Railwayman’s tale is grave discovery

Ann Smith and Caroline Gibson-Crook at St Mary's Church in Lutterworth.
Ann Smith and Caroline Gibson-Crook at St Mary's Church in Lutterworth.

A PROJECT aiming to chronicle the impact of the railways on Lutterworth uncovered the mystery of an unmarked grave in St Mary’s Church.

William Smith was 32-years-old when he was crushed to death between train buffers while working on the railway near Lutterworth in 1896.

Although about 1,000 of his fellow navies attended his funeral, he has lain in an unmarked grave for more than a century.

However, Ann Smith, a researcher at Lutterworth Museum, discovered Mr Smith’s tale while on the hunt for a material for a book the museum is releasing next year about the impact of the railways on the town.

She said: “We found old copies of the Leicester Chronicle which explained how William died when he was crushed between two railway buffers.

“Using the church records, we were also then able to find out where he was buried.”

Mrs Smith looked online for descendents of Mr Smith’s, and by pure chance his great-grandniece, Caroline Gibson-Crook, in Cheshire, had also been posting messages on genealogy websites looking for information about her ancestor.

The pair got in touch and on Monday Mrs Gibson-Crook visited Lutterworth to view the grave and also visit the former Lutterworth railway where her great-great-uncle had died.

She said: “I had been researching my family tree for about 30 years.

“This is a part of my history I never knew about so it’s wonderful to finally add William’s name to the family tree.”

Mr Smith’s family had added his name to their family plot in Cheshire but his descendents had not known how he died.