THOMAS HANCOCK 1836-1875 -A GUARD ON THE GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY & HIS TRAGIC ENDING

Despite the restrictions imposed by the Pandemic we have continued to cut the grass together with strimming, keeping the whole cemetery in very good order. Each “cut and strim” takes about five hours with three people, or two days if your  on your own ! Unfortunately we have still not been able to ask for assistance  due to regulations and guidance received, despite being offered it by several Friends of the charity and volunteers. I am sure however that we will soon be in a position to do so. Thank you to all those who have offered.

Only this week myself , my brother Robert and sister in law Alison spent several hours cutting the grass and for some time now have been conscious of a number of stones and possible memorials that were lying in the ground covered with soil, but “jutting out of the ground”. So it was that on Sunday afternoon we began to uncover what we believed to be a fallen headstone, hoping that at some point in the future we could once again have it re-erected like so many others if at all possible.

The Headstone partially visible amongst the overgrowth

After much digging and excavation we finally uncovered the headstone but sadly only the top half was located, and that was in three pieces – the bottom half including the heavy stone base was missing. In view of this we have decided to leave the remaining top half of the headstone “in situ” for visitors to read. It is important to mention here that the headstone is not mentioned at all on the 1977 survey of memorials and therefore means that it was already buried under the soil before the survey took place. Here then is another very important find, the details of which will soon be added to the website database, thereby remembering another family name for posterity. May they rest in piece.

The top half of the headstone in 3 pieces
The headstone in situ

As I have said in previous articles, the inscriptions on the headstones very often don’t give the full picture and this is another example. As you can see from the photograph the inscription that is visible is inscribed thus…

 

 

 

IN

Loving Memory of

THOMAS HANCOCK

Guard, Great Western Railway

of Lammas St in this town

who died April 30 1875

aged 39 Years

In the midst of life we are in death

Also of Charlotte his wife

What the inscription fails to tell you is in fact that Thomas met a terrible end to his life by a fatal accident which occurred on the 30th April 1875 and the following is an extract from a local newspaper of the time.

FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT

 

On Friday last an inquest was held at the Railway Inn, New Dock, Llanelly before Mr J. D. Rowlands, coroner, on the body of Thomas Hancock, a goods guard on the Great Western Railway, who was killed on the previous day in the Dolau siding. It appears that he was engaged in shunting some trucks and the sudden jerking of the wagons caused him to fall off and he was crushed between the buffers, the effects of which proved fatal. A verdict of Accidental death” was returned.

THE WELSHMAN 7TH MAY 1875 PAGE 5

A Great Western train circa 1880

Working on the railway’s in Victorian Britain was indeed a dangerous job and there were many fatalities caused by accidents of varying degrees, many of which could have been avoided. What makes this story even more profound was that Thomas left behind a wife and six young sons between the ages of 5 and 14 years old. Their tragic loss must have been unimaginable. Thomas  Hancock and Charlotte (Davies) were both born in Carmarthen and were married in 1857  – The six boys he left behind were Edward aged 5, Richard aged 8  (born in Aberdare) John aged 9 (born in Bristol) David aged 11, Thomas aged 13 and Joseph aged 14. Very clearly Thomas was an industrious hardworking man for two of his children to have been born away from Carmarthen suggests he was working away, though what his profession was at that time is unknown. Five years before his untimely death we know that he was employed as a “Water Bailiff” living in Shaws Lane Carmarthen so his employment with Great Western Railway had only been for a few years at least. Finally it is humbling to note that 44 years after the tragic death of her beloved husband Thomas in 1875 , Charlotte herself died and was buried with her husband in 1919 aged 83. At least now we can pay tribute to them once again. They are  no longer forgotten.