Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Fatal Railway Accident

When the railways newly came upon the scene there were a lot of accident. People new about horses and carts and presumably knew enough to step out of the way when they heard one coming. The sounds of the steam engine were unfamiliar and not necessarily associated in people's mind with a threat - at least not in those early years. Even those familiar with the railway, as were the three men in this case, seemed to be oblivious to danger.

Here is a report from The Times of October 21st 1840 about an acccident near Wolverton.

FATAL ACCIDENT ON THE LONDON AND BIRMINGHAM RAILWAY.
(From a Correspondent.) 
On Monday last, about 2 o'clock, as the down train from London was nearing the Wolverton Station, it came into contact in the following manner with some labourers who were walking the line, and killed two of them, and severely injured another. They were proceeding in the direction of Wolverton, and were intent on getting out of the way of an up goods train that was approaching them in front. In consequence, their attention was drawn from the down train coming on them from behind, and before they were aware of its near approach it ran over three of them, killing two on the spot, and injuring the other so much that one of his legs was obliged to be shortly after amputated. It is stated that the engine driver of the down train, when within a quarter of a mile of them, gave them the usual caution by using the engine whistle, but from their attention being fixed on the up train, and the down train progressing on an inclined plane, it was difficult, or perhaps impossible, to avoid the melancholy catastrophe. The men killed were used to the line, as they bhad been formerly employed on it in the vicinity of Denbigh hall.
It's interesting, isn't it, that no names are mentioned in this report? The three men remain permanently anonymous.

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