A Train Runs into a Coal Truck

Saffron Walden Weekly News - Friday 14 February 1902Friday 14 February 1902


At Saffron Walden

A Narrow Escape

About seven o'clock on Saturday evening a collision took place on the Great Eastern branch line between Audley End and Saffron Walden the was all but fraught with serious consequences.

It appears that about 6.30 shunting operations were going on at Saffron Walden, for which purpose it is necessary to utilise attics the main pair of rails, across which much shunting is done for the making up or the dissecting of the goods trains. On Saturday evening a train was divided to get some trucks from the middle portion. Two trucks of coal remained on the passenger train rails, and these caused the accident. They broke away in the dark unobserved, but had not proceeded far when one of the men engaged in shunting operations noticed that they had started towards Audley End, towards which is a slight decline. He ran after them, and applied the hand-brake to the rear truck, but without avail. He endeavoured to get to the foremost truck for the purpose of applying the brake, but the trucks having gained speed he was unable to accomplish his object. Information was given to the station telegraph office as quickly as possible, with a view to stopping the 6.45 down train from Audley End station. Unfortunately, it had left the station, and, as one may suppose, the excitement of those who knew the situation was intense, and all they could do was to wait for what appeared serious results, which they were totally unable to prevent.

All went well till the passenger train reached the entrance to the cutting on the Saffron Walden side of "Beech-ride", when a collision took place with great force. Supt. Pryke was at the time driving into the town from the direction of Wenden, and was on the road almost parallel with the line where the accident occurred. He drove on as quickly as possible to the Newport Bridge, and ascertaining what had happened proceeded to the railway station, where he was subsequently joined by P.S. Howlett and P.C. Read. In the meantime Dr Bartlett was sent for, and by the aid of lanterns, followed the railway officials who had gone on to the scene of the collision.

They first came to the trucks which had contained the coal. One of these had two wheels off the rail, and the other was almost rent in twain [torn in two]. There was evidence, by the distribution of coal, that they had rebounded from the impact with the engine some distance. Upon reaching the engine it was seen that the tender (which was running before the engine) was somewhat damaged, but had not left the metals, and the carriages, which were a few yards further on towards Audley End, were also on the rails. It fortunately happened that when the collision took place the carriages became uncoupled from the engine, and the Westonhouse brake did the rest. Beaumont, the driver, was found at his post, suffering severely from shock, bleeding from the head, and suffering from a blow in the abdomen, where he was struck with a large piece of coal. Dr Bartlett and others lifted him from the engine. He was subsequently taken home, and his injuries, which were not apparently of a dangerous character attended to. Braybrooke, the fireman, received injury to one eye and a knee but no bones were broken. He fainted, but was afterwards able to walk to the station. Mumford, the guard, also had a narrow escape. When the collision took place large lumps of coals were thrown over the engine and tender through the windows of his van. Mumford was knocked down, but beyond abrasions of the face and hands, was not hurt. He is, however, suffering from shock.

Whilst some were looking after the company's servants, others were engaged inspecting the carriages, where there were several passengers for Saffron Walden and Bartlow. No one was seriously hurt, but few escaped without bruises and abrasions. One gentleman was thrown onto the opposite side of the carriage, and the silk hat he was wearing was completely "telescoped". The passengers were escorted down the line to the Walden platform. In the meantime Mr W. Brown (station-master) had a train made up for the transit of those travelling to Bartlow. The train from London, due at Saffron Walden at 7.32, had to go round by Shelford and Bartlow, a distance of about 23 miles. As a train could not be run from Audley End at 9.07 for London and Cambridge, brakes we're obtained for the conveyance of passengers and luggage by road to Audley End, and bring back passengers off the down train, which should arrive at Saffron Walden at 9.50.

The collision, which made a noise like an explosion of dynamite, was heard at Newport, three miles away.

As soon as possible after the accident, the authorities at Cambridge were apprised of it, and between eight and nine o'clock a breakdown gang was at work clearing the line, the carriages of the train having meanwhile been conveyed to Audley End. It was three o'clock on Sunday morning before the line was clear.


Suffolk and Essex Free Press - Wednesday 12th February 1902Wednesday 12 February 1902


On Saturday night a collision occurred on the branch line of the Saffron Walden railway, when a passenger train from Audley End Station ran into two trucks filled with coal.

It appears that about 6.30 p.m., shunting was going on at Saffron Walden end, when two trucks laden with coal, by some means got on to the main line, and off they went in the direction of Audley End Station. Almost simultaneously a passenger train, due at Saffron Walden at 6.45, was leaving Audley End Station, and before means could be taken to avert accident, this train had smashed into the trucks, and a scene of great confusion prevailed.

The engine, which was in charge of Driver Beaumont, was derailed; one of the trucks was telescoped and cut asunder, the coal being scattered, while the metals were torn up. Driver Beaumont, Fireman Braybrooke and Guard Mumford were injured. the latter, who was writing at the time, was hurled to the floor of the van. The train conveyed about a dozen passengers; only one of these (a gentleman) complained of being hurt, although all the others were more or less shaken.

Supt. Pryke, of the Walden Division of Police, who was returning in his dog-cart from Clavering, along the Audley End road, heard the smash, and at once drove to the station and informed Mr. Brown, the stationmaster, of the occurrence. Mr. Waterhouse, jun., son of Mr. Waterhouse, Grammar School master, Newport, who was on the Newport Road at the time, also heard the collision, and returned to Saffron Walden. Mr Pryke then, in company with Sergt. Howlett and P.c Reed hurried to the scene of the disaster.  Drs. Bartlett and Bascome were also promptly on the spot doing all they could to relieve the sufferers.

The line, which is a single one, was blocked for the remainder of the evening. A breakdown gang from Cambridge was telegraphed for, quickly arrived, and together with the gangers on the branch line, commenced to clear away the debris. The London train passengers, due at Saffron Walden at 7.30 were sent on the main line to Shelford, and round by Bartlow, arriving at their destination at 9 o'clock. Passengers due to leave Saffron Walden at 9.20 were sent in brakes by road to Audley End Station, the same means being applied to bring the passengers from Liverpool Street, due at Saffron Walden at 10 a.m.

The accident occurred about half-a-mile from Saffron Walden Station in a deep cutting. Had the collision taken place a few yards further, where there is a deep embankment, the consequences must have been much more serious. The breakdown gang were at work throughout Saturday night, and by mid-day on Sunday the line was cleared.