Local History Society

 Memories - Black-out death, April 1940


On April 20th 1940, the 'Reading Mercury' reported an inquest held on William Morland, following a road accident in Eversley Road (now part of Rickman Close), south of Arborfield Cross:

Road Tragedy at Arborfield

Aged Man found Lying in Road

An open verdict was returned by the Reading Borough Coroner Mr. J. L. Morton at an inquest on Tuesday on William Morland, aged 82, a general labourer of 14 Council Houses, Arborfield, who died at the Royal Berkshire Hospital on Saturday as a result of a road accident. Mrs. Mary Beatrice Fullbrook of 14 Council Houses, Arborfield, said that at about 10:10 p.m. on Friday last week she was told that there had been an accident outside her house, and on going out she found her father lying on the road near the gate. Dr. Achayin, acting emergency surgical officer at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, said that death was due to shock, following multiple injuries.

Charles Hugh Hatcher, of 12 Council Houses, stated that while coming home at 10:10 p.m. on Friday he found Morland lying in the road. A headlamp mask was found about eight yards away. PC Frederick Alfred Butler said that, in addition to seeing the headlamp mask in the road, he found the rim of a headlamp in the ditch. On the following morning he examined a car from which a headlamp was missing at Arborfield.

Evidence was given by Major Jenner David Tidmarsh, of the Royal Artillery, who said he had been driving for 35 years without an accident. On Friday evening last week he visited Reading, and while driving back to Arborfield he pulled out to avoid some pedestrians, when he felt a jolt and the left-hand headlamp went out. It had been loose and was to be repaired. He did not stop because he did not realise he had struck someone. He believed the car had struck a portion of the grass verge. The car would not have been exceeding 15 m.p.h. When he arrived at his destination he found the headlamp hanging by the flex. On the following morning his servant informed him that the police were making certain inquiries. When witness again examined the car he came to the conclusion that the damage to it could not have been caused by striking the grass verge. He telephoned Wokingham Police Station and asked for a police officer to examine the car.

The coroner said it seemed clear that the man had been knocked down by a vehicle, but he could not find that any particular vehicle had been identified as being the cause of the crash.

With acknowledgements to Berkshire Newspapers

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