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BURSTING OF THE BRADFIELD RESERVOIR.
was found by the coroner's jury that the The engineers in charge had just left, but he calamity had been occasioned by the gross overtook them and they returned, though they negligence of those who had the care of the thought the crack of little importance. Preconstruction of the reservoir, and whose duty sently other signs of danger were noticed, and it had been to prevent it from falling into an attempt was made to blow up a weir that decay or becoming ineffectual in case of an crossed the dam, and so to allow the water to unusual strain. The commissioners, who were escape. It was too late. Even as the enginthe persons originally responsible, however, eer and his assistant crossed the slight fissure were a corporate body and therefore could while the men were laying the charge, the neither be found guilty of nor punished for crack became a chasm, an enormous crevasse, manslaughter.
a portion of the embankment, 110 feet long In 1862 another inundation had taken place and 70 feet deep, gave way at once, and the through the bursting or blowing up of a great tremendous volume of water rushed with an sluice made for the drainage of the middle level awful roar into the valley below. between Lynn and Wisbeach. About 700,000 Down the hill-side it poured with a sound acres of the most productive land in the king- like thunder, deluging the cottages and sweepdom lay below the high-water level of the ing away substantial buildings, bridges, workWash depending for their existence as land, shops, rows of houses, as though they were upon great embankments and self-acting sluice- mere heaps of rubble. Messengers carrying gates. Four miles south of King's Lynn was the dread news enabled some of the cottiers to a sluice-gate through which the waters of one escape for their lives; but the water nearly overof the huge drains emptied themselves at low took the messengers themselves, and they had water into the River Ouse, thus passing out to run before they could reach the head of the to sea with the receding tide, the gates closing valley. Rushing on towards Sheffield the flood of their own accord to the pressure of the literally swept from off the face of the earth rising tide. These works were, unfortunately, several entire villages, including Little Matlock allowed to fall into disrepair. The natural and Malinbridge. Whole families were carried consequence followed. The German Ocean, away with their dwellings, and not a trace rewith a high spring tide, came up the river mained of the thriving and industrious artiand toppled down the defences. The waters sans who had sought their beds unconscious continued pouring through that gap. Every of the dreadful fate that so suddenly befell tide necessarily increased the breach. Day them. Between Hillsborough Bridge and by day the floods crept on, covering farm Malinbridge there stood several long rows of after farm and homestead after homestead; cottage-houses, inhabited by the workmen of swallowing up flocks and herds, and driving the mills and forges on the adjacent streams, back yeoman families, who retreated as pau- with their families. With a few exceptions, pers. The water spread over 10,000 acres; and the flood wholly demolished all those rows of for long afterwards it required all the en- dwellings. In many instances even their foungineering skill of experts to remedy some part dations were obliterated. At the junction of of the damage.
the Loxley and the Rivelin only a few scatThe disaster at Sheffield in 1864 was even tered houses, the walls and windows burst in inore terrible than either of those that had by the flood, stood to mark the site of the once preceded it. The Bradfield reservoir was populous village. The enormous volume of about seven miles from Sheffield in the hills, water debouching from the gorge at the foot and would contain millions of cubic feet of of Loxley valley seemed to have divided itself water. Suspicions existed as to the strength into two streams, which swept with resistless of the embankment, and on the night of the force over the hamlets of Malinbridge and catastrophe, about nine o'clock, a farm labourer Hillsborough, The bridges that formerly had noticed a crack in it as he went over it, as crossed the stream were swept away to their a short cut on his way home across the valley. | foundation-stones, and the districts which the
streams divided were separated by a rushing beside their mothers almost before either could torrent of water.
have been awakened. In other places families It reached Sheffield at a quarter past twelve. had got out, and were lost amidst the darkness From six to eight feet of water soon flooded in the advancing and surrounding flood. In some of the most populous thoroughfares. The the lower part of the town of Sheffield many rushing of the torrent was like the noise of an lives were lost. Around the Malin's Bridge express train in a railway cutting. Against farther up the valley neither a living person the piers of Lady Bridge an enormous mass nor the vestige of a house was to be seen. of timber, rafters, flooring, broken furniture, When the great basin had nearly emptied straw, and other articles had been flung in itself the whole structure was laid bare. It inextricable confusion by the force of the was almost a natural tank. Nature had done stream which had borne them onward in its so much in some of its convulsions as to have overpowering course. In the fields and by the left comparatively little for art to accomplish. road-side, families had been drowned in their The deep valley had been seized upon by the cottages before they could escape; people practical engineer, and there required but little had been overtaken and swept away-swept to be done artificially beyond the construction from their houses, some of them. Many bodies of an embankment at the end of the valley to were found quite naked, the force of the inclose the basin on three sides, leaving open water having stripped off such clothing as the rear for the free ingress of the water, which they had on. The timber dashed against the poured down there in a hundred greater or less Lady Bridge and threatened to batter it down; tributary streams. The capacity of the reserthe arches were choked with rubbish, and the voir was seventy-eight acres, and it was saill water overflowed the parapet. The streets to have held at the time when the embankwere rivers in which drowned animals, timber, ment burst 691,000,000 gallons. The intentrees, and the debris of machinery, furniture, tion was to have given from this reservoir a and buildings floated hither and thither. At supply to the millowners of ten cubic feet per the height of the inundation the Wicker was second every day Sundays excepted. The said to be like an immense river. When it had embankment was composed of 400,000 cubic somewhat subsided the causeways and carriage- yards of stone, earth, &c., and was 500 feet ways resembled the furrowed sea-shore; gas- wideat its base, tapering to a very narrow apes. lamps lay on the pavements; one of the arches On the south side a waste weir, a foot below of the viaduct was nearly stopped by a large the water line, was supposed to provide for ash-tree that had been uprooted and carried safety under all ordinary circumstances. thither by the stream. The Midland Railway After a long inquiry it was understood that station was flooded; shop-windows and doors the original construction had been defective, had been forced in and broken; the shops and and that the reservoir had not been properly cellars were filled with the sand and mud left inspected and attended to. Altogether it was by the flood, and their contents were destroyed. | believed that 270 lives had been lost by the At Hillfoot, Neepsend, Kelham, Philadelphia, flood. The coroner's jury found that there had Bacon Island, and the other adjacent suburbs, not been such engineering skill and attention the ruin was complete, and the spectacle in the construction of the works as their magwhen the water had subsided, was strange nitude and importance demanded, and that and sad. A number of dead bodies were the legislature ought to provide for a frequent found at Rotherham, and along the valleys of regular and sufficient government inspection the Loxley and Rivelin. The scene was ap- of all works of that character. palling, and showed how awful had been the Public subscriptions were raised for the calamity to those who, overtaken in their efforts sufferers, the queen heading the list, and a to escape, or before they could make that effort, special act of parliament was passed appointwere overwhelmed in the streets or the fields, ing commissioners to ascertain what were the or in their houses. Children had been drowned claims against the Sheffield Water Works
Company by persons whose property had been blaze. Several persons lost their lives in the injured or destroyed.
attempt to go out in boats to recover the
floating tallow and other material, while Mr. Of loss and danger by fire there had been | Braidwood, the famous chief of the London so many instances that public attention in fire-brigade, perished in the ruins, from which London was drawn to the improvement of the his body was afterwards recovered to be infire-brigades and the adoption of increased terred in Abney Park Cemetery, amidst a means for promptly extinguishing fires occur- great concourse of people who had admired ring in the metropolis, and especially for se- his calm courage and experience. curing a better and more immediate supply of water. The question of water supply was Of railway accidents there had been some being discussed in more ways than one, for appalling examples, one of which, that took the London companies exercised their mon- place on the 9th of June, 1865, on the Shrewsopolies in a manner which called forth fre- bury and Chester line, caused a great sensaquent complaints, not only because of the tion in the country, both because of the hormanner in which their rates were charged rible circumstances attending it and because without any reference to the quantity of water
Mr. Charles Dickens was one of the passenconsumed by the inmates of the houses sup- gers who escaped, and gave aid to those who plied, but because that method of rating was were more or less seriously injured. supplemented by extra charges, which, to- A fast tidal train had left Folkestone in gether with the manner of supplying poor
the afternoon with 110 passengers, and proneighbourhoods, operated to prevent the pracceeded in safety as far as Staplehurst, where tice of cleanliness and decency.
the railway bridge crosses a narrow stream in There had been no fire in London of any a kind of ravine. The line on the bridge was very startling magnitude since that which oc- under repair, the rails had been lifted, and a curred at the wharves adjoining London wide opening made in the earth. The train, Bridge, in Tooley Street, on the 22d of June, going at full speed, rushed on to the and 1861. And on that occasion the large steam eight out of fourteen carriages were thrown fire-engines and the floating engines did re- into the ravine beneath, and there dashed to markable service, though the inflammable fragments, the passengers sustaining horrible nature of the materials stored in the vast injuries. Ten persons were either killed by warehouses, which chiefly contained oils, Rus- their wounds and bruises or were drowned in sian tallow, tar, saltpetre, hemp, rice, and the stream, from which they were dragged, and sugar, prevented the extinction of the flames, twenty others were so terribly maimed that the petroleum actually floating alight on the there was much difficulty in removing them. surface of the water. The spectacle of this Mr. Dickens rendered such prompt and efficient great range of lofty warehouses, extending service as he could give to persons so seriously for a great distance along the river, and all hurt, and afterwards wrote some account of burning with a tremendous glare, which the accident, the effects of which upon his own lighted up the whole of that part of London highly-strung nervous organization may have from what seemed to be a vast pile or furnace been more serious than appeared at the time. of red and glowing fire, was one never to There was an inquest, of course, and a verbe forgotten. For some time it was feared dict of manslaughter was returned against the that, as the barrels of oil, tar, and saltpetre district inspector and the foreman platelayer exploded and poured their contents into the of the line. These verdicts are matters of river, where they floated in islands of flame, course, but attention was then, as it is now, the fire would be carried to the shipping strongly called to the neglect of proper prelower down the Thames, or that the sparks, cautions by the railway authorities themfying landward, would be blown afar and selves, and to the difference constantly disset some other part of the metropolis in a covered between the severity with which en
deavours are made to enforce the provisions The public excitement was very great, the of bye-laws against passengers, and the indif- usual censure was given, the usual remonference of the companies to the regulations, strance that precautions had been neglected. by strictly observing which, accidents might An inquiry was ordered by the Board of be prevented.
Trade, and Colonel Rich made his report ou The discussion on this subject was painfully the 16th of April, saying, “I fear that it is emphasized at a later date in what was known only too true that the rules printed and as the Abergele accident, where to the ordinary issued by railway companies to their servants, terror of a collision was added the dreadful and which are generally very good, are made element of fire in its most appalling form. principally with the object of being produced The event, though it did not occur until the when accidents happen from the breach of 19th of August, 1868, may be mentioned here them, and that the companies systematically as illustrating the topic which we are now allow many of them to be broken daily, withconsidering. It happened to the Irish limited out taking the slightest notice of the disobedmail train on the journey from Chester to ience.” He also spoke strongly against the North Wales. The train was running at its practice of locking railway-carriages, and also usual high speed, when, just as it was nearing against the treating or bribing of railway Abergele, it came into collision with some officials by the public. The “accident" at trucks which had broken off a goods train at Abergele was one among numerous examples the station and had run down, over the points, of the danger that must always attend the on to the line on which the mail was approach- traffic of goods trains and passenger trains on ing. The result was a tremendous collision, the same lines of rails, and since that time which shattered the engine and flung several other accidents have pointed to this defect in of the foremost carriages across the line, killing our railway system, especially on short or or injuring several of the passengers who suburban lines where the passenger trains are occupied then. A few extricated themselves frequent and the so-called "block" system is from the carriages and were endeavouring to but a name. assist those who were most hurt, when to the By this terrible accident a new danger horror of everyone it was discovered that seemed to be added to railway travelling; but the front carriages were on fire and burning a year later the public imagination was again fiercely. The trucks which had struck them startled by the horrible story of a murder perwere loaded with petroleum, and the collision petrated in a railway-carriage during a short having broken up the casks or other recep- journey from Fenchurch Street to Hackney, tacles in which it was inclosed, it had been near London. The victim of this outrage-a dashed on to the engine and the front of the gentleman well known to some of the officials train, which was now enveloped in the liquid of the line, was chief clerk to Messrs. Robarts, flame. Death to many must have been almost the bankers of Lombard Street, and was in the instantaneous. Not even a cry was heard habit of travelling on the live from the city from them, not even the seinblance of human- to Hackney, where he resided. On the night ty still less identity w left, nothing but of the 9th of July, 1864, the 9-54 train from few heaps of charred remains were conveyed Fenchurch Street had arrived at Hackney to Abergele Church. Thirty-three persons station when a gentleman called the attention were killed, among them Lord and Lady of the guard to the condition of a first-class Farnham and an attendant who accompanied compartment, the door of which he had just them. The Duchess of Abercorn and her opened for the purpose of entering the carfamily were in the train, but occupied an end riage. He had placed his hand on one of the carriage and escaped unhurt. In one grave cushions and found it to b. covered with blood. in the churchyard to which they had been On further examination it was seen that the carried the mere ashes of the dead were floor, the window, and the side of the carriage buried.
were also smeared and spattered with blood.
ASSAULTS AND MURDERS IN RAILWAY CARRIAGES.
A small leather bag, a stick, and a hat were was obtained which seemed likely to lead to found in the compartment.
a discovery of the perpetrator of the crime. At about the time that this discovery was Then link by link of evidence fixed the guilt made, the driver and stoker of an engine which upon a German named Franz Müller. The had been working the trains of the Hackney- watch-chain taken from the murdered man, Wick and Stratford line, found a man lying on had been taken to a jeweller in Cheapside the space between the two lines of rail at a named Death, who had exchanged it for anspot close to Hackney-Wick, the station before other, and the person who had left it had the Hackney. The person so discovered was still appearance of a foreigner. Then a cabman living, but was covered with blood, and had came forward to examine the hat found in the evidently received severe blows on the head railway-carriage, and declared it to be one with some blunt instrument; his watch and which he had bought for an acquaintance of chain were gone, the latter having been broken his, a native of Cologne, who once lodged in his off close to the link which attached it to the house, and was, or had been, courting his sister. button-hole of the waistcoat; but money
and A photograph which Müller had given to the a silver snuff-box were found in his pockets. sister was identified by Mr. Death as a likeHe only survived a few minutes after being ness of the person who had exchanged the removed to a neighbouring tavern, and had chain; and to complete this part of the evinot regained consciousness before his death. dence, Müller had given to one of the cabThe body was soon identified by friends and man's children a card-board box, such as relatives, and it was found that a pair of gold jewellers use, with the name of Mr. Death eye-glasses which the deceased had worn were upon it. Before this, shortly after the murder, missing; but his diamond ring was still on his Müller was at the cabman's house wearing a finger. The little leather bag had apparently gold chain such as he had not previously been opened by some one after the assault, possessed, and it was remembered that it rewhich probably took place between the stations sembled that said to have belonged to the of Bow and Hackney-Wick; it appeared that murdered man. On the police going to Müller's the body had been dragged to the door of the lodgings at Old Ford, Bow, it was found that railway-carriage and thrown out; and that the he had been there about eleven o'clock on the murderer had escaped while the train was in night of the murder, and was in a very conmotion. It was at first supposed that there fused or agitated state. When at the cabman's must have been some other motive than he had seemed to walk lame, and explained it robbery for the attack, which might, it was by saying he had sprained his ankle. He thought, have been made suddenly, while the could not be found at his lodgings, and, from deceased was dozing, and therefore only half a letter posted at Worthing, it was discovered conscious. Still the short time occupied in the that he had sailed for New York in a ship journey between the stations might have ac- named the Victoria. Two detective officers, counted for the trivial nature of the robbery accompanied by Mr. Death and the cabman, achieved by such horrible means, and there started in pursuit, in a steamer, which, it was was no suspicion of any one who was likely to calculated, would reach New York four days make such an attack for revenge. No clue before the arrival of the Victoria. This turned was to be obtained, and the government, out to be the case, and Müller was arrested. The Messrs. Robarts, and the gentleman's family, circumstantial evidence was complete, and was offered respectively £100, making altogether confirmed by the fact that the hat of the mur£300 reward for the discovery of the murderer. dered man was in Müller's possession, and had Only one starting-point was afforded to the been cut down or reduced in height and altered, police. No hat was found near the body of so that he could wear it. Müller was tried, the murdered man, and the hat which was sentenced to death, and executed. Two results found in the railway-carriage was known not followed the crime, and the apprehension and to belong to him. For a week no information execution of the criminal. First, the detective