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croston1Arthur Croston was born in Preston and baptised at St. James` Church in the town on the 11 April, 1889. He appears to be the only surviving child born to George and Isabella Croston (nee Janson). George and Isabella married on the 25 April, 1880 in the same church and sadly their first three children all died in infancy; Lily (1881-1881), Albert (1882-1882) and James 1883-1884).

Arthur seems to have lived with his mother Isabella in his grandmother Mary Ann Janson`s home until the time of his marriage while his father George was living elsewhere.

On the 2 July, 1910 he married local girl Margaret Ellen Morley at St. Saviours Church in Preston. Their first child, a son William was born later the same year and in 1911 Arthur, Margaret Ellen and William were living in a small terraced house in Floyer Street in Preston. At the time Arthur was employed as a labourer in a bobbin and shuttle makers works and Margaret Ellen was a weaver. In 1913 the couple had another son and they named him Thomas.

Unfortunately there are no surviving service records to show exactly when Arthur enlisted into the Territorial Force but his low service number of 28 does seem to suggest that it`s likely to have been at the beginning of August 1914.

On the 22nd August, 1914 the 1/4th Battalion moved from Preston down to Swindon where they remained for almost three months in training and generally improving discipline. At the same time detachments of men were sent to guard the main line of the Great Western Railway and this is what Arthur was doing when sadly he was struck by a train and died on the 6 October, 1914.

When the accident occurred the detachment was guarding the main line at Brinkworth in Northern Wiltshire which lies between the towns of Malmesbury and Wootton Bassett.

Arthur`s body was returned home to Preston where he was given a full military burial in the town`s old cemetery about a week after the accident and was then laid to rest in his wife`s family grave. There was also an inquest into Arthur`s death which was conducted in Preston by the Deputy County Coroner.

News of the funeral and the findings of the inquest were published later in the local paper:-


The funeral took place on Saturday in Preston with full military honours, of Private Arthur Croston of the 4th Loyal North Lancashire Territorials, who was killed at Brinkworth on Tuesday while guarding the Great Western Railway. The deceased who was 26 years of age, was a shuttle maker, living in Spencer Street in Preston, and he leaves a widow in delicate health and two children. A detachment of the regiment consisting of 350 non-commissioned officers and men under Lieutenant Duckworth accompanied the cortege from the house in Spencer Street to the Cemetery and the obsequies were witnessed by a large crowd of spectators. The committal service was taken by the Chaplain to the Battalion, the Rev. L.D.W. Spencer, vicar of St. James`s Preston, and the choir of that church also attended, and sang at the graveside “Abide with Me”, while a squad of soldiers fired three volleys over the grave and the bugler sounded “The Last Post”.

At the inquest the evidence showed that the deceased was walking along the G.W.R. and stopped as a goods train passed. Apparently he did not notice the approach of an express train from the opposite direction, and before he had a chance to escape he was knocked down and instantly killed. Captain Harold Parker, 3 Bank Parade, Preston commanding that section of the 4th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in the Brinkworth district, who represented the military authorities, along with Lieutenant Smith said he wished to point out to the jury, on the instruction of the military authorities, that the men had all been served with notices, or those had been read out to them, regarding the danger on the railway line and the proper way of dealing with it. Those rules had been read out several times to every man on the section. Captain Parker quoted the paragraph dealing specifically with such a position Private Croston was in, and added that he had himself issued standing orders. It was a singular circumstance that only about an hour before the accident a letter was read to Croston and that he was not satisfied with that and took it with him to read it himself. The letter was from the General Officer commanding calling to the great loss of life amongst the troops guarding the railway line, the accident in every case being caused by inattention to the instructions given to men for their own safety. In his opinion Private Croston was on the up line and hearing the goods train he obeyed instructions to the extent that he faced inwards and stood. He would watch the goods train pass but was so close to the metals that the express train`s engine caught him on the side of the head. The injuries were only on the head. Had the deceased been between the metals he would have been cut to pieces.

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that Croston was accidentally killed. The foreman said the jury wished him to express their sympathy with the widow, who was left with two little children. The Deputy Coroner associated himself with that expression of sympathy and asked Capt. Parker to convey it to Mrs. Croston. The whole of the jury returned their fees for the benefit of the widow, the foreman giving back double the amount he received.

The beginning of the article refers to Arthur`s widow being in `delicate health`, this may have been due to the fact that Margaret Ellen was expecting their third child at the time of her husband`s death.

Margaret Ellen gave birth to another son on the 31st October, 1914 just over three weeks after her husband died and she named him Arthur after his father.

Private Arthur Croston has not been forgotten, someone has carefully placed his photograph and a poppy at the foot of his grave.


Margaret Ellen Croston remarried five years after Arthur`s death to Frederick Porter at St. Paul`s Church in Preston in 1919.

Rank: Private
Service No: 28
Date of Death: 06/10/1914
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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One Response to 28 PTE. A .CROSTON. L.N.LAN.R

  1. ron pollard says:

    re pte croston,my grandfather was in the same regiment.he may have known above.houses in st.james area of preston had outside wc.s and the streets were not straight like in coketown,hard times by Charles dickens.there were photographs of this area in preston harris museum years ago.my grandfather died of sandfly fever from Gallipoli age thirty two.best of luck with your research.

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