The Death of Harold Croxall

The Scene of the Accident
1910 Land Values Duties Map, Cambridgeshire Archives
The Meldreth Tramway in 1901
Source: Industrial Locomotive Society
The remains of the tramway crossing at Chiswick End
Photograph by Tim Gane, 2007
The admissions register entry, showing that Harold and his brother, Charles, were both admitted to the school on it's opening day
Photograph courtesy of Meldreth Primary School
The admissions register, showing Harold's "reason for leaving"
Photograph courtesy of Meldreth Primary School

What Happened?

On Friday 12th September 1913, 8 year old Harold Reginald Croxall was fatally injured when he was run over by a truck on the light railway joining Meldreth Station and the British Saxon Cement Company works (Marley Eternit) on Whaddon Road.

The inquest heard that Harold was sent by his mother to look for a missing hen.  Shortly after he left the house, she heard a cry and later found that the little boy had been run over and had both his legs crushed.  Harold was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital where he arrived in a state of collapse.  Both his legs were amputated but Harold died about an hour later from shock.

It appears that trucks travelling along the tramway were horse-drawn. Samuel Waldock, a labourer of the High Street, said that when nearing the incline he took his horse off the truck and let the wagon go about 100 yards from the level crossing.

The Coroner, in summing up, said there was little doubt that the boy met his death when attempting to have a ride on a moving truck. As all the line was private property, he concluded that Harold had been trespassing and no blame was attached to anyone.

The newspaper report of the inquest includes more details of the accident and can be read by clicking on the download link below.

The Verdict

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death and recommended that there should be a man constantly in attendance on the moving trucks, which should not be allowed to travel by themselves.

About Meldreth “Tramway”

In 1892, Hubert O.S. Ellis (q.v.) applied for consent to construct a railway from the station to the Meldreth Portland Cement & Brick Co Ltd (now Eternit Marley) on Whaddon Road. Not completed until 1901, the standard gauge line was about 1.5 miles long and crossed four roads.

Meldreth Cement Works

Meldreth Portland Cement & Brick Co. Ltd was formed by Hubert O. S. Ellis (q.v.) and partners. Despite its name,  there is no evidence that bricks were ever manufactured there.

The company was formed in 1892 and was the successor to the Meldreth Cement & Coprolite Syndicate Ltd, a company which was dissolved in 1891.

In 1911 Meldreth Portland Cement & Brick Company was sold and by 1913 the works were operated by the British Saxon Cement Company.

The Cam Portland Cement Co. Meldreth was a separate operation established by 1896 the in the north-eastern corner of the village near the railway.

The Croxall Family

Harold’s father, James Croxall was born in Derby in 1853 and married Agnes Stickland at Portsea, Hants in 1886.

In 1891 James was a private in the Royal Sussex Regiment stationed at Fullwood Barracks, Lancashire. After his discharge from the army he moved to Melbourn where his wife died in 1898.

By 1901 he had married a local girl, Martha Blows, and was employed as a labourer at the Cement Works.  James and Martha lived in a cottage in Chiswick End along with three children: William Blows (4), Mabel Croxall (2) and Martha Croxall.  William’s baptismal record  does not identify his father. Martha junior died in 1903 aged 22 months.

Subsequently, James and Martha had two sons, Charles and Harold born in 1902 and 1905 respectively.

James Croxall died of apoplexy in 1906 when Harold was only three years old.

Meldreth School Admissions Register Entries

The entries (above right) show that Harold and his elder brother, Charles,  were both admitted to the school on its opening day, 4th April 1910.

A rather stark note records Harold’s reason for leaving as “dead”.


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