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HISTORIC SEPTEMBER
September 8th 1923 - Annual Outing of Foremen and Staff
The chief pleasure of the day was soon found in exploring Southport, which abounds in many attractions, and the party had reason to be thankful for the splendid weather conditions. A variety of enjoyment was offered by the fair ground and its amusements; the beauty of the gardens, and to some, the tempting allurements of the displays to be found in the noted Lord Street, the latter being of special interest to the ladies.

The party assembled for tea at 5 o'clock, at the Queen's Hotel. It was one of those high quality teas bringing credit to the host and bringing ample refreshment in a time of need, as well as an opportunity for table talk. For all, it was a splendid and successful day.

PGW 09/16 (With help from The Furness Railway Magazine 1923 - now available on CD from the Cumbrian Railways Association)

September 2nd 1913 - Accident at Ais Gill
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the serious accident that took place at Ais Gill on September 2nd 1913. Two passenger trains had left Carlisle at 1.35am and 1.49am respectively, both bound for St Pancras. For reasons which will be explained below, the second train caught up with the first and ploughed into the back of it, wrecking the brake van, and most of the rear passenger (third-class) coach. A fire then broke out affecting three coaches, causing the deaths of 14 passengers in the first train (two more died later), and serious injury to a further 38 people most of whom were travelling in the second train.

Several causes of the accident were identified by Major J.W. Pringle in his Report on the tragedy. The Midland Railway had a policy of using small engines, with the result that both barely had sufficient power to cope with the steep gradients on the line. A banking engine was requested by the first driver, but not supplied, with the result that the train stalled half a mile short of Ais Gill summit. Danger might have been averted but the guard was not instructed to lay detonators on the line, or walk back with a light to protect the train.

Meanwhile the second driver was also having problems with his train. Bizarrely both engines had been supplied with "small coal", which did not fire well, and both drivers spent much time helping their firemen to keep the grate clear, and the boiler pressure up. This distraction caused the second driver to miss a red signal at Mallerstang, further up the line, a red light being waved from the signal-box by the Mallerstang signalman, and then ultimately a red lantern being belatedly shone back down the line by the first train's guard.

The subsequent enquiry blamed the crew of the first train for neglecting to protect the rear of their train, and the enginemen (particularly the driver) of the second train for failing to proceed with caution knowing that they must have passed several signals without observing them. However the Mallerstang signalman also came in for criticism for allowing the second train to proceed past the "distant" and "home" signals, to the "starting" signal, assuming it was moving slowly under caution. In fact it was steaming hard, and the signalman was unable to change the "home" signal back to danger until the train had passed.

The Midland Railway seems to have escaped most of the criticism despite its small-locomotive policy - which ironically had indirectly contributed to a similar accident three years earlier at Hawes Junction.

PGW 09/13

September 22nd 1892 - Engine falls into hole
On September 22nd, at about 8.16am, a remarkable accident occurred on the Furness Railway at Lindal. The 0-6-0 tender engine no, 115 (a 16-inch "Sharpie") was shunting some iron ore wagons into a siding in the yard when the ground suddenly caved in under the locomotive. The engine crew, (Driver Postlethwaite and Fireman Robinson) jumped off the foot-plate and got away. Slowly but surely the engine sank into the cavity and by 2.15pm she had disappeared from view. Only the tender was saved.

The area around Lindal was honey-combed with iron ore workings and it was this which was responsible for the subsidence. It is estimated that the engine lies some 200 feet below the ground today.

The cavity was filled up in due course and the line became quite safe for traffic. While this was going on, goods for the area were worked round by Penrith, Keswick and Workington. For passengers, trains were worked up and from each side of the subsidence.

PWR 9/11 (edited version of report from The Furness Railway 1846-1923 by W. McGowan Gradon)