Newspapers and journals: Melancholy accident at Cremorne Gardens

Melancholy accident at Cremorne Gardens

An accident took place on Monday night at Cremorne Gardens which will excite a painful sensation throughout the country, involving as it does injuries, more or less serious, to about 20 men of the Grenadier Guards. MR Simpson, the proprietor of the grounds had announced a grand fête, representing the capture of the Mamelon and rifle pits by the allied troops before Sebastapol. As it was to be held for the benefit of the Wellington College, it readily received the patronage, not only of Her Majesty and His Royal Highness Prince Albert, but of the highest military authorities, and, in consequence, not only were the bands of the Household Troops and of the Royal Artillery permitted to attend, but the presence of a body of men, to the number of 500, and drawn principally from the 1st and 2nd battalions of Grenadiers, was sanctioned. They were to conduct the storming operations included in the mimic spectacle, and thus to give the whole display a character of reality, which could not be hoped for from the mere efforts of the scene-painter and the pyrotechnist. Such was the plan for the fête, and the attraction was sufficient to fill Cremorne Gardens to overflowing. The representation of the successes achieved by the Allies on the 7th of June was effected in the usual way, by a large canvas picture of the city of Sebastopol forming the perspective, and in front sketches of the rifle pits and Mamelon, similarly painted. They were arranged as to secure the requisite scenic effect, each scene having attached behind it a gallery, where all the devices of panoramic or pyrotechnic art might be put into requisition, and the galleries being connected together, as to secure complete communication throughout. Thus, from the foreground, where certain dummy mortars and great guns were ostentatiously displayed behind a ludicrous parody of the English works up to a considerable height, the business of the mock siege had to be conducted on a series of stages strong enough, probably, for the ordinary emergencies of Cremorne warfare, but quite unfit to bear the rush of stalwart Guardsmen. How Mr Simpson could have neglected to take the precautions for the safety of such performers we are at a loss to imagine; but certain it is that just as the spectacle was reaching its close, when the defenders of the Mamelon and rifle pits had been driven to the highest part of the staging by the assaulting columns below, the gallery on which they stood gave way, bringing some 60 men with bayonets fixed on their muskets crashing to the ground through a fall of at least 20 feet. The only indication which the spectators had of the occurrence was the sudden disappearance of a large tricolor waved triumphantly a moment before through the smoke, for, with characteristic coolness, no cry of alarm was raised, nor was there any sign of confusion among the large body of men still on the scaffolding. Among those precipitated to the ground by the accident were several boys of the Duke of York's School, for they assisted in the fête, and were put as light weights to man the Russian defences most removed from the eye of the spectator. Happily none of these poor little fellows sustained any serious injury, but the Grenadiers fell heavily, and 20 of them are more or less hurt. Some of them have received bayonet wounds in the melee of the tumble, but it is hoped that none of these cases are of a dangerous character. There are five fractures, and one man has had both his legs broken. The case which gives most anxiety is that of a man suffering from internal injuries but what their nature and extent may be has not yet been ascertained.

Every attention and assistance were of course promptly rendered, and as far as kindness and assiduity could redeem a lamentable neglect, they were fully exercised. The circus was immediately converted into a temporary hospital and strange enough it looked to see the ring where clowns have nightly tumbled and joked littered with disabled soldiers. One could not help feeling that other people were to blame besides Mr Simpson; that war, such
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lesque representation at Cremorne, and that the vulgar craving for excitement has been justly reproved by this accident. If the good and kind-hearted inhabitants of London had only one short half-hour of it on any of our battle-fields in the East, they would never bring themselves to countenance exhibitions like these. The subject is too solemn, and the loss of life among our soldiers too recent to render it decent that they should be publicly travestied even in the cause of charity—and every sober-minded person must know that the efoorts of those who thus pander to a morbid curiosity can only amount at the best to a miserable caricature of the reality. As fast as stretchers could be procured, the injured men were carefully removed to their own hospital. The Wellington College Fund will gain considerably by this fete, and we hope that a portion of the sum thus collected may be set apart for the benefit of teh sufferers. The following is a list of the men who were sufferers by the accident, and of the extent of the injuries they received:—

First Battalion

[List of names, including...]
Samuel Gumbleton, contusions of the back.

Hereford Times
18 Aug 1855

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