A CEREMONY to unveil two famous gravestones has been held at a Bromsgrove churchyard.
The service took place at St John’s Church, in Kidderminster Road, in memory of railwaymen Thomas Scaife and Joseph Rutherford who died at Bromsgrove Railway Station in 1840, after the boiler of the locomotive they were working on exploded.
On November 10, 1840, the pair climbed on to the cab of the aptly named Surprise locomotive and without warning, the engine exploded killing Scaife. Rutherford died the following day.
Two stones in their memories were erected at the churchyard. Both carry images of Norris engines, with Scaife’s stone featuring a poem written by an unknown friend of his, which paid tribute.
Town crier Kevin Ward rang a bell to commemorate the event, a procession was held, Reverend Tom Atfield conducted the service with prayers and Sacristan Don Kynaston gave a reading.
Following their deaths in 1842, stones of remembrance were put up in the churchyard but over time they eroded and repairs were made following incidents of vandalism.
In recent years, they fell into a poor condition with paint flaking away and repaired joints starting to fail.
The Church Fabric Committee at St John's, led by lifelong railway enthusiast Alastair Moseley, decided to raise the £10,000 needed to have the stones taken away to a workshop to be cleaned, stitched back together with stainless steel dowels, repainted and treated with special resins.
In February, the stones completed and transported by Midland Conservation Limited back to St John's Church.
Chairman of a restoration group Alastair Moseley said: “The service was emotional particularly reading the poem I had to work really hard not to crack up, we are all absolutely delighted. They are really very important because they gave their lives for the progress that we have today.
“I would like to thank all of the funders who made this project possible, the Railway Heritage Trust, Cross Country Trains, Bromsgrove Society, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, DB Schenker, Len Giles Trust, the late John Moseley, John and Kath Malpass, Ann Burdett, RMT Union and Mark Norton.”
Currently a six foot by four foot information panel is being built which will show the history behind the stones, a picture of the locomotive and an outline of the restoration work which took place.