October 1st, 2016

Railwaymen gravestone project wins national recognition

Railwaymen gravestone project wins national recognition Railwaymen gravestone project wins national recognition
Updated: 11:09 am, May 07, 2015

THE WORK restoring two world-famous gravestones in memory of two railwaymen has been commended at a national awards ceremony.

All those involved with the works on the memorials, which have stood for more than 170 years in St John’s Church Graveyard, in Bromsgrove, were thrilled to walk away with The Supporters Award.

The National Railway Hertiage Awards, which encourages the highest standards of structural restoration, were held last Wednesday (December 3) at Merchant Taylor’s Hall, in London.

The accolades were presented by Sir Peter Hendy, the commissioner of transport for London.

The memorials marked the tragic deaths of Thomas Scaife and Joseph Rutherford who both died in 1840 when the boiler of the locomotive they were working on in a yard at the foot of the Lickey Incline exploded.

The accident led to the formation of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) which set new safety standards for 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 rail 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: “We were up against stiff competition with railway conservation projects from all across the country and although we did not win a first prize, we did receive a Highly Commended Award.

“We received real praise for the quality of the restoration.

“We travel very safely these days – in those days it was a bit of a hair-raising experience to travel by train, it was a big adventure – now, we take it for granted.

“We are absolutely massively proud, we have managed to perpetuate the memory of the two railwaymen who lost their lives.”