Saturday, May 4, 2013

More early Railway Accidents.

One of the first and unfortunately tragic consequences of introducing a heavy machine able to move at speed was that it took some time for people to become aware of the danger. Here are some reports from 1839, the first year of continuous operation of the London and Birmingham Railway. there were many more, but I have only included those that involved Wolverton


Yorkshire Gazette Saturday 14th September 1839

FATAL ACCIDENT ON THE LONDON AND BIRMINGHAM RAILWAY
On Sunday night the mail train for London left Birmingham at its usual time, and proceeded with safety until near the station at Wolverton when a sudden outcry was raised that someone had been run over. The engineer immediately stopped the engine, and the guards ran back, when one of the stokers was found lying across the rails literally beheaded. It is supposed that the unfortunate man, while on the look out, must have slipped off the tender, and the wheels of the train passed over his neck.

The Champion Sunday 15th September 1839

LONDON AND BIRMINGHAM
We regret to state that another dreadful and fatal accident occurred on the London and Birmingham Railway on Monday morning last. It has been endeavoured to keep the matter strictly secret, but from the enquiries our informant has instituted the following particulars have transpired: - It appears that on Sunday night the mail train for London left Birmingham at its usual time, and proceeded with safety till near the station at Wolverton, when a sudden outcry was raised that someone had been run over. The engineer stopped the engine, and the guards ran back, when a dreadful sight presented itself, one of the stokers being found lying across the rails literally beheaded. It is supposed that the unfortunate man must have slipped off the tender, and the wheels of the train passed over his neck. The body was removed to Wolverton, where it awaits a coroner’s inquest. The above is, we understand, the third accident on this railway within eight days, a man at the commencement of last week having his foot torn off by a train; and on Friday last, at the Wolverton station, Inspector Watts was crushed in a most dreadful manner, death terminating his sufferings almost immediately.

Coventry Herald Friday 5 April 1839

RAILWAY ACCIDENT
An accident took place on the line of the London and Birmingham Railway, near Wolverton, on the morning of Saturday week, in consequence of which a man named White, an engineer in the employ of the Company, sustained injuries of an extensive and distressing nature. It appears that White had been entrusted to bring a train from Birmingham station to Wolverton, where he ought to have taken it on the opposite rail and there left it. On the contrary, however, he kept it on the same line upwards of two minutes after his arrival. Before he had quitted the up-train from Birmingham was observed approaching at full speed, leaving White no time to get out of the way. The consequence was, before ay check could be put on the speed of the up-train, it came into violent collision with that in which White was. The force of the concussion caused the engine to be detatched from the tender, which in its progress was turned off the rails and precipitated over the iron bridge into the canal that passes under it. White was discovered lying on the bank of the canal below the bridge, with one of his arms severed from his body, and his right thigh shockingly lacerated, besides having received several other severe contusions. Medical aid was procured, and amputation of the arm close to the shoulder was deemed indispensable. The train proceeded without any inconvenience save slight damage to one or two of the  carriages by breaking the windows.

The Champion Sunday 20 October 1839

RAILWAY ACCIDENTS

LONDON AND BIRMINGHAM RAILWAY
The mail train from the north on Monday morning was thrown off the rails about a mile from Fenny Stratford, in consequence of running over two cows. The travelling post-office was much injured, and the horse box, in which the great portion of the mail bags are deposited, was nearly broken to pieces, as well as another carriage. An engine and a second class carriage were immediately sent for the conveyance of the mails to London, where they arrived two hours and forty minutes after the proper time. In consequence of the travelling office being broken, all the letters for the towns between Wolverton and London, and for the post towns on the line on each side the railway, were unavoidably brought on to London, from which place they were again dispatched by day mail to their destination. Fortunately the two clerks and the guard employed in the travelling post-office escaped without injury.

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