The Death of Leonard Tingle (Sheffield) - Ascot July 1955

Whilst I was researching the life and death of the former Sheffield Wednesday player WALTER HOLBEM, I came across an incident that occurred 25 years later at the same venue, Ascot racecourse. A total co-incidence?

In July 1955 at a Thursday race meeting at Ascot, there was a violent thunderstorm. The rain started at around the time of the 3.45 race, the Gold Vase, and was torrential. The ferocity of the rain was soon accompanied by the deafening roar of thunder. Suddenly there were three flashes of lightning which went to ground on a metal fence near to where the bulk of the crowd were sheltering. Race-goers dropped to the ground with many experiencing temporary blackouts. Witnesses later used phrases like "as if mown down", "toppled like dominoes" and "like a pack of cards" to describe the chaotic scenes in the enclosure. 42 people were injured with 18 being detained in hospital at Windsor. But the even greater tragedy was that two people died of the injuries they sustained in the storm. One was the wife of an electrical engineer from Reading who was pregnant with their first child AND an evangelist from the London Open Air Mission who was believe it or not was from SHEFFIELD.

The tragedy of the events was compounded by the fact that the meeting was moved to July from its customary mid-June dates due to a rail strike. The two days prior the storm were "insufferable" due to the heat and when the storm broke the rain was absolutely torrential - a deluge. It is interesting to note that the lightening struck the wire fence surrounding the cheap course enclosure and not the Royal Enclosure. Who said "God protects the toffs!" Funnily enough racing continued until is was found that a female race-goer (Mrs, Barbara Batt) had died and then the meeting was abandoned.

For quite sometime I had no idea who the person from Sheffield was. However I eventually found a brief report in the Times dated 19th July 1955 of the subsequent Inquest

Another report in the Times gave the following information

"SECOND ASCOT DEATH Mr. Leonard Tingle, of Barncliffe Crescent, Sheffield, one of the 46 people struck by lightning at Ascot on Thursday, died in hospital yesterday. It is hoped that most of the other 17 people who were detained in hospital will be discharged within a week. Mr. J. R. Batt, of Reading, whose wife was killed. was discharged yesterday"

The Sheffield Star dated Monday July 18th 1955 added some information that was not available in the national press

In October 2018 I was able to obtain this information that appeared in The Daily Telegraph dated 19th July 1955

Five to ten people a year are killed by lightning in the UK each year - it is a random event. Would anyone like to calculate the odds of two people from Sheffield being killed by lightening at the same venue 25 years apart.   


From the 1911 Census

Name Leonard Tingle
Relationship to Head of Household Stepson
Gender Male Age 7
Estimated Year of Birth 1904
Occupation School Employed No Working at Home No
Place of Birth Yorkshire Sheffield
Enumerator Information Address 75 Popple St Sheffield Parish Sheffield Town Sheffield
Type of Building Private House Number of Rooms 5 Inhabited Yes
Reference RG14PN27954 RG78PN1598 RD510 SD5 ED31 SN53 Administrative County Yorkshire (West Riding)
Registration District Sheffield Registration Sub District West Brightside Enumeration District 31


Daily Herald dated 15th July 1955

The Times dated 19th July 1955

The Sheffield Star dated Monday July 18th 1955

The Daily Telegraph dated 19th July 1955

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This page was last updated on 12/10/18 18:50