Family pay tribute to ex-publican who died in Portsmouth rail tragedy

Edgar Harris
Edgar Harris
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THE family of a former publican who died in a rail tragedy have paid tribute to him.

Lynn Kewell said: ‘I remember my dad with much love and affection.’ His family thanked British Transport Police for its handling of the situation.

Mr Harris began his career in 1964 at The Traveller’s Rest, in Kingston, with his wife Margaret and children Lynn and Jim.

After 16 years the pub closed and the family moved on to The Graham Arms in Buckland. Mr Harris retired in 1996.

The inquest heard that Mr Harris, who was 81, died instantly when he was struck by a train travelling at about 50mph as it approached Hilsea station while on its way to Havant.

An inquest into the pensioner’s death at Portsmouth Guildhall yesterday revealed the driver saw Mr Harris on the line, but couldn’t stop in time despite applying the emergency brake.

The train came to a halt just ahead of the platforms before emergency services were notified of the incident, which happened at 10.50am on Friday, April 26, last year.

A pathologist’s report said Mr Harris died of ‘multiple head injuries’ and that he had lung cancer, although the family did not know that.

They said Mr Harris, who ran pubs in Portsmouth for 32 years, was active for most of his life but suffered from back and severe hearing problems in his later years.

Mr Harris’ son Jim said: ‘He was always generally pretty active.

‘He did a lot of work in the garden and he could cope with that.

‘Towards the end of his life he was beginning to stoop over.

‘I think he possibly got a bit more lonely because he was living in a three-bedroom house and he was in there on his own.’

Mr Harris’ daughter Lynn Kewell visited him two days before he died and said he didn’t want her to go out of her way for him.

Addressing Mr Harris’ family, coroner David Horsley said: ‘I think I have to conclude that Mr Harris decided in his own mind he had lived long enough and took his own life in this way.

‘This is a terrible shock for his family.

‘The only condolence I can give you is that first, he would have died instantaneously and secondly, that he had made up his mind that this is what he wanted to do.’