It was a wintry Monday evening on the 12th January back in 1903, when the young Mr Kirkup picked up his passengers at Consett bound for Blackhill Station in his 2 horse sleigh. Kirkup was in the employment of Mr George J Christopher of the Consett and Blackhill posting establishments. The sleigh was full of happy passengers heading for the trains at Blackhill station. Amongst them was Miss Shield and Mr W E Shield the children of Mr A Shield the fruiterer of Consett who were heading for the 6.20 train to go Tow Law.
The sleigh headed off almost dead on 6 o’clock and headed down Park Road, the steep bank between Consett and Blackhill, when something on the carriage gave way and the pole between the horses snapped. The road was frozen solid and extremely slippy which caused the sleigh to run into the back of the horses sending them off at an uncontrolled gallop. Kirkup bravely stuck with the horses trying to bring them under control, but without success. Mr Shield seeing what was happening jumped from the speeding sleigh and was shaken badly, but luckily had no major injuries. His sister was thrown out of the carriage along with a women from Ebchester, both of which were initially found unconscious and taken into houses in Park Road.
The sleigh was veering uncontrollably back and forth across the road, people diving out of its way. A small child was knocked, luckily with only minor injuries, but the same could not be said for a poor old man by the name of Mr Childs who was knocked down and trampled by the horses and had to be helped back home. Mr Childs worked for the Consett Iron Works in Delves Pit and lived in Blackhill. It was at this point that Kirkup was also thrown from sleigh and it was feared that he had sustained several broken ribs as well as bruising and sprains.
The horses still out of control continued on until both they and the sleigh collided with the Rose and Crown Hotel on the corner of Derwent Street, Blackhill. The sleigh was totally smashed to pieces and both horses sustained cuts around their hocks where the sleigh had veered into them. The bank had been extremely busy with people walking and children sledging. On the whole it was quite a miracle that more people had not been hurt.
About 30 years earlier in late December 1874 another sleigh accident was reported in the area. Mr Hopper, a local surgeon of Leadgate and his groom were heading out on visits to some of his patients when the shafts of their sleigh broke. They got out and made a quick mend with rope and headed off again. However not much further into the journey the repair came undone spooking the horses which set away at speed. The groom was thrown from the sleigh and the reins he was holding fell off the side.
Mr Hopper seeing his precarious predicament decided to jump but unfortunately his leg found the reins which wrapped about and the poor man and dragged him some considerable distance face down. Fortunately for him the lead horse stumbled and fell giving him a chance to untangle himself. He was found to have a severe break to his right leg just above the ankle.