The Steam Roller in Orcop, gruesome deaths, and other things

1823 – Coal Wagon Kills Boy

A lad named Watts, servant to Mr. Williams of Orcop, was desperately trying to hold on to the shaft horse of a wagon laden with coal which was going down a hill near to Ross on Wye.

He stumbled and fell and both wheels of the wagon went over his legs which were so badly broken that he died shortly afterwards.

The inquest revealed that the wheel of the wagon was properly locked, and it was just a tragic accident.

1834 – Gun Accident at Orcop

James Farr, a 70 year old man of Orcop was happily loading his gun inside his house.  He had inserted the charge of powder and shot, and had reached across to the window sill to pick up some paper for ramming.

The stock of the gun slipped on the floor, and it went off, firing the contents of the barrel straight through the poor man’s neck.

James lived in great agony for three days, before finally dying.

1843 – Lightning Causes Death of Boy

A terrific storm passed over Orcop in mid August 1843, and during the afternoon it caused a terrible accident.

A young lad was driving three horses drawing a plough in a field at Orcop, with his father, when a tremendous flash of lightning followed by thunder frightened the horses.

The horses leapt out of the furrow and knocked the lad over, at the same time jerking the plough out of his father’s hands.  The point of the plough entered the poor boy’s side, and tore out his bowels.

Surgical help was to no avail, and he died three hours later.


1844 – Man falls into Brook after Drinking

James Price went into the Lion public house in Orcop during one afternoon, and drank rather heavily, not leaving until 10 in the evening.

The landlord, Joshua Jones, said that he was neither drunk nor sober, but something inbetween, and when James was asked if he was okay to walk home he said that he was.

His best route home was over the Hand Bridge, which although was a public footpath was not really thought to be safe for anyone to cross, whether they be drunk or sober, and it was also very narrow.

The next morning, a chap named Richard Waters was sent to look for James as he had not returned home, and he found that the Hand Bridge rail was broken;  on further investigation, he found James lying in the brook with his head under water…….ice had formed around his body.

The verdict was accidental death.

1844 – Death from Burning

Here is Orcop’s contribution to the terrible death toll of children due to burning from the fire.

Emma Rook, a five year old girl of Orcop was left alone in charge of her toddler brother whilst her parents were out.

Her clothes caught alight when she got too close to the fire, and she died from her injuries.

1858 – Old Woman Drunk and Incapable in Orcop

Ellen Probyn, an elderly woman from Orcop, had on several occasions been before the Court for being drunk and incapable in the public streets.

She had been treated leniently, but finally in August 1858, despite her entreaties for them to be “kind to her infirmities”, the Court lost patience and she was fined 5s.

1860 – Horrible Gun Accident to 12 Year Old Boy

James Edwards, a 12 year old boy of Orcop, was working at a farm house.  The son of his employer had been using a gun in the fields, and when he came back he put the gun on the kitchen table.

Another boy came into the kitchen and picked up the gun, aiming it at James in a playful fashion – but the gun went off, and the contents took off most of poor James’s cheek and nose, as well as seriously injuring his left eye.

James was taken to the Infirmary and after skilful and sympathetic treatment he began to recover, however it was said that he would be most dreadfully disfigured for the rest of his life.

1899 – The Steam Roller in Orcop

This wonderful poem speaks for itself!

What means this strange commotion,

all these wonders in our land?

Why, it is the District Council

They are going to do the grand.


They intend to please the ladies,

and to give them such a treat;

all who wish to walk in slippers

may, and never hurt their feet.


See! the people all are running

Hear the little children shout –

“look out master!  here’s the roller,

coming down, without a doubt”


“Betsy, here’s a bike a flying”

said a youngster going along.

Now I hope the man won’t grumble,

should there anything go wrong.


If he stumble on the highway,

he will have no broken bones,

for the welcome steaming roller,

crushed and smoothed those horrid stones.


Punctured tyres they will never

plague the cyclist any more,

Thanks to the “Dore District Council”

and to Stephenson of yore.


What are all the Council doing?

Doing honour to our Queen,

sending rollers into Orcop –

such a thing was never seen!


Never seen?  Say never heard of;

What would our forefathers say

if they saw the daring monster

rolling all the stones away?


They would bow their heads in silence,

and in a prophetic way,

say ’twas something very serious,

and ’twas time for them to pray.


But our modern folks they differ,

They invent some noble plan

To relieve the backs of horses,

And to ease the legs of man.


Now you Orcopanian farmers,

See your roads are up to date;

Then of course you will not murmur

That you have to “pay the rate”.