After having a preliminary chat with his boss, the area superintendent of the London South Eastern Railways, stationmaster Edward Walshe, 59, in charge of Dover Priory station, called railway porter Thomas Wells into his office.
We are dissatisfied with your behaviour and you must take this as an official warning, he said. You are disobedient and your work is of a very poor standard. I must remind you that this isnt the first warning you have had, and if it happens again youll be sacked.
Wells didnt like that. He was convinced that the stationmaster was picking on him. He walked out of the office with his ears burning, and came back a few minutes later with a pistol. Raising the weapon to Walshes head, he fired.
Apparently realising for the first time the enormity of what he had done, he ran off and hid in a railway carriage. He was brought to trial in July 1868 at Kent Assizes, where he claimed he was insane as a result of an accident at the station when he was almost crushed by a train.
The plea was rejected, and Wells was hanged on Thursday, August 13th, 1868, in the first execution to be carried out inside a prison. It was witnessed by 16 journalists, who told their readers later that the execution at Maidstone Prison was well and truly botched, and Wells died only after struggling on the end of the rope for several minutes, in terrible agony.