The Taunton Courier 22 Aug 1928 Fatal Accident at Ile Abbots Mr. Benjamin Alexander BICKNELL of Brome Farm Ile Abbots

The Taunton Courier. Bristol and Exeter Journal, and Western Advertiser Wednesday 22 Aug 1928

Page 3 Column 4





Mr. Benjamin Alexander BICKNELL (30), of Bromes Farm, Ile Abbots, received fatal injuries as the result of a collision with a pony spring cart whilst driving his motor-cycle combination from his home to Fivehead on Tuesday. The accident occurred along a stretch of road called “Stem-a-Long.” Joseph SEALEY (65), of Ile Abbots, was driving the cart in the opposite direction, and his pony was so badly injured that it had to be shot. Mr. BICKNELL received a blow on his left temple and a fracture to his ribs, which penetrated the lungs. He died about two and a half hours after the accident.


An inquest into the cause of death was conducted by the Coroner (Mr. G. P. CLARKE) at the home of the deceased on Friday. A jury was empannelled and Mr. John HUMPHREY was chosen foreman. P.C. BLICK was the Coroner's officer, and Inspector RANSOME was also present.

Evidence of identification was given by deceased's brother, William Silvanus BICKNELL, with whom he farmed. He stated that at about 8.45 p.m. on Tuesday deceased left the farm on his motor-cycle with an employee named ADAMS to go to Bradbury Dairy, which was about half a mile away. He afterwards went to Fivehead to see a thatcher. On receiving information from Mr. DARE witness immediately went to the scene of the accident, where he found deceased lying on the grass verge. He was groaning, and asked if the cycle was damaged. The machine was in the road, facing Fivehead, and the pony was in the ditch a short distance from where deceased was lying. Witness sent for Dr. VEREKER. On the way home deceased lost consciousness and never recovered. He had been motor-cycling for about six years and had ridden this machine for about three years. Deceased had never been involved in any previous accident.

Joseph SEALEY, aged 65, a labourer, said that on Tuesday he left Ile Brewers for Ile Abbots at about 9 p.m. The accident occurred about 9.55 p.m. When walking his pony along a straight stretch of road he heard a motor-cycle approaching. The machine had no lights, neither had witness. He pulled in on to the grass when the motor-cycle was about 30 years away, leaving plenty of room for it to pass. He shouted to deceased, who did not appear to hear or to slacken speed. The front of the machine struck the pony on the off-side, knocking the animal into the ditch. Witness got out of his trap and found the cyclist lying on his chest on the grass. He asked deceased if he was much hurt, and he replied “Yes, in my side.” Witness went to the village to summon assistance. The pony was badly injured and had to be destroyed. Witness had no lights with him, as he did not think he was going to be out so late.


Replying to the Foreman, witness said it was a rather dark night. He saw deceased when he was about 30 yards away.

Albert James ADAMS, employed at Bromes Farm, said on Tuesday evening he accompanied the deceased to Bradbury Dairy. When about to return deceased switched on the electric lights attached to his motor-cycle combination, but they had only travelled 200 yards when the lights went out. Mr. BICKNELL continued his journey without lights, and after taking witness home said he was going on to Fivehead. It was about 9.55 p.m. when witness arrived home, and he heard of the accident about a quarter of an hour later.

Questioned by a juryman, witness said he offered deceased his bicycle and lamp to continue his journey to Fivehead, but Mr. BICKNELL said he could go quicker by motor-cycle.


Wm. John DARE, resident at Two Bridges Farm, Ile Abbots, said on hearing of the accident he went to the spot, and saw deceased lying on the grass. The pony was in the ditch on the proper side, the cart on the roadside, and the motor-cycle in the road facing in the direction of Fivehead. He tried to assist Mr. BICKNELL, but deceased asked to be left alone as he was in pain. He said nothing about the accident. Witness was the first on the scene.

Answering a juryman, witness said the pony appeared to have been knocked out of its harness. The motor-cycle was standing near the middle of the road.


P.C. BLICK, stationed at Puckington, said on hearing of the accident at 7.45 a.m. the following morning he went to the scene, and took the following measurements:- Width from hedge to hedge, 21ft.; width of road, 11ft., with a grass verge of 5ft. on each side of the road, and ditches close to the hedges; width of cart 5ft., and width of combination 5ft. The pony was dead in the ditch. He found two wounds on the offside, the first in front of the ribs being about nine square inches, and the second in the belly one square foot. They were about a foot apart. The right handlebar of the motor-cycle was bent inwards; the foot-rest and foot-brake pedal on the same side damaged, number plate bent, front lamp knocked off, and the accessories on the handlebars twisted and displaced. Upon the side-car was a mark, no doubt caused by contact with the wheel of the cart. The brakes on the combination were in order, the electric switch on light, and the gear-lever in second. On the grass, two feet from the road, he found a mark made by the near wheel of the cart, and on the opposite side the edge of the grass was marked by a wheel. In his opinion, when the side-car wheel struck the grass verge, the side-car was lifted, causing the motor-cycle to tip to the right. To regain his balance the motor cyclist would have to bring his wheel back to the road, and before deceased was able to do so he collided with the horse. The front of the motor-cycle, no doubt, stuck the horse first. There was very little room for the motor-cycle, a 7.9 h.p. A.J.S., to pass.

Re called, Mr. SEALEY said he could not remember whether the side-car wheel struck the grass verge or not.


Questioned regarding the marks made on the grass by the motor-cycle, P.C. BLICK said he could see where the side-car wheel struck the grass; there was a mark slanting upwards, and there it seemed to end abruptly. The road where the accident occurred was very rough and hard. The bucket of tar Mr. SEALEY had in his cart was upset, and the contents had fallen on to the grass.

Dr. R. H. VEREKER, of Curry Rivel, said he arrived on the scene soon after 11.30 p.m., and found the deceased lying groaning on the grass verge by the roadside. He got him home as quickly as possible, and examined him. There were abrasions of the face and head, but no fracture of the skull. Two ribs of the right side were broken and had pushed in a lung. There was also hemorrhage from the mouth. Deceased was unconscious during the examination, and died soon afterwards. Death was due to internal hemorrhage from the lungs.

Addressing the jury, the Coroner said the evidence was quite clear. Both Mr. SEALEY and the deceased were driving without lights. Mr. SEALEY heard the motor-cycle coming, but it was not known whether the deceased saw or heard his cart. The motor-cycle was in top gear, and undoubtedly when he heard the machine coming Mr. SEALEY pulled into the side of the road. Deceased may also have pulled in, his side-car struck the side of the road, and losing his balance deceased struck the pony. There did not appear to be gross negligence on anyone's part, but both parties should have had lights.

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that deceased died from hemorrhage, caused by coming into collision with a pony and trap whilst driving a motor-cycle and side-car.

The Coroner expressed sympathy with the relatives, sentiments with which the gentlemen of the jury associated themselves.

The jury gave their fees to the Ile Abbots Nursing Association.


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