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McCheyne's Railway Accident

McCheye Learmonth's Railway Accident
Some newspaper accounts at the time

Letter to the Editor


Sir, There are one or two facts connected with the sad death of young Mr Learmonth that should no longer be kept back, because I think their suppression has given an erroneous idea of the whole matter. It has been stated in the papers that the poor youth "jumped out of the train when passing Croydon " at the rate of twenty miles an hour". "Rash," "foolish,' "careless,'' and similar epithets have been freely applied to this supposed action on his part. Now, I am informed, that at the inquest it came out -

1 That no passengers should have been allowed in that particular train at all.

2 That the door of the carriage in which young Learmonth travelled was not locked.      

3 That his return ticket was for Ashfield, not Croydon    

Further I am informed that a certain carter was an eye witness at the accident, and declares that he saw the unfortunate youth leaning on the door, and that to him the door seemed to open suddenly, causing Learmonth to fall out. Now, this, I think, is a far more probable account ot the accident.

As one who knew Learmonth very intimately, who, for two years and a half saw him almost daily, and was more conversant with the events of his daily life   during that time than even members of his own family could be - as, moreover, one who   knew the lad's character, tendencies, and disposition thoroughly, I venture to aflirm that, in my opinion Learmonth was not capable of the rash, foolish and mad action ascribed to him. Besides, if he intended to jump from the train, why should he do so at Croydon, which was not his destination.

It is possible that the supposition in question has been encouraged with the kindly intention of shielding those officials to whom neglect of duty in this instance may be   fairly ascribed. I sympathise with that intention, but is it right or just to the young man's relatives that his memory should be under this reproach? I wish to mention that I am writing this entirely on my own account. I have held   no communication with the family on the subject. But, as one who claimed the friendship and affection ot the lad in no ordinary degree, I unwilling to allow a supposition of this nature to remain unchallenged, when there are facts which point to a different conclusion.

I am, Sir

THOS. KEMMIS.   St Marks

Sydney Morning Herald -  
The Sydney Morning Herald - Monday 29 December 1879

The Sydney Morning Herald - Monday 22 December 1879


On the 16th instant, a son of the late Mr. Alexander Learmonth was killed on the railway station, at Croydon. The unfortunate youth McCheyne Learmonth intended to go to Ashfield, but by mistake got into a train that did not stop at that station. After finding his mistake out, he resolved to alight on the Croydon platform, and it was whilst in the act of doing this, when the train was going at full speed, that he fell between the train and the platform and was killed, his body being fearfully mangled. Much sympathy is felt for the relatives of the unfortunate youth.


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