A Fatal Car Crash

The West London Observer, on Monday the 18th of June, 1934, carried the following report of the inquest into the death of a driver who had died as a result of a car crash in North Kensington:-



An inquest was held at Paddington on Friday concerning the death of John James Beaton, aged 25, of Hamilton Road, Hollis Hill, Willesden, who was driving a small motor-car that collided with a Rolls Royce car at the junction of Cambridge Gardens and St. Mark’s Road, North Kensington.

It was stated that, following the collision, the small car ran a zig-zag course for a short distance, then overturned and burst into flames by a lamp-post.

The driver Beaton and his girl passenger, Miss Margaret Sim, of Hanger Lane, Ealing, were thrown out, and both were taken to hospital.

James Beaton, a gamekeeper. of Inverness, Scotland, identified the body as that of his son, who, he said, had been driving cars for five or six years.


Frederick Robinson, of Chesterton Road, North Kensington, said that, on Monday night, June 11th, he was standing at the junction of the roads when he saw the small motor-car coming up Cambridge Gardens to cross St. Mark’s Road at a rather fast pace.

At the crossing, the driver appeared to accelerate, and then he noticed a large car coming in St. Mark’s Road, and it was travelling about the crown of the road. The driver of this car put on his brakes on reaching the cross-roads, and the witness felt there was bound to be a smash.

The small car was in the crossing when it was struck in the rear by the bumper of the large car.

It careered along for a few yards in a zig-zag course, and then overturning, burst into flames. The Witness had not heard any horn sounded before the cars arrived at the crossing.

The Coroner:- “Can you say if either of the cars were to blame?”

“No; it is a very dangerous point there.”


Ernest Frederick Larkin, a youth of Cornwall Road, Kensington, said that he was standing at the corner of Cambridge Gardens, and he saw the Rolls Royce in St. Marks Road coming to the crossing at about 15 to 20 miles an hour.

The small car in Cambridge Gardens was travelling at a much faster pace.

The Coroner:- “Did you hear either of the drivers sound their horn?”


“Did the small car slacken speed as it took the crossing?”


“Did the Rolls Royce?”

“Yes, it pulled up.”

“Could you say if the driver was pulling up before the smash or only applied his brakes at the moment of the crash?“

“I think he pulled up a few seconds before.”

The witness said that he saw the off-side of the rear part of the small car struck by the bumper of the large car.


George Pink, of Manchester Square, W., chauffeur in the employ of the Hon. Samuel Vestey, said that he was driving the Rolls Royce car and had come from Gloucestershire.

There were five passengers in the car.

When he was half-way over the crossing, he saw the small car coming on his left, and he jammed on his brakes to allow the car to go in front of him.

The driver of this car made a swerve and the witness turned to go behind him when part of his dumb-iron caught the small car a glancing blow in the rear on the off-side.

It caused the car to turn over and the man and woman in it fell out, the car bursting into flames.


By the Coroner: He usually travelled down St. Mark’s Road at about 20 to 25 miles an hour, and on this occasion, as he approached the crossing, he slowed down to 12 or 14 miles an hour ready to turn left in case a bus turned out at the corner.

When he was in the crossing he saw the small car about four or five yards on his left, and it was travelling very fast. He therefore jammed on his brakes to let it go in front of him.

He had been driving 23 years and held a clean licence.


Mr. Lawrence, appearing for the deceased’s relatives, said Miss Sim, the injured passenger, was seriously hurt and was still in hospital.

In returning a verdict of “Accidental Death,” the Jury exonerated the driver of the Rolls Royce car from blame.