by Richard Yardley

Great - Great - Great - Grandfather
John Packham (1823 - 1864), was a Porter, then entered the footplate as engine cleaner, fireman and engine driver at Horsham & Three Bridges.

The Sussex Provincial News reported on the following case for Cuckfield which served in the Petty Sessions on Monday, 10th July, 1848, before J.P. Cherry, Esq. Chairman, and Lieut. Col. Ellwood.

John Packham, signal porter at Hayward’s Heath station, was indicted for leaving his post on the afternoon of Thursday, 6th July, 1848, and James Tidey for suffering four empty waggons to get on the down line at the same time, to the danger of the lives of the public.

Mr. Faithfull, of Brighton, appeared on the part of the London & Brighton Railway Company, and stated the it was not the wish of the Directors to press for a heavy penalty, although the men were liable to a fine of £10 each, or two months imprisonment. They had heretofore borne most excellent characters, and no complaint had been laid against either of them. Tidey was a ganger to a set of men who were employed to unload some waggons on a siding communicating with the down line, as it was his duty to see that the empty waggons, as they were detached, were secured from running off the sidings; he had detached two waggons and eft them on the rail,  when two others having been taken off, were run against them; and not being properly secured the four were forced upon the down line; had Tidey properly secured his waggons; this would not have occurred, but as it was, a serious collision nearly took place, which might have sacrificed several lives. The charge against Packham was for leaving his post at this moment and not putting up the signal that indicated danger. When the waggons ran upon the down line it appeared that he crossed the line to ascertain the time by the station clock, and he returned, a fast train passes without stopping was approaching; he immediately ran up the danger signal, which was perceived by the engine driver, who, by great exertion and the help the guards managed to stop the train in  time to prevent a collision, but not until the train was with 20 or 25 yards of the waggons. It was his duty on no account to leave his post at such time, particularly as a fast train was nearly due, and had he been away but a moment or two longer an accident must have occurred, and had it been blowing hard or the weather thick, so that the engine driver could not have ascertained the signal, or the rails wet and slippery, the distance was so short that the train could not have been stopped in time to prevent the collision. The directors in cases of this description, where the lives of the remissness or carelessness of their servants, have an onerous duty to perform, and we are bound to punish and do all in their power to prevent accidents of this nature, for should it happen, they are liable for the consequences. Mr. Faithfull then enquired, as defendants had pleaded guilty, if they wished the evidence gone into.
The men repeated their plea, and did not object to the case being adjudicated without going into the evidence.

Packham said that he had been working some time the line, and when the waggons, run on the line, he had no means of knowing how near the fast train was, without crossing the line to look at the clock, when he found it was due and run up the signal instantly.

Col. Ellwood - It was our duty to pay more attention to the clock; have you not a watch of your own?

Packham - No Sir

Col. Ellwood - I think it advisable that the porters should be furnished with a watch, but you have a clock at the station, and from not attending to it there might have been 20 oe 30 lives lost.

The Chairman - Packham, you are fined £3; have you the money? No, Sir.

Mr. Cherry - You must pay immediately, or you will be committed to the House of Correction for one month hard labour.

Tidey said when he put the breaks down and stopped the waggons, he left them in the state and thought they were safely secured, but the other waggons ran against them when he was away from them, and they started.

Col. Ellwood - how did you pt the breaks down?

Mr. Faithfull - The men ought to satisfy themselves that they are safely secured; they know and understand the nature of these things very well, and he must have known that when he left the waggons they were unsafe.

Cherry - You are fined £3.

The money was advanced to each of the men, and instantly paid.

(The Sussex Advertiser & Surrey Gazette - 18th July 1848)

Great - Great - Grandfather
John Packham (1846 - 1919) was a engine cleaner, fireman, driver and a loco foreman at Three Bridges & Brighton.

Railway Accident 

In 1876, John Packham was an engine driver on the railways, living at Three Bridges, and was unfortunately involved in a fatal accident and had to attend the inquest, the proceedings of which appeared in the Kent & Sussex Courier, 6th October 1876.

The recent fatal accident on Friday, L.G. Fullagar Esq, the East Sussex Coroner held an inquest at the Fox Hotel, Three Bridges, on the body of Charles Herriott, a fireman in the employment of the Railway Company, whose death has already been reported. John Herriott, plate layer, identified the deceased as his son, Charles Herriott, age 22.

John Packham, engine driver, stated - The deceased was fireman to my engine. On Wednesday evening we had been shunting to join the 6.1 train with East Grinstead. We had been standing on the bank several minutes, and came back into the main line to fetch the train which had just come down from London.

During the time we were coming to the train, I asked the deceased to light the lamps. He lit the head lamp, and just as came back on to the carriages he stood beside me. He could light the lamps without getting off the engine. There was one more lamp to light - the tail lamp - and I understood he went to do it when I received a signal from the inspector to pull into No.4 sidings to take one on.

Supposing he had been lighting the tail lamp I could not see him very well, because he would be at the back of the tender. I opened the whistle, and several seconds afterwards put on the steam. Then I heard the deceased shout “OH” or “Woa”. I at once stopped the engine, which had travelled no more than a yard, and hearing the sound came I jumped off the engine and looked underneath.

I shouted “Charley, I never knew you were there.” Getting no answer I ran round the other side where I could get a better sight underneath. I saw him fast to the left hand crank, or “big end,” and the boiler. I at once shouted for someone to help him while I reversed the engine back. He was caught in the machinery with his left hand extended and his face downwards. When I reversed the engine he was released, and fell down. He appeared to be quite dead.

I cannot imagine what he was doing, unless he went to oil the eccentric strap, which I had done and told him so. I think that is what he went to do, because he had the feeder we use for the purpose. He should have told me he was going underneath, and if he had been lighting the tail lamp I consider he would have been safe, although the engine had started. He must have “nipped” down there very suddenly, just as I received the signal. He had been with me for 10 months as fireman.

Mr. Smith, surgeon, Crawley, said he saw the deceased on Wednesday evening and found him quite dead. The skull was fractured and the brain injured to such an extent that death must have been instantaneous.

Thomas Bugden, station inspector at Three Bridges, stated: On the evening in question he started the 6.1 train to go into a siding to take on. The driver gave one whistle before he started. He had the train been going right away he should have given three whistles from the engine. The practice is that the fireman, if he goes underneath, should give notice to the engine driver. He did not blame the engine driver in the least.

The Coroner having summed up, the jury at once returned a verdict of 
“Accidental Death."

30th JANUARY 1878

This annual event came off on Wednesday evening at the Fox Hotel, and, thanks to the liberality of the subscribers, and , some 120 were regaled in a handsome manner. The Chair was taken by Mr. J. Perry, the respected station master, the vice by Mr. J. Packham, Locomotive Department. The usual loyal and complimentary toast were honoured, and a pleasant evening was passed.

Albert Packham Three Bridges Driver, Great Great Great Uncle. On the 1877 list of Three Bridges was aged 25 at his next birthday.
William Packham Tunbridge Wells Driver, On the 1877 list of Tunbridge Wells was aged 45 at his next birthday. He may have been a relative as there was a William Packham from Mayfield within the family of the same name around this time.  

Great - Grandfather 
John Packham (1876 - 1948) was a engine fitter and Engine Fitter Foreman at Brighton & Littlehampton. In 1915, John went to China to work on the Trans-Siberian Railway. He lived with his family in Harbin, Manchuria for about five years.

Fred Packham (1902 - 1973) was a engine fitter apprentice at Brighton, later emigrating to New Zealand and then South Africa. On 5th November, 1917, at the age of 15, Fred Packham entered service with the L.B.S.C.R., Locomotive Department as an 
apprentice fitter.

For his apprenticeship he served, 20 months in the Running Shed, 22 months in the Machine Shop, 21 months in the Erecting Shop and 6 months in the Millwright Department.

He finally completed his apprenticeship, six years later, on the 4th November 1923 (his 21st Birthday). His testimonial records that his general character in all respects satisfactory, he was good ability and a good timekeeper. His fitter’s apprenticeship certificate recorded that he was a good workman, regular in attendance and attentive to his duties. 

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