Life story retold by Jan Clark
Joseph Eggleston at the time of his death was the caretaker of the Arcade Buildings in Friar Street, where the Harris Arcade is located. His death was reported in the Reading Standard and in the Berkshire Chronicle in great detail.
On 8 June a cart driven by Frederick Willmott at a speed estimated by some eye witnesses to be about 10mph careered into Silver Street from London Road on the wrong side of the road and collided with Mr Egglestone who was riding his bicycle down Silver Street.
He was taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital but died later that night from a rupture of his femoral artery sustained in the collision. The horse had run over him and his bicycle while the cart had overturned and trapped him beneath it. Mr Willmott had been returning from a day at the races at Ascot with his wife and two other men whom he had taken there ’to sell bananas’. He himself was a hawker and lived in Silver Street.
At the inquest he said they had stopped for drinks twice on the journey but denied he was drunk or that he was driving too fast. However, he was charged with manslaughter and was sent to be tried at Berkshire Assizes. At the trial a few months later he was acquitted but warned by the judge not to drive around Reading in that manner again.
Meanwhile Mr Eggleton’s son Percy had taken over his father’s job and his grieving mother lived with him in the Arcade Buildings. Joseph was described as a ‘well known and respected caretaker’ who was a careful rider. He had formerly been a groom and coachman at Bridge House in Padworth before moving to Reading and opening a grocer’s shop at 62 Henry Street Katesgrove.
The references are from the Berkshire Chronicle: 20 June 1908 the report of the accident; 27 June report of Mr Willmott appearing before the Magistrates’ Court; 4 July report that he has been sent for trial to the Assizes and 31 October the report of the trial.
Buried in Section 58, Row C, Number 7