THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Brothers killed in tragic railway accident at Helen’s Bay

From the News Letter, July 22, 1922

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 2:18 pm
A Bangor bound train arrives at the old Helen's Bay train station in July 2021. Picture: Darryl Armitage
A Bangor bound train arrives at the old Helen's Bay train station in July 2021. Picture: Darryl Armitage

Two brothers, named John and James Ernest Upton, “well-known residents at Helen’s Bay”, had been killed at Helen’s Bay railway station the previous day, reported the News Letter on this day in July 1922.

The News Letter detailed: “It appears, that the brothers, who resided with their mother and sister at Wynsrd, Helen’s Bay, left home about two o’clock in the afternoon, with the object of travelling train leaving Bangor for Belfast 2.15pm.

“Having a few minutes to spare they walked along the road toward, Crawfordsburn instead of going into the station direct.

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The old Helen's Bay train station in July 2021. Picture: Darryl Armitage

“Hearing the approach of engine, and presumably believing it that of the train they were desirous of catching, both made hurried attempt to reach the platform by means of the accommodation level crossing adjoining the goods shed.

“The younger brother, James Ernest, who was leading, closely followed by John, had got clear of the line when light engine returning from Bangor came along and struck both of them.

“James Ernest was thrown clear off the track, but the other brother was carried for some distance by the engine, the driver which pulled up quickly as possible.”

The News Letter’s report continued: “The terrible affair was witnessed by several persons in the station, and assistance was promptly forthcoming. John was dead when picked up, but the younger brother was still alive, and Dr Gibson of Mountpottinger, [Belfast], who was in the vicinity the time, did all that was possible for the unfortunate man, and made arrangements to have him removed to the Royal Victoria Hospital by the 2.15 train; but death took place before the tram arrived.

The old Helen's Bay train station in July 2021. Picture: Darryl Armitage

“The bodies were placed the waiting-room of the station by the police, and Dr Gibson broke the tragic news the bereaved relatives.”

The News Letter added further details on the two dead men: “Mr John Upton was Excise officer in Belfast, and his brother managed a department in Messrs Greeves’ mill. They were very much attached to each other, and were exceedingly popular the Helen’s Bay district, where the news the tragedy caused greatest consternation. The elder brother was aged about 40 and younger 36. They were unmarried.”

Bridge at Helen's Bay halt in July 2021. Picture: Darryl Armitage
A Belfast bound train arrives at the Helen's Bay halt in July 2021. Picture: Darryl Armitage