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seaJane

Quintinshill rail disaster

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seaJane

Next Wednesday on BBC2 Scotland, or Thursday on BBC4:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05vqx7v

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rolt968

The magazine of the Friends of the Natonal Railway Museum has an article also..

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roughdiamond

Bit of poignance in this programme for me, I'm one of the Signallers who operates the Signal box at Larbert where the train left from, there's a memorial plaque on the southbound platform wall, so if they've done any filming there and you see Larbert North Signal box in the background, give me a wave, I'll be waving back.

Glad to see it's Neil Oliver who's doing it, I really like his earnest style of presenting, almost as if he's just learned the facts himself. His History Channel programme on the Australian War Memorial at the moment is excellent.

One thing though, it's a bit disconcerting when he walks, he's like a Thunderbird puppet stepping over a row of invisible logs.

Sam

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Ron Abbott

Thanks for sharing SeaJane....look forward to it.

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PhilB

Would the dead be entitled to a memorial plaque but no medals?

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MikeyH

The death toll at Qunitinshill was so high, because the troop train consisted of obsolete all wood carriages, which concertinad upon impact, the fire then spreading very quickly.

Mike.

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seaJane

The fire seems to have spread quickly because of the gas cylinders underneath the carriages breaking and leaking, more than the wood per se.

I have to say that Other Half took issue with the presentation of the wooden carriages as known to be obsolete - they were being phased out, but just because something was no longer built new did not mean that it was instantly replaced; there was so much rolling stock in the country that it took years.

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roughdiamond

I have to say that Other Half took issue with the presentation of the wooden carriages as known to be obsolete - they were being phased out, but just because something was no longer built new did not mean that it was instantly replaced; there was so much rolling stock in the country that it took years.

Obsolescent would be a far more appropriate term and it has to be borne in mind the frame wasn't any old wood, it was Oak so hardly fragile!

One thing that irritated me was the continued reference to how long the Fire Brigade took to arrive on site and the intimation that it contributed greatly to the death toll. Many of the official witness statements make reference to the fact the surviving troops as well as others on the express (numerous mentions of a party of Sailors) had access to loads of tools for rescue as the Coy's tools were travelling with them. With the fires being gas and wood fueled coupled with the white hot coals from the stream engines, even if they'd responded quicker.

Another point on how long it took for the Fire Brigade to arrive should be noted in the statement given by Chief Constable of Carlisle and Director of the Fire Brigade Eric Herbert de Schmid (Page 21 of this report) http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/BoT_Quin1915.pdf to paraphrase him, he got a call at home at 0840hrs from the duty Inspector, who'd been told of the accident by a Sailor (obviously sent as a runner) he contacted a "Mr Campbell's office" and was originally told the fire was out but that soon changed, he said he dispatched the Brigade at 0855hrs.

The question has to be asked, why did a runner have to be sent, why were they not contacted by phone direct, also in the conclusion of the report the Brigade arrived at 1000hrs taking an hour to get there, the conclusion also states " by 0810hrs the wreckage was burning fiercely".

Sam

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seaJane

The question has to be asked, why did a runner have to be sent, why were they not contacted by phone direct,

Sam

Not sure where there would have been a phone available - was the one in the signal box on the railway's line only?

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NigelS

Not sure where there would have been a phone available - was the one in the signal box on the railway's line only?

Two thoughts the signal box would have had the telegraph system, but might not have had a phone; if it did have a phone it seems likely that the phone lines - run trackside on poles - might have been destroyed by either the initial crash or the resulting conflagration.

Regarding the fire which was said to have burnt for tens of hours, was there a convenient water source (pond, Lake, river etc) nearby; from the pictures shown it looked as if there might not have been, and, even if there were, would the local fire brigade have had the means to easily pump the high volume necessary to extinguish such a fierce blaze back in those days?

NigelS

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hazelclark

What was the "conspiracy" all about?

Hazel

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MikeyH

IIRC the Railway company had employed a signalman who suffered from fits, who was on duty at the time of the accident. This was never revealed at the subsequent accident enquiry. Do have a copy of the book 'The Quintinshill Conspiracy', which I read around 3 years ago, but not to hand. Feel sure that someone will correct me if this not the true "conspiracy" angle.

Mike.

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seaJane

It seemed to be more or less what Mikey says, but to call it anything as full-blown as a conspiracy would be to mis-label it in my opinion.

Shared responsibility for bits of dodgy practice by workers and management, and a concentration on getting troops and trains moving all combined with the signalman's lapse of memory and the fact of fire and gas in close proximity, generating the worst of all possible results without anyone having intended any such thing.

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hazelclark

Thanks. "Conspiracy" does make it sound rather more contrived than a guy on the job with health problems, regardless of severity in terms of ability to do the job.

Hazel

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rolt968

Cover up would be a better description, although it's not exactly news. I'm sure it's been aired before.

I got a little annoyed by the "no-one now knows about Quintinshill" therefore there was something fishy. I would be interested to know how many people other than railway buffs now know about Harrow and Wealdstone or Lewisham both of which are much more recent.

The comment on the lack of supervision of discipline on the Caledonian is certainly correct and the program did not bring out that in fact all five railwaymen in the box that morning broke the rules in some way.

I got the impression that the program wanted to cast doubt on whether a signalman in normal health could simply forget where he had put a train. There was a very similar example at Hawes Junction in December 1910, where the signalman caused an accident by completely forgetting about two light engines which were visible standing in front of the signal box.

RM

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bill24chev

I got the impression that the program wanted to cast doubt on whether a signalman in normal health could simply forget where he had put a train. There was a very similar example at Hawes Junction in December 1910, where the signalman caused an accident by completely forgetting about two light engines which were visible standing in front of the signal box.

RM

The Signalmen were probably distracted by having a conversation with at least two of the Trains firemen who had gone to the Box to carry out Rule 55.

Rule 55 required the Fireman of a train held at a danger signal to report to the Signal Box check that his train was protected by the signals behind is train and any relevant points were set so that no other train could come up to their train. Unfortunately the firemen signed the registered but did not physically check that the signal and points were correctly set and warning bands placed on them.

at the time of the accident there should have only been one Signalman in the box and the Firemen should have returned to their trains.

the reason why two signal men were there is because is because the relief should have been at 0600hrs but by an unofficial arrangement between the signal men of the Box the relieving signal man would come up on the Local Train involved in the accident.

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roughdiamond

Not sure where there would have been a phone available - was the one in the signal box on the railway's line only?

Tinsley mentions in his evidence "using the telephone to call Carlisle No3 cabin, they had telegraph and at least 2 of the the train crew went to a neighbouring Signal box so if the comms were down at Quintinshill, the lines from the neighbouring box would still have been up in the other direction.

There are numerous mentions of calls throughout the statements, I'd recommend reading them.

As for the epilepsy theory, that was one mention in one paper, and it's been seized upon (pardon the pun) by the conspiracy theorists.

The facts are plain, the accident happened because the Signallers cut corners and bent rules or didn't apply them, each made assumptions that the other had or would do something they hadn't and in plain speak Tilsley in "forgetting the train" had what's commonly known as a brain ****, the same thing that makes people do "stupid things". The lack of a reminder appliance and the fact the local train wasn't "Blocked Back" caused the collision.

The signalling system then worked and still does in some areas like this, only one train can be between 2 signals known as a "Section" at a time and that's controlled by electromechanical interlocking so:

The box with the train "Box A" offers it by bell code to the next Box "Box B"

"Box B" accepts it and changes his Block Instrument to "Line Clear", this shows on "Box A's" Block Instrument and he can then pull his signal to change the signal to "Go", without this "Line Clear" the Interlocking makes it impossible for "A" to pull his Signal lever!

When the train passes "Box A's" signal he puts the Signal to "Stop" and sends a bell code "Train entering section" to "Box B" who acknowledges it and turns his Instrument to "Train on line" which shows at "Box A", this does 2 things, it reminds signaller "A" there's a train on the line and makes it physically impossible for him to pull the signal to "Go" again.

To "Block Back" as mentioned for the local train, the signaller at "Box B" has a train he wants to run back towards "Box A", first he sends a special bell code to "Box A" who acknowledges it, then "Box B" turns their instrument to "Train on Line" which as above prevents signaller "A" putting his signal to "Go", only then does "Box B" allow the train to move. If Meakin or Tilsley had done this, then the Troop train could not have been signalled towards the Local train.

Much is also made of the guy in the box not signing the Train Register Book (TRB), simple reason, he arrived after 0600 and before Tilsley, Meakin was by that time writing all the train info on a scrap piece of paper for Tilsley to write in the TRB later so he couldn't sign it till Tilsley had entered the train info that should have been there prior to that guys arrival. The same with the one who signed the TRB but didn't put a time in, he probably couldn't as it wouldn't have matched with the train times.

Sam

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NigelS

Article in today's Daily Telegraph (23rd May) Britain's 'forgotten rail disaster' remembered one hundred years on

Indeed, so terrible were the injuries of many of the young men who lay in agony on the ground that villagers who had rushed to their aid are understood to have shot several in an act of mercy.

I know there are unsubstantiated but considered likely to be true stories that an officer or officers may have carried out a mercy killing or killings, but is there any indication that villagers were involved - seem unlikely to me as its doubtful that they would have had the means readily at hand to do so.

Remarkably, around 60 of the soldiers who survived the crash later went on to continue their journey south and onto the fields of battle.

“A small handful went on and fought in Gallipoli; that is just heaping tragedy upon tragedy,” said Mr Gray.

From my, admittedly limited, reading on this Mr Gray is correct in that only a 'handful' of officers went on to Gallipoli because they were desperately needed; the NCO's and men did travel south and did embark at Liverpool, but were then sent home by the CO with the realisation that they were in no fit state to carry on so never, at least in the short term, reached the 'fields of battle'.

NigelS

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Derek Black

Not sure where there would have been a phone available - was the one in the signal box on the railway's line only?

A man was interviewed by the BBC on the radio from the service, he related the story about his father going to the nearest Police station to raise the alarm, they apperently refused to believe him, thus delaying help arriving by not using their phone to alert other emergency services.

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Stoppage Drill

I know there are unsubstantiated but considered likely to be true stories that an officer or officers may have carried out a mercy killing or killings, but is there any indication that villagers were involved - seem unlikely to me as its doubtful that they would have had the means readily at hand to do so.

NigelS

Private ownership of firearms was widespread at the time, and police often called on the public to provide weapons in emergencies.

How times have changed !

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James A Pratt III

Since we are on rail disasters the French had a even bigger one at Modane 12 December 1917 over 1000 dead.

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CGM
Quintinshill Rail Disaster


The disastrous railway crash at Quintinshill on 22 May 1915 is commemorated in a new feature on the National Records of Scotland website.


It includes fascinating details of some soldiers who died leaving wills in which they remembered their loved ones at home (from the Soldiers' Wills series on ScotlandsPeople), images of the Register of Corrected Entries listing those whose deaths had been registered at Gretna, and a plea for clemency by James Tinsley, one of the signalmen convicted of culpable homicide.


CGM

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ianjonesncl

Not sure where there would have been a phone available - was the one in the signal box on the railway's line only?

post-46676-0-31007200-1433069601_thumb.j

Quintinshill is about 1k from the Gretna Green - 1,100 yards

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