Steam death was accident

A STEAM engine enthusiast from Alconbury died when the metal seat of a traction engine collapsed, sending him into the road to be crushed under a wheel, an inquest heard. Derek Cox, a retired London head-hunter who lived at Brookside in Alconbury, was sit

A STEAM engine enthusiast from Alconbury died when the metal seat of a traction engine collapsed, sending him into the road to be crushed under a wheel, an inquest heard.

Derek Cox, a retired London head-hunter who lived at Brookside in Alconbury, was sitting on top of the engine, called the Bluebell, when the steerman's seat split.

The inquest in Northampton last Wednesday heard the seat had a crack in it which could not be seen because it was covered with paint.

The 71-year-old fell to the right of the engine and was pulled under a large wheel on Sunday, August 20, last year. Mr Cox and his friend, Richard Coulson, the owner of the J H Maclaren light steam road tractor, had been driving the machine from Alconbury to Northants for a steam fair.


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Another driver had steered the engine as far as Pytchley before Mr Cox had taken over. They had reached the A43 near Walgrave, close to Holcot where the fair would be held, when Mr Cox fell.

Mr Coulson, the co-driver was unable to immediately stop the engine to apply the brakes, a wheel has to be wound to place blocks on the wheels. Mr Cox was declared dead at the scene.

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Mr Cox was known as a leading light in Alconbury, campaigning for the new Memorial Hall. Despite being turned down twice by the National Lottery, he kept campaigning until finally he secured £440,000 in funding. It was opened by the Duke of Gloucester three years ago.

Mr Cox was also the first chairman of Alconbury Neighbourhood Watch scheme and provided water and electricity for the annual village fete, which he revived when he moved to Alconbury from South Africa with his wife, Sue, and two children.

Following his death, Alan Robertson, a friend for 19 years to Mr Cox, said the village hall would "remain a permanent reminder of Derek".

He was a former member of the Alconbury Parish Council.

Northamptonshire Coroner Anne Pember recorded Mr Cox's death as an accident.

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