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About Cyril Witheridge Dold
The entire family, the family's native cook, and pet dog were killed in the Blaauwkrantz Railway Disaster. The entire family is buried in the Old Grahamstown Cemetery.
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From: "Ellen Stanton" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Blaauwkrantz Bridge disaster Article #1 Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2004 21:59:47 -0600
Transcribed from South Africa Magazine, April 29, 1911
SERIOUS RAILWAY ACCIDENT
COACHES PLUNGE INTO A GORGE
THE KILLED AND INJURED
We regret to say that a serious railway disaster occurred on Saturday afternoon, on a section of the Grahamstown-Kowie Railway. The passenger portion of a train due at Grahamstown at 10:20 a.m. fell into a ravine while crossing the well-known Blaauwkrantz Bridge, 13 miles from Grahamstown. Thirty persons were killed, and so far as can be ascertained 25 injured, the condition of several of the latter being critical.
The disaster occurred on a line which is owned by a company and does not form part of the South African Government Railways. The train was proceeding at an average speed towards Grahamstown, when one of the trucks, loaded with stone, jumped the metals unknown to the engine driver, about 50 yds. from the bridge, but continued running on the check rail until the structure was reached. The check rail then splintered away from the pine wood sleepers, while the front coupling snapped, and the truck, four passenger coaches, and a van toppled over and plunged into the abyss. The chasm is 250 ft. deep, and the coaches crashed to the bottom. The engine leapt forward as it lost its main load, giving the driver the first indication of something seriously wrong. On grasping the situation he put on full steam and dashed to Grahamstown for help, fainting as soon as he had conveyed the terrible news. A neighbouring farmer saw the train hurled into the gorge, and rushed to the scene with hi! s natives to render aid, but he was powerless to do anything until the relief trains arrived from Grahamstown. A Reuter's message states that the rescue party had a difficult and distressing task. The wreckage of the train was littered down the jagged sides of the gorge, and in the streams below, mingled with wreckage, were the dead and dying. These were only clearly distinguishable to the rescuers as they painfully descended the precipitous gorge into which the train had been flung. They extricated the mangled forms from among the shattered coaches and twisted metal work to the agonizing accompaniment of the groans and cries of those who were still living and had been in the throes of torture over two hours. There were about 50 passengers in the train. Some of the killed and injured and a mass of wreckage were caught on a ledge about 120 ft. down. The removal of the debris from this point and from the crags was most difficult, but in six hours the doctors and nurses extric! ated the dead and injured, who were hoisted up in sacking to the edge of the gorge.
CHILD'S MIRACULOUS ESCAPE
A correspondent of the Daily Mail states that many of the rescuers fainted on approaching the wreckage. Rescue work was much impeded owing to thousands of pineapples from one of the smashed trucks rendering the rocks and crags slippery and dangerous. Exclusive of the engine driver and his fireman, there are only two uninjured survivors. A child, Janet Crockett, was miraculously saved. She was hurled through a window of the train and in the fall lodged on a girder at a height of 200 ft. Her rescuer, a farmer, who climbed at great peril, found her crying for her mother, but unhurt. Her parents and sister are badly injured. The guard, named Maxwell, leaped from his van as the front wheels left the rails, and escaped without injury.
The following is the list of victims as given by cable:--KILLED: Mr. Dold, his wife, and three children, Mr. Wright, Mr. Forsyth, the Misses Brereton and Pike, Mrs. Bishop and child, Mrs. Moolman, Mrs. Cooper, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Smith and child, Miss Moolman, Miss Sherwood, Mr. Paulmarr, Mr. Daniel, Mr. Hully, Mr. Grant, Mr. Charlton, Mr. Richardson, Miss Arnold, Mr. and Mrs. Dell, a native. SERIOUSLY INJURED: Mrs. Bradfield, Mr. A. Pike, Mr. Arnold. SLIGHTLY INJURED: Mr. Elliott, Mr. Kreber. INJURED (degree unstated): Mr. Lerockett, Mr. Walters, Mr. Mears, Mr. McIntosh, Mr. Cooper, Mr. N. Dell, Mr. Crear, Mrs. Crockett and baby, Mrs. Archibald Bradfield, Miss Smith. Nearly all the killed were well-known Eastern Province people. Mrs. Moolman was a sister of Mr. Justice Hopley.
The dead and injured were conveyed to Grahamstown. A huge crowd of Whites and natives awaited the arrival of the train, and the most affecting scenes were witnessed at the station. The populace were awestricken at the disaster, and a pall of sorrow has descended upon the town. Several funerals took place on Sunday and Monday, the services being held at different churches in the presence of large and sorrowing congregations. There was a wealth of floral tributes; the Dead March was played in all the churches, and flags were flying at half-mast.
A Reuter's cable, dated Wednesday, states that a three-year-old boy, named Smith, has died of injuries received.
The scene of the disaster is in the heart of one of the fairest spots in the Eastern Province of the Cape. The railway passes through a varying panorama of rugged cliffs, rolling veld, extensive fruit gardens, and rich lands, frequently backed with a view of the ocean beyond, between the hills. Near the Blaauwkrantz Bridge the scenery becomes bold and rugged, deep kloofs mingling with wooded ravines. The bridge, which is one of the highest in South Africa, crosses a deep rocky gorge in one span, and is in point of design the most graceful in the Cape Province. The railway was opened in 1884, the total length of the line being 43 miles. It is under the charge of a Manager, who resides at Grahamstown, and certain financial assistance is given by the Government. The line was constructed by Messrs. Pauling and Co., Limited, Mr. George Pauling, who had charge of the operations, living at Grahamstown during the progress of the work. Traffic over the bridge was resumed on Monday af! ter the structure had undergone a severe test. Messages of condolence have been received from Lord Gladstone and Sir Starr Jameson.
STATEMENTS AT THE INQUEST
The inquest on the victims of the disaster opened on Tuesday. Evidence was given by the Grahamstown Stationmaster who stated he had examined the scene of the accident. A wheel flange, he said, had marked the sleepers 28 rail lengths from the bridge, and the marks continued to the fifth rail of the structure. He advanced the theory that the wheel traveled between the check rail and the running rail, forcing out the latter. The sleepers were old and in bad order, and were not sufficiently strong to hold the dogspikes. The timbers on the bridge, he declared, were unserviceable, and the line was unsafe for traffic.
At the resumed inquest, on Wednesday, a policeman was interrogated in connection with the burning of the debris, which was found on Sunday morning to be blazing so furiously as to envelope the bridge in a blue haze. He said it was burnt by order of the Manager of the railway company. Railway officials testified to finding fifty bad sleepers between the places of the first and final derailments. The dogspikes were loose in the rotten sleepers, and the road was in very poor order. Two bad timbers were found on the bridge, one at the spot where the train went over. It was further stated that the line curved twice between the place of the first derailment and the bridge. The inquest has since been suspended, pending the arrival of expert assessors.
As shown in our "Union Parliament" pages a Commission of Inquiry will be appointed to investigate the circumstances of the disasters.
THE OCTOPUS IN TABLE BAY
Further details are to hand by the mail of the exciting fight with an octopus which several natives had in the Cape Town Docks recently (reported by cable in our issue of March 18). The octopus was hauled out of the water still clinging to the men. An onlooker, evidently familiar with the weak point of the octopus, performed the operation known as "turning it inside out," when the tentacles released their hold, and the octopus gave its assailants rest. It was of considerable size (says the Cape Argus), its weight being just as much as three men were able to deal with as they bore it off on their shoulders, followed by a large crowd. This is not the first time that men have been attacked by an octopus in Table Bay; but as a rule the attacked have been divers working under water. This probably is the first time locally that an octopus has attempted to drag a man off dry land. The men who were thus assailed appeared to have escaped injury.
The Warden of the Government Gave Reserve has been appointed ex-officio sub-Native Commissioner for the Sabie Game Reserve.
On entering the house of an Indian at Wilsonfontein, near Maritzburg, recently, the police found the bodies of the man, his wife, son, and daughter lying on the floor. The wife's head was battered in, and the son's throat was cut. The cause of the death of the father and daughter was not discernible.
Regards, Ellen Stanton Email: email@example.com