RAILWAY AND INDUSTRIAL HISTORY OF THE SOUTH WEST BLACK COUNTRY
Birmingham Daily Post
MONDAY, 6th., SEPTEMBER, 1858
OXFORD, WORCESTER AND WOLVERHAMPTON RAILWAY
To the EDITOR of the DAILY POST.
Sir,—This line of rail has been the scene of a terrible catastrophe—whether arising from carelessness or accident remains with the Coroner’s jury to decide. One thing, is quite certain, that the second train was despatched from Worcester very soon (fifteen minutes) after the first, and consisting as it did of comparatively few carriages it of course gained speed considerably upon its predecessor. The result at Brettell Lane is too well known, and one would suppose that the recurrence of such an accident would be placed beyond the reach of possibility.
Please refer your readers to the Company’s time table, and they will find the principal alteration for the month to be that a slow train, calling at all stations, is now dispatched from Kidderminster to Dudley at ten minutes past 11 o’clock, which is followed in twenty-five minutes by an express (calling at Stourbridge only) and arriving at Dudley closely on its heels; say in ten minutes afterwards. With defective engines, shackles and couplings frequently giving to break, and expresses following ordinaries in rapid succession, who could wonder at the repetition of the Brettell Lane tragedy? I would not be presumptuous enough to give my judgment in opposition to the wisdom of the railway officials, but I am nevertheless, at a loss to conceive the necessity at all for the 11.10 train since it is proceeded by two others, and followed in twenty-five minutes by the express. Why not dispatch it as before—at 12.45?
I remain, Mr. Editor, your obedient servant,
Brettell Lane, September 3rd,1858.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE QUESTION
To the EDITOR of the DAILY POST
Sir,—Having seen a letter in the Daily Post of the 2nd instant, headed “Management of the Oxford, Worcester, and Wolverhampton Railway,” and signed “A Looker-on” in which he says, “It may not be out of place, at this time, to offer a few remarks,” &c., I beg to suggest that the proper course to have adopted would have been to request the Coroner to have allowed him to be present on Wednesday last to make his statements, or else to have reserved his “observations” till the inquest was ended. Your correspondent seems to think it right to publish his opinions, and try to bias a case during its legal investigation, while at the same time, he falls into the awkward predicament of one who “answereth a matter before he heareth it.” I have little doubt but that the Coroner and jury will be able to come to a right conclusion without the “proffered services” of a self-constituted judge! I make these remarks from no personal motive, as I have individually not the slightest interest in the matter, any further than I travel frequently on this line (as I have on others) and have found the officers, guards, and porters no wise inferior, what ever their “remuneration” may be; and as to the “quality of the metal used in the shackles,” the “Looker-On” should have learnt that the best metal in the hands of the best workman, will sometimes prove (unaccountably) defective.
I may add that, for five or six years, I have had, as a tradesman, large quantities of goods delivered to me by this Company, and (as I know by my tests), just as they were sent, and have only in that time lost one empty barrel! It has not been so on other lines; and when your correspondent talks of a “dry platform” I will only say that the servants of some of the companies I have had to do with must have been very dry indeed. The “Looker-On” may perhaps have felt personally aggrieved, as we all do sometimes, but this is hardly an occasion for animosity. Let us rather turn our thoughts to charity—to the dead and wounded—and to deep, and, if necessary, practical sympathy with the suffers.
I am, yours respectfully,