Famous Bromsgrove gravestones return to town churchyard

The two famous railwaymen gravestones were re-erected in St John Church's graveyard on Friday.  Buy this photo BCR091402

The two famous railwaymen gravestones were re-erected in St John Church's graveyard on Friday. Buy this photo BCR091402

First published in News

TWO famous gravestones have been re-erected at a Bromsgrove churchyard following major restoration work.

The gravestones of railwaymen Thomas Scaife and Joseph Rutherford were originally erected in the churchyard next to St John’s Church, in Kidderminster Road, in 1842, following the pair’s tragic deaths at Bromsgrove Railway Station.

On them are images of Norris engines, and on Scaife’s stone is a poem which was written by an unknown friend of his, which paid tribute.

But the stones suffered damage from the elements and vandalism, so a restoration group was established that managed to raise the cash needed to restore the stones.

In 2012 the stones were removed and transferred to the New Road workshop of town craftsman Mike Ford, who was commissioned to undertake the work to return them to pristine condition.

The gravestones stood for more than 170 years, so it proved painstaking work with the stones cleaned, stitched back together with stainless steel dowels and epoxy resins, then repainted.

On Friday, (February 21), the stones were returned to the location with the help of Midland Conservation Limited, and volunteers from Bromsgrove District Council.

Despite a smooth re-erection of the Rutherford stone, during the transfer of the Scaife stone it was accidentally broken with the top falling off.

It has now been repaired though, and final improvements are to be made at the site ahead of the official unveiling of the stones, which is planned for April.

Alastair Moseley, chairman of the restoration group, said: "After 18 months of careful reconstruction and conservation work, the two world famous gravestones have at last returned.

"The gravestones commemorate the tragic deaths of two railwaymen when the boiler of the locomotive they were working on exploded, fatally wounding the two men.

"The cost of the repair amounted to some £10,000 and through the generous support of the Railway Heritage Trust, the Bromsgrove Society, The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, some of the train operating companies, railway unions, and other local trusts, plus private donations, the money was raised.

"There is still some work to do to finish off the setting but the church looks forward to welcoming visitors to reflect not only on the quality of the work done to return these two monuments to their former glory, but also to remember the two men who died so tragically."

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