Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1900 & 09

Sylvester Needham (1837 - 1902)

For most of his working life, Sylvester Needham was a Railway Engine Driver in the employ of the London and North West Railway Company.

He was born in 1837 near Wigan. The 1871 census has him living at Locket Street, Monks Coppenhall, Nantwich, Cheshire with his wife Mary (born 1837 in Manchester) and their children William (born 1855 in Lancashire), Nathan (born 1859 in Atherton, Lancashire), Joseph (born 1862 in Wigan), Thomas (born 1863 in Crewe, Cheshire) and John (born 1868 in Crewe, Cheshire). At this stage it would appear that Sylvester was a Railway Engine Fireman as in 1866 there is a report of a railway accident on the Lancaster to Carlisle line where Sylvester's goods train collided with a stationary goods train at Clifton Station. The driver applied the brakes before he and Sylvester jumped for their lives. The driver was fine, but Sylvester sustained a broken femur. There were no other injuries, but considerable damage, closing the line for five hours.

In 1881 the family was living at 10, West Albert Street, Salford. Sylvester and Mary are both aged 44. Willian is aged 26 and a Bricklayer, Nathan is 21 and a Baker, (Nathan's wife Mary is 20 and a Dressmaker), Joseph is 19 and an Engine Cleaner, Thomas is 15 and an Office Boy and John is 13 and also an Office Boy. Additions to the family are Albert (born 1871 in Crewe) aged 10, Sylvester (born 1874 in Manchester) aged 7 and Jesse (born 1878 in Manchester) aged 3. On 4th October 1883 Thomas died aged 20. The 1891 census shows that the family was still living at West Albert Street, Salford. John is 22 and a Locomotive Fireman, Albert is 18 and a Hairdresser's Assistant, Sylvester is 16 and an Office Boy and Jesse is 12. On 24th February 1894, Sylvester's wife Mary died aged 58.

In June 1894, at Stalybridge Station in Cheshire, a man named Peter Dalgleish committed suicide in front of Sylvester's train. At the Inquest, reported in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser on 29th June 1894, Sylvester Needham of 33, Goodier's Lane, Salford said that he was the engine driver in the employ of the LNWR, who drove the 09.35 train from Huddersfield to Manchester, arriving at Stalybridge at 10.30. The train left the station at 10.38 and he could see the deceased at the north end of the platform. As the engine approached within three yards, the deceased lay down on the track in front of the train. Most of the train passed over the deceased before it came to a standstill. He was taken to the infirmary with severe leg injuries, but died within 15 minutes of admission.

In 1898, Sylvester married again, to Sarah Bowker at Salford by Registrar. The 1901 census reveals that Sarah was born in 1846 in Blackburn, Lancashire. The family is still at 33, Goodier's Lane, Salford and Sylvester is aged 62. Other residents are sons John aged 31 and a Railway Labourer, young Sylvester aged 26, a Warehouseman and Jesse aged 23 a Pawnbroker. Also present is Fred Needham, grandson, aged 13 and an Errand Boy (Pattern Card Making).

Sylvester died on 4th August 1902, aged 64 and is buried in Weaste Cemetery.