Killed by a Hen

I’ve got a particular interest in events which happened close to where we live and the stretch of Meltham Road from Netherton down to Lockwood has seen more than its fair share of accidents over the years.

One particularly unusual one was reported in the local newspapers in October 1907 and occurred on the hill which drops down from Netherton to Big Valley…

Yorkshire Evening Post (07/Oct/1907):

CYCLIST KILLED BY A FOWL.

MELTHAM MAN THROWN HEAVILY ON TO HIS HEAD.

THE HEN JAMS THE FRONT WHEEL.

A Meltham cyclist met hit death on Saturday under peculiar circumstances.

George Henry Pogson, aged 24 years, of Mill Moor, Meltham, left home about 2 p.m. on Saturday for a cycle ride. When proceeding down Big Valley when by some means got in between the front wheel of the machine, with the result that it became entangled, and caused the man to be pitched heavily on his head. He was rendered unconscious.

Dr. Mackenzie, of Lockwood, was summoned, and was soon in attendance, and after examining the man’s wound said that Pogson was probably suffering from fracture of the skull. He died at the Huddersfield Infirmary at 11 p.m. the same day.

Yorkshire Evening Post (08/Oct/1907):

THE CORONER ON THE LIABILITY OF FOWL OWNERS.

At the Huddersfield Infirmary, this afternoon, Mr. E H. Hill held an inquest on the body of George Henry Pogson (24), cotton operative, of Mill Moor, Meltham, who succumbed on Saturday night to injuries to the skull sustained during the day by being thrown off his bicycle whilst riding down the Big Valley from Netherton.

The accident, as already stated in “The Yorkshire Evening Post,” was caused by a hen which flew across the road into the front wheel of the machine.

The Coroner said no doubt hens were a great danger to cyclists. From a recent decision, it appeared that the owners of hens straying on the highway and causing damage, could not be held responsible in a civil action for damages. He did not think they could be held responsible criminally.

A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.


George Henry Pogson was born in Meltham in 1883, the son of local weaver George William Henry Lewis Pogson (1845–1913) and his wife Emma (1852–1900). He likely had six brothers and sisters.

The 1891 Census lists 7-year-old George as living with his parents and siblings, and attending school.

George’s mother, Emma, died in 1900, aged 53, and was buried on 4 December 1900 at the Meltham Wesleyan Chapel.

The 1901 Census lists him working as a 16-year-old cotten piecer and living with his widowed father at Mill Moor, Meltham.

1901 Census YRKRG13_4092_4095-0622

Following the accident, George was buried at the Meltham Wesleyan Chapel on 9 October 1907, the day after the inquest was held into his death.

pogson1

After George’s death, it seems his father moved from Meltham to live with his widowed daughter, Selina Ann Woodhouse, in Holmbridge where he died in 1913, aged 68. He was buried alongside his wife and son at the Meltham Wesleyan Chapel on 15 April 1913.

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