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Blog- The Trial of Sir Topham Hatt - Day 2

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There was drama in the courtroom today as the defendant broke his self imposed silence with a verbal attack on the council for the prosecution. It came after the lawyer continued to outline evidence of negligence dating back to the 1940’s. Mr Beeching QC presented exhibit B to the jury in the form of a mangled and charred wooden brake block. This item had been loaned to the prosecution lawyer by the Island of Sodor museum. It had, according to Mr Beeching, been recovered from N.W locomotive number 5, James, following an accident shortly after its arrival on the island’s railway system. Whilst hauling a freight train down the steep gradient, known locally as Gordon’s Hill, the engine had “run away” derailing into a field of cows at the bottom of the hill.

According to the lawyer; staff at Tidmouth Sheds had alerted the railway’s management to their concerns about the locomotives wooden brake blocks, declaring them as “no good” the moment the locomotive had arrived on the railway.

Addressing the defendant Mr Beeching stated that he had “purchased the locomotive and put it into service despite knowing the brakes were of insufficient quality”. He continued that this showed a “flagrant disregard for the safety of passengers and crew and that it was a miracle that the crew had not been seriously injured in the accident”.

It was at this point that the defendant, Sir Topham Hatt, rose from his seat and broke his silence. Pointing a finger at the lawyer he stated that Mr Beeching should “get his facts straight before trying to build a decent case”. Sir Hatt stated that the engine in question had not been newly purchased at the time of the accident. In fact it had been purchased a couple of years previously. Staring straight at the lawyer the defendant stated that “should the council look back at photographs from N.W number 3 (Henry’s) tunnel incident, number 5 can clearly be identified as the locomotive which hauled the carriages away.”

Mr Beeching interjected that this was not possible as press cuttings linked to the previous incident referred to the engine by the name Eagle. He also stated that this particular engine was painted in a red livery, whilst James had been black at the time of the crash.

With a big sigh, and speaking to the lawyer as a teacher may speak to a difficult child, the defendant stated that following purchase N.W number 5 had suffered from a number of mechanical problems shortly after its arrival. It was subsequently returned it to the main land for repair before it had been officially named. It was during this time away, stated Sir Hatt, that the wooden brake blocks had been fitted and this action had been against the railway’s wishes. The engine had returned painted in a black undercoat and was carrying this livery when it crashed during a test run. The red livery was restored after the locomotive had been repaired, with improved brakes, following the accident.


This was not the end of Sir Hatt’s attack on the prosecution however. He then asked the lawyer why he felt it pertinent to use, as evidence, events from so long ago. After all, stated Sir Hatt, he was not even running the railway at the time – it was his father who was in charge during the 1940’s when all of these events had taken place!


This led to the judge calling for the trial to be adjourned! The case will resume shortly..


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