Tragedy in Weymouth….boys will be boys, 1882

Children being, well, children, have  a habit of being where they’re not supposed to be and doing what they’re not supposed to do….we’ve all done it ! When I think of all the scrapes we got up to as kids it’s a wonder any of us survived.

Victorian children were no different, in fact there was certainly less H&S around in those days, no banning conkers for them from fear of possible injury.

For a few unfortunate ones, their fearlessness and desire for adventure costs them the ultimate price.

Near the old Melcombe Regis railway station by the Backwater was Rev. J Miller’s school for young boys. The little lads were out at play one cold November morning in 1882, but some had strayed a bit further from the premises than they maybe ought to have. The nearby railway lines with their passing trains and trucks proved irresistable to some of the little lads. As the trains approached the station they slowed right down, the trucks creeking along the track at a snails pace.

One of the miscreant group, little 10-year-old Victor Pelly Hooper, was the son of Pelly and Frances Hooper, a well-known local solicitor and the town clerk.  Showing off to his pals, Victor, spotted an opportunity to grab a few handfulls of the mistletoe that was loaded in the topless carriages, he climbed up onto one of the grease boxes of a carriage as it moved slowly past him. Stretching up to grab his booty from the carriage, he lost his balance…slipped and fell onto the metal tracks. The big wheels of the following heavy carriages passing right over his skull and the top of his body… he didn’t stand a chance!

His shocked class mates could only watch on in horror as the very life was squeezed of of little Victor.

Two men who were working near by at the time, John Bailey and Edward Pitman rushed over and picked up the limp, bloodied, mangled body of the small child, carrying him to the Weymouth Hospital, hoping in vain that something could be done for him.

Despite the best attempts of Dr Tizzard and Dr Griffith who were already at the hospital when he arrived, it was a lost cause, the trauma too extensive.


Young Victor had paid the ultimate price for his mischieviouness…all for a sprig of mistletoe !


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I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.


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