Fatal Collision near Braintree

Essex Weekly News

Friday, April 1, 1910





A road accident, resulting in the death of William Johnson, an ex-solider, aged 29, occurred at Braintree on Saturday night.

The deceased man and Samuel Seeley, a brushmaker, accompanied by the latter’s daughter, were returning home in a hired trap, and when passing Queenborough-lane on the London-road, about a mile out of the town, the trap collided with a milk cart belonging to Mr P. Hutley, of Slamsey’s Farm, which was in charge of a youth.

The impact was so great that the body of the trap was carried right off the springs. All three occupants were thrown out. Johnson fell on his head and his skull was fractured. Seeley sustained a broken collar-bone, but the young woman escaped with comparatively little injury. Johnson was removed home on an ambulance by Police-Sergts. Boyce and Webster, and was attended by Dr. Young. He remained unconscious until his death, which took place on Sunday. Deceased leaves a widow and two children.



Mr. Coroner Harrison held an inquest at the Police-station, Braintree, on Tuesday into the circumstances leading to Johnson’s death.

Sidney Johnson, springmaker, Church-street, Braintree, said deceased, who was his brother, was a malterer’s laborer and had worked for Messrs. Harrison Gray, Braintree.

Sophia Spooner, wife of James Spooner, job master, Braintree, said at about 2 p.m. on Saturday deceased hired a pony and trap to drive to Chelmsford. The pony was quiet and never shied. Deceased said he would not take any lamps, as he would be home before dark. He did not take a whip.

Annie Elizabeth Seeley, aged 14, of Rifle Hill, said she went with her father and deceased to Chelmsford. Deceased drove, and she sat between him and her father. On the way to Chelmsford they stopped first at the Green Dragon and deceased and her father had a pint of beer. At the Victoria, Great Leighs, they had another pint, which they did not quite finish. They stopped at another house and had a pint, but gave half of it away to a traveller. At Chelmsford they put the horse up at the Plough. She went to her sister’s, where they all met for tea. They started home at about 6 o’clock, sitting in the same positions. They stopped at a public-house at Broomfield and had a pint of beer. Witness only drank ginger beer. At the Victoria they tried to borrow some lamps, but could not. Everything went all right until they got to Queenborough House. She there saw a milk cart coming in the opposite direction. They were on their proper side, but the milk cart appeared to be in the middle of the road. There was a crash and witness was thrown out and lost consciousness. On coming to she saw two men there with bicycles, and saw her father and deceased lying on the ground. The horse and trap had gone and also the milk cart. Deceased was lying by the side of the road. It was not very dark at the time. Deceased and her father were sober. There was no drink in the cart.




Dr. H. G. K. Young, Bocking, said on Saturday evening he attended deceased at his home in South Street. He was unconscious. The only external injury was a cut on his left ear, but there was bleeding from the inside of the ear. He was suffering from concussion and a fracture of the base of the skull. The next morning he was worse and died between 4 and 5 p.m. on Sunday. The cause of death was hemorrhage of the brain. Witness also attended Samuel Seeley on Sunday morning. He was conscious, but had been unconscious, and could not remember anything about the accident. He had a fractured shoulder blade, and at the present time was in such a condition that he could not leave his bed.

P.s. Boyce produced a statement by Samuel Seeley, which was in accordance with the evidence of Seeley’s daughter as to the movements and stoppages of the party. Seeley told him that deceased was not the worse for drink.



Frederick Smith, aged 16, employed by Mr. P. Hutley at Slamseys, said he drove the milk cart to Braintree station every day. He was returning with five empty churns, and left the station at 7.10, making several calls in the town. His lamp was lighted. He left the town about 7.30. On going up the hill he heard a horse galloping. He pulled in to the near side, and then saw the horse and cart coming in the middle of the road. The offside wheel of the trap struck the nave of the milk cart. He pulled up his horse about 50 yards further on and found that his traces were broken. He did not know that the trap had been wrecked.

P.s. Webster said he saw the two men lying in the road. Both smelt of drink, and he remarked to Seeley, “You’ve been drinking”. Seeley replied, “Yes, I have. P.s. Boyce and witness removed deceased, who was quite unconscious, to his home. Witness examined the milk cart next day and found that the nave was split and the wheels were out of the straight.

The Jury retuned a verdict of accidental death and exonerated the lad Smith from all blame.

The Jury passed a note of condolence with the wife and family of the deceased.