Friday, 8 February 2019

Joseph Woodcock, stoker, NZR.

As the 4.40 train yesterday from Balclutha to Clinton reached Kaihiku bridge, a horse was seen on the line. It was too late to stop the train, and the horse was caught by the cowcatcher and carried ten yards, when the engine ran off the line down the embankment, which is 10ft deep. The driver at once shut off steam and ran off the water. The train consisted of fifteen trucks and a van. The engine and tender and seven trucks ran off the line. The tender is lying on its side across the end of the engine, and some trucks are on each side of the line. The stoker, Joseph Woodcock, was found under the tender. Death was instantaneous. James Blackwood, a water-pumper at Waiwera, was caught by his foot between the engine and the tender. He was released with some difficulty. No one else was hurt. The rails of the line were considerably twisted and damaged, the engine was much damaged, but the trucks apparently were not much injured. The accident happened at 5.30. There were only three passengers by the train, and all escaped without injury. Blackwood is not dangerously injured. The line was cleared and ready for traffic at four o’clock this morning. The damage to the line and rolling-stock is comparatively trifling. James Blackwood had his leg broken. The inquest on the body of Woodcock was opened to-day, and after the jury had viewed the body, proceedings were adjourned till Tuesday. It was stated that deceased was twenty-one years of age.  -Evening Star, 31/12/1881.

At a time when everyone is enjoying in one way or other the cheerful New Year season and making the most of a brief holiday, we have to make an appeal that is rarely made at such a season without response. When people are enjoying themselves, even the most selfish and thoughtless are usually ready to respond to the claims of a genuine case of distress. There are doubtless many who are sorrowing while others are rejoicing, in our city, but one instance has been brought under our notice in such a manner as to justify a special appeal to public sympathy. The railway accident on Friday last, which proved fatal to the young fireman Joseph Woodcock, has deprived his mother, a poor widow, of her sole support. The husband and father, himself an old railway servant, died not long since, leaving the widow entirely dependent on her son, who has, we learn, most dutifully and kindly fulfilled his trust. Now, as he has suddenly been cut off in the fulfilment of his duty, this poor woman has been left utterly alone and destitute. There is, we believe, no provision for any pension or assistance from the Government in such cases, though we must confess we think there ought to be. An announcement made that the poor fellow will be buried at the Government expense read like bitter irony, when we know how much depended on that life, so suddenly sacrificed to the claims of a dangerous public employment. That accidents will happen and lives will be lost in the working of railways is as certain as the rising and setting of the sun, and we are quite of opinion that Parliament should make provision for a certain amount of pecuniary assistance to those who are dependent on the victims who are thus every now and then sacrificed for the convenience of society. However that may be the present case is one which demands immediate attention from the charitable public. We have good reason to believe that the Widow Woodcock is in every way deserving — a most kind and charitable woman, who is now, through no fault of her own, cast on the charity of others. We shall be happy to receive subscriptions in her behalf.  -Otago Daily Times, 2/1/1882.

Balclutha, January 2.
The inquest on the body of Joseph Woodcock, who was killed in the late railway accident at Kaihiku, was held here to-day. The evidence showed that the accident occurred through a horse getting on the line. A verdict of death caused by the train going off the line was returned, no blame being attached to the driver or guard. The attention of the authorities was called to the defective state of the fences.   -NZ Times, 4/1/1882.

Sir,—l think you deserve a word of praise for your timely article on the late railway accident. As I have been a near neighbour to the Woodcock family ever since they landed in the Colony, I am in a position to corroborate all that you have written. Joseph Woodcock was indeed an excellent son, and his widowed mother is one of the kindest creatures who over lived. Her loss, as you remark, is a sad one indeed. One of the last actions poor Joe ever did was to go in company with two other kind-hearted men and take to a family who were in great distress a bag of flour, some meat, and some wood to cook it with. I believe the three paid equal shares in this act of humanity. Joseph Woodcock was a noble-hearted fellow, and was beloved and respected by all who knew him. Your suggestion in reference to a pension for such cases is a grand one, and I hope it will shortly be adopted. I know that your article on this subject has gained you many friends, and I hope you will not forget to agitate the pension question until you bring it to a successful issue. I enclose you my mite towards your subscription list. Being only a working man it is not a big sum, but I hope it will be followed by larger sums from those who can better afford it.
—I am, &c., A Wellwisher.
January 2nd.  - Otago Daily Times, 4/1/1882.
Northern Cemetery, Dunedin.

One of the staff of the Daily Times, who was on a journey South by train on Saturday, writes to that journal as follows regarding the railway accident at Kaihiku: — I have just passed the scene of last night's accident, where a number of men are busily at work trying to raise the engine, which is lying on the right hand side of the line, a few paces on the Clinton side of the bridge. The engine and tender appear to be a complete wreck, but matters may not be as bad as they look. The tender is lying on its side on the bank, and just clear of the line. The express to-day, in passing the place, went along at less than a walking pace. With regard to the cause of the accident, I learn that the horse was noticed on the line just previous to the train approaching the bridge, but as the animal was in charge of a little boy, who was driving him away, there was thought to be no danger. The horse, however, turned suddenly and was caught by the cowcatcher and dragged along about ten yards, after which the engine went over it, cutting it clean in two. The rails were torn up for some distance, some of them being twisted like a piece of roof-iron. The body of the stoker, John Woodcock, which was found lying under the tender, was badly mutilated, and death must have been instantaneous, his back and ribs were broken. He was only 21 years of age, and resided at the Clutha. A sad incident in connection with his death is that is mother, who is a widow, intended to go and live with him at the beginning of the year. The body was conveyed to Balclutha, where it now lies. A jury will be called together to-day to view the body, so as to allow of its interment. No evidence will, however, be taken to-day. Blackwood, the water-pumper, who was caught by the foot between the engine and the tender, is also badly hurt. One of his legs is broken, and it is feared it may have to be amputated. It was a long time before he could be released from his position.  -Wanganui Herald, 7/1/1882.

We understand the Railway Department have decided to hand over to the Widow Woodcock a sum equal to six months' pay of the late Joseph Woodcock. Mr Thompson, of the Zulu War Diorama, has generously offered a benefit. The funds raised by the railway employees and those raised in response to our appeal will probably be amalgamated, and some common course of action will then be agreed upon.  -Otago Daily Times, 10/1/1882.

Lessee Mr W. H. Thompson. 
OF THOMPSON'S Colossal Mirror of the 
Notwithstanding that since the opening night (four weeks since) hundreds have been turned away owing to the crowded state of the theatre, the Season must positively close on 
In order to keep other engagements. 
Whose Son was Killed at the late Railway Accident. 
LAST of the Battle of Isandala. WEEK 
LAST of the Gallant Defence of  Rorke's Drift. WEEK
LAST of the Wonderful Torpedo Explosion.WEEK 
  LAST of the magnificent Distribution  of Gifts. WEEK
LAST of the most successful Entertainment that has ever appeared in Dunedin. WEEK
TO-NIGHT A Splendid Suite of Furniture  will be Given Away. TO-NIGHT 
TO-NIGHT 100 Other Presents TO-NIGHT 
Recipient of Suite of Furniture Saturday Evening, Mrs Myall, Cumberland street. Recipient of Furniture Monday Evening, Mr Hawkins, storeman, Bright Brothers. 
FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, HORSE PRESENTATION NIGHT, When a handsome Buggy Horse will be Given Away. 
Admission: Dress Circle, 3s; Stalls, 2s; Pit, 1s. Children half-price to Circle and Stalls only. 
Tickets for all parts of the house to be had at Messrs Bailey and Kerr's, American Novelty Company. Secure your Seats during the day, and avoid the crush at night. 
Every Child will receive a Farewell Souvenir. 
Descriptive Lecturer Mr W. H. Thompson 
Agent W. A. Price.
-Evening Star, 17/1/1882.

Sir, —Now that the Diorama benefit to Mrs Woodcock is over there will be no harm in my asking you if it is really contemplated to pass the whole contributions to the widow’s fund through the books of the Benevolent Institution? The papers stated that this was to be done, so that the subscriptions might be doubled by means of the Government subsidy of L1 for every L1 subscribed to the Institution's funds. I cannot think that the sacred name of Charity will be allowed to be abused by being used as a cloak to cover such trickery as this proposal contains. I always understood that Charity meant the free and voluntary giving of assistance, but now it appears that it means the cunning extortion from Government of money of the people without the latter’s consent being asked. If all the charitable subscriptions that are annually got up m this country during the year are to be doubled by Government, we must look out for a heavy rise in taxation.
I should also like to know if Benevolent Institutions are established to be made use of in this underhand way. Again, I always thought such institutions were founded with a view of giving aid to strictly destitute persons, while I am informed that Mrs Woodcock’s son was insured for several hundred pounds (L300 or L 500), and that she received from the Railway Department a sum equal to half his yearly salary. These sums, in addition to the public subscriptions, surely place her outside the pale of those who should look to a Benevolent Institution for support. I had fully meant to have subscribed a small sum to the widow’s fund, but after the dodge referred to I must sign myself only
 An Intended Subscriber. Dunedin, January 20.  -Evening Star, 20/1/1882.

Sir,—-I have been a reader of your paper for over ten years, and, as a rule, have paid particular attention to the letters which have appeared from time to time in your correspondence columns. Perhaps the most cruel letter I ever read appeared in one of your last week's issues headed "Charity," in which the writer seems anxious to prevent the public from showing any sympathy to the Widow Woodcock, whose son was recently killed by a railway accident. Perhaps it will give the writer a great deal of satisfaction to learn that he was quite successful in his efforts to stop any further aid for so noble a cause. It is perhaps as well to state that the large sum of L50 had been subscribed by a generous public in this rich City of Dunedin before "An Intended Subscriber's" letter appeared. Of course this does not include what was collected amongst Woodcock's mates who, all honor to them, are a manly lot of fellows. "An Intended Subscriber" states that he understood that young Woodcock's life was insured for either L300 or L500. It was insured for L300, and well was it for those left that he was insured. Mrs Woodcock has stated to me that they made all kinds of pinches to pay their instalments, often depriving themselves of common necessaries to meet their payments. 
Allow me to inform "An Intended Subscriber" that Mrs Woodcock is totally unable to do anything for a living, owing to a painful disease in her hands, which has made her quite helpless. Now, had sufficient have been subscribed to have made her comfortable for life, it is no more than what ought to have been, and then it would have been poor compensation for the loss of an only son. I hope the time is not far distant when pensions will be allowed for any similar cases. 
Strange as it may appear, Mrs Woodcock had an adopted daughter, who was married and living up country, and last night word came that the husband of this adopted daughter died a week ago. His widow is left with one baby two months old, totally unprovided for.
—I am, etc., A Subscriber. Dunedin, January 26.  -Evening Star, 26/1/1882.

We are sorry to hear, that the husband of Mrs Woodcock's adopted daughter died at Cardrona on the 15th inst., leaving his widow with one infant entirely dependent. The subscription lists for Mrs Woodcock will close on 31st.  -Otago Daily Times, 26/1/1882.

The sum collected for the Widow Woodcock amounts to £315. At a meeting of the committee, held last evening at the railway-station, Messrs James Ashcroft and Abraham Blackmore were appointed trustees, and requested to invest the money in a safe Building Society, and to arrange for Mrs Woodcock to draw at the rate of £1 per week from a date to be hereafter fixed by her. A very neat tombstone has been erected to the memory of deceased at the instance of the railway employees, and this will be paid for out of the fund. The subscription list will be published in a few days, there being yet some £4 or £5 to get in.   -Otago Daily Times, 16/3/1882.

The sum of £15 has been collected in the locomotive department for William Blackwood, who was hurt at the same time that Joseph Woodcock was killed at Kaihiku. We understand the doctor's bill has been sent for, and will probably be paid by the department. Blackwood has also been in receipt of half-pay since the accident.  -Otago Daily Times, 20/3/1882.

The case of Joseph W. Woodcock, who met his death in the Kaihiku railway accident, affords a good example of the benefits of life insurance. Young Woodcock had effected an insurance on his life for £300 in the Government Office, on which some £10 only was paid in premiums. The Government paid the claim with their usual promptitude. The letters of administration were received at Wellington on the 17th ult., and the same day a cheque for the amount of the policy was issued by the Insurance Commission.  -Otago Daily Times, 3/5/1882.

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