Mark HOLMES of Spilsby
(Abt 1762-1839)
Susannah MOTLEY
William PINCHES of Boston
(Abt 1794-1863)
Frances ("Fanny") HOLMES
Thomas Holmes PINCHES


Family Links

Jane Matilda CROMBIE

Thomas Holmes PINCHES

  • Born: 20 Feb 1823, Boston, Lincolnshire, England
  • Christened: 23 Mar 1823, Methodist Chapel, Red Lion St., Boston, Lincoln, England
  • Married: 2 Jan 1863, Trinity Church, Adelaide, S.A., Australia 1 2
  • Died: 23 May 1893, Balhannah, South Australia, Australia 3

   Research Notes:

Thomas Holmes Pinches died aged 70 years.




An inquest was held at the Ovingham Hotel, Bowden, on Thursday on the body of Thomas Holmes Pinches, who was killed at the Ovingham station crossing on the North express. Mr. George Yeomans, outdoor running superintendent, attended for the Locomotive Department, and Mr. J. McNeil, traffic superintendent, for the Traffic Department. T. G. Pinches, nephew of deceased, said the latter was 71 years old. C. G. Jay, a butcher's boy, said he was at the Ovingham railway Crossing on his cart when the gates were closed to allow the smelters' train from Dry Creek to pass. Was on the west side of the track, and saw the train go towards Adelaide. After it passed, saw some children open the gates on the western side of the line and other children open the gates on the eastern side of the line. Believed they were school children. Started to drive over the crossing, but noticed the Broken Hill express coming from Adelaide. Observed a man coming over the crossing from the eastern side who got nearly across. The children called to him, as also did Mr. Allen, the ticket clerk. When nearly over the track the man made a quick movement and at that moment the train struck him. He disappeared, but witness saw the body drop on the down platform on the western side. Saw Mr. Allen moving towards the man, but he was too late to stop him. Witness passed over the crossing several times during the week and sometimes had to stop when the gates were closed. Had seen children open the gates several times before. Had sometimes seen the station-master stop children from opening the gates and also drive them away. There was no man whose sole duty it was to look after the gate. Stephen Allen, ticket clerk at the Ovingham station, deposed that the passenger-train from Dry Creek was standing at the eastern, platform of the up line at 4.20 pm. Collected tickets from passengers who Ieft the train. The last passenger gave his ticket at the end of the platform nearest Adelaide and near the crossing. After receiving it turned round to see that no one went over the crossing. Then saw that the gates on both sides of the line had been opened, and deceased was passing over the crossing from the eastern side to the western side. Called to him several times to keep back and jumped towards him to endeavor to get hold of him, but could not reach him. The train from Dry Creek had left the station for Adelaide, but witness knew that the express was coming from Adelaide. The express passed at the rate of from 30 to 40 miles an hour. Then saw a hat on the crossing and after looking about discovered the body of deceased on the platform about 35 yards from the crossing. Thought the man was dead, and sent for Dr. Evans, who pronounced life to be extinct. Both legs were broken, and there were cuts about the head. Witness's duties were to attend to the railway-crossing, to light the up distant signal from North Adelaide at night, and to collect tickets and to attend to the work in the office of the issue of tickets. Had to close the gates of both sides of the line when a train was coming to prevent vehicular traffic up the Torrens-road. About 48 trains passed during the day, and in addition engines were running between Adelaide and Islington. About 13 ran each way daily. Had to open and close the gates about 82 times a day. Twenty-one trains stopped at the Ovingham station during the day. Closed the gates before the smelters' train from Dry Creek drew up at Ovingham station. Witness's practice was not to open the gates after the Dry Creek train had passed till the Broken Hill express had gone by. No one except himself, when on duty, had a right to open the gates. Had never known the gates to be opened before by anyone but himself, nor had he seen children open the gates. Had been at the station only three weeks. The gates were only intended to shut off vehicular traffic. A foot passenger could pass through the small gates on each side when closed, but if witness saw anyone attempting to cross he would stop him. When a train was approaching the small gate on the western side was bolted. On the small gate on either side was a chain and padlock. The latter was left open except when the man on duty left the station. A foot passenger could cross the line through this gate, bnt witness would, if he saw a train coming, prevent anyone doing so. Any person could open this gate, but had no right to do so. Was always standing within a few paces of the gate and could stop anyone from passing through. There wan a stationtmaster at Ovingham — Mr. A. Willoughby. Witness and the stationmaster relieved each other at 1 p.m. One shift was from 5 a.m. till 1 p.m., when the man was relieved, and the other relieved and worked till 12.30 a.m. No special precautions were taken when trains were expected to pass each other over the crossing. By Mr. McNeil—Did not see children near the eastern gate nor the deceased before the train passed. It was possible for Pinches to have opened the gate on the eastern side. By Mr. Yeomans—Did not see the engine strike the deceased. Could not say that he threw himself on the line.

George Hiscock said he was driver of the express train. Passed Ovingham station at the usual speed of from 35 to 38 miles an hour. Did not see deceased on the line, but saw the body thrown on the down platform. Stopped the train. There were no marks on the engine. Had witness seen deceased passing over the crossing it would have been impossible to pull up in time. Gave the usual signal on approaching the crossing.

Arthur Willoughby, stationmaster at Ovingham, was not on duty at the time of the accident. Had been at the station for 18 months. Had known children to open the gates on the crossing. Children had a good many opportunities of opening the gates. For instance, when a passenger train was leaving the station the officer in charge often had to go into the ticket office to transact the business of the department, and at such times the children sometimes opened the gates. There was only one man on duty at the station at any one time. Had sometimes seen children open the gates when they ought not to touch them. Had in many instances driven children away when he had seen them trying to do so. Had not seen any person in any real danger on the crossing, and there had not been any accident there before.

Constable James Hogan showed amongst other things found on the deceased a Waltham watch which was much injured, and which had stopped at 4.22 p.m., about the time the accident happened. T. G. Pinches, recalled, said the deceased was not in bad pecuniary circumstances, nor had he any family trouble. He was the last man he would have expected to commit suicide. The Coroner said, judging from the circumstances and the evidence, it was improbable that the deceased committed suicide. It was the duty of the Government to afford enfficient protection for the public especially on the Torrens-road, where the traffic was great. He pointed rmt that one man had to do the whole of the duties at tbe station and attend to the crossing. According to the arrangements of the Railway Department when everything at the crossing went right there was no risk, but years ago when the traffic was not so great there was a man in charge of the crossing. He was of opinion that some mechanical contrivance could be used to keep the gates safe when closed.

The verdict of the jury was —"That the deceased, Thomas Holmes Pinches, met with his death accidentally, no blame attaching to any one. We also suggest as a rider that the Railway Commissioner be requested to devise some means of effectually fastening the gates, so that they cannot be opened by anyone but the railway officials."

FUNERAL OF MR. PINCHES. The funeral of the late Mr. T. H. Pinches took place on Thursday afternoon. After the inquest the body was removed to the residence of Mr. T. G. Pinches, nephew of deceased. Fifteenth-street, Bowden, and thence to the West-terrace Cemetery. The chief mourners were Mr. George Pinches (son), from Victoria, Misses Carolina and Emma Pinches (daughters), and Mr. T. G. Pinches (nephew). Amongst those around the grave were Messrs. Pike and Pew, of Balhannah, and A. Banks, of Robe. Mr. Pinches was a colonist of 45 years. On arriving here he settled down at Norwood for two years, working at his trade as a carpenter. He next went to Balhannah, where he has continued to reside up to the time of his death, excepting two years spent on the goldfields of Victoria. He was a well-known and respected resident at Balhannah, and expressions of regret have been received by the relatives at his sudden death. On Thursday Mr. T. G. Pinches received a telegram from Messrs. J. & A. G. Johnson, of Oakbank, in whose employ the deceased had been for 15 years as follows:—"Fellow-employés and selves deeply grieved. Sorry did not not know in time to attend funeral." Mr. Pinches, who was 71 years old, survived his wife only six months, and leaves a grown-up family of two sons and four daughters and three grandchildren." 4

   Marriage Information:

Thomas married Jane Matilda CROMBIE, daughter of Joseph CROMBIE and Unknown, on 2 Jan 1863 in Trinity Church, Adelaide, S.A., Australia 1 2. (Jane Matilda CROMBIE was born about 1840 and died on 23 Oct 1892 in Balhannah, South Australia, Australia 5.)

   Marriage Notes:

"On the 2nd January, at Trinity Church, by the Rev. Dean Farrell, Thos. H. Pinches, near Balhannah, to Jane Matilda Crombie, of North Adelaide."


1 South Australia BDM, Reg. 53/291.

2 South Australian Register, Monday 5 January 1863.

3 South Australia BDM, Reg. 210/42.

4 The Advertiser (Adelaide), Friday 26 May 1893.

5 South Australia BDM, Reg. 205/382.

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