Train roof crawl

Yorkshire Evening Post 16 Dec 1952

A 43-year-old horticultural foreman, Mr. Leslie Ashman, of Daisy Bank, Ditton, near Maidstone (Kent), was today presented with the honorary certificate of the Carnegie Hero Trust Fund by the Mayor of Maidsotne, Ald. Mrs. D. M. Relf.

Mr. Ashman, on August 11, when travelling as a passenger on the Romney Marsh to Dymchurch light railway, crawled along the roof of a train to the engine, where the driver was lying unconscious, and brought the train, which was travelling at 30 m.p.h., to a standstill.

The engine-driver had struck his head against a bridge.

Mr. Ashman was travelling on the railway with the intention of having a day’s fishing.

Leslie James Ashman, our 4th cousin 1x removed had been born in the fall of 1909 at Stowting Common, Kent and around Dec 1931 had married Ena Doris Mace at Malling, Kent.

He was the youngest of five children born to John Lyon Ashman and Elizabeth Roberts.

Leslie James Ashman

The news of his act had spread from Kent, to Yorkshire, to Wales….

Yorkshire Evening Post 11 August 1952
Yorkshire Evening Post 11 Aug 1952

It was also reported in the Aberdeen Express, the Dundee Courier, the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer and the Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail of 11/12 Aug 1952.

Mr Ashman

“I looked around and pulled the most likely looking lever,” he told The Yorkshire Post. “I’ve never driven a train before and I did not know what would happen. However, the train came to a sudden stop.”

He saved a trainload of children, there were about 100 passengers on the train and it was less than a mile from a sharp bend where it would have certainly gone off the rails. All of the tiny train’s two-seats-abreast coaches stayed on the line, but two trailer wheels of the engine bogies were derailed, but the engine itself did not leave the rails. Helpers ran to the spot, and the injured driver was taken to Dover Royal Victoria Hospital.

“That,” he said, “was my cue for a getaway, and I cleared off for my fishing. But I had a lousy day, for I caught only tree dabs, but I am hoping for better luck later.”

Illustrated London News 01 July 1977Illustrated London News 01 July 1977

The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Light Railway first ran a train on 16 Jul 1927 on 8 1/2 miles of track from Hythe to New Romney. The length of the railway was later extended to 14 miles. It is a 15 inch gauge railway with steam locomotives 1/3 standard size.



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