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L.T.C Rolt’s ‘High Horse Riderless’

Preface.

Rolt wrote this book during 1942 – 1944. It was published by George Allen & Unwin in 1947. The purpose of the book is to condemn the capitalist ethic of the industrial society into which he was born, to trace the course of events that led to the situation in which society in 1944 found itself and to put forward his remedy for the ills from which he believed his society suffered.

I do not have, here on holiday in Canada, the exact date of his birth but I guess his year of birth to be 1910. He was probably five years younger than my father – who would have agreed with everything Rolt writes except where he criticizes the Roman Catholic church. Rolt’s ‘Acknowledgements’ includes George Sturt’s ‘The Wheelwright’s Shop’ a treasured book of my father’s and indeed myself.   H.J Massingham was his close friend: my father treasured two of Massingham’s books –A Shepherd’s Life’ is one I recall by name. I had read that more than once before I was 12. A book of recollections of life for a shepherd in the late 19th century on eastern Salisbury Plain. Rolt also mentions approvingly in the book, both on my father’s bookshelf, Alfred Williams and G.K Chesterton. Both of whom I have read. Chesterton was a Catholic apologist and came close to being a fascist. Williams was a   poet, he had served in the army in he Great War. After that war he worked as a ‘hammer-man’ on a one-man steam hammer in the Great Western Railway locomotive factory at Swindon. He hated his work and the people he worked with and loved the old rural ways and rural people, wrote ‘Villages of the White Horse’, ‘Folk songs of the Upper Thames’ and ‘Life in a Railway Factory’. A man of great sensitivity and self education – he taught himself latin and greek – the book describes the life he loathed, but he never left it because it paid better wages than those he would have got if he had worked with one of the Downland shepherds he so much admired.

Rolt was an admirer of the medieval. I was brought up by exactly that kind of person. My mother and father were readers of a magazine which was published in between the wars and perhaps during the Second World War. It had a perfectly Roltian title: ‘The Cross and The Plough’ . There was another, with the anonymous title ‘The Weekly Review’. This was the publication of anti-capitalist, ‘back to the land’, Roman Catholics like my parents, Eric Gill and Hilary Pepler – the Ditchling Community. When I read ‘High Horse Riderless’ I was at once reminded of all this old thought.

I too would criticise the way society is organized. But the critical difference is that I would not fabricate history and ignore inconvenient parts of history. Rolt believes that the society of his time was suffering from a ‘malady’. The Second World War is a sympton of this malady. He believes that the ‘philosophy of early Christianity’ created a world which was as near perfect as fallible humans are ever likely to achieve. He then labels the thoughts, ideas, sciences, which developed from ‘the Renaissance’ as ‘evil’, and urges that the cure for the ‘malady’ of Society of 1944 is to return to the style of life of the pre-Renaissance European, Christianity. He entirely ignores at the slaughtering wars, all great injustices of fuedalism in that time.

Most curiously – writing in 1944 he condemns outright the Industrial Revolution and ten years later he is writing a semi-mythology in support of one of its most notable figures – Isambard Kingdom Brunel – and in his biography of I.K Brunel he is as selective, as ‘glossing-over’, in his history as he was of pre-Renaisance Europe.

Rolt imagines a ‘Merrie England’ of happy labourers, not living in damp cottages on starvation wages. He makes no mention of the agricultural trade union movements of the 19th century but if he did he would have said they were ‘marring the otherwise perfect harmony of men with nature’. Rolt says that the Anglican religion he was taught at the ‘Public’ (i.e. private) school he was sent to disillusioned him about religion so he   turned instead to the religion of the pre-Anglican period. I thought at this early point in the book he had become, a Roman Catholic. Reading on I think he did not do so. Nevertheless he has a very strong faith in the Christian religion before 1400, and ‘The Cross and The Plough’ seems to me to be a good way of summing up his ideas.

He was apprenticed to mechanical engineering at a large agricultural machinery factory in the Vale of Evesham. After that he ‘embarked on a three years term with a firm of locomotive engineers in the industrial Midlands’ (p.14) This experience was a rude and unpleasant shock to him – an Alfred Williams experience – and formed him as a writer. He had become disgusted with what was to him the robotic nature of the work, the lack of individual skill – as he thought – and, perhaps more to the point, the submersion of his personality into the highly organized works. So a large machine works was not the place for him – as it was not the place for Alfred Williams, who should therefore have resigned.

Rolt felt he was anonymous, un-noticed – untalked of – these are fears which, unknown to Rolt at that time – young Isambard Brunel had written in his diary. Because of his locomotive works experience, Rolt developed the desire to withdraw from reality and adopt a fantasy of what he thought was the pre-renaissance world – and never come beyond it. In this he was at one with the pre-Renaissance Roman Catholic Church which did its best to hold back the tide of thought.

But at least Rolt was more honest than Williams. Rolt did withdraw from the relatively high industrial wages he received and found happiness with less money and more personal development. He does not say he tried to grow all the food he needed throughout the year – to be self sufficient as he peasants of England had to be his the period he loved but as he lived on a canal barge, growing food was not possible apart perhaps from some tomatoes. From his barge – which he built with his own hands – he did a great deal of good for Society in pioneering the canal and steam railway preservation movement and thus the whole nation has much to thank him for. But the money for all the preservation work which he initiated did not come from peasants, struggling to grow enough food to feed themselves through long winters – but from industrial capitalism.

What he cannot be thanked for is the thoroughly false histories he wrote and the ridiculous ‘solutions’ he proposed to the problems of his time – and indeed, our time.

This is my objection to Tom Rolt. I object to his writing false history.

The Evidence:

A selection of quotes from the book and objections thereto.

Pages 16/17

What he had regarded as progress he now saw as ‘a malady’ and he wonders ‘How could mechanism and science be reconciled with the harmony of the natural world’

Is that expression merely sentimental? Define harmonious. Is there no harmony is the perfect operation of a fine machine? Where is the harmony when one galaxy’s gravity is tearing away the matter of another galaxy to add to its own mass. Is there harmony in one animal’s pitiless pursuit of a weaker one for food. Even to the underground honey fungus which destroys fine trees. That is nature and therefore is, according to Rolt, harmonious. So why is his ‘greedy capitalist’ not acting with the harmony of nature?

Page 18.

Rolt tells us that he when he began to form his philosophical view –that view was ‘recognizably Christian by implication’ (What relevance the last two words have escapes me) His notion of Christian philosophy was that of the 4th to the 12th century and was not that of any later period. On that basis – of arrested development – Rolt has something in common with the Taliban. He then tells us that he began to wonder what was the reason for the failure of that philosophy to retain its beneficent influence over the mind of western man from the Renaissance onwards.

Christian philosophy had not prevented terrible slaughter through the admired centuries.   What beneficent influence did the Catholic philosophy of Augustine and Aquinas exert? The Norman invasion of Ireland in 1157 was actually blessed by the Pope because the Irish were calculating the date of Easter by a method the Pope did not approve of. The list of blessed slaughters is lengthy.

Page 18 bottom line. Into 19

‘Christian philosophy is founded upon the reflection of certain eternal and absolute truths and it failure was due not to any inherent flaw but to the lack of an eloquent re-statement in the light of new knowledge. in consequence n ever increasing number of persons began to evaluate knowledge not in relation to Christian principles but for its own sake as a potential source of power………….men were beginning to shape their lives by Reason rather than by intuitive faith, the eternal verities became a dead dogma. The age of Reason required a Doctrine and because no re-valuation of the Christian Philosophy was forthcoming, it embraced Materialism.

There are several nonsenses which could be pointed out in that but suffice it to look at the final line:

if Christian philosophy – which was based on faith in the supernatural -was to re-evaluate itself in the Age of Reason – any reasonable person would forsake faith –- and embrace Reason which is the provable, material, world. My definition of faith, from having been brought up strictly as a Roman Catholic, is: ‘faith is a gift from God which enables one to believe without doubting that which cannot possibly be true’

Rolt, the trained engineer, preferred faith to reason.

Page 20.

‘In the past 200 years traditional wisdom has been discarded in the arrogance of newly won knowledge.’ Is that, perhaps, what the Neolithic axe head maker said when the first iron axe heads came onto the market?

Page 32.

‘Humility and poverty gave way to arrogance and wealth.

‘ Assertion took the place of Instruction.’

Is he bewailing the passing of poverty here?

Faith – which he is so keen on – is nothing but ‘assertion’. Faith has no reasonable foundation It must always be an assertion.

But my parents talked exactly in this way.

Page 33.

He criticizes a Pope’s ‘rigid orthodoxy’ but how could the Pope adopt any other position since he was defending the ‘eternal and absolute truths’ that Rot praised to highly. (see p.18)

He then criticizes ‘the first secular figure to question the priesthood – Emperor Frederick 11. This man took the sixth crusade to ‘The Holy Land’ but instead of fighting the Muslims over Jerusalem, ‘concluded a bloodless “gentleman’s agreement” with the Sultan of Egypt’. As a result of this peaceful solution he lost the friendship of   the Pope and Rolt makes it clear that he would have preferred Frederick to do some slaughtering rather than achieve peacefully the aim of allowing Christians to visit Jerusalem.

Rolt describes the Emperor Frederick as ‘a liberal-minded sceptic evincing a humanistic outlook readily understandable today because it was (he was) the precursor of modern times. His bland indifference to the excommunications and thunderous interdicts of successive Popes, coupled with his telling denunciation of the pride and corruption of the higher priesthood could not fail to exercise a profound influence over the minds of his powerful secular contemporaries and successors.’

Pages 34 – 35.

Rolt on the Roman Catholic ‘Canon Law’.

He expounds at great length – and without stopping the draw breath – upon matters on which, I feel sure, he does not have the knowledge. He goes raging on for another 100 pages – and on page 138 – at the middle, a new paragraph he writes: In this age of violence and disruption the Feudal system was evolved…………. The ‘Feudal’ system did not ‘evolve’ in England, it was imposed – fully developed on the English by their conquerors – the Normans. The conquered were dispossessed and enslaved. Rolt goes on to praise this system of binding people irrevocably to an owner. In the next paragraph, still on page 34, he begins: Assisted by the ideals and the unifying force of Christianity…….. On page 18 he has asserted that Christianity exerted a ‘beneficent influence’ on society during the Middle Ages and on page 34 he refers to ‘the age of violence and disruption’ in that same period, from which hellishness, he writes, the Feudal system was a refuge.

I think Mr. Rolt, as an objective historian can be dismissed as a charlatan. His lack of objectivity is his style of writing. He does not write for the sake of history but for Mr.Rolt’s sake. He harbours a detestation of industrial capitalism and, dismissing any system for improving the errors of that system, he recommends a return to the 14th century and would desire us all to stay, bound as the Feudal serf was bound, to his Lord.

Breakaway near Chipping Campden

Here is a little story of an incident on the Oxford –  Worcester line in 1947. Every detail is correct. My information comes from the GWR Internal Report. This is an example of the sort of thing to be published in my next book ‘The Great Western’s Last Year’. These kinds of stories will be a part of a wide look at the Great Company when its life was very difficult.

On the 19th the  6.45 a.m Worcester to Kingham local goods was hauled by 2-6-0 No. 6324 with sixty-four  wagons  and a 20 ton brake van. On 6324 was  Driver H.Bevan with Fireman P.Matthews  and Guard W. Northcott of Worcester. They stopped at Honeybourne for the bank engine – No.2273. with  Driver J. Teale..  The train would require the banker’s assistance right through to the summit  and so the banker was coupled to the brake van. This was to ensure the banker stayed with the train on the 1 in 154 downhill from Campden to Blockley before the final assault on the summit. The coupling between the 32nd and 33rd wagon broke after passing Campden station, running down a 1 in 154 gradient.  Everyone concerned behaved with perfect calm and practised ease. The guard of the train and Driver Bevan,  were alert and saw the breakway – this section of line was notoriously difficult for the driver of any loose coupled train and  his train was exceptionally long and difficult to control. Guard Northcott would have made sure the bank engine driver was aware. Driver Bevan kept his half going to keep away from the rear portion.  The signalman at  Blockley signalman saw the front part go by with the brake van and  sent the 5-5 signal to Moreton-in-Marsh. Driver Teale kept control of his half and brought it to a gentle stand at Blockley station, clear of the level crossing. The front portion was stopped at Moreton-in-Marsh. The defective wagon was put into a siding. It was owned by  a Mr. Ray of Southend wither it was bound from Pilsley Colliery, Derbyshire, an ex-Great Central Railway station. To be on the Worcester line shows it was lost – wrongly marshaled somewhere back along the line – and now it was set aside at a country station,  with a broken coupling, and as it was not  owned by the  GWR would not be mended until Mr. Ray was contacted and had agreed to pay the GWR to fit it with a new 3-link coupling.

When the front part of the train was at a stand in Moreton station, the rear part was propelled under the provisions of Regulation 14A from Blockley, the train re-formed and, with the banker uncoupled,  Driver Bevan proceeded on his way to Kingham.

GWR Water Troughs

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The Slip Coach

The ‘slip coach’ is an idea taken from the days when railways were being constructed. Before any train ran. The wagons carrying spoil  to the head of an embankment, to drop the load over the edge, had a ‘slipping lever’  to uncouple the horse from the wagon. The horse stepped sideways and the wagon could be pushed the last few feet and tipped. When trains began running, those being ‘gung-ho’ days when risk assessments were not much thought about, the fireman – on some railways – would climb over the coals and when the driver eased off speed, the coupling went slack and the fireman could then lift the coupling off the hook. The engine then accelerated and the pointsman switched the track into the depot and turned the points back again to send the train into the terminus station. This practise caused a fatal crash at Hull on about 1840 but the slip coach idea was continued. The GWR is most famous for using them but most major companies had slip coaches, some more than others.  It was a very dangerous practise when the only brake was the guard’s handbrake and safety depended on the main train not slowing down after the slip had been made. With the introduction of a powerful vacuum or air brake  it was less dangerous but still dodgy – in my opinion. The GWR had a printed instruction to level crossing keepers  in its ‘General Appendix to the Rule Book’ ordering them to remember which train had a slip coach and not to open the level crossing gate after such train had passed until the slip coach had also passed. And thereby hangs a tale, I think. In spite of the obvious danger of having a loose coach whizzing along at a respectful distance behind the main train I  have only heard of one slip coach collision. That was at Woodford Halse in 1935. The coach was slipped on a foggy day – and maybe the guard ought not to have slipped – but he did – and then the main train slowed down, he caught up with it and, because of the reduced visibility by the time he saw it  he could not stop in time.
    Before  1914 the GWR had 72 coaches slipped every week day. During the war slip coaches were discontinued and after the war nothing like so many were put on. The classic slip coach train was the GWR’s ‘Cornish Riviera Limited’ which left  Paddington at 10.30 a.m daily with 3 slip coaches – one for Weymouth, slipped near Westbury, one for Minehead, slipped at Taunton and one for all stations Exeter to Newton Abbot, slipped at Exeter. As the spring  came and Easter, as the holiday season got going,  the slip coach would have an ordinary coach coupled behind it and as High Season developed the slip coach was abandoned for a ‘Releif’ train of maybe 6 coaches for Weymouth or Minehead.
     Each slip coach could have up to four  8-wheeled coaches behind  it – or  six 4 or 6-wheeled coaches –    but that many was very unusual.In the 1910 timetable there were a couple of trains booked to have three behind but usually it was only one. The more coaches there were behind the slip the greater skill was required from the slip guard  because of the technicalities of the vacuum brake system – explained in the next paragraph.   If running with three or  four behind the slip then the slip coach might  be a ‘single ended slip’ – i.e the slip coupling was at one end only and there was a corridor connection between the other end of the slip and the four ordinary coaches. But this was not obligatory.
     The slip coach coupling had a draw hook that was hinged at the base and when the pointed tip of the hook when lifted up into the normal position it had an iron casting an inch above it. Into that space fitted a wedge, filling the gap and holding the hook in place.  In the slip guard’s compartment there was a lever which stood upright between two guide bars. When pulled backwards it pulled the wedge back allowing the hinged hook to drop. Pulling the lever back also turned a rotary valve which then admitted air into the vacuum brake cylinders of the coach and the coach or coaches behind . So the slip coach was at once braked  and dropped back from the main train. The guard then pushed the lever fully forwards. This rotated the said valve and allowed the air pressure which was then in the train pipe and brake cylinder(s) to depart into a large vacuum chamber under the slip carriage. A vacuum chamber is a steel container where the air pressure has been considerably reduced below that of the outside atmosphere. On the GWR the vacuum was equal to 25″ of mercury and so while outside the atmospheric pressure would be 14.7 lbs per sq.inch. inside the vacuum chamber the pressure was 4 or 4 1/2 lbs psi.
    When the valve allowed the air in the brakes to pass into the vacuum chambers, the pressure on the brake cylinders was removed and the brakes were released – but the pressure in the vacuum chamber had been increased. If there were four coaches ration of air to enter the chamber the pressure would be raised four times more than if there was only one slip coach discharging air.  If the guard was unskilful with four coaches behind his slip he could, perhaps, fill the vacuum chambers and then when he next tried to discharge the air there would be nowhere for it to go. But let us assume that all is going well, the brakes were  released and the coach free-wheeled happily along. All that was then required was for the guard to pull the lever back and apply the brakes as he coasted into the station. Therefore the important thing for the slip guard to do was to slip his coach at the right distance from where he had to stop having regard for the gradient and the speed of the train. There is no doubt it was skilful and  would have given great satisfaction to the slip guard when he could perform the feat perfectly.
    In the summer it was often the case that there were more passengers than could be accomodated in two or three carriages behind the slip and so  the  noble GWR put on an extra train – maybe 6 coaches (try doing that on our ‘world-class’ railway) in place of the Weymouth slip and the Minehead. These would then run as a ‘part’ of the main train  – i.e ‘10.30 Paddingon, First Part will depart Paddington 10.27 a.m’ or ‘at 10.33 a.m’. It was normal at peak times of summer travel to have the main train and three – or more  – ‘parts’ – one for Weymouth, one for Minehead, one for Ilfracombe.  These ‘parts’ had their timings in the Working time table ‘Suspended’ and then when the train was to run it was shewn on the working notice for that week ‘10.25 a.m Paddington WILL RUN’  written like that. It was brilliant railway. In spite of all the so-called ‘inefficiencies’ of the equipment they really tried for the passengers.
       I rode up from Plymouth several times a year for 2 1/2 years in the slip coach of the 8.30 Plymouth, slipped at Reading about 1 p.m.
In all cases where there was a slip coach shackle was placed over the ordinary draw hook of the last coach of the main train and the vacuum pipes were connected without the self-sealing adaptors.  The coupling altered at the last stopping place. The 8.30 Plymouth ‘adusted the sip couplings’ at Westbury. This meant putting the shackle of the last coach of the main train over the draw hook of the sli coach and self-sealing ends fitted to both vacuum pipes – on the slip and on the main train. The guard of the main train walked through the main train nearing Westbury and inquired over every passenger if they were travelling to Reading and if so to get out at Westbury and walk back to the slip coach. Then he came to the slip coach and asked if there was anyone on board for Paddington – in which case to get out and go forward into the main train. I have spoken to a driver who used to work up from Plymouth in the 1950s and he said that if they had to slip at Reading he would be careful – signals permitting – not to use his brakes at all to come around the bend at Reading, off the Berks & Hants Line and into the Up Platform Loop at Reading at 20 mph. He had  the brakes fully off and the vacuum chambers above each brake piston and underneath the slip coach fully exhausted and did not want to interfere with that. He said he would shut off steam at the right place and free-wheel, losing speed so that he entered the platform loop without using brakes. As he came under the great signal gantry at Reading he kept his eye on the vacuum gauge in his cab because that would tell him when the slip guard had detached the coach.  When the slip was made, the vacuum pipes parted between the main train and the slip coach and the Train Pipe needle of the gauge would dip briefly as air ran in as the pipes came apart and before the automatic sealing valves worked. Once he saw the needle dip he would put on steam. Everything on the mechanical railway was down to the skill  of the men doing the work.
     Up until 1953 I regulalry saw the 8.30 Plymouth and the 8.20 Weston-s-Mare slipping at Reading at 20 mph. The whole train would be sent through the Up Main Platform (No.5) Loop and at that speed the guard did not pull his lever until he was just on the platform end. We boys used to crowd to that end to catch a glimpse of him doing this. Moving out to between Didcot and Swindon I did on one or two occasions stand on Foxhall bridge and see the 8.30 Weston go through at 70 and then the slip coach appear after a minute or so all by itself, rolling along! An amazing sight.
    One last point. Not only did the slip coach break the solemn rule that there must never be two trains in one block section but it also broke the rule that there should only be one tail lamp on a train – on the last vehicle. A train carrying a slip had the ‘Main Train’ tail lamps on the last coach of the main train – TWO red lights one above the other – made as a single unit for ease of handling. and the slip coach had ‘First Slip’ lamp, a red and a white side by side and also built as a single unit. If there were two slips the last slip carried this lamp – because he was first to go – and the inner slip carried a red and a white one above the other but if there were three slips then the last to go – the third slip – carried a triangular formation of tail lamps, a white and a red side by side with another red above those two.
The upper picture shows the Home signals of Reading Main Line West signal box for Up Train off the Berks & Hants Line. The 4 top arms route to:- Up Releif; No.7 Bay; Up Main Platform; Up Main Through. The slipping distant for the Platform ine is cleared. The left-hand arm is for use if the train is going to slip the coach on the Up Releif Line platform. There is a ‘Calling-on’ arm below No.7 Bay home signal and there is a permanent reminder to drivers that there is a speed limit of 10 mph into the Bay.
The lower picture, arms left to right: Up Releif Line to Up Goods; Up Releif; Releif to Main. These are Reading West Main’s Up Releif Line Home signals.
The slipping distant is on the upright post below.
The Down Distant signal for Bicester with the slip guard’s repeating distant, worked from the same wire that works the main arm.

Hallen Marsh crash 1947

At 5.30 a.m on 18 February there was a head-on collision on the single track branch line 1 ½ miles from Hallen Marsh Junction going towards  Pilning Low Level. The night was very dark, clear and frosty, with 3 inches of snow on the ground. Signalman J. Wheeler was on duty. He was 22, had been a signalman for  3 ½ years, the last six months at Hallen Marsh Jc. At 3.41 a.m that morning he had the 1.45 a.m Cardiff to Avonmouth goods standing at the  Home signal on the branch while a banking engine ran across the junction, on the Up Main  towards Henbury.

With the engine clear, Wheeler  pushed lever 14 into the frame, setting the points for the branch, and reversed 16 which closed the catch point in the branch line and reversed 51 lever so as to turn the crossover from Up to Down Main. He pulled signal lever 40 and the train set off for Avonmouth. When it had gone Wheeler replaced lever 51, setting the crossover points for ordinary – Up and Down – running but did not re-set 14 or 16. The route remained set for ‘Up Main to Up Branch’.

At 4.37 he accepted  under the ‘Warning Arrangement’ from Pilning Low Level the 8.45 p.m Cardiff – Avonmouth goods and at 5.10 that train passed Pilning Low Level. The train was 2 ½ miles away. At 5.18 a.m Wheeler accepted at ‘Line Clear’  the 9.20 Avonmouth to Salisbury goods. He got ‘Line Clear’ from Henbury and  lowered his Advanced Starting signal, lever 63,  which was the Henbury side of the junction but when he tried to pull lever 65, his Up Main to Henbury line  starting signal, he was unable to do so because the route was set for the branch. Signal 65 was the directing signal for the junction, to its left was  Signal 62 which was cleared when the route was set for the branch. When the 9.20 p.m Avonmouth came to a stand at signals 62/65 Wheeler told the driver that the lock had failed on the operating lever for the main line route but all was in order – he could pass the signal at danger and proceed towards Henbury.

The driver set off, Wheeler sent ‘Train entering Section’, 2 beats on the bell,  to Henbury and then went to his Train Register to enter-up times. He had his back to the train. When he looked up he saw that the train was going along the branch line and had passed the branch advanced starting signal – 61 – at Danger  and showed no sign of stopping.The driver  must have thought there was a reason for him being sent the very long way round to get to Filton Junction and was working  his 68xx class 4.6.0 hard to accelerate his 600 ton train. Signalman J. Wheeler was now faced with the terrifying knowledge that a head-on collision was inevitable and when he heard the awuful thumping, crunching, sounds  1 ½ miles away he telephoned Bristol Control with the news.

The  8.45 p.m Cardiff, hauled by a ‘Dukedog’ 90xx class 4-4-0 with 350 tons was travelling slowly because the driver had been ‘Warned’ to be ready to stop at Hallen Marsh Junction. The closing speed was estimated at 37 mph.  The view ahead from the Cardiff train was so restricted that the driver had no time to apply his brakes or blow his whistle.  Both engines and their tenders were de-railed, all six men of the two trains were injured. Twenty six wagons were derailed some of them were petrol tankers; other wagons were  smashed to bits. Clearing the line was delayed by  having to clear away so many wagons before they could get a crane to the derailed engines. The collision happened at 5.30 a.m on the Tuesday. The line was clear and fit or normal running  at 6 p.m on the Thursday.

The Inspector of Accidents for His Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate was Brigadier Langley. At the end of his report he wrote: I have no recommendations in connection with this accident. There is no justification for the provision of safety equipment. It required successive mistakes by two men to cause the accident. The young signalman jumped to a wrong conclusion and an experienced driver passed a signal at danger without authority and did not notice he was on the wrong route.

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