In the peaceful surroundings of Southampton’s Victorian Cemetery on The Common is this very striking headstone, a tribute to the skill of the stonemason who made it. The story relates to a dreadful railway accident that occurred in 1870 at Bishopstoke Junction (now Eastleigh station) involving Edward Bist, the man buried in the grave.

The engine, coming from Salisbury, and pulling cattle in trucks, went through red lights approaching the Junction, and crashed into stationary coal wagons with tremendous force. The driver died. Bist, seriously injured, had both legs amputated but the strain of what had happened was too much for him to survive further.

The portrayal, on the stone, is of the engine actually involved in the accident, called ‘Mazeppa’. This has been compared to a photograph of the actual engine and the detail is exact, even down to the coal on the tender and the pair of small ‘snow brooms’, set before the front wheels, whose purpose was to keep snow off the line. The headstone is cared for by a member of Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery and the story is one often included in their cemetery walks.

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