Ceremony to mark anniversary of South Yorkshire train crash

9 July 2013

A ceremony is being held at the scene of a little-known train crash in South Yorkshire exactly 129 years to the day of the accident that claimed the lives of 24 people.

The crash at Bullhouse Bridge near Penistone happened on July 16 1884 on what is now the Trans Pennine Trail, but back then was the Woodhead line that ran from Manchester to Sheffield.

Children and staff from nearby Millhouse Green Primary School will officially unveil an information panel about the incident. On the day of the accident the children, from what was then Millhouse Board School, all ran up the road to the scene, where the carriages had fallen down an embankment.

Kate Dobson, from the Trans Pennine Trail conservation volunteers, which organised the information panel, said: “We particularly wanted the children to be there, as they were there on that fateful day.

“It was a major event which drew thousands of people, and although the Sheffield Independent newspaper described Bullhouse Bridge at the time as a place which would be ‘ever memorable’, few people now realise that anything out of the ordinary took place there.

 “When we stumbled across it we realised it was a fascinating story; sad yes, but full of incident, humour, and local interest. We wanted to restore an important piece of social history to local people; inform people passing by on the Trail, and create a lasting memorial to those who lost their lives.”

As well as officially unveiling the information board, the schoolchildren will open the new picnic site, which has also been organised by the volunteers. The picnic tables and the panel were funded through the Rural Development Programme for England, which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union.

The event will also mark the launch of the new flexipave surface of the Trail from Penistone to Bullhouse Bridge, which has been laid by Barnsley Council, with match funding from East Peak Innovation Partnership.

The train that crashed back in 1884 was an express passenger train, which had left Manchester’s London Road station, now Piccadilly, at 12.30pm destined for King’s Cross, and the east coast.

As it neared Bullhouse Bridge at about 1pm, where the line crosses what is now the A628 road, the driver heard a loud crack - later thought to be due to a driving wheel axle snapping - and the train, which was travelling at about 50mph, began to roll.

The engine left the rails; the coupling between the engine and the carriages failed, and although the engine made it round the bend and over the bridge, the carriages didn’t, tumbling off the rails and down the embankment. Twenty-four people died; 14 women, six men and four children.

Dozens of people ran to the scene, including workers from the nearby Bullhouse Colliery, farm workers and schoolchildren. They were joined by the schoolmaster, doctors and police officers from Penistone, and the Penistone station master.

About 25 children from the present day school will cycle to the site on July 16 for a picnic lunch before the official unveiling by the head, Gary Mangham. They will be joined by teachers and school governors.

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

The press are invited to the official unveiling at 12.30pm on Tuesday July 16 at Bullhouse Bridge, on the A628 just outside Millhouse Green (on the road towards the Flouch roundabout and Manchester, where the footbridge crosses the road).

Parking is available for the press at nearby Penistone Reinforcements. The entrance to the Trans Pennine Trail and the picnic site/ information panel is just across the road from Penistone Reinforcements. (Please note this invite is for the press only and not the general public)

For more information contact Kate Dobson on 07704333445 or at TPTconservationvolunteers@gmail.com

Trans Pennine Trail conservation volunteers is a voluntary organisation which carries out practical work on the Trans Pennine Trail between Penistone and Dunford Bridge. For more information go to: http://tptcv.btck.co.uk/

Attached is a contemporary illustration of the scene. A pdf of the information panel is available from kate@capitalbmedia.co.uk

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