Monday, June 22, 2009

Fatal accident to the Nelson Mail Coach, 19 March 1904

"The Nelson coach, which left Belenheim at seven o'clock on March 19th, without passengers, came to grief near the Wairau Bridge, about six miles from Blenheim. The flood was flowing across the road with great force, and there was deep water, with a strong current, at the foot of a rather steep approach on the Tua Marina side.

"Here, the current overturned the coach and horses, sweeping them against a fence. Two horses and the driver, George Richardson, were drowned. A party of police found Richardson's body hanging to a fence on the Tua Marina roadside, one hundred yards below the scene of the accident. By means of a boat, with great difficulty, they cut free the two horses, which escaped alive, the other two being drowned. The police also picked up the mail.

"The accident to the coach was witnessed by a settler, and Richardson was seen to swim for two hundred yards, and then sink exhausted."
Caption to the photo:
The two horses seen floating near the coach were the polers. The leaders were rescued after being in the water over three hours, but one died afterwards. Our Picton correspondent write: - "Concerning the floods, which were very sudden, unfortunately one poor man lost his life in trying to do his duty by carrying His Majesty's mails to time, in spite of rain or floods -- I speak of Richardson, the driver of the Nelson coach, who started from Blenheim at the usual time on Saturday morning. He always assured his passengers that he never risked the rivers, but went the long way round, through Tua Marina, and up the north bank, if there was any fresh in the rivers on the usual road. He was doing so on this occasion, and had safely crossed the Ferry bridge, when horses, coach, and everything went into a hole, the coach capsized, and the poor driver, encumbered with oilskins, leggings, and gloves, was unable to swim to safety on the higher ridges of land."
Weekly Press, 6 April 1904

"The sad news has cast quite a gloom over the town; for deceased was widely known and greatly respected, being a steady man of very high character, and by his employers was considered as "one in a thousand " He was a son-in-law of Mr John Gay, of this city, and leaves a widow and one child, a girl of nine years of age. He was about thirty seven years of age, and his parents reside in Kimbolton, Feilding district. The greatest sympathy is being manifested towards the widow and relatives."
Colonist, 21 March 1904

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