The following news article appeared in the 'Reading Mercury' of February 25th 1950. The accident raised the issue of road safety for children, and as a result, Arborfield and Newland Parish Council pressed ever harder for pavements to be provided alongside the A327 and on School Road:
Girl’s Fatal Injuries
An inquest was held at Reading on Monday on 7-years-old Esme Jean Hiscock, of 26, Arborfield Hall, Arborfield, who received fatal injuries when she was knocked down by a lorry near the Arborfield crossroads on Tuesday last week.
A State-Registered nurse, Mrs. Elma Evans, of Arborfield, said she was on a horse at the Arborfield crossroads. In front of her was the bus from Reading, and, as it moved off, a little girl ran across the road from behind it, and the accident occurred. Similar evidence was given by Mrs. Bernice Clewes, of Church Lane, Shinfield, who had just got off the ‘bus.
The vehicle involved was an Army lorry, and a passenger, L/Cpl. Frank Fuller, of the Airborne Forces Depot, Parachute Regt., Maida Barracks, Aldershot, said they were travelling about 25 m.p.h. A ‘bus passed in the opposite direction, and, as they got a clear view of the road again, they saw a small girl step off the pavement on the off-side and start to run diagonally across the road. The driver sounded his horn and applied his brakes almost immediately, but they were carried forward into a skid and struck the child.
"At first the girl did not run particularly fast, but then she made an attempt to cross in front of us by running faster", witness added.
Similar evidence was also given by the driver, Pte. Edward Herbert Smith, who said that he had been driving all kinds of Army vehicles for over 10 years without any accident.
Death was due to multiple fractures of the skull, with haemorrhage into the brain. A verdict of "Accidental death" was returned by the jury, and recording the verdict, the deputy coroner (Mr. A. E. Sheppard) said: "The decision she made was clearly and unfortunately the wrong one".
The 'Reading Mercury' of 11th March 1950 reported on the Parish Council meeting held on Monday 7th March, which included this item:
There was some discussion on the recent fatal accident at Arborfield Cross, and it was suggested that the ‘bus stopping place might be altered or police protection given to the school children. It was decided to signpost the road to Wokingham. The clerk was asked to press again for provision of footpaths in the village itself.
Later that month, the 'Reading Mercury' of Friday 25th covered the Annual Parish Meeting, where the accident was discussed again:
The Arborfield and District annual parish meeting was held at the Village Hall on Monday, with Mr. A. Jarvis in the chair.
The clerk (Mr. A.J. Bentley) reported that, following the recent fatal accident at Arborfield Cross, he had written to the police complaining of the non-observation of the thirty-mile speed limit in the main street but no reply had been received. He had also written to the district surveyor regarding footpaths, and suggesting "School Danger" notices at the ‘bus stop. The surveyor had replied that a footpath was out of the question at the moment, owing to the drastic reduction in the Ministry of Transport grant; also he could not agree that further "Danger" notices would serve a useful purpose.
Mr. M. A. Andrews strongly contested this and it was also pointed out that many children came from the military camp each day and alighted at the cross-roads. The Rev. C.T.D. Sparshott said the military authorities had promised to instruct their drivers to exercise care in driving through the village at certain times. Finally, it was resolved to ask the Thames Valley Traction Co. to divert a ‘bus morning and evening to bring children from the camp to school and to petition the Ministry of Transport, to move the ‘bus stop to a point beside the post office.
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