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Can’t wait for this event…

Photo Caption: Can’t wait for this event tonight w/ @urijahfaber & @honfoto – Who’s going?

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About Tracy Lee

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  1. ‘You should read that. Your great grand-dad’s in it. He casued one.” Then I knew the story from Rolt and from the very reluctant (and somewhat inaccurate) telling of my mother: it had never been mentioned in her family, though she knew her grandfather. Then someone with whom I was re-reading E Nesbit’s ‘The Railway Children’ said ‘Isn’t that what happened to your great-granddad?” There’s an episode in the book, (not shown in the film), where to rescue a public school boy who has collapsed in a rail tunnel while playing ‘Hare and Hounds’ the children wake up a sleeping signalman and avert a disaster. The signalman says his child has been ill and he has had no sleep.Which is exactly what happened to James Holmes, except that nobody saved him. He returned home from his night shift to find his baby daughter ill, walked across a good deal of North Yorkshire to find the doctor, returned home and lay down with the baby in the bed, was woken after an hour by the baby having convulsions and within a minute she was dead. Then he had to go to work: he asked for a replacement but there were none to be had. He slept for probably fewer than five minutes, was confused on waking and let a goods train onto the same track where the overnight train from Edinburgh was waiting. 10 people died. It was interesting to compare the coverage of the crash with modern reporting. One woman who was burnt alive, trapped in the wreckage, was given no personal name at all (just “the wife of…) whereas Lady so-and-so’s friends were assured, by the Times, that she was unharmed apart from a sprained groin. Train crashes were a staple of the Victorian imagination, and many magazines offered a payout if you were caught up in a crash, provided you had a copy of the magazine on you at the time. One passenger died with no fewer than seven such magazines about his person.The trial verdict was guilty – and then, to cheers from the court, Holmes was released without punishment. He was later re-employed as a night attendant on the same railway.E Nesbit and her husband Hubert Bland campaigned for James Holmes and for railway safety conditions to be improved (there had been nobody available in the whole North Eastern Region, to replace Holmes that night). What gave me chills, though, was finding a sketch of Holmes on the front page of Bland’s newspaper – on the same page as a report of a public school boy playing Hare and Hounds who collapsed and died.

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