Memories 122 featured one of the earliest photographs of a train crash, taken on August 10, 1880, when ‘the Flying Scotchman’ was wrecked at Marshall Meadows, near Berwick.

ACCORDING to the Echo, there were three casualties: driver Thompson of Gateshead, who was terribly scalded by the steam; fireman Norman, of Newcastle, whose last words were: “Tell my wife and children I am gone”, and the guard Pierce.

“His name was Isaac Aaneas Pearce – the surname was commonly mis-spelled – and he was known as Enos,”

says Sue Percival, in Durham.

“He was my first cousin, four generations back. His father was the brother of my greatgreat- great-grandmother.”

Enos was born in Wiltshire in 1847. All of his siblings stayed down there and became agricultural labourers or shepherds. Enos ventured north, attracted by tales of industrial riches, and joined the North Eastern Railway.

He married Hannah Cook, of Long Benton, and had three children, the youngest of which was only seven months old on that fateful day the Scotch Express was derailed in a deep cutting at Marshall Meadows.

Aged 34, Enos was buried in the “unconsecrated ground”

at Gateshead cemetery – presumably he was a nonconformist.

Sue still has the burial receipt.

The plot cost Hannah 10s. She paid an additional 2s for him to be buried one foot deeper than normal, and she paid a further shilling for a bell to be tolled.

To support her young family, Hannah became a live-in-cook at Abbott Memorial School in Gateshead, but she died 13 years after her husband, of peritonitis – a painful abdominal infection, often connected to TB.

Sue has the receipt for her £8 7s 6d funeral on November 3, 1893: 1 black covered coffin trimmed with lace and 8 handles £2-15 1 cover board 5s Under bearers 12s To bring corps from Infirmary 15s I glass hearse £1 2 Mourning coaches 10/6 each £1-1 Breaking of ground 13s 6d Shifting stone and iron rails 16s Lettering for headstone 10s MARTIN BIRTLE emails from Billingham with complimentary reports of the Marshall Meadows Country House Hotel.

The Northern Echo: The memorial card to John Norman
The memorial card to John Norman

“If you walk maybe 200 yards from the rear of the hotel you come to the East Coast Main Line which as in 1880 is still in a deep cutting,”

he says. “It is a wild spot for a train crash.”

The Northern Echo: The receipt for the burial of Enos
The receipt for the burial of Enos

The remoteness hampered the rescue efforts, although it did not prevent photographer R Robinson of Berwick reaching the scene for his photographs.

The hotel was built in the 1780s as a country retreat, and as it is just a quarter of a mile south of the Scottish border, it is the most northerly permanent building in England, and it is the first – or the last – hotel.

“For centuries, there was a great deal of military action around Berwick and the meadows north of the town is were the troops were often marshalled,” says Martin, explaining the name. “Inbetween our most recent visits, a neighbouring farmer had turned up a nasty looking cannonball – no bigger than a cricket ball, it is solid iron and must weigh four pounds. It was on show on the mantlepiece in the hotel.”

The Northern Echo: The
Northern Echo report of the
Th Northern Echo report of the crash

THE Northern Echo of 1880, as several people have pointed out, called the express train “the Flying Scotchman” throughout its articles. Enos’ death certificate says he died of “injuries received accidentally while travelling in a railway train known as the Flying Scotsman”.

However, Leona White- Hannant, curator at Darlington’s marvellous Head of Steam Museum, has sent a memorial card for John Norman, 24. It says that he was the fireman who died on the “Flying Scotchman” at Marshall Meadows.

A sombre affair, it says “the deceased was 8 years in the employment of the North Eastern Railway Co, and much and deservedly respected by his fellow workmen”.

The Northern Echo: Enos and
Hannah Pearce, and one of
their children
Enos and Hannah Pearce, and one of their children

It finishes with a surprisingly graphic poem: In health and strength he left his home, and to his work he went, And doubtless he would never think his glass was so near spent, But before his work was done the engine left the way, And crushed him ’neath its ponderous weight, and took his life away.

Time is uncertain, we cannot tell how soon our turn may come; Perhaps, before another day, our race here my be run, Then let us give our hearts to God, and have our sins forgiven, So that when death doth call us hence, we’ll go to dwell in headen.”

This must surely mean heaven, although we’re told that Headon is a pleasant suburb of Newcastle.

The Northern Echo: Enos
Pearce in his guard’s uniform
Enos Pearce in his guard’s uniform