The Ice Brooks Temper......

On Tuesday 9 March 1886, the body of Joseph Atkinson, aged forty-six was found on the Midland Line just outside the village of Kibworth in Leicestershire.

On the Tuesday he went to his nephews house, Walter Bryan, on Fleckney Road in Kibworth Beauchamp, and left at five o'clock, saying that he was going to the Market Harborough Union Workhouse. He returned to the house again at six, but left soon afterwards, and at seven-thirty was seen by a porter at the railway station. After the eight-forty train to Market Harborough had left, the stationmaster, Mr. Jones, saw a man's hat lying on the platform, and a little further on he found a boot on the line. About thirty yards from the station he found the body of Joseph Atkinson lying on the railway, clear of the line, shockingly mutilated. He gave information to Sergeant Widdowson, who had the body removed to the Railway Arms Inn. He afterwards examined the line and found one of deceased's boots near the signal box, which was spattered with blood, and the other one a small distance away. Part of Joseph's brains were on the platform and part on the line, and his trousers had been torn from his body. — Mr. Macaulay, surgeon, said he had examined the body, and found the skull fractured in several places, and both of his legs and thighs shattered. It was possible that he might have been caught by the guide of the engine of the up-express,  which passed Kibworth at seven-forty five, in such a manner as to leave no blood on the engine.


Joseph was born in Kibworth Beauchamp in 1840, the son of David, a shepherd, and Ann Atkinson of High Street Kibworth Beauchamp.


Joseph as a young man joined the army in 1853/54 at about thirteen/fourteen years of age. Seems incredibly young, but during the Crimean War the youngest British soldier was a young lad named ‘Lang’ aged twelve. W Lang was thought to be the youngest soldier in the British Army at the time.

Others who joined the army alongside Joseph from the Village of Kibworth Beauchamp, young lad named Bromley, he was killed at the taking of Redan in 1855, George Grant, who was shot in the bowels ascending the Alma Heights, the first battle of the Crimean War, fought on 20th September 1854 and Perkins who was also killed at the Alma Heights. Joseph himself was knocked down by a bullet blow which fortunately hit his ammunition pouch. He was then rendered ‘hors-de-combat’ for two to three months.

In 1872, Sargent Joseph Atkinson was furloughed after nineteen years’ service in the Crimea and India and returned back to Kibworth with several trophies from his battles and sieges including three Medals and Bars.

The trophies he brought back included:

  • Marble from the famous marble works in Jubbulpore

  • A khukuri, the signature weapon of the Gurkhas

  • Stone handled dagger used by Afghan Warriors

  • Hindoo [sic]wooden combs

  • Indian Bread Knife

  • Small hand dagger with an inlaid stone handle

  • A blade of ‘The Ice-Brooks Temper’, taken from one of the hill tribes of Hazza [sic] in the last expedition of the Nine-tenth Regiment


All these items went of display at the Old Swan in Kibworth Beauchamp.



















Joseph served in the 3rd (The King’s own) Hussars was discharged in 1881 with a pension of 7s a week.






















Since his discharge from the Army, Joseph had no fixed residence, but in the census record of 1881 he was working as a Framework Knitter and living with his parents on Weir Lane (now Weir Road) in the village.  Just off Weir Road was an enclave called Barrack Yard. This was inhabited by Chelsea Pensioners who it is believed fought in the Crimean War.

Whether or not Joseph’s death was an accident or suicide the inquest stated that death would have been instantaneous, and a verdict of accidental death was returned.

Joseph Atkinson was laid to rest on 12 March 1886 in Kibworth Beauchamp Church Yard. (Burial Number 235)

Kibworth Train Station. c1900

1851 Census. High Street, Kibworth Beauchamp

1881 Census. Weir Lane, Kibworth Beauchamp.

Members of ‘H’ Troop, 3rd King’s Own Hussars, Aldershot, 1882

Battle of The Alma

The first battle of the Crimean War, fought on 20th September 1854

The Old Swan Inn

Tudor Cottage and Nos 24-34 Weir Lane were originally framework knitters cottages

Credit & Thanks for information on Kibworth and Crimean War

  • Stephen Butt 

  • Wayne Coleman 

  • Phil Simpkin