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Killerton Bridge at Silverton Station

Killerton Bridge in 2012

There was a footpath under the bridge which followed the line of the bridge

© Richard J. Brine


The track  layout at Silverton Station was not conventional. A road bridge known as Killerton Bridge crossed the twin tracks above the level of the station.

In consequence, it had not been possible to arrange the up and down platforms directly opposite to one another as described below.

Each side of the station had a separate entrance path,  the remains of which can still be seen.  Mrs Drewe  used the path which accessed the down platform (to the south of the bridge) to have her conversation with the head Gardener at Killerton then attempted to cross over to the up platform to meet her husband by using the footpath which went across the track diagonally under the bridge and connected the  higher end of the down platform with the lower end of the up platform.


From the Western Times

Saturday 20 April 1878


A dreadful occurrence happened on Thursday evening on the Great Western Railway at Silverton. At most of the stations, up and down platforms are directly opposite each other but the limited quantity of land owned by the Company just at this spot necessitates a different arrangement. The up platform is just above (north) of the Killerton road bridge. And directly opposite it is the accommodation for the goods traffic. The down platform for passengers is on the same side as the goods siding, but is below (south) the bridge; a footway under the bridge connects the higher end of the down platform with the lower end of the up platform.

About five o'clock on Thursday evening, Mrs. Drewe, the wife of the proprietor of the paper mill close at hand was  standing on the down platform, talking to Mr Garland, the gardener at Killerton Park*, who had been waiting for the train from Bristol which is due to stop at Silverton just about this time.  Within a minute of two of five o'clock, the Northern Mail, leaving Exeter at 4.45 pm. is due at the same station, but this train passes through without stopping.

Running from Exeter, without any breaks in its journey, this train, by the time it reaches Silverton, is travelling at somewhere about 40 or 59 miles an hour. Mr Drewe had, we believe, been in Exeter on Thursday, and it is anticipated his return by the train which follows immediately after the Northern Mail, and which stops at all stations. When at the higher end of the down platform, she noticed the approach of the Northern Mail, and it is supposed that she mistook it for the slow train. At all events, she hurriedly got down in the footway to cross to the up platform.

There was no time for anyone to run and stop her, and either through time for anyone to run and stop her, and either through fright or from the supposition that she could get across before the rapidly approaching train passed across before the rapidly approaching train passed, she took no notice of the warning calls to keep back but continued to run across the rails.Just as Mrs Drewe got on the up line, the North Mail came upon her  and death was instantaneous, the unfortunate lady's head being almost severed from her body.

Mrs Drewe was rather over middle age and her sad death has created a very painful sensation throughout the neighbourhood. A great number of the people at Silverton being employed at the mills, Mrs. Drewe was widely known and much sympathy is felt for Mr Drewe in his sudden bereavement.

*The seat of Sir Thomas Ackland.


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