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English Literature and HistoryLot 264
EARLY RAILWAYS. MIDLAND COUNTIES RAILWAY RULES AND REGULATIONS TO BE OBSERVED BY THE ENGINEMEN
EARLY RAILWAYS. MIDLAND COUNTIES RAILWAY RULES AND REGULATIONS TO BE OBSERVED BY THE ENGINEMEN, GUARDS POLICEMEN AND OTHERS EMPLOYED, 1842 inscribed on the pastedown John Kearsley Rule Book, Derby with nine further handwritten rules on the ffe, parchment backed wallet binding, Nottingham, April 16 1842, wanting part of title and ffe, Robert James (1809-1853) Portrait of John Kearsley, signed (painted by R James, Nottm) dated 1852 and inscribed J KEARSLEY Aged 44 years, oil on canvas, 73.5 x 60cm and an early Victorian rush seated ash ladderback chair, North East England, from the Kearsley household at Brewhouse Yard, Nottingham (3)Provenance: John Kearsley; thence by descent to the present vendors.Possibly unique. No other copy of the Midland Counties Railway Rules and Regulations of 1842 appears to be recorded.The Engineman, (ie locomotive driver), John Kearsley (1808-1874) was born at Rumworth, Lancashire. On his employment by the Midland Counties Railway he moved to Derby before shortly afterwards to Brewhouse Yard, Nottingham. The Company's Rules were basic such as "No locomotive engine shall pass along the wrong line.... that is the east line of railway going towards Derby...". It also provided for what to do "if any engine shall get off the Rails. John Kearsley was clearly a quick thinking and resourceful man, whose orders on one occasion had they been followed would have averted a disaster. In thick fog a coal wagon was derailed at Nottingham Station when the points failed, blocking one of the two lines. Kearsley immediately ordered a man to run the 3 ½ miles to Beeston Station to halt a train that was due from Derby, as the next two trains from Nottingham would have to use the same line. Such events seem unthinkable today but the breakneck speed of expansion of the railways in the second quarter of the 19th century meant that there was little experience and less thought devoted to signalling and safety in general.In true Corporal Jones fashion the Nottingham Station Master, Mr Lightfoot decided to take charge, going himself to Beeston Station where, after a few minutes he commandeered a locomotive and ordered the driver to set off for Nottingham, assuming (wrongly) that by then the coal wagon would have been removed but, astonishingly, not waiting or knowing on which of the lines the second of the two trains to leave Nottingham would be travelling.In the ensuing disaster two were killed and twelve seriously injured, one man having both legs amputated.One of those killed was William Varnalls. Described as aged 'about 65' and in good health but "very corpulent", he had been butler to Mr Ichabod Wright (1767-1862) of Mapperley Hall.A witness on the platform at Beeston, lace manufacturer Thomas Cooper, was so concerned after having overheard Kearsley's man trying to dissuade Lightfoot that he decided, wisely, not to travel.