Historical Characters from Knaresborough's Past

A historian and author recently contacted us about a 'Railway Guard' who lies at rest within the grounds of St. John's, Knaresborough. James Rogers writes the following:

John Dufton - Railway Guard

In 1853 a train was derailed at Wormald Green between Harrogate and Ripon, and the guard was unfortunately killed. He was John Dufton a Knaresborough man who left a wife and three week old child. It was said that throughout his railway career Dufton had won for himself the esteem of all passengers on the line by his uniform attention and civility on all occasions. He must have been some man because despite being only 25 years old and a working man, his funeral at Knaresborough Parish Church was one of the largest seen in Knaresborough and would not have disgraced the aristocracy. A special train, ordered by the superintendent of the York & North Midland Railway, ran from York to Knaresborough bringing railway officials and workers from all over northern England to the funeral. Eight railway guards from various companies carried the coffin, which was followed by about 40 railway guards, and about 60 station masters, clerks, ticket collectors, porters, etc. It was said that even more mourners would have attended if they had know about the funeral.

John was buried in the church yard of St John the Baptist, Knaresborough where his gravestone (pictured) can still be seen. It is the 25th down the path which runs parallel to the footpath leading from the west end of the church towards the Conyngham Hall car park.
                                                                                                 James Rogers.


Lieutenant David Gibson Turnbull
Died 15th April 1917

An account from Howard Bell:

"I can remember an aeroplane coming down in the Nidd. I don't know whether it was a Gypsy Moth but it was a single engine biplane came down in what is now the cricket field, he ran out of petrol. He went to fill up with petrol, and when he took off, he sort of paced it out by going diagonally across the field. He thought he could take off, and he set off, he had what they call a skid bar under the tail end of the plane, wheels at the front, and a skid bar at the back, and that caught a branch of the hedge and he went straight down, nose-dived straight down.
I can remember my father being on guard with his rifle and bayonet to see that nobody pinched anything from the aeroplane. In our house, I don't know where it got to, right up to the Second World War, hung up a blade of a propeller, made of wood, laminated. My dad got that and he was supposed to be guarding it! I can remember my father being on guard, of course all the local people lined up on the road to see if they could see this aeroplane, my dad's keeping them away!
I sneaked down with a flask full of tea and some sandwiches. I would be about ten years old then.
The pilot was killed and his wife came over and stayed at the Mother Shipton Hotel..."

The aeroplane that the lieutenant was flying was a BE12a - details here.