Black Diamond PH, Cauldwell Street, Bedford [Z50-9-280]
Tuesday 18th April 1916: An inquest was held this morning at Bedford Police Station into the death of 59 year old Mrs. Emma Ellen Johnson on Saturday morning after she was knocked down by a runaway horse. Corporal Newcombe of the 2/3rd Welsh Field Artillery told the court that he was coming over the Britannia Bridge towards the town when he saw a pair of horses bolt out of the Midland Railway coalyard, attached to an empty goods trolley. The Band of the 2nd Bedfords had just passed by, playing recruits to the station and a small crowd had gathered at the side of Cauldwell Street, opposite the Black Diamond public house. The horses dashed across the road past the pub. He ran down the hill and saw Mrs. Johnson standing by the railings “in a state of collapse and moaning”. She was carried into a house by Private Turner, repeating “Oh, my back!” There was black mud on her apron.
Driver C. Cooper of the 2/1 Cheshire Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, said the horses became restive when the band came over the bridge. Corporal Price came to his aid and got hold of the other horse, but as soon as the band had passed the gate the horse he was holding jumped up into the air and made off. Corporal Price was hit in the chest by a pole and had to let go, leaving him with both horses. He held on as best he could, but had to let go in front of the rails to avoid running into them. The horses ran some way down the footpath, which was how they hit the woman. The horses stopped 150 yards down the street when one fell. He had done his very best.
Private W. J. Turner had been standing at the corner of the coal-wharf, and Mrs. Johnson was standing at the corner of Cauldwell Place when the band came along. The horses bolted across the street into a group of five or six women. Mrs. Johnson and three other women were knocked down. A military doctor was summoned and found her in a state of collapse. No bones were broken but there must have been internal injuries and he believed she died from shock as a consequence. There were bruises on her hip and thigh and he thought she had been run over. The Coroner praised Driver Cooper for his efforts and expressed great sympathy for Mrs. Johnson’s family. A verdict of accidental death was given.