Shropshire History

Railway Accidents


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There have been several railway accidents in Shropshire in which people have been killed or seriously injured. Details can be found in the Railways Archive.


Donnington - 29th May 1852

About 0600 in the morning, a cleaner Daniel Tinsley came to his work and was followed into the shed by a fireman named Phillips. The latter had been getting his engine ready for an early trip and came to look for his shovel which was missing. He searched one engine for it and then turned to look for it on the “Mazeppa”. He could not see that engine and just then a platelayer ran into the shed to say that he had seen it going up the line without anyone on it; The alarm was given and an engine was sent in pursuit as quickly as possible. The driver of this engine had only gone about three miles when they caught sight of steam rising. When they reached Donnington, they found that it had run into the rear of the 0600 passenger train from Shrewsbury, killing one person and injuring several others.


Newport - 23rd October 1854

A train ran into the back of another just south of Newport, injuring 3 people.


Rednal – 7th June 1865

A permanent way gang were lifting and packing the up line 600 yards north of Rednal station on a 1-132 gradient that falls from Whittington. A green flag had been set 1,100 yards away at the top of the incline as a warning. At 1229, an excursion train from Birkenhead left Chester for Shrewsbury consisting of 28 coaches and two brake vans and hauled by two locomotives. An additional four coaches were added at Gobowen. When the train reached Whittington, it began to gain speed on the gradient but the driver of the front locomotive did not see the flag warning of the work ahead. The brakes were applied when the workmen were sighted but it was too late to stop such a heavy train. The lead locomotive derailed on the unsupported track but continued along the ballast until it reached points outside Rednal station, where it turned over. The extreme weight of the following train meant that the first four carriages were destroyed completely, killing 11 passengers and 2 train crew.


Shrewsbury - 16th June 1870

A passenger train with six carriages containing soldiers was leaving Shrewsbury Station at around 0840, having been delayed four or five minutes waiting for a Great Western train. The driver, who was applying sand to his wheels, saw as they reached the points that they were lying open for the Shropshire sidings. He at once shut off his steam, reversed, and put on contrary steam but his fireman had hardly time to apply his brake before they struck a goods engine in the sidings. Seven soldiers were injured.


Shrewsbury – 16th October 1875

A goods train was being shunted in the exchange sidings near the main Shrewsbury-Wellington line and, due to a shortage of guards vans, the guard John Smith was forced to travel in the rear wagon. This had no proper braking equipment and the only way he could apply the brakes was by climbing over the wagon sides, clinging on as best he could and treading on the side brake. As this train was slowly proceeding round the curve that led towards the Bell Bridge, another goods train was being shunted in the sidings above. Unfortunately, the driver tried to fit too many wagons into one siding, so that three of them were forced over the stop-block at one end. These careered onto the line below and towards the ap­proaching goods train. The fireman of the goods train shouted out in alarm as he saw the runaway trucks approaching and he clambered up onto the tank of the engine for protection. The driver Thomas Hollis desperately shut off steam and put the engine into reverse, while at the rear of the train the guard, not wishing to risk his life, jumped clear. The impact of the ensuing collision was so great that not only were the three runaway trucks thrown clear of the line, but also the engine and front six wagons of the goods train. The fireman John Izon, was knocked senseless and thrown from the tank to the footplate with several broken ribs. A water gauge burst so that escaping water badly scalded the driver, who was carried to the Bell Inn where he died soon afterwards.


Shrewsbury - December 28th 1875

A passenger train from Llanymynech was standing at a platform just outside the Abbey Foregate terminus while the tickets were being collected. The train was cold and dark, since most of the lights were not in working order. It was then that a goods train smashed without warning into the rear of the passenger train, breaking the windows and the remaining lamps, hurling passengers from their seats, and throwing Miss Lewis and Miss Ellis violently against one another. Eventually Miss Lewis was found to be seriously injured and was carried away unconscious and suffering from internal injuries.


Welshampton – 11th June 1897

An excursion train to Barmouth was returning to Oldham with 320 passengers in 15 carriages pulled by two locomotives. Earlier in the day a guard had complained of the rough riding of a small 4-wheeled brake van which, on the return journey, was at the front of the train. It was subsequently decided that the speed of the train was too high considering the state of the track which had many sleepers in need of replacement and too light a rail for high speed running. At about 2220, one of the engines and 13 of the coaches were derailed 154 yards east of Welshampton station. Nine passengers were killed instantly, while two other passengers and a railway employee died later from injuries.


Shrewsbury – 22nd July 1915


A train left Abbey Foregate station and proceeded on its journey until it reached a bridge spanning the River Severn at Shrawardine. This bridge was a wrought iron structure 50ft above the river. As the train passed over the bridge, an unusual grating noise was heard followed by a tremendous bumping and jolting. Suddenly the passengers were thrown in a heap on the floor. In panic, a young lady clambered through the open window on to the arched side of the bridge and crouched clutching on like grim death with her hands. A Mr E Lewis reached out and caught hold of the lady, a few moments later also climbing out on the girder for her further protection. There the two remained for over an hour until rescued.

Shrewsbury – 15th October 1907

An overnight Sleeping Car and Mail train from Manchester to the West of England was approaching Shrewsbury station when it is believed that the driver dozed off. He thus missed a red signal and the train was derailed on the sharply curved approach to the station. A total of 18 people were killed, including the engine driver and fireman, two guards, eleven passengers and three Post Office sorters working in the Mail train. Thirty-three other people were reported injured.


Ludlow - 6th September 1956


The 1400 parcels train from Penzance to Crewe was passing through Ludlow when it passed a distant signal at caution and two stop signals at danger. It failed to slow down and collided with the rear of the 1645 express passenger train from Penzance to Manchester, which had stopped at Ludlow signal box owing to an obstruction on the line at a level crossing ahead. The last two vehicles of the stationary train, which fortunately were not passenger coaches, were demolished and much of the wreckage was forced under the coach ahead, which was lifted some feet and separated from the bogie. Only two of the ten passengers in the coach required treatment for shock. The engine of the parcels train was derailed but it remained upright. The three coaches behind it were wrecked and thrown off the track across the adjacent Down line. The guard and fireman were just shaken up but the driver was injured and suffered severely from shock.


Baschurch – 13th February 1961

A Wellington to Chester passenger train collided with a freight train that was partially shunted into a siding. The freight train had stopped short and, whilst the driver was investigating, the signalman cleared the signals for the passenger train. Three people on the passenger train were killed, including the driver, fireman and a storeman in a stores van attached to the train.


Coton Hill – 11th January 1965

At 0550, a heavily loaded freight train ran out of control on the 1-100 Hencote incline and was derailed on a set of trap points. It demolished a signal box and the signalman on duty was killed, while the driver of the train was seriously injured.


Westbury – 2nd March 1987

At about 2055, a Sprinter class 150 diesel multiple unit train ran round the passing loop in the down direction at Westbury and passed at danger the signal controlling the entry to the single line section to Welshpool. A similar train was waiting at the signal in the other direction before proceeding into the loop. The down train collided head-on with the up train. The leading bogie of the up train was derailed and there was considerable damage to the front-end superstructure of both trains. A total of 37 people were injured.