Blessing railwaymen's graves one of vicar's final acts in Bromsgrove parish

By Tristan Harris Thursday 13 March 2014 Updated: 13/03 23:04

ON SUNDAY (March 9), before Rev Chris Wingfield’s last service at St John’s, he blessed the two recently reinstated railwaymen’s graves in Bromsgrove Cemetery.

We reported last month that the memorials - to mark the tragic deaths of Thomas Scaife and Joseph Rutherford - were put back where they belonged with cash collected with the support of the Railway Heritage Trust, the Bromsgrove Society, the IME and others.

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.

With his short ten-minute service, in the presence of the church’s wardens, Rev Wingfield re-dedicated the two stones to the graves of the men who lay below and remembered those who gave their lives in service.

He also spoke about the future generations of rail workers and asked for God’s blessing on them, their families and those who travel by train today.

Alastair Moseley from the church said: “He thanked God for the fact there were people in this parish who worked hard to see the gravestones returned to where they belonged.”

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