Sheffield Evening Telegraph November 24, 1908
Misuse Of Railway Fog Signals
A case of considerable importance was disposed of at the Rotherham West Riding Court this morning.
Frank Goodworth, pit hand, Harold Mottashead, pony driver and Fred Waller, labourer of Sandhill, Romarsh, were charged with stealing 27 fog signals value 3s 4d (17p) from a Great Central Railway cabin near the Roundwood colliery on November 9 and £2 split cotter pins, 12 pen nibs and a brush value 1/6 belonging to Messrs Charlesworth, at Kilnhurst, on November 11.
PC Headland gave evidence to the effect that on the night of November 10 he was concealed with PC Walcott on the Midland Railway at Kilnhurst, watching for persons placing fog signals on the line. While so engaged he heard a fog detonator that had been let off in the direction of Beechwood Brickyard, which was near to the railway. He went there. The three defendants were standing near a fire and Waller threw some fog signals in the flames.
Witness asked him what he had thrown, and he answered, “Only a potato.”
Witness said “It was a fog signal. How many more have you?”
Mottashed answered, “I have a few.”
Some detonators were then handed to him – 27 in all; three from Goodworth, 10 from Mottashed and 14 from Waller. Asked whether they had got them from, both Waller and Mottashed stated that some lads in Kilnhurst, whom they did not know, had given them.
Goodworth added, “That’s it.” Goodworth gave a correct name and address; but the others furnished false information on these points. Witness took them to the Midland Station.
On the way, Waller said, “We got them out of the cabin of the Great Central Railway, near the Roundwood colliery.” He spoke of himself and Mottashed as having hid them in the embankment on the railway side. Mottashed replied, “It is true.” Waller subsequently told witness that “they had been there that night and fetch the remainder away. They took some on Monday into a field.”
Good worth made a remark, “I was not with them on Monday night. What I have got Waller as given to me.” When charged with the theft defendants did not reply.
Herbert Fletcher, former player Claire, in the service of the Great Central Railway at Kilnhurst, prove that the detonators this were missing from the cabin, and that those now produce a similar. They were worth 3s 4d.
Fred Thacker, a platelayer, was called out of bed at 4 o’clock in the morning to do “fog” duty near to the Roundwood colliery. He missed a fog signals from the cabin and in obtaining a fresh supply from the signal box a delay of half an hour occurred, during which one train went by.
Mr Gichard, on behalf of the defendant, pleaded guilty. All that could be said on their behalf did not amount to an excuse for their conduct; but the time they took the detonators they had no intention of stealing them. It was one of those frolics of boys, due to high spirits, which should not be regarded as if they were acting the part of criminals. The lads have already suffered punishment.
The Bench find each defendant 20 shillings and costs for the single theft. With regard to the second charge no evidence was offered. This
Superintendent Hayes thought it should be known that the defendants have been charged with a very serious offence of interfering with the trains, because they had been using the detonators to stop trains on both the Midland and the Great Central Railways. If that charge had been preceded with they would have had to go for trial at the assizes.