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Judge rules on Haywards Heath collision case: 'It's no use crying over spilt milk!'

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 27 February 1906



Judge Scully, at Haywards Heath County Court Thursday, heard the case of William Mann, of Wivelsfield, v. Frank Webber, of Cuckfield.

Robert Mann, son of plaintiff, said the claim was for £4 8s. for damage to a milk cart and the loss of milk in a collision. On December 2nd his man was going to Haywards Heath station, and just at the top of -

His Honour: Where is your man? You cannot tell how it happened.

Sidney Smith, in plaintiff's employ, said he was driving from More House to the station in a cart containing three full milk cans, and when going by Mr Hayes’ chemist’s shop at Haywards Heath defendant - lad came


with a four-wheel one-horse waggon, and there was a collision. “My cart wheel caught his front wheel; and the milk cart was turned over. Both of them were on the right side of the road. Defendant's man drove across into him, in an attempt to cross him and it was the former’s fault, as he was sitting right at the bottom of the van, and could not see who was coming. Witness saw him coming on, and thought there was room to pass. Witness was only going at a walking pace.

His Honour: You could have pulled up within few feet, couldn’t you? Why did you not pull up?

Witness: There was not time.

His Honour: If you were going so slow as all that there must have been time; wasn't there? What pace was he going?

Witness: At a walking pace. Answering further questions, witness said all three cans fell out of the cart, and he lost thirty-five gallons of milk. The cans were bent, and shaft of the cart, a wheel, a splashboard, and the back of the seat were damaged.


George Murrell, defendant’s employee, said he intended to go down Perrymount Hill. On coming round the corner Smith “took such a big sweep round, and did not have time to get on his proper side before he got to me.” Smith ran into witness.

His Honour: That is what he says himself, you know.

Witness said his horse was walking, and plaintiff' was trotting round the corner. Witness was not at the bottom of the van. He was standing up, and had one rein in each hand.

William Andrew Vincent, watchmaker, Haywards Heath, said he saw the collision. The horse and van were coming over the tunnel road at a walking pace the lad being up front driving it, and the milk cart came round at a trotting pace, ran against the van and turned over, the cans flying out of the cart. Witness also gave evidence as to road measurement and the positions of the vehicles. “I don’t know which was to blame—l should think you would decide that, Sir,” he said to the Judge. (Laughter, in which the Judge joined), Both had asked him to come, and he was not a witness for either side.


Robert Mann stated that when Smith came home witness took him back, and they saw defendant and his lad. The lad said he did not know whose fault the collision was, and he admitted that he was sitting in the bottom of the van. (The lad: No, I did not say that). According to the measurements the van was too much out in the middle of the road. Defendant's lad did not stop, but went straight on to the station, and when spoken to on coming back he said he was in “too much of a hurry.” He had a little boy with him who might have been killed.

His Honour said he could not see how the lad with the van was to blame at all. There was not sufficient evidence to make defendant liable. He gave judgment for the defendant.

Thank you to John Twisleton 'Celebrating Haywards Heath' for photograph


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