top of page

Fatal accident in Glebe Road

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 02 February 1932


A shocking accident, which resulted in the death of a local youth, occurred at Cuckfield on Friday morning at the junction of Glebe Road and London Lane. Deceased was Frederick Henley (18), son of Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Henley, Copyhold Lane, and employee of Mr. K. Tidey, butcher, of High Street.

It appears he was on his usual round at about nine o’clock and was cycling out of Glebe Road into London Lane, when he collided with a motor-car driven by Miss Elsie Waller-Bridge, daughter of the Rev. H. F. Waller-Bridge (Rector of Worth). Henley was thrown on to the bonnet of the car, from which he rolled onto the road. He sustained severe head injuries and a fractured leg, and after receiving attention from Dr. Todd, he was removed in the Red Cross Ambulance to the Haywards Heath Hospital, where he died about half-past nine the same evening.


was held on Saturday afternoon at the Sergison Arms, Haywards Heath, where the Coroner for East Sussex (Dr. E. F. HOARE) had the assistance of a jury, of which Mr. E. JAMES was foreman. The driver of the car was represented by Mr. E. H. Kempe (of Messrs. Edwin Boxall and Kempe, Brighton). WILLIAM THOMAS HENLEY, a gardener, of Copyhold Lane, said deceased was his son, and was employed as a butcher's roundsman by Mr. E, Tidey of Cuckfield. He was in good health, and although he wore glasses his eyesight was good.

He had been riding a bicycle for over four years. Witness was informed of the accident about 9.45 the previous morning, and he went and saw his son, who was unconscious, in the hospital. Deceased never recovered consciousness, and his father was informed of his death about 10 o’clock the same evening DR C.H. GLENN, of Haywards Heath, said he saw deceased in the hospital on Friday morning. He was unconscious and bleeding from the left ear and mouth. He was suffering from concussion and a fracture of the base of the skull. This was the cause of death, which occurred at 9.35 the same evening.

Witness added that deceased may have had a fractured thigh, but a thorough examination was not made owing to deceased's condition. CLIFFORD ROWLAND, 16 Glebe Road, Cuckfield, said that at 9.10 a.m. on Friday he was walking down Glebe Road towards London Lane, and when he had reached a spot about 20 yards from London Lane


going in the same direction. Deceased was then on his left-hand side of the road, but he shot across to his right-hand side before he entered London Lane. He was travelling at a fair pace. Witness then saw a small motor-car coming down London Lane on its left-hand side, and he said to his mate “He’s going to hit it!” Hardly before the words were out of his mouth the cyclist collided with the car, which, in witness's opinion, was travelling at about 15 or 16 miles an hour. Witness thought that the cyclist tried to get across the road in front of the car, but he went right into the front of it. Deceased fell on to the engine, and it then seemed as if the driver applied the brakes, as deceased fell off and rolled a few yards in the road.

Witness had a slight recollection that the driver sounded the horn, but he could not remember if the cyclist rang his bell. Witness picked deceased up, placed him by the side of the road and sent for assistance. Witness was of the opinion that the driver of the car could not have avoided the accident in any case. The hedge was ”getting on the high side” at the corner, but witness thought a car coming down London Lane could be seen from Glebe Road. A person coming down London Lane could not see anyone coming down Glebe Road. The cyclist started peddling when near the bottom of Glebe Road, and witness thought he tried to get across London Lane before the car got to him. Glebe Road slanted down to an acute angle where it joined London Lane.

WILLIAM MEWLETT, 24 Glebe Road, said that 9.10 on Friday morning he was walking down Glebe Road when Henley passed him on push bicycle going down the road on his left-hand side towards London Lane. He was travelling at moderate speed, and when near the bottom he crossed over to his off side. deceased reached the bottom witness


and saw a car travelling towards Haywards Heath on its proper side of the road. He estimated its speed at about or 10 miles an hour. The cyclist evidently tried to get across London Lane in front of the car but ran into it. Witness did not think the driver of the car could have avoided the accident. The visibility at the bottom of Glebe Road was not good, as the view was obscured by a hedge and a bank.

P.S. A. WICKENS, stationed at Cuckfield, stated that at 9.25 on Friday morning he received information of a collision in London Lane and proceeded to the spot. He found deceased lying on the grass verge with severe head injuries and a fracture of the right thigh.

Nearby was a Morris Minor motor-car, and locked under a wheel was a tradesman’s bicycle, the frame of which was badly smashed and twisted. The off-side front wing of the car was buckled, the top of the radiator was dented in, the wind screen was broken and a lamp bracket pushed back. There was a skid mark 5ft. in length, and for 48 yards there were intermittent scratches on the road where the bicycle had been pushed along by the car. The collision occurred on the near side of the road, after which the car swerved diagonally across the road to its off side. The point where the accident occurred was a blind corner, more so for traffic coming down London Lane. A person could see over the corner for a few yards from Glebe Road.

ELSIE HORATIO MAUNSELL WALLER-BRIDGE, the driver of the car, who gave her age as eighteen, stated that at 9.15 on Friday morning she was driving a Morris Minor car from her home to Haywards Heath railway station by way of London Lane. She estimated her speed at from 10 to 15 MILES AN HOUR.

The Coroner: Why were you going so slow ?

WITNESS: I had my baby sister in the car beside me, and I had been warned not to go fast with her. Proceeding, witness said she was travelling on her proper side of the road down London Lane, and as she was about to pass the entrance to Glebe Road a cyclist came out of the latter road very quickly and shot across London Lane. Witness shut off her engine and slowed down and swerved across the road in an endeavour to avoid the cyclist, but the latter ran into the front of the car and the rider was thrown on to the bonnet.

She estimated that the car travelled on for about 10 yards after the collision. Witness had been driving a car since last June, and her licence and insurance certificate were in order.

The CORONER, in summing up, said the cyclist's death was due to the fracture of the skull. Two independent witnesses had described accurately what actually happened, and both were agreed that the cyclist ran into the car. The driver of the car had given very satisfactory reason why she was not travelling fast at the time.

The jury, after a brief adjournment, returned a verdict of “Death by misadventure," and the driver of the car was entirely exonerated from blame. The Foreman stated that the jury recommended that the proper authority should be requested to remove the bank and hedge from the corner, leaving only posts and a wire fence. They also tendered their sincere sympathy with the bereaved parents, in which the Coroner joined.

Mr. KEMPE said Miss Waller-Bridge and her parents were deeply grieved at the unfortunate occurrence, and on their behalf he expressed sincere sympathy with Mr. and Mrs. Henley.

The funeral will take place at Cuckfield to-morrow (Wednesday) afternoon.

32 Glebe Road in 1926 (showing children - Fred Hapgood and Jack Wood)

bottom of page