County Express

Vol. 1, No. 47 ] SATURDAY, 23rd.., NOVEMBER, 1867 [ Price 1d.


"A very serious accident arising from a collision between a Great Western passenger train and a South Staffordshire goods train, occurred at Dudley Port on Saturday morning. Nine persons in the passenger train were injured, two, it is said, beyond recovery, including the driver and stoker. There are, as most of our readers know, two stations at Dudley Port, called the "top" and the "bottom" stations, the former belonging to the Stour Valley line of railway, and the latter to the South Staffordshire. It was on this last named line (about 130 yards from the station) that the accident we are about to relate took place. The "bottom" station lies mid way between Great Bridge and Dudley, and is in a considerable hollow, so that trains leaving it for the purpose of proceeding to their destinations find considerable difficulty in ascending the incline and those passing through do so at great speed in order to obtain sufficient impetus to carry to the level. The Great Western traffic from its own station at Great Bridge passes through the station without stopping. On Saturday morning a heavily laden goods train (South Staffordshire), with an engine at either end, left Dudley Port, shortly before eight, for Dudley. The train proceeded slowly up the incline for some distance, and then came to a stand still. Efforts were made to push forward, and the brake was employed, in order to prevent the train running back toward the station, as it was feared it would do. Whilst the goods train was in this unfortunate position, the 7.20 passenger train (Great Western) from Birmingham, came dashing along at a great speed, and it ran into it. The driver and stoker (Isaac Smith and Thomas Hussey) of the rear engine attached to the goods train, saw the danger, and jumped from the engine, not however until they had sounded the whistle. The driver and stoker of the passenger train (William Oliver and William Madeley) were unable to jump in consequence of the rate at which they were proceeding. They sustained the full violence of the shock, and narrowly escaped being completely smashed. The front of the Great Western engine was completely knocked in, and the tender of the rear engine was in a like condition. The two engines were reared up almost on end, and then forced in opposite directions across the rails, blocking up both lines. There were five carriages in the passenger train, and about ten or a dozen travellers. Each carriage was smashed more or less, and the guards van had one side and end torn out. The guard strange to say, was only shaken, and he afterwards assisted in rescuing the sufferers, who were crushed in. The driver and stoker of the passenger train were taken from their engine and the fires put out to prevent further mischief. Mr.Lowndes, the station master, together with porters, sought medical aid, and rendered assistance. Mr.G.Williams, Mr.Hudson, Mr.J.T.Layton, Mr.Ellis, Mr.Smith (of Dudley), and the Messers. Underhill, surgeons, were quickly on the spot; in fact before the whole of the injured persons were rescued. Mr.O.Pemberton (Birmingham) was telegraphed for, and he arrived in a short time.

A list of the wounded was taken by Mr.Layton. It is as follows:- Mr.J.W.Price, 182 Newtown Row, Birmingham, injury to leg and back; Mr.W.Williams, 132 Bromsgrove Street, injury back and legs; William Madeley, fireman of the train, Birmingham, sever injuries to head and feet, scarcely expected to recover; Mr.Charles Nixon, picture dealer, 7 Great Colmore Street, Birmingham, compound fracture of the left leg, and other injuries on various parts of the body; this unfortunate gentleman, who one time held a high position in Birmingham as a carver, guilder, and picture dealer, is most seriously injured, it is thought beyond recovery; Mr.Geo. Wright, New Street, West Bromwich, injuries to back and legs; Mr.Thomas Bannister, West Bromwich, seriously injured about the back; Mr.Thomas Sharp, hay and corn dealer, Moor Street, West Bromwich, injuries to back, legs and side; - Wakeley (16), New Street, West Bromwich, injury to leg and back; Wm.Oliver, the driver of the train, Walsall, not much hurt.

Mr.Roberts, the Superintendent Manager (London and North-Western Railway) came up on a special engine soon after the accident became known to the authorities in Birmingham. In the mean time large gangs of men had been sent from Wolverhampton, Walsall, and other places. By eleven o'clock one line was clear, and the passenger traffic partially resumed. The line on which the accident happened was not cleared until late in the afternoon, in consequence of the violence with which the engines had been thrown and the displacement of the rails. It is impossible to say at present who is to blame in the matter, but we understand both companies have determined (through their representatives) to institute a searching enquiry into the facts. During Saturday and Sunday large crowds of people visited the scene of the accident. Viewing the dismantled engines and the completely crushed carriages, one wonders that every passenger was not killed in the first shock. Messers. Underhill, of Tipton and Great Bridge, have the injured at West Bromwich under their care.

The question of who is to blame is one which will of course have to be decided by the investigation which the railway companies will institute. The responsibility, as it appears at present, seems to rest with the pointsman at Dudley Port, who signalled the line clear to the passenger train, and, in explanation of his having done so, he says that the goods train had passed ten minutes before, and that therefore he thought it must have been too far on the road for a collision to have occurred. The pointsman, at any rate, could not have had a "line clear" signalled from Sedgley Junction, for the simple reason that the train had not passed. Mr.Tyrrell, the general inspector of the line, has been down to inspect the scene of the accident. The surgical charge of the injured men sent on to Birmingham has been transferred to Mr.Blake, the surgeon to the Great Western Company.

On Thursday an inquest was opened on the body of Mr.Charles Nixon, who died on Monday morning from injuries he sustained through the collision. After some evidence had been taken, the coroner adjourned the enquiry for a week.