Robert Aubrey Spink is my 1st cousin 3x removed. I mentioned him briefly in a Tombstone Tuesday post. He was born about 1883 and died on 18th April 1923. His gravestone says that he was “accidentally killed”. So I just had to find out about the accident, what happened to Robert and the cause of his death.
I knew from the 1911 census that he was living in Leeds at the time. I guessed that the local newspapers would have covered the story. There is a really good family and local history department at Leeds Central Library so that was my starting point. The newspaper archives for the period are on microfilm and it didn’t take long to find two stories about the fatal accident in the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Here is the first article from the Yorkshire Evening Post on 19th April 1923.
LEEDS MOTOR-CYCLISTS COLLIDE HEAD-ON
HEADINGLEY MAN KILLED
YOUTH AND GIRL HURT IN CRASH AT DUSK
A fatal collision between two motor-cyclists took place on the Harrogate Road between Moortown and Alwoodley last night.
It appears that Mr Robert Aubrey Spink (40), of 22 Ash Road, Headingley, was cycling towards Leeds when he collided “head-on” with Mr Harry Greenwood (19) of 15 Union Terrace, Chapel Allerton, who was travelling in the opposite direction with Miss Peggy Stannard (18), a tailoress, of 26 Harehills Road, Leeds, as a passenger on the carrier.
All three were thrown violently into the road, and it was realised at once that the two riders were seriously injured. All were quickly taken to the Leeds General Infirmary, where Mr Spink, who had received severe injuries, died soon after admission.
Mr Greenwood is suffering from a fracture of the base of the skull, and his condition is serious.
He was still conscious this morning, but is stated to be going on as well as can be expected.
How the two riders happened to collide is not yet explained.
MISS STANNARD’S STORY
Miss Stannard is suffering with shock and bruises.
Seen by a representative of “The Yorkshire Evening Post” today, Miss Stannard, who looked well in spite of the shaking she received when the impact occurred, was unable to say how the accident happened.
“I was on the carrier,” she said, “and we were going towards Harewood on our proper side of the road, and not, so far as I know, at an excessive speed.”
“I did not see the other cyclist, and I do not know what happened except that I was thrown violently from my seat on the carrier, and found myself here.”
“It was daylight when the collision occurred, but I do not know exactly what time it was, though it was near lighting up time.”
Miss Stannard is likely to be about again in a day or two.
Mr Greenwood is a member of a family which is well known in the Chapel Allerton neighbourhood. He is a son of Mr James Greenwood, an old Leeds professional cricketer, and is following the occupation of market gardener with a view to taking up farming later.
At the time of the accident he was going to a bungalow rented by his father a few miles out in the country. The young people were visiting the bungalow with some small articles, and were to return later in the evening.
There appear to have been no actual witnesses of the accident.
It seems that Mr Spink had been having a round of golf at Moortown golf links, and was on his way home, carrying his clubs slung across his shoulder.
It is possible that the clubs may have become entangled with his handlebars and caused him to swerve.
Dr Jenkins, with a friend, was also returning from the golf links. The doctor reached the spot a few minutes after the smash, and attended to the victims of the smash pending the arrival of the ambulance.
Mr Spink was employed at the GPO, Leeds. He was a man of much promise and of considerable intellectual attainment.
Mr Spink had the reputation of being a very careful driver.
An inquest will be held tomorrow by the Leeds Coroner (Mr W H Clarke), and the funeral will take place on Saturday afternoon.
This was clearly a very tragic accident – but who, if anyone was to blame?
I will post the second newspaper article about the inquest next week.