Thrown Under Bus

Stephen George Richards, my 3rd cousin 2x removed worked for the East Kent Road Car Company as a Bus Driver. He had been a chauffeur in 1923 (he had been a chauffeur for Dr. H. O. Preston since 1920) when he married Mabel Ethel Nicholls on the 26 of December at St Mildred Church in Canterbury, Kent.

Stephen and Mabel had three daughters that I know of between 1927 and 1932.

Stephen, who had been a Bus Driver since at least 1930, had the unfortunate experience of running over a cyclist in 1940 as the following newspaper extract details.

From The Whitstable Times And Tankerton Press, Saturday, July 6th, 1940
Canterbury Man’s Death
Inquest Proceedings

The inquest on Herbert Browne Wood (71), of 1, Beverley Road, Canterbury, who, as reported in our last issue, was fatally injured when he fell under a ’bus while cycling in St. George’s Street, Canterbury, was held by the Canterbury City Coroner (Mr. C. A. Gardner) at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital on Thursday.

Mr. J. Mowll represented the East Kent Road Car Company and the driver, Stephen George Richards, of 8, Ingoldsby Road, Canterbury.

Evidence of identification was given by the widow, Mrs. Lydia Bertha Wood, who said that she was with her. husband in the Hospital when he died. Before he retired he was a senior observer at the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington. He left his home at about 9.15 a.m. on Tuesday to go into the city to buy some fishing tackle and some moth balls. He carried nothing on his bicycle. His sight and hearing were both good.

Mrs. Louisa France Titmuss, of 3, The Terrace, Bossingham, said she was a passenger in the Mandeville Road—Hospital ’bus on Tuesday morning. She had boarded it at The Parade and took the third seat from the front downstairs. There was no one in front of her and she had a clear view in the direction in which the ’bus was travelling. When the ’bus reached Messrs. Greig’s shop she saw a cyclist coming in the opposite direction to the bus, which was at that time in the middle of the road. Witness did not see anything on the left of the ’bus. The cyclist was wavering and seemed to be uncertain whether to pass the ’bus on the left or right side. There was room for him to pass on either side.

“ I lost sight of the cyclist,” said witness, ” and I next heard a slight jarring noise against the ’bus as if something had hit it. The ’bus pulled up at once and when I looked out of the window on my left I saw the man and his bicycle under the ’bus. I do not think the driver could have avoided the accident.”

In answer to Mr. Mowll, witness said she thought she would have seen any stationary vehicle on the left of the ’bus just before the accident.

Police Sergeant Petts gave a statement which he took from the driver on Tuesday evening. In this statement Richards said : “ At 9.25 a.m. on Tuesday I was driving a city service ’bus up St. George’s Street towards the Cattle Market and had just passed a stationary car outside the Maypole which placed me in the centre of the road. I kept in this position because there was another car outside Messrs. Greig’s. I noticed a cyclist coming down on my offside. Then I looked in my mirror to see if the road was clear behind, and, on my looking down again, the cyclist suddenly appeared at my near side sidelight. I braked sharply, but could not avoid hitting him. It happened so suddenly. There was nothing coming down the road except the cyclist. I had a clear view of the road and there was sufficient room for the cyclist to pass on his proper side of the road. I cannot understand why he crossed over the ’bus to my near side.’’

Witness said he examined the bicycle —a recent model. He could not test the rear brake because of the smashed condition of the machine, but he tested the front brake and it was in good order. There was no basket or anything of that nature on the bicycle.

Harold Horne, Chartham Hatch, ‘bus conductor, said that he did not notice anything on the near side of the ’bus. His attention was first drawn to the accident when the ‘bus pulled up suddenly. Witness got down from the ’bus and found Wood underneath the vehicle with his bicycle. His head was towards the Cattle Market and one foot was sticking out from under the guard rail, roughly underneath the centre of the ‘bus. He was curled up with the bicycle which was partly on top of him. There was a stationary car just in front of the ’bus on the left. The offside front wheel of the ’bus was four feet from the offside kerb and the near side front wheel was five feet four inches from the near side kerb.

Dr. R. C. Ponder, Resident House Surgeon at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, said Wood was admitted at 9.55 a.m. on Tuesday and died at 1 p.m. the same day. A postmortem examination revealed that death was due to shock following a fractured skull and other Injuries. Wood was in a good state of health and there was no indication of anything that might have caused him to fed giddy.

The Coroner recorded a verdict of Accidental Death and associated himself with Mr. Mowll’s expression of sympathy with the relatives on behalf of the East Kent Road Car Company and the driver.

The 29 Jun 1940 issue of the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Hearld head reported this:

whitstable times and herne bay herald 29 june 1940

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