Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1880 & 89

James Beckett (1855 - 1889)

James Beckett was a Railway Clerk for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Co. It was whilst travelling on a horse-drawn omnibus at Dunham Massey, near Altrincham, Cheshire, that he had an accident and died, aged 34.

He was born in 1855 in Salford and baptised on 18th November 1855 at St Phillip's Church, Salford. His parents were Thomas Beckett, (born 1826 in Salford) who was an Iron Moulder, and Sarah Beckett (born 1827 in Manchester). In 1871, 15-year-old James lived with his family at Anderson Street Salford. His siblings were John (born 1851) aged 20, Frances (born 1858) aged 13, Sarah J (born 1861) aged 10, Esther (born 1864) aged 7 and Nancy (born 1868) aged 3.

On 17th September 1877, James married Elizabeth Roberts at Christ Church, Salford. Elizabeth was the daughter of Edward Roberts, a Watchman. She was aged 23, a Winder by trade, whose address was 12 Brewerton Street, Pendleton. In 1881 James and Elizabeth lived at 26 Ryall Street, Salford with a son, Thomas E (born 1880) aged 1, and three of James's sisters: Frances aged 23, Sarah J aged 20 and Nancy aged 13. At the time of his death in 1889, James was a member of the No.1 Equalised District of the Order of Druids, and a Past Grand Master and Secretary of the St George's Lodge of Druids. He had been a Teacher at Christ Church School, Hulme Place, Salford, for 15 years, and had been a Sidesman of the church for three years. He was also secretary of Islington Ward, Conservative Association for some years.

The fatal accident occurred to James on Saturday 6th July 1889. He was on an outing of about 30 Druids from the British Fleet Inn, Oldfield Road, Salford, (where the St. George's Lodge of Druids met), to the Rope and Anchor public house at Dunham Massey. Their transport was a bus drawn by five horses, owned by the Manchester Carriage Company and James was acting as conductor. As they were approaching the bridge under the Bridgewater Canal, the bus driver stopped and said that he didn't think he had sufficient clearance with people on the top deck. Five people got off, but James remained on board to act as an aide to the driver. A witness said that James had said that there was seven feet clearance and plenty of room, and to proceed. The bus's handrail scraped along the brickwork and was sparking. The driver had to crouch on the footboard. James was knocked down, and on the other side of the bridge it was noticed that he was lying flat on the top deck and was badly injured. He was taken to the Rope and Anchor public house and a doctor summoned. Mr W Agar Renshaw, surgeon, Altincham, found the deceased in a state of collapse and death was due to shock to the nervous system. The Inquest Jury was of the opinion that the driver was not to blame and gave a finding of Accidental Death.

The funeral took place at Weaste Cemetery (B18/CE/1740) on Thursday 11th July. The cortege consisted of a hearse and three private carriages. There were deputations of Druids and Railway Clerks in attendance and the Conservative Party was represented by Alderman R Mottram and John Ackroyd. The service was conducted by Rev Canon Stowell of Christ Church. James was only 34 years old.