Thursday, May 14, 2020

A fatal railway accident at Melton Mowbray in 1892

Loitering in Little Bowden churchyard today (as you do), I came across this gravestone of a man killed in a railway accident.

A little googling takes you to a report of the accident that killed Harry Pollard:
As the 1.53 p.m. London and North-Western train from Nottingham to Northampton was approaching Melton north signal-cabin upon the up line at 2.46 pm, the engine left the rails, followed by the whole of the eight vehicles in the train. 
The driver, Robert Herron, who jumped from his engine just before it went over the embankment, was killed, probably being struck by one of the carriages, and his body was found upon the 4-ft. way of the up line; the fireman, Henry Pollard, was also killed, his body being found under the end of the third-class carriage at the foot of the embankment, and a news-boy named William Stone, who was a passenger, supposed to have been in one of the two leading vehicles, was also found dead under the first-class carriage halfway down the slope. 
There were, fortunately, few passengers except in the rear part of the train, and three only are returned as having been injured.
And a link on that page will take you to the full Board of Trade report on the accident.

The train would have been timetabled to travel from Melton to Northampton via Market Harborough. This may be a cursed service, as Lord Bonkers once recalled the disappearance of another train on this route in the 1920s.


crewegwyn said...

The extraordinary thing is that the Report on the accident including witness statements, assessment of damage and conclusions was despatched FIVE DAYS after the incident. These days 5 months would be good going!

Phil Beesley said...

Those times were extraordinarily dangerous on the railways and in workshops, of course. The larger companies implemented policies to find employment for those injured at work and funded the manufacture of prosthetic limbs. In spite of terrible rates of death and serious injury, railway operators were regarded as good employers. Those working in factories were often more unfortunate and crossing the road had its own dangers.

Taking a rational but very hard hearted view of accidents, one might consider that their frequency provided data in the same way as a rigorous inquiry of a single event. It appears to be an attitude adopted by some people today.

Jonathan Calder said...

crewegwyn, your comment reminds me of the case of Dennis O'Neill, which I have been blogging about recently.

The boy died on 9 January 1945. By 28 May they had held an inquest and committal proceedings, tried and convicted his foster parents, held a public inquiry and published its findings.

And that while we were at war.

Mike said...

Very interesting, thanks Jonathan! Always good to know about another railway worker gravestone where an accident was involved.

The passenger crashes were undoubtedly the most spectacular of the railway accidents, though as one of the other comments notes, for the staff, the railways were a very dangerous workplace - from more mundane things than crashes, but which cumulatively added up to far greater numbers of casualties. And, as you know, they're the very sort of things the 'Railway Work, Life & Death' project is finding out more about!