Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Saddleworth air disaster and Michael Prestwich

St Giles, Uley © David Purchase
The identity of the man who travelled from Ealing Broadway to the moors above Saddleworth to die remains a mystery.

When I wrote about the case at the end of January it was because police were pursuing the theory that he was one of the child survivors of an air crash that took place there in 1949.

That turned out not to be the case:
The boy survivors were Stephen Evans (5) and Michael Prestwich (2). 
Michael, the 2016 press agrees, died at the age of 12 in a railway accident. It sounds as though he did not have the misfortune to be caught up in two disasters but was hit by a train on the way home from school ... 
But could the body be Stephen Evans? 
No. Because, as Newsnight revealed, he is now a distinguished professor and lives on the south coast.
Since writing that I have come across a page on the 1949 disaster with some informative comments below.

I have also become interested in the fate of Michael Prestwich.

After seeing my original post John Dedman (one of the commenters on the page) emailed to tell me that he died at Birmingham New Street, and I have since discovered that there are two memorials to him.

One is in the church at Uley in Gloucestershire, where is one of three pupils of Stouts Hill prep school remembered on a plaque. It says he was on his way back to the school when he died.

The second is in the church at Swettenham in Cheshire where the entire Bryce Prestwich family is remembered.

Later. John Dedman tells me the Greater Manchester Police have given him the story of Michael's death on 24 September 1959 - a relative had kept the Daily Mail report of it.

He died trying to board a moving train, which was something we all did occasionally in the days before doors were centrally locked.

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