William Henry Casson was born in Halifax in 1826 and spent part of his childhood at Clayton to the west of Bradford where his father was a farmer. In October 1848 he was employed as a clerk at a salary of £55 a year at Shipley station on the Leeds and Bradford Railway which had opened two years earlier. By 1851 he was in Gloucestershire at Frocester where he worked on the Midland Railway as a clerk and lived with his wife Elizabeth and her sister Mary.
Henry Casson moved back to Yorkshire to Woodlesford in 1857 and was station master and sub-postmaster for six years until May 1863. Two of his children were born at Frocester and another two were born at Woodlesford. His salary in 1859 was £70 a year, increased to £76 in March 1860 from which he had to pay rent of £6.
One event Henry Casson presided over was on the afternoon of Saturday 26 June 1858 when two special trains carrying over a thousand passengers arrived from Bradford. It was the annual excursion of the Half Holiday Association and the trippers were on their way to Temple Newsam at the invitation of Hugo Francis Meynell-Ingram.
From the station they had “a pleasant walk of a couple of miles along a road fringed by hedgerows, fragrant and beautiful with multitudes of wild roses, and through a country covered with luxuriant crops of grain and other agricultural produce,” according to the Bradford Observer.
After being shown round the house the visitors took refreshments in a tent in the park and the Saltaire brass band played a variety of airs before the party made their way back to Woodlesford where their trains left at past nine, reaching Bradford at half-past ten.
Later that year Mr. Casson’s organizational skills were also put to test when a passenger on a train from Leeds got off and promptly dropped dead. Elizabeth Little who was on the 4.30pm departure from Leeds on Monday 13 December was taken ill shortly before the train arrived at Woodlesford and collapsed on the platform just after handing over her ticket. Mr. Rollings, the local surgeon, was sent for but by the time he arrived he could do nothing for Elizabeth who had been suffering from a chest infection.
After resigning from the railway Henry Casson moved to Horsforth, where his wife was born, to became a grocer. He died in Wharfedale at the age of 72.
Staff at Woodlesford in 1861.
Henry Walton, 28, labourer. Born Woodlesford.
George smith, 17, labourer. Born Leicester. Lodged with George Atack, pottery labourer.
John Bordman, 20, labourer. Born Spalding, Lincolnshire. Lodged with Thomas Walton, brewery labourer.
Thomas Worrall, 31, porter, married. Born Castle Donnington.
William Cottingham, 26, married to Ann from Northumberland. Porter on 17 shillings a week. Paid 2 shillings rent. Lived in station house. Born Glapthorn, Northhamptonshire., son of an agricultural labourer. Left to become a grocer and milk dealer in Wortley. Son James, born in Woodlesford, became an engine driver. Elder brother John was engine driver living in Wortley in 1871.
Henry Miller, 27, porter. Born Stroud, Gloucestershire.
William Boyes, 52, labourer. Born Welton, Lincolnshire.
ATTEMPTED ESCAPE OF A PRISONER FROM A RAILWAY CARRIAGE. FEARFUL ACCIDENT.
Leeds Mercury, Thursday 22 April 1858.
Yesterday afternoon an accident of a fearful is character occurred on the Midland Railway, between Rothwell Haigh and Woodlesford, a few miles from Leeds.
It appears from what we were able to ascertain, that yesterday afternoon, the Superintendent of the West Riding Police, stationed at Knareebrough, arrived at the Wellington of Station, Leeds, in charge of a prisoner named James Clayton, alias Laycock, in route for Wakefield, the latter having been sentenced that day by the Knaresbrough Magistrates to three months’ imprisonment, in the House of Correction, on the charge of obtaining 5s. by false pretences, from a lady at Low Harrogate.
They left Leeds by the 4.20 p.m. up train to Wakefield and Barnsley, travelling in a third-class carriage, and shortly after they had passed Rothwell Haigh, Clayton, who is a notorious character, succeeded in eluding the observation of the officer, and leaped out of the window.
He fell upon his forehead on the space between the rails, his body rolling over to the space between the down the line, his legs remaining over the inner line of metals. It is probable that he was stunned, if not disabled, by the fall, for immediately afterwards the North-Eastern train from York, due at Leeds at 4.55, came in sight, and though the driver whistled and put on the break, the man remained motionless, and the whole of the train passed over him.
The train was stopped as soon as possible, and the driver and guard returned to the spot, when it was found that the poor fellow’s legs, from a little below the knee, had been cut off, the upper part of the body, having gone under the carriages, without sustaining any serious injury.
He was still alive when they got to him, though unconscious, and he was placed carefully in the guard’s van, and brought to Leeds. On the arrival of the train at Leeds he was removed to the Infirmary, and received immediate attention but he was in such a state of prostration from the shock to the system, that it was impossible to proceed with any surgical operation.
Up to a late hour last night he was still alive and partially conscious, but there were only the faintest hopes of his recovery. We understand that he states that he is by trade a blacksmith, but he gives no account of his place of residence, or whether he has a wife or family.
When he obtained the 3s. from the lady at Harrogate, he said he was a pensioner, and he pretended that it was necessary for him to go to London to receive his pension; but instead of appropriating the money for his railway fare to London, he spent it on drunk with a companion.
He has been previously convicted for a similar offence at Huddersfield, and there is no doubt the story was a pure fabrication. He is a man of middle age. The officer returned to of Lecds, by the North-Eastern express from York, arriving at the station within a few minutes of his unfortunate prisoner. We may add that not the slightest blame attaches to the driver of the North-Eastern train, as he did not see the body until within forty or fifty yards of it.