1902 09 19

1902 September 19th            Salisbury Train in Collision

A Coach Smashed to Splinters

A somewhat alarming accident occurred on Friday night at the Bristol Railway Station, when a London express train had a narrow escape. A train had arrived from the North at 8.30, and after the discharging of its passengers, was being shunted to a siding a short distance above the down platform. The permanent way at this point extends across a wide stretch of rail with a narrow work of lines, and in the shunting operations the empty carriages collided with a train which was leaving for Salisbury. The empty carriages were thus derailed, fouling the line along which the express train, which had left Paddington at 6.25, was expected, and before anything could be done the engine of the Paddington train crashed into the derailed carriages.

Fortunately the express had slowed down due to its proximity to the station. It had a good number of passengers, including an unusually large proportion of Bristol people, and before a word of warning could reach any of its occupants the great engine, to which were attached nine carriages, struck the end coach of the empty train at a sharp angle, shattering the framework as if it were matchwood. The engine forced its way through the obstruction, and the splinters scattered along the track spoke of the force of the impact. After clearing the obstruction the engine became derailed, and the fireman was thrown from the engine, but the carriages kept the rails. The fireman, whose name is William Henry Dowling, of Tottenham, had a leg broken, and Edward Wilkins, driver, was burnt about the face, while all the passengers experienced severe shock, some being thrown with considerable force against the sides of the compartments.

Some were taken at a dis-adavantage, as knowing their proximity to the platform they had risen from their seats and commenced to gather together their wraps and packages. They were thus able to prevent themselves from being thrown to the floor. There were complaints of soreness, but in no instance, as far as can be ascertained, were the injuries to the passengers serious. There were some passengers in the Salisbury train but they were not affected, as the collision between their train and the empty coaches was slight. A guard, named Bundy, who was with the empty coaches, was slightly bruised. Had the accident occurred a few moments earlier, before the express slowed down, the consequences would have been terrible. As it was the train was within twenty yards of the station, and the momentum was comparatively slight.

It was very dark at the time, but the people on the platform immediately hastened to the spot to render what aid they could. Lanterns were quickly brought, and hand flares were used, and the railway officials did all in their power to reassure the frightened passengers. In forty minutes a special was made up and the people traveling westward continued their journey, while breakdown gangs proceeded to clear the line. Wilkins, the driver of the London express, states that on entering Bristol he did not see any lights at the rear of the train which was being shunted, but as soon as it was evident that something was amiss he put on full brake. The work of repairing the damage continued all night, and Saturday morning the traffic was carried on as usual. Inquiries at the hospital show that the injured man, Dowling, is progressing satisfactorily. Among the injured in the railway accident at Bristol on Friday was Mr F Bundy, a Wiltonian, who was engaged in the shunting operations of the empty coaches which collided with another train. He had a very severe shaking and a contusion of the hip. He is progressing favourably.

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