atkinson not to be a fool and tried to block the doorway as the train had started from Lea Road Station but Ernest Atkinson got past him somehow and jumped out of the carriage door. He said then that someone told him to 'Shut the door', and that when he had done so Ernest Atkinson had gone.

The Coroner asked the man if Ernest Atkinson had been shoved but he said that he hadn't. The Coroner then asked if there had been a scuffle and the man said that there had and that they had been trying to prevent the man in the light coat from getting at the other man.

He also said that the door had not been open when they had left Lea Road.

Another man said that there had been about twelve people in the carriage when the train left Preston and that they had had a bit of a sing song but then a quarrel started about a man taking up too much room adding that the man taking up too much room was the man in the light coat. He said that there was a scuffle and the man in the light coat got to his feet and some men tried to stop the fighting and then he heard another man say 'I am going to get out of here. I have pulled the cord. There is a man out'. He said that when he had said that the door was open and then when the guard came to the carriage the man that had said it was gone.

Another man that had been on the train said that he had gone to sleep in the compartment with his feet on a seat when he was woken up by about thirteen people in the carriage who were arguing. He said that they all appeared to have been drinking and he tried to stop the trouble. He said that his cousin was arguing with a man in a light coat about the football. He said that while the argument was going on he heard someone say that a man had got out or fallen out and that the train was then brought to a standstill.

Another passenger said that the argument started soon after they left Preston and that he had had a few short words with a red-haired man in a light coat. He said that he didn't see anyone fall out of the carriage.

Another man said that Ernest Atkinson seemed quite sober when they left Preston and that there was a lot of pushing and jostling about but that he didn't see the door open. He said that he didn't know anything about the matter until the next morning.

The porter at Lea Road Station said that when the train started all of the doors where closed and that as the train gathered way he saw a man fall from the train but could not say from which carriage he had fallen.

The train guard said that there were a large number of people on the train who were the worse for drink and that after going about three carriage lengths from Lea Road Station he heard a shout and at once applied the vacuum brakes. He said that when he then searched the permanent way he found Ernest Atkinson lying on the ground just clear of the rails, badly injured and unconscious.

The Coroner said that the question was how Ernest Atkinson had met his death and said to the jury that after having heard the witnesses they would probably agree that they were not very reliable. The Coroner said 'I am satisfied that there was considerable quarrelling. These men were very much more under the influence of drink than they made out, because if the evidence of the man from St. Annes is to be believed, these men were still fighting when he left the carriage at Wrea Green, even although they had lost someone on the line. I have come to the conclusion that the men in the compartment were very drunk indeed. There is not one man in the compartment that can tell a consistent story of what happened. after all, a railway compartment is not a large place at all, and most people would be able to tell when a door opened and somebody fell out.

The inquest also heard that 'The behaviour of young men on some of these occasions, when they have been to a football match is pretty disgraceful, and I should imagine that is what has happened in this instance'.

An open verdict was returned.

He was a gardener and lived on School Lane in Marton Moss near Blackpool.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Lancashire Evening Post - Thursday 25 March 1926