Before we launched our trade union dataset (details here), we started to publicise what was coming. In response to our Tweet about one of the people found in the new dataset – Elizabeth Calladine – Steven replied, to say that he’d been intrigued, as Elizabeth’s accident was local to him. We were really amazed – and delighted – with what followed, the subject of Steven’s guest blog post here: an act of remembrance for one person.
This really gets at the heart of what we hoped our project would do: inspire others to find out more, to share their research, and for us all to remember the individuals named. So – a heartfelt thanks to Steven for remembering Elizabeth Calladine, and then for sharing her life story and helping us all to remember. We absolutely hope that others will be similarly inspired – please let us know if you are and if you manage to find out more about any of the people mentioned in our database.
I’m a keen follower of ‘Railway Work, Life & Death’ project and have been for some time now. My interest in this project was sparked because of my own connection to a railway accident in my family, but I will leave that story for another time.
On 8 March it was International Women’s Day. It was on this day that I became intrigued to learn more about accidents that involved women and so I started to look further into the vast database with a particular focus on women involved in accidents in the counties of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. I wanted to use the data to tell a story about the person, the circumstances that led up to an accident, what happened and finally to remember their life.
Let me take you back to 1901. In 1901, a George and Elizabeth Calladine were living together in their family home at Tupton, Chesterfield with their two sons (George and Thomas) and three daughters (Elizabeth, Elizabeth and Sarah). George was working in a local mine as a hewer, along with his two sons. Elizabeth assumed to be a housewife although it wasn’t recorded on the 1901 Census. Fast forward to 1905. I discovered that George was injured in a coal mining accident and sadly died on the 9 November 1905 in Chesterfield Hospital leaving behind Elizabeth and their five children. This was a terrible tragedy and would have had a huge impact on Elizabeth and her children and would ultimately lead to her own death a few years later.
On the 2 June 1908 Elizabeth Calladine was out near her home and involved in an accident which the database describes as; ‘It appears that Calladine was picking up some odds and ends off the line near a dead end when some wagons were shunted back crushing her between the dead end and the buffers’. Times must have been very hard for Elizabeth following the death of George three years earlier, and it seems Elizabeth was searching for firewood for her fire to keep her family warm. A terrible terrible accident and a very sad way to die.
The following newspaper article provides a very good account of the accident including eye witness statements:
The image below shows the location of the accident just outside Clay Cross Railway Station along with Elizabeth’s home address of ‘Springfield Cottages’ across the way from the ‘dead end’ described in the accident record.
So now I knew more about Elizabeth, her family and details of the accident I thought I would try to find her final resting place. There was no guarantee that I would, but worth a try. A quick look and I managed to find her burial record showing Elizabeth was buried on the 5 June 1908 in North Wingfield Churchyard.
On 11 March 2023 I made the short trip to North Wingfield Churchyard in search of Elizabeth. All I had to use was the date of the burial and the burial number. No map and I didn’t know if there would even be a headstone. This could take a while and the search was made tricker as it had recently snowed. However, after a few minutes I managed to spot a rather large headstone commemorating both George and Elizabeth Calladine. Result. I had located them. I was so pleased. This was the perfect outcome. Here are a couple of images of the headstone;
As this story comes to a close, I feel that I have done my bit to remember Elizabeth and her family. It started out as a line of data amongst many thousands and concludes with an image of the headstone of George and Elizabeth Calladine of Tupton and Clay Cross, Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Finally, I have identified living descendants of George and Elizabeth and messaged them to share this story and the wonderful work of the Railway Work, Life & Death’ project. I will update you if and when I hear back from them.
Steven has a keen interest in military and social history. A passion for brining history to life using data, documentation and artefacts. Helping to remember the lives of our ancestors as well as the people who used to live and work in our communities. More information on Steven and his work can be found on https://www.facebook.com/henmanresearch