DOVER KENT ARCHIVES
PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Paul Skelton

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Red Lion

Open 2016

High Street

Handcross

West Sussex

01444 400292

https://www.redlionhandcross.co.uk/

Red Lion 2016

Above photo, 2016.

 

From the Cheltenham Chronicle, 14 July, 1906.

FULL SPEED TO DEATH. FEARFUL MOTOR-’BUS DISASTER

HOLIDAY PARTY HURLED TO DESTRUCTION.

NINE KILLED, TWENTY-SEVEN INJURED.

SOME WONDERFUL ESCAPES.

"SCENE MORE TERRIBLE THAN A BATTLEFIELD."

A dreadful accident happened on Thursday at Handcross Hill, on the Brighton-road, to a "Vanguard" motor-'bus which was conveying a picnic party from Orpington to Brighton. Nine persons were killed and twenty-seven injured.

The 'bus had been chartered by Mr. Hoar, of Orpington, to carry thirty-six person, tradesmen in the town, members of the fire brigade and their friends—for a day's excursion, and it left their friends—for a day's excursion, and it left London early in the morning, driven by Henry Blake. At Orpington the passengers were picked up about eight o'clock, and the vehicle made a pleasant and uneventful journey until shortly after eleven o'clock.

It had then passed through Crawley, and had come to the summit of Handcross Hill, a steep and tortuous declivity some thirty-four miles from London. There are notices on the roadside warning drivers and cyclists of the danger attending the descent of this hill, and, indeed, all who use the road are familiar with the peril presented at this point. Blake is an experienced driver, and he was no doubt well aware of the necessity for caution.

MACHINERY MISHAP.

At the top of the hill, however, it appeared that an accident happened to the machinery, portions of which were snapped and fell on the roadway, where they were afterwards found. The vehicle was at once placed beyond control, and the brakes failed to arrest the momentum which the 'bus had acquired.

Most of the passengers were on the top enjoying the fresh morning air and the exquisite views of the country, and they were greatly alarmed by the gathering rapidity with which the 'bus rushed down the hill, swaying ominously and raising clouds of dust. The driver was powerless, and the unfortunate picnic party had not the opportunity to escape.

The only hope of averting a catastrophe was that the 'bus might be safety steered down the winding slope, until it arrived on the level ground below, where it might be brought to a standstill. This, however, was not to be. About 100 yards beyond the thirty-fourth mile post the vehicle, travelling at a terrific pace, swerved and dashed into a tree.

VEHICLE SHATTERED.

The force of the collision was so great that the body of the ‘bus was torn off the base and shattered. The wrecked vehicle had not quite exhausted the momentum it had acquired, and it seems to have plunged forward and fallen half over through the thin hedge and lay a broken mass on the edge of a gentle slope at the side of a wood.

The awful effects of the disaster in that quiet country lane can hardly be pictured. The passengers on the roof of the 'bus were pitched in all directions. One man was thrown against a tree, his head was horribly smashed, and his body was entangled in the branches, where he hung lifeless.

Another was also caught by the branches and suspended high above his dead companion. Blood was spattered on the trunk, and there were other grisly evidences of the dreadful effects of the impact of the bodies against the tree.

PRISONED IN WRECKAGE.

The wreckage of the 'bus was scattered all round in the roadway and in the soft mould of the plantation. In the heaps of shattered woodwork and broken glass many of the unhappy pleasure- seekers were imprisoned. Some of them had passed beyond pain, succumbing almost instantly to injuries which were in some cases frightful to contemplate.

The living, imprisoned in the wreckage or lying maimed by the roadside, filled the air with groans and cries, but there was none to aid thorn except a cyclist, Mr. Clark, who was attached to the "Daily Chronicle" staff, and had been riding in the wake of the 'bus. He hastened to alarm the people in the adjacent village of Handcross, through which the ’bus had just raised, and speedily assistance was forthcoming.

Messengers were sent in all directions, doctors and nurses were summoned, and all that willing hands could do was done. The telephone was set to work, and even from the County Hospital at Brighton there came a stall of nurses in a motor car. They found a scene of desolation.

By a miracle the driver escaped serious injury, though the conductor was very badly hurt. Several of the dead had sustained terrible fractures of the skull, and among the wounded were many bad cases of fractured limbs.

WONDERFUL ESCAPES.

It was indeed marvellous that any escaped, but a few were fortunate enough to get free from the peril with nothing more serious than cuts and bruises. Those who were inside the 'bus were crushed by the collapsing woodwork and cut by the breaking glass.
The doctors gave attention to the most serious cases first, and broken limbs were bound up in temporary fashion. Then, on gates, bits of the broken 'bus, and other improvised stretchers, the wounded were carried up the hill strait to the little "Red Lion Hotel" at Handcross. The ambulances from Crawley Cottage Hospital came on the scene, and assisted in the work of removal, and several of the sufferers were conveyed to that institution.

As the news spread, there was no lack of willing helpers, and the people hurried to the scene from all the points within a radius of several miles. The catastrophe naturally caused the greatest excitement in this placid district, and probably more people assembled in the narrow road than had ever been seen there at one time before.

A SURVIVOR'S STORY.

MANAGER OF THE EXCURSION TELLS A DREADFUL TALE.

Mr. T. C. Hoar, a cycle and motor engineer, of Orpington, who organised the excursion, gave a Press representative the following vivid description of the disaster and the circumstances which led up to it:—

"It is the custom," he said, "of the Orpington and St. Mary Fire Brigade to have an annual outing. And this year we decided that it would be a novelty to have a trip in a motor-'bus to Brighton. Three days ago I hired a Vinguard motor-omnibus from the London Motor-Omnibus Co., and arranged for a party of thirty-four, including some of the principal tradesmen of Orpington and St. Mary Cray, as well as members of the fire brigade.

"A jollier, merrier party than that which left Orpington at eight o'clock this morning you could scarcely imagine. We were all men, with the exception of one little boy, Hutchings, the son of a St. Mary Cray undertaker.

"We travelled by way of Croydon at a steady pace of twelve miles an hour. All proceeded well until we reached the "Red Lion Inn" at the top of Handcross Hill. We had brought with us a few sandwiches and some bottles of ale and soda water.

"By the time we reached the "Red Lion" we had all had our lunch, and everybody seemed in the highest spirits and commenting on the lovely nature of the surrounding scenery. So lovely did the fields and woods appear in the warm sunshine that several of the party who were inside the 'bus climbed outside and stood to better appreciate their beauty.

"I was sitting inside with Pennington, Mewes, Foster, Walton, Jennings, Yeates, Knowler, Dengate, and Hayward. Dengate was standing at the back of the car talking to Ewens, the conductor.

TRAVELLING LIKE LIGHTNING.

"On starting down the hill it appeared to me that the driver allowed the 'bus to run free for a short distance. Then it seemed as if the car had run out of control, and I thought I felt him trying to apply the brakes. We were going like lightning down the hill, which had a tremendously steep Gradient. For a moment I thought he had regained control, but suddenly there was a frightful snapping noise, and, looking back, we saw that bits of the gear were flying out in all directions.

"For fifty yards or more we flew down the hill, and at the moment the car crashed into an oak tree I leapt out of the window into the hedge. The shock was terrific. The glass and woodwork broke to atoms so instantaneously that the noise of the breaking and the thud of the concussion with the tree were mingled in one gigantic crash. In leaping through the window the middle finger of my left hand was broken, but I did not seem to feel it at the time, and, scrambling on my hands, I soon gained my feet.

"Never for a moment did I lose my consciousness, and, walking round to the back of the shattered omnibus, I saw before me a spectacle almost too appalling to describe. The roof of the omnibus, crowded with occupants, had been swept away from the body of the car by a projecting branch of the oak tree. The chassis and the battered fragments of the car body had evidently rebounded, and swung round with the force of the impact in a semi-circle until it pierced the hedge about thirty feet lower down the hill, and lay with the front portion of the chassis hanging over a bank amongst the undergrowth on the hillside wood.

WORSE THAN A BATTLEFIELD.

"Four men were lying dead in a heap, having been dashed against a tree and horribly mangled. One poor fellow, Burch, was hanging hand downwards, one of his feet being tightly wedged between two branches. Two more lay dead just underneath him. All the rest of those outside the car were shot forward into the wood. Those who were badly injured were groaning in the most heartrending manner.

"It was twenty minutes before any assistance arrived, for there was no human habitation in sight. Then, however, some ladiee and gentlemen, who were on their way up to London from Brighton came in a motor-car. They realised the serious nature of the disaster, and immediately proceeded to the "Red Lion Hotel" at the top the hill to fetch water and bandages. There, by an extraordinary stroke of fortune, they learned that Dr. Mathews, of Crawley, was attending a case close by, and quickly conveyed him to the scene. "When they arrived I was sitting by the side of the road too dazed to help in the work of rescue. A lady whose name I do not know came and washed me, helped me into the shade, and gave me some brandy. Dr. Mathews, who was soon reinforced by Dr. Wood, immediately set to work attending to the wounded.

"They worked magnificently. With great foresight they had obtained saws with which they cut up pieces of the car for use as splints, and improvised stretchers from the broken seats. The injured were conveyed as speedily as possible in the vans and farm wagons, some to Crawler Cottage Hospital, and others to the "Red Lion Hotel."

"Then began the gruesome task of moving away the dead, whose bodies were placed in vans laid with straw, while white sheets were thrown over them. To me fell the painful task of identifying them. This I could only do through my knowledge of the clothes they were wearing. In some cases their boots were the only clue; in others it was some familiar features of their coat or waistcoat.

"I scarcely realise yet the appalling nature of what has happened. I remember the happy jesting party which set out from Orpington, and it seems impossible to believe that many of my life-long friends are lost to me for ever. It is a confused medley of merriment, of disaster, of bloodshed. One of the onlookers who went through the South African war told me that in all his experience of those bloody battlefields he had never seen anything as horrible as this."

A SOLITARY EYE-WITNESS.

HIS GRAPHIC STORY.

How did the accident happen? One man only witnessed the tragedy, and that man was a "Daily Chronicle" telephone operator named Arthur Clark. Not the least important part of Clark’s narrative is that which practically explains the cause of the accident he makes no allegations in the matter of speed; he brings no charges against either the driver or the conductor.

His presence on the scene was purely fortuitous. He was cycling down to Brighton when the omnibus overtook him. How the vehicle actually pulled him along during the last half-hour of its journey, and how he parted company with it just in time to save his life are here related in what must be one of the most tragic and graphic stories that has ever been written around a terrible accident.

THE TRAGEDY RECONSTRUCTED.

As soon as possible after the disaster he returned to London, to be immediately taken back to Crawley, in order that the whole tragedy might be reconstructed. Here is his narrative:—

"It must have been eight o'clock when I left home. I steered towards Brighton. The weather was all that could have been desired, and with a fine stretch of good hard road in front of me I quickly reached Redhill.

Just as I got through the town I heard a motor 'tooting' behind me. I looked round and saw it was one of the 'Vanguard’ 'buses that go to Brighton. It passed me, and I cycled on behind. It was evidently carrying a picnic party. All the passengers were men, and everybody seemed to be in high spirits.

"We left the town, but at a point about a mile outside the ’bus pulled up for the convenience of some of the passengers. I went on cycling steadily towards my destination. For some time I was alone again. To be correct, it was not until I reached the "Chequer Inn," two or three miles this side of Crawley, that a heavy rumbling noise and the loud tooting of a motor-horn warned me that the 'bus was at my heels again.

Exactly where Clark "dropped" the vanguard and picked it up again he pointed out as the motor-car sped towards the scene of the accident. At the "Chequers" the highway turns slightly to the left, and a fine stretch of well-laid road drops gently down to Crawley.

LUXURY OF A "TOW."

"Just about here," said Clark, "the motor-'bus overtook me for the second time. As far as the road is concerned a cyclist couldn't wish for anything better.

"As the hand rail of the ’bus became level with my front wheel I caught hold of it, and releasing the handle-bar allowed myself the luxury of a 'tow.' I am an expert cyclist, and am used to riding in this fashion whenever I get the opportunity.

"But I suppose there was something novel in the performance to the passengers on the 'bus, for the two sitting next to the entrance nudged one another and laughed. At this moment the conductor, who had been on top looking at the scenery, I suppose, came down, and he, too, took the greatest interest in my performance. I also noticed that two passengers were standing up on top. I shouted to the conductor "How many have you got on board?" He said "Thirty four."

Did you notice whether the top of the ’bus was very crowded?"

"No. The ‘bus seemed to be pretty full, but I was so intent on what I was doing that I took no particular stock of what was happening during this part of the journey. I am even unable to remember whether any of the passengers were singing. What with the dust and the noise of the motor it was as much as I could do to look after myself.

"No. I don't think the speed at which we were travelling was anything out of the common; at all events, not until we got to a point just beyond the village of Handcross."

In this fashion the 'bus and the cyclist passed through Crawley, where the road dips a little, and on to Handcross, where the gradient becomes more accentuated.

One would not, perhaps, call the hill dangerous, but a signal-post on the brow warns the motorist to take heed of himself. A few yards beyond this point Clark pointed to a gate.

"That’s where we began to travel," he said, leaning over the car to indicate the exact spot. "I suddenly became conscious that we were gathering speed. I can’t tell you whether any brakes were applied. I can't even say whether there was any warning cry. I couldn’t even see whether the passengers had risen to their feet or were looking out of the windows to see what would happen.

FORTY MILES AN HOUR.

"The noise of the machinery seemed to increase, and the dust became thicker as we tore down the hill. I say 'tore' because I should think we must have been going at something like forty or fifty miles an hour. Anyhow, we were going so fast that I became nervous, and I jammed o my brakes. Even then I was dragged down the hill, though both wheels were fixed.

"It seemed to me to be an age till the next incident in that mad journey. It might have been two minutes after I first noticed the tremendous speed of the motor; it might have been less. Anyhow, it was too much for me. I let go the hand-rail of the 'bus and began to pull my machine up.

"Suddenly I heard a crack. The 'bus was speeding down the hill in front of me, and before I could avoid it I had ridden pell-mell over what looked like a bit of an axle with a little wheel on one end of it.

"I had barely time to right myself, when my bicycle tripped over three more pieces of machinery. The impact buckled up my front wheel and nearly threw me off, but I managed to retain my balance and spring to the ground."

On the journey Clark pointed out that part of the road where these incidents took place. It was pretty obvious what had happened next. A hundred yards ahead—about twenty yards beyond the thirty-fourth mile-stone from London—lay all that was left of the motor-'bus and the tragedy.

A FEARFUL SIGHT.

"No sooner had I sprung to the ground than I looked up to see where the 'bus was going, but it was now swallowed up in a heavy cloud of dust. I was not kept long in suspense. There was a crash, a rending of timber, a terrible wrenching and splintering—and then silence.

"Shouldering my machine, I ran on, and came upon a sight that turned me cold—a man lying stark and stiff in the ditch on the near side of the road. No need to stop; he was beyond assistance. He had evidently made a desperate leap for life and fallen upon his head.

"Then a curious thing happened. Out of the dust a hat whizzed past my head I stumbled on, and nearly ran into what looked like a slaughterhouse.

"How the 'bus had fallen I couldn’t tell. I could make out the sides of it, standing up like ribs. The top had vanished. The driver's seat was hidden by the hedge, through which the ’bus had pitched, stopping as the steering front sort of dropped into the dyke. All the rest seemed to have been flattened out. It didn’t look like a bus.

"A big tree was scraped, evidently by the collision, and upon two of its branches hung a couple of bodies, one with its head bashed in.

"At the foot of the tree a man was sitting. He might have been dead. His head was sunk upon his chest. He seemed to be done for.

SEARCH FOR AID.

"There were other bodies lying about, all of them bathed in blood. I couldn't stop to look at it all. I shut out the horrible sight and rushed on, turning once to about to some men in a brickfield.

"On I ran till I overtook A trap. 'Where’s the nearest doctor?' I shouted to the driver. He told me one could be had at Crawley, so I asked him if he'd take me back in his trap.

"Thus I was compelled to see it all again. This time as I passed by the silence I had left behind me had given place to groans.

"Two or three men were walking aimlessly about as if in dreams. One seemed to be quite unconscious of his condition, though he was mechanically wiping the blood from his forehead.

"Another, stretched on the ground, seemed to be talking quietly to himself. 'I wonder where my arm has gone to?' I heard him say. He hadn't lost his arm. It might have been broken.

"Another man was horribly doubled up, and yet another staggered from the wrecked 'bus as I drove past.

"But most pitiful of all was a little boy running about amongst the blood and wreckage, crying 'Where's my daddy? Where’s my daddy?' Hither and thither he ran, looking now at one and then another of the injured, but only to be disappointed in his quest. 'No, that isn't him,’ I heard the poor little mite say as he looked at one mangled corpse.

"I couldn't stand any more. We drove on, and by the time we reached Crawley women with towels and men with anything likely to be useful were running down the hill. I didn't go back. I had seen enough."

LIST OF THE VICTIMS.

THE KILLED AND INJURED.

There were thirty-six persons on the 'bus, including the driver and conductor, and they are accounted for as follows:—

Killed (9).—John French, publican, the "Cross," 81, Mary Cray; Thomas Francis, baker, Wellington-road, Oprington, Arthur Savage, baker, High-street, St. Mary Cray; W. Vann, draper, High-street, St. Mary Cray; Henry Hutchings, undertaker, Thomas Cross, St. Mary Cray; W. Baker, clothier, High-street, St. Mary Cray; Solomon Epsom, butcher, Fordcroft, Orpington; Henry Burch, grocer, High-street, Orpington; Edward Packman, basket maker, The Library, St. Mary Cray.

Dangerously injured (8).— W. E. Bailey, school-master, Chelsfield; J. Pugh, schoolmaster, Moorfield-road, Orpington; Frank Kwens, conductor of the motor-omnibus, Hammersmith.

Seriously injured (7).— C. Fulcher, independent gentleman, Chelsfield-lane, Orpington; S. Croft, tradesman, St. Mary Cray; Horace Hyslop, bootmaker, Wellington House, St. Mary Cray; E. Teer, artisan, St. Mary Cray; —, Pringle, Orpington; —. Mansfield, cultivator, Ramsden, St Mary Cray; J. Dengate, grocer's manager, High-street, Orpington.

Slightly injured (17).— Edward Smith, artisan, Chislehurst-road, Orpington; John Wale, wheelwright, High-street, Orpington; Thomas Mews, verger, High-street, Orpington, F. Tapping, school teacher, Dunton Green; Edward Yeates, saddler, Orchard-grove, Orpington; Thomas Walton, gardener, The Nest, High-street, Orpington; J. Jennings, landlord, "Cricketers Inn," Chislehurst-road, Orpington; J Pennington, landlord, "Artichoke Inn," Orpington; T. C. Hoar, cycle agent, High-street, Orpington; Stephen Johnson, draper, Belgrave House, St. Mary Cray; John Foster, jobmaster, High-street, Orpington; George Stemp, greengrocer, Moorfield-road, Orpington; W. Glassup, plumber, High-street, Orpington; J. Knowles, bootmaker, Moorfield-road, Orpington; William Hutchings, junr, The "Cross," St. Mary Cray; H. G. Blakeman, driver of the motor-'bus, 136 Albany-street, Regent's Park; Joseph Hayward, labourer, Little Bentley, Essex.

THE COURAGE OF THE PASSENGERS.

A JUMP FOR LIFE.

A thrilling story was related by Charles Dengate, a grocer's manager, of Orpington, who now lies in the Crawley Cottage Hospital with his head swathed in bandages.

"I was riding on top of the 'bus," he said. "I was one of those who were standing up. It had occurred to me some time before the accident that the bus was top-heavy, and I spoke to the conductor about it. So far as I could judge there were only about ten inside. The conductor said he thought there was no danger, and, feeling reassured, I didn't trouble any more about the matter.

"When we were descending Handcross Hill somehow I felt that something was about to happen. The car seemed to be going at a tremendous speed, and it was rocking about.

Getting alarmed, I ran down the steps, and it seems a good thing that I did so. When I got o to the platform, the conductor shouted 'Look out. The brakes have gone!"

"Without another thought I jumped from the 'bus. Oh! my poor head. I felt as if I had been struck by a cannon. There on the stones I law down. I never really lost consciousness. A few moments afterwards some workmen came running across the road. I motioned them on to the others further down the hill, because I knew I was not hurt as badly as some."

"I never heard the shrieks. From the moment when danger first threatened everyone seems to have been extremely courageous.

SURVIVORS RETURN HOME.

REMARKABLE RECEPTION.

Consternation and the profoundest sorrow filled the two villages of Orpington and St. Mary Cray.

When the news of the terrible affair reached the residents. Only a few miles separates the two hamlets, and the population is sufficiently sparse to allow of a more or less intimate acquaintance with each other. Especially is this the case with the more prominent men, the leaders in local life, and most of the killed and injured were of that class. many of the men were leading tradesmen, and were all known by name to almost everyone in the district.

When the news of the accident came there was a widespread feeling of dismay and pain, for it had been only a few hours earlier that the happy company left Orpington on their holiday jaunt.

The first to receive the news was a young fellow, assistant to Mr. T. C. Hoar, a cycle maker, of Orpington, who arranged the excursion. The telegram was meagre in its tomes, and did not convey any idea of the nature or extent of the mishap. But little by little and hour after hour news came dropping in, and gradually the full horror of the affair was realised.

Every survivor of the terrible affair who was able to send a message did so, but they adopted a most touching method of conveying the news and of stating their condition. In no single case do they appear to have telegraphed direct to their wives or relatives. Instead they wired to some friend, who undertook the delicate task of informing the wife that an accident had occurred, but that her husband was alive and suffering only from some slight injury.

To take an instance, Mrs. Glossop, of Orpington, whose husband had a broken arm, was in happy unconsciousness that anything untoward had happened until a neighbour told her, and then to convince her that her husband was safe produced his laconic telegram. It was the same in other cases, and it is impossible not to admire the delicate confederation for the feelings of others which prompted this course.

MARRIED VICTIMS.

With one exception, all the victims were married men with families, and this circumstance added to the poignancy of the regrets for the dead. Thursday was early-closing day in Orpington, and St. Mary Cray, and every shop in the two villages was closed for business. An outward condition of mourning was therefore set up, and although it was quite involuntary it had a most fitting application to the circumstances.

The first thing which occurred to a stranger was the kindly familiarity with which all the victims were spoken of—dead and injured. Thus one was "Poor Ted" or "Good old Fred," or some other affectionate title. And the two villages were full of people, who were congratulating themselves on having neglected or rejected an opportunity of joining the ill-fated party.

HOW MOTOR-'BUS WAS CHOSEN.

The circumstances under which the trip was arranged are worth recalling. They are almost dramatic in the manner in which the excursionists chose to go by motor-'bus instead of by train This is an annual outing with certain of the trades-people of the two villages, but hitherto they have always gone by rail. Recently, however, the usual committee meeting was held to arrange the preliminaries, and H. T. Harris a tailor, of St. Mary Cray, presided.

It was then suggested that the party should go by motor-’bus instead of by train. A vote was taken, which ended in a tie; six favouring the motor and six the train.

Mr. Harris, as chairman, was asked to give his vote from train to motor-'bus, and, yielding to the persuasions of his friends, he did so. "Ted" Packman in now numbered among the dead.

That is the story of the choice of a motor-'bus instead of train by the Orpington excursionists.

JOY AND SORR0W.

Following upon the arrival of the news came to the villages those survivors who were able to travel, and the scenes which followed were of the most affecting character. Joy and sorrow seemed to mingle in equal proportions. Laughter and tears chased each other of the villagers as they turned out to welcome the safely returned. The first to arrive was Mr. J. Wale, a young man of thirty, who reached Orpington at six o’clock in the evening. A body of villagers between 200 and 300 strong went to the station to receive him.

Precedence was naturally given to his wife and sister, and when Wale stepped out of the train, he almost fell into the arms of these two fond women. He was very weak and faint, and he leaned on their arms as he made his way from the station. In spite of their feelings of commiseration for the dead, the villagers could not help cheering the living, and they cheered Wale as he slowly and painfully made his way home to his pretty cottage in Elm-terrace.

LEAP FOR LIFE.

He was too weak and ill to be interviewed, but Mrs. Wale told an interesting story of her husband's escape. "He was on the top of the motor," said Mrs. Wale—a pleasant-faced, rather nervous woman, "and when it bolted down the hill he knew that something terrible was going to happen. So he came half-way down the steps and then jumped into the road. I am thankful to say that he got off with only two cuts on his head. They are pretty ugly, however, and when he came home his coat was covered with blood."

Some strange stories are told in the village of how certain persons missed going with the trip. One of the most remarkable is told by Mr. Barr, the landlord of the "White Hart Inn" at Orpington. He had arranged to join the party, but on Monday last his wife was taken ill, and he decided to remain at home. Then a woman who does some housework at the inn offered to look after Mrs. Barr's work for the day, and again Mr. Barr arranged to go in the 'bus.

The next incident was the illness of his head man, and again Mr. Barr decided not to go to Brighton. However, the difficulty was overcome, and again Mr. Barr intimated his intention of joining the excursion.

For the third time his plans were upset by the receipt of an intimation that one of the directors of the brewery which supplies him would call on Thursday, the day of the accident. So Mr. Barr was obliged to stay in Orpington, and is congratulating himself now on his luck.

All Thursday evening the streets of the two villages and the long and pleasant Kentish lanes which join them were full of villagers discussing the catastrophe. They stood on their doorsteps and loitered by the hedges, and they had nothing but good to say of any of the ill-fated holidaymakers.

One of the earliest to return was the little boy Hutchins, the son of a tradesman at St. Mary Cray. It was he who called so piteously for his "dada" when the accident happened. He was in a quite dazed condition when he got home. His father was then lying dead at Handcross. The child was put to bed, sobbing and crying for his dead parent.

The last of the survivors reached Orpington shortly after ten o'clock, and there was again a big crowd to welcome them. Most of them were attended by Dr. Tennyson-Smith, of Orpington, and are progressing favourably.

LATEST TELEGRAMS.

CONDITION OF THE SURVIVORS.

Happily no addition has to be made to the list of the nine killed as the result of Thursday's terrible motor-'bus accident at Handcross, Mr. Bailey, the village schoolmaster, however, still lies in a very critical condition. He has a fractured left leg, but the more serious trouble to the injury to his lungs caused by broken ribs, Oxygen has been administered to the patient throughout the night. Mr. Croft, the only other patient lying at Handcross, has had concussion, but he has improved slightly.

The six patients in the Crawley Hospital, namely Hayward, Knowles, Glassup, Pugh, Dengate, and Edward Smith, are doing well, though Pugh and Dengate are very bad.

The wreckage was gathered together during the night and conveyed to the yard of the "Red Lion Hotel," where the inquest will probably be held.

On enquiry at Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, to which some of the injured were conveyed, it was ascertained that Mr. Mansfield had passed a comfortable night. Another of the injured, whose name is not known, is still unconscious, and in a very precarious condition.

The afternoon bulletins show no change in the condition of the injured at either Handcross, Crawley, or Brighton. All are doing as well as can be expected.

NINE DEATHS ONLY

A telegram from Handcross at one o'clock says — Happily the report of the death-roll having swollen to ten through Conductor Ewens succumbing to his injuries is unfounded. Ewens sustained a compound fracture of the skull, and it was deemed advisable by the medical men to remove him to Brighton Hospital, so that the operation of trepanning could be performed. He was according conveyed there on Thursday night, together with Mansfield, whose leg was fractured. Both men are reported to be doing as well as can be expected, although Ewens is still unconscious.

At the “Red Lion Inn,” Handcross, only two of the injured men remain, viz. Mr. W. Bailey, schoolmaster of St. Mary Cray, and Mr Croft. Bailey, who sustained internal injuries has been assiduously attended throughout the night by Dr. Sidney Matthews, being kept alive by oxygen. He is maintaining his strength. His wife has been with him since Thursday evening, and two nurses from Brighton, as well as Drs. Dickens, of Cowfold, and Newton, of Balcombe, are now watching Bailey and his fellow-patient Croft. The latter is doing well, and this morning was joined by his wife and brother-in-law.

The relatives of the injured who are arriving at Crawley and Handcross from Orpington tell distressing stories of the grief prevailing there. The whole district of Orpington and St. Mary Cray is in mourning, for the deceased tradesmen were well known in the place, and their death has come as an acute personal loss to many people. The utmost sympathy is felt for the immediate relatives, and it is feared that the widows of Savage and Vann may themselves succumb to collapse, following on the shock caused by their husbands’ untimely demise. Mrs. Savage has eight children, and is shortly expecting to give birth to a ninth; whilst Mrs. Vann is also anticipating an addition to her now fatherless family of three.

Mr Robert John Pugh, headmaster of Wellington road School, Orpington, is going on very well at Crawley Cottage Hospital, where his wife had arrived to see him. The utmost kindness is being shown to the injured and their relatives by the people of the district. The Sheriff of Sussex has sent a kindly message of sympathy to the injured, who have been visited by Lady Loder, Lady Brabourne, and the Hon. Mrs. Sergison, the latter of whom conveyed relatives from Crawley to Hardcross in her motor-brougham.

Many relatives of the dead are here, one man cycling throughout the night, and sad scenes have been witnessed as the bodies have been claimed.

THE INQUEST FIXED.

The coroner for the district has decided to hold the inquest on the victims of the disaster at Handcross at three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, but the proceedings will be confined to hearing evidence of identification, so as to enable the funerals to take place The inquiry will then be adjourned for the recovery of material witnesses now lying ill, and for the calling of expert evidence.

No cause can yet be assigned for the ‘bus running away, and representatives of the Vanguard Company at the scene of the disaster decline to give an opinion until the engineers have had an opportunity of examining the wrecked conveyance, which now stands in the yard of the “Red Lion Hotel,” whither it was dragged during the night. The vehicle is the object of much curiosity on the part of motorists on the Brighton road.

 

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