A HEADSTONE in the churchyard in the Teesdale village of Winston shines a sad light on family life 150 years ago and provides a connection with one of the men who featured in our collection of Gainford photographs in Memories 358.

The headstone records three lives. Joseph, the father, who died aged 48 in 1885; Joseph, his son, who died aged 23 in 1886, and Amos, another son, who died aged just two in 1875.

In fact, the headstone records all you need to know about young Amos. “Killed on the railway near Grand Cottage”, says the carving.

Grand Cottage is at the foot of Grand Bank – the steep bank on the west side of Gainford up which the A67 climbs from Winston. It is in the shadow of the tall embankment which used to carry the Barnard Castle branchline after it crossed the two Tees river bridges at Gainford.

And therein lies the story of poor Amos’ demise which Joseph, the father, witnessed.

“The father of the child is a platelayer on the railway, and lives in a cottage near the line, at Grand Bank,” said the Darlington & Stockton Times. “In going to his work on the day in question, he had been followed, unknown to himself, by his little child.

“Hearing behind him the whistle of an approaching train, and knowing that this indicated danger, he instantly turned back, and to his great grief found his child lying dead upon the line, the train having passed over him and killed him.”

Amos was one of ten children that Joseph and his wife Margaret had before the platelayer died in 1885, as the headstone records.

The headstone also records that the following year, their eldest son, Joseph, also passed away. His, too, is a sad story, because in the 1871 census, he is said to have been “an idiot brought on by brain fever”. When he was 17, he was admitted to the asylum, at Winterton, near Sedgefield, because he “was insane from the age of two years as a consequence of sun stroke”. He died there when he was 23.

We are very grateful to Melanie Hauxwell, the great-great-grand-daughter of Joseph Snr, for sharing her family research with us. On a more positive note, at least two of the 10 children thrived. They were Christopher and Francis who, within two years of each other, had sons called Joseph William Hauxwell who served in the First World War.

One of those lads is the Joe Hauxwell who featured, in khaki, in our Gainford collection in Memories 358.

Melanie has pieced together how the younger Joe, who was born in Darlington in 1892, was desperate to serve his country. He joined the Royal Navy in 1908 but was invalided out the following year. He joined the Army in September 1914 but was discharged the following month because he was “not likely to become an efficient soldier”.

He had another go in January 1915, and lasted until July 1916 when he was discharged as “no longer fit for war service”.

By December 1918, he was in a sanatorium at Birtley called Black Fell Hospital suffering from tuberculosis. A letter survives written by the sanatorium matron to Joe’s wife, saying that he is too ill for the open air treatment and that he should be shifted. He died a week later in Darlington’s Lansdowne Road.

All of which leads Melanie to conclude that the Joe in our picture is the older Joseph William Hauxwell, born at Grand Cottage in 1890. He served in the Royal Engineers – which fits in with the information supplied by several people who magnified the badge on Joe’s uniform. He survived the war, worked in peacetime on the railway as a “permanent way ganger” and died in Darlington in 1970.