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British Industrial History

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Henry Lindfield

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Henry Lindfield was the victim of the first electric car accident in an Imperial electric carriage

Henry Lindfield was born in Hampstead, Middlesex on November 21 1855, the son of Thomas Lindfield, retired builder and his wife Elizabeth

He lived at Lynton House, 42 Montpelier Street, Brighton.

In 1898 he was a 'builder and contractor' but previously he was noted as a 'gentleman'. Clearly of some financial standing to own an early car.

1898. 12 February - Henry Lindfield, dies in Brighton, becoming the world's first fatality from an automobile accident, although in an electric car.

"A sad fatal accident occurred on Saturday to Mr. Lindfield, a gentleman, of 42, Montpelier-street, Brighton. Mr. Lindfield, accompanied by his son, Mr. Bernard Lindfield, a young man of 18 or 19 years of age, was driving a motor car from London to Brighton. They had passed through Croydon, and at about two o'clock were descending a long hill, the machine running of its own impetus.

About half way down the hill the car began to sway, probably owing to the action of the brake, and at that time the son happened to remark, "I believe the bag has fallen out." Directly afterwards the vehicle became unmanageable, and swerving round on to the path ran through a light fence of barbed wire and struck against a tree with great force. Unfortunately one of Mr. Lindfield's legs came between the motor car and the tree, the result being that it was completely smashed just below the knee. The son was thrown from the vehicle. He escaped practically unhurt, and finding his father jammed against the tree at once obtained assistance.

Mr. Lindfield was removed to the Croydon Hospital, where his injuries were found to be so serious (the main artery was shattered) that the three surgeons who were in attendance came to the conclusion that the only possibility of saving his life was by amputation of the injured limb. This was done, but after the operation Mr. Lindfield remained unconscious, and yesterday morning at about nine o'clock he died. Mr. Lindfield was able, just after his admittance to the hospital, to converse with his son, and to give him some directions in case he should not survive.

The deceased gentleman, who was only 42 years of age, leaves two sons and a daughter to mourn his loss, for whom the greatest sympathy is felt. Mr. Lindfield was well-known and highly esteemed in Brighton, and the news of his untimely death will be received with very great regret by his many friends.

The motor car which Mr. Lindfield was driving was a two-seated one, which he had just purchased. He took considerable interest in motor cars, and had on the previous Saturday brought another one, which he had also just purchased for private use, from London to Brighton, but on that occasion, it may be remarked, he was accompanied by an engineer."

Henry was already a widower, having lost his wife, Laura Louisa Isom, in 1893 at the age of 45.

In a recent article he was described as 'agent for one of the newly formed motor companies of the day, International Cars'


See Also


Sources of Information

  • Brighton Evening Argus