Bromsgrove's Railwaymen's Graves restored to former glory

By Harriet Ernstsons Thursday 27 February 2014 Updated: 06/03 22:08

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Buy photos » Michael Ford takes a look at one of the headstones. Picture by Marcus Mingins 0914006MMR

WORLD-FAMOUS gravestones in memory of two railwaymen have been restored to their former glory.

The memorials, which have stood for over 170 years in St John’s Church Graveyard in Bromsgrove, mark the tragic deaths of Thomas Scaife and Joseph Rutherford.

The pair died in 1840 when the boiler of the locomotive they were working on in a yard at the foot of the Lickey Incline exploded, with the accident leading to the formation of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) which sets new standards of engineering.

They were originally laid to rest with simple tombstones but the following year Mr Rutherford’s widow had a larger memorial made. Mr Scaife’s colleagues then raised money to have a similar gravestone made for him, inscribed with a poem which has become folklore among railway enthusiasts.

After they had fallen into a state of disrepair, the Church Fabric Committee at the church - led by Alastair Moseley - raised £10,000 to have them repaired.

The cash was collected with the support of the Railway Heritage Trust, the Bromsgrove Society, the IME and others.

Mr Moseley said: “On February 21, the stones were completed and transported by Midland Conservation Limited to their original settings and are now standing once again in St John’s Church as a fitting reminder of the two men who died so tragically.

“It also reminds us all of the long journey the railways have travelled from the age of primitive dangerous locomotives and open carriages to the sleek and safe trains we are used to travelling in now up and down the Lickey Incline.

“There is still some work to do to finish off the setting which the committee will undertake over the next few weeks but the church looks forward to welcoming visitors to the churchyard to reflect not only on the quality of the work done to return these two monuments to their former glory but also to remember the two men who died so tragically all those years ago.”

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