Mackenzie Thomas (1856-1891)


Fresh Light on the Deplorable Accident.

Since the inquiry into the sad circumstances attending the death of Mr. H. Mackenzie Thomas facts have come to our knowledge which deserve publicity by reason of the fresh light they throw on the accident at the Great Western Railway station, Cardiff, on Christmas Eve. It will be recollected that the deceased gentleman was seen entering the subway at 6.10 o'clock, while the accident took place at 6.34. NO evidence was forthcoming at the inquest that he had been engaged in conversation on the down platform with anyone, and therefore, it was puzzling to account for the fact that not only had he failed to take advantage of a special train to Peterstone, which left at 6.29, but he had also actually attempted to enter a train from which the lamps had been taken out. During the last two or three days information has become available which clearly explains the whole circumstances and enables us to trace the movements of Mr. Thomas between 6.10 and 6.34. It appears that relief trains for the down-line towns are occasionally started from the bay on the down-line platform. On Christmas Eve a relief train was started from the bay to Penarth a few minutes after 6.10. Mr Thomas entered the train and does not seem to have discovered the mistake until too late. At all events, he travelled to Grangetown Station, where he left the train and returned to town by tram, and was seen in the latter by several persons. In view of this circumstance, it will be understood how it happened that, reaching the down-line platform once more as the empty Bristol train was leaving, he mistook it for his own train and rushed to the guard's van, with the sad results already known.

While dealing with the subject of the accident, we feel constrained to add an explanation, called for by a paragraph which appeared in a local weekly a few days ago. It is not true that the Edinburgh Life Assurance Company (with which the deceased had insured his life) have disputed the claim, on the ground of contributory negligence. Far from it. Mr. Thomas had paid only two (or at the most three) years' premiums, but though his death only occurred on Christmas Eve, yet before the year was out, Mr. G. J. Lloyd, the resident secretary of the Midland District (which includes Cardiff), had completed all the necessary formalities, and remitted to Mr. Lascelles Carr the document enabling the money to be immediately received by the executors. This explanation is certainly due to the company, which might have been injured by the statement published elsewhere.

Evening Express 5 January 1892



It is our painful duty to record the death, under peculiarly distressing circumstances, of Mr Mackenzie Thomas, general manager of the Western Mail and secretary to the firm of Messrs. Daniel Owen and Co. Mr. Thomas had spent nearly the whole of Thursday in the office leaving about six for the Great Western Station to catch his usual train home to Peterstone, on his way to his residence, at Great House, Bonvilstone. Being Christmas Eve, the Cardiff station platform was crowded, and it was difficult to move along the platform. At about tin minutes past six the deceased gentleman passed over the up-line platform on his way to the train. On his way he cheerily accosted a number of the Western Mail literary staff, who saw Mr. Thomas disappear down the subway leading to the other platform with a gun upon his left shoulder, to which had been attached three or four small parcels - presents for the little ones at home as it was subsequently dis covered. The accident did not happen until after 6.30, so that for twenty minutes or more Mr. Thomas must have occupied a place among the hundreds of passengers who filled the down line platform. The ordinary train due at nix o'clock was late, but at about 6.30 the Hereford train, which ends its journey at Cardiff, entered the station and uncharged its freight. A few minutes later it begun to move out, and it is surmised that Mr. Thomas mistook it for the ordinary down train. At all events, he sprang forward, and, with his only disengaged hand, opened a carriage door. The footboard, however, was covered with frost and ice, and Mr. Thomas's feet slipped, and he fell between the carriage and the platform. The cry of horror uttered by the spectators and the signals of the officials at once alarmed the driver of the train, who pulled up, but not before the train had gone the length of several carriages. Had not Mr. Thomas been carrying the gun and the little parcels of presents he might have saved himself. As it was he could scarcely utter a cry before he was crushed to death, his body being badly bruised Mr. Walkey, of the firm of Walkey, Thomas and Co,, was on the station platform at the time of the accident, and hurried down to the Western Mail Office and telephoned the sad news to Mr. and Mrs Lascelles Carr. They immediately drove from Tredelerch into town, and Mr. Carr went to the station only to find the melancholy story was true. The necessary instructions for dealing with the body were given and it was then reverently carried to the Western Mail Buildings, and placed in one of the upper rooms. Mr. and Mrs. Carr, with Mr. D. W. Thomas, the cousin of the deceased, drove from the station to Bonvilstone to break the news to and console Mrs. Thomas, whose seven little children had gone to bed but an hour previous. The task was rendered all the more painful by the fact that Mrs. Thomas, the widowed mother of Mr. Thomas, was also present at Great House, having arrived there the previous day to spend Christmas with her only son and his family. At first Mrs. H. M. Thomas was determined to come in to Cardiff that night, but her friends eventually were able to prevail upon her to defer it till the morning, when Mr. Carr sent a carriage to fetch her and her three eldest boys and one little girl.

The deceased gentleman was born January 5, 1856, and would, therefore, have been 36 years of age in a fortnight's time. Born within the sound of Bow Bells, he had, nevertheless practically spent his whole life at Cardiff. Mr. Thomas joined the commercial staff of the Western Mail seventeen years ago, and for the last eleven years had acted as the general manager of the paper, as well as of the printing works of Messrs. Daniel Owen and Co. Twelve years ago he married the daughter of Mr. David Griffiths, of Caemain Farm, Bonvilstone, near Cowbridge. Mr. Thomas leaves seven children, and the present condition of Mrs. Thomas renders the sorrowful event all the more painful. Mr. Mackenzie Thomas had for years been prominently identified with Oddfellowship, having at one time or another filled nearly every important office open to a member. He was a P.P.G.M. of the Unity. His standing as an Oddfellow could not be more graphically described than it was by a brother Oddfellow on Thursday, who, standing over the poor bruised body, observed " Oddfellowship has lost in him its best friend in Wales," The news of the accident cast a great gloom over the Christmas Eve rejoicings in Cardiff, and hundreds of people called at the Western Mail Office both on Tuesday and Friday to inquire if the news was true and to express sympathy, and it is great consolation to know how wide was Mr. Thomas's circle of friends and how greatly he was respected. The funeral will take place from the Western Mail Offices at two o'clock on Tuesday, the remains being interred at the New Cemetery, Cardiff,

The foregoing treats exclusively of the circumstances attending the cruelly sudden death. It does not attempt to indicate the position Mr. Mackenzie Thomas occupied in the affections of public and private friends, and more particularly in the affections of those brought into close and intimate relations with him as the commercial manager of a business with which he had been connected so long and honourably. To those who saw how the lamentable accident broke in upon the Christmas Eve festivities of persons who in various capacities are employed within the Western Mail Buildings; how promptly they gathered in sadness and in sorrow, there could be no doubt as to the loveableness of the man so suddenly snatched away. We merely state a simple fact when we say that for the staffs of the several departments all thought of festivity disappeared with the knowledge of the tragic incident at the railway station. It was a severe blow to Mr. Lacelles Carr, and it is certain that it has been felt with equal force by Mr. Daniel Owen, J.P., and Mr. J M. Maclean. In fact, a bond of common sorrow, deep and earnest, today unites every member of the Western Mail staff, from the highest placed to the lowest. A gentleman of the estimable disposition and the capacity of Mr. Mackenzie Thomas could not have, acted as manager for eleven years and as cashier for seven without gaining a firm hold upon the affections of those daily brought into contact with him. "Morien," in a pathetic letter, has happily expressed his thoughts which are in the minds of all the colleagues of the deceased gentleman :- " I can state-and in doing so I simply echo the sentiment of all - that, while watching most keenly over the interest of the proprietors of both firms, no employee who endeavoured to do his duty I ever found in my dear old friend anything but a most genial friend He was endowed with the rare gift of being able to exercise unflinching, authority in a genial and friendly manner' which made everybody feel a personal interest in the success of the firms under his management. His great grasp of commercial details and almost intuitive penetration made the employee's feel that he was present everywhere. Mr. Thomas's tried integrity and high business qualities naturally strongly recommended him to the proprietors, and it is not too much to say that each trusted him as if he were that proprietor's second self. Apart from the great affection felt for Mr. Thomas personally, the sense of loss sustained by his death which the proprietors must feel must make them the objects of general sympathy. But when one thinks of poor Mackenzie's home - of his affectionate widow and loving little ones - one's grief and heartfelt sympathy are great indeed !

The Western Mail - 26 December 1891