Ed Newstead

London, killed on the job by truck
12.Feb.1943 ­ 20.March.1992

Ed Newstead was 49 when he died.

He was an artist and a film-maker and had recently won a BAFTA award for a documentary he directed for the Forestry Commission. You may wonder why he was working as a cycle courier?

Ed's life was full of contradictions, but the one constant was his exceptional dedication as an artist. This had often led him to turn down work in the film industry where his uncompromising attitude would more often than not be in conflict with these who get themselves up as the arbiters of public taste and, indeed, intelligence. Where Ed worked in images, they would demand narrative and talking heads. Ed would periodically repudiate the industry for its crassness and spend months doing odd jobs like van-driving, decorating or working as a cycle courier, though he preferred cc-ing because at least it was good exercise.

Ed had four daughters ­ Sarah 30, Naomi 18, Amy 14 and Nadine 9. He loved them dearly and for their sake desperately wanted recognition as an artist, not only for the financial ease this would bring them but also as a vindication of his way of life. All of us who love him and were close to him wanted that success for him too, to see an end to his frustration and principally to see an end to his dreadful housing situation. He was constantly having to move from one short-life place to another.

Ed couldn't fit into any of the 'systems', especially the benefit system and always refused to claim or to work the public housing sector to his own advantage. In stead he braved it out for years, often squatting so as not to be beholden or dependent. A member of a local West End housing coop, be had been forced to move nine times since 1985 as one after another of the short- lifes came up for rehabilitation. His last (semi-)permanent address was in Sandringham Flats on Charing X Road, where he was much beloved by the old ladies whom he helped with their shopping and suchlike.

As an artist, Ed had exhibited last November at the Metro Cinema and for the last two years running with the Convent Garden Artists. At their most recent show in January at Smith's Gallery on Neal St., two of his pictures were stolen and, typically, he took it as a compliment! Ed's courage was formidable. He put himself in situations where most would not last a minute, but over the years he had built up his faith in himself as an artist and it was this faith that he fell back on in the really hard times, that and the love of all those of us who loved him.

I know that faith and courage were with him at the end, in that terrible accident, as was all our love. He is sorely missed.

­ Rosie Sanders
from Moving Target
via Joe Hendry's Messengerville

Edward Newstead's death was something that touched all ccs, because it reminded us all of the risk that we all face each day that we come to work. Perhaps the fact that "only" one cc has been killed each year since MT has been on the streets (4 dead in 4 years) is some consolation. It could easily be 1 a week if we were less careful.

Another question raised by the death is: Is it really worth it? Or put it another way how little is a life worth? When business after business demands cuts in rates from their despatch company what they are really doing is saying that they do not value our lives very highly. What they are saying is that our lives are over-valued. The next time that a customer complains to you that he/she has been waiting for an hour for you to arrive point out that at least you arrived in one piece.

All 4 ccs that have been killed on the job have died under the wheels of HGVs. This is something to bear in mind. Not only should you think about this when you are riding around, but consider this: the main reason for increasing the scope of London's Red Route Network is to free up Central London's congested streets so that HGVs and other trade vehicles can pass through quicker. Amongst the streets ear-marked for red status are Piccadilly, The Strand, Holborn, Clerkenwell Rd and Marylebone Rd. The effect this is likely to have is to encourage more HGVs into the central area and at higher speeds. Scary? More now than ever, safe cyclin'.

­ Buffalo Bill,
from Moving Target
via Joe Hendry's Messengerville

A message to all ccs who rode from Ed's family

As Ed Newstead's daughter, I would like to thank you all on behalf of my three sisters. I know that I express their sentiments by saying that both the collection and the wreath you laid in Oxford St. meant a great deal to us.

I have seen the wreath where the accident happened. It is so beautiful and I know my father would have been moved by it himself. I think it represents the bravery of both my father and all cyclists.

Yours is one of the few professions that produce wealth without generating any waste or causing any environmental damage. Unfortunately you have not received the support you deserve as reflected in current government transport policy, I sincerely hope this situation changes and bicycle couriers are given the recognition and support they deserve.

Thank you once again,
Naomi Newstead,
from Moving Target
via Joe Hendry's Messengerville