WEST DRAYTON, FEB 6, 9 P.M. [1874]

This afternoon a disastrous collision occurred near the West Drayton station of the Great Western Railway.

The up Exeter express train, which left that town at 10 25 a.m. and Swindon at 1 18 p.m., reached West Drayton Junction about half-past 2 o'clock. The train, which was a broad-gauge one, consisted of an engine, six carriages, and a van, and conveyed about 100 first and second class passengers, and at the time of the catastrophe was travelling at the rate of 60 miles an hour, a dense fog prevailing.

A few minutes before the express came up the up Bristol goods train was preparing to start, at the West Drayton siding. It was still upon the up main line, when the express came into collision with it with fearful violence, crushing several of the cars of the goodstrain and destroying the engine of the Exeter express. Huskins, the guard of the latter train, was killed. Fortunately, although the shock, as may be imagined, was most severe, none of the passengers were killed.

Mr. H. Kirtley, the superintendent of the locomotive department, happened to be travelling in the express, and as soon as the train stopped jumped out and ran to the engine, where the steam was rising fast in the boiler, Sutton, the engine-driver, having just had time to turn off the steam before the collision, which threw him and his fireman from the locomotive. Mr. Kirtley slacked the lever off to let the steam escape, and then ran forward to stop the down 1 30 p.m. train, which was due at West Drayton at that moment. Mr Kirtley then ran to the engine of the goods train. There was just time to jump on to the locomotive and blow the whistle, when the down train rushed by and came in collision with the wrecked vans of the Bristol goods train.

The engine of the down train was left hanging near a bank, down which one or two of the carriages were precipitated, but remained in an upright position. Ten of the carriages remained on the line, and out of these the passengers were assisted. None were seriously hurt, and all could walk.

Mr. Kirtley went on to Southall with the goods engine for medical assistance and to stop the 2 30 p.m. down train, and then return with a surgeon to the scene of the collision. Previously to this he telegraphed from Southall to Mr. Grierson, the general manager, and Mr. Tyrrell, the superintendent of the line, and they with Mr. Alfred Higgins left Paddington at once and repaired to West Drayton with the brake-down vans, hydraulic rams, and about 80 men. All traffic was stopped from Paddington at the same time and from Slough, as both up and down lines were blocked. Mr. Hart, the station master at Slough, also sent a number of men to West Drayton to assist in clearing the line, a work of immense difficulty, owing to the thickness of the fog, which concealed objects even at a few yards.

Dalton, the driver of the Futton express, states that the signals showed a clear line, and that he did not see the end of the goods train until he was close upon it, when, of course, it was too late. At present it is impossible to say where the fault lies. The body of Hoskins was removed to a small house near the side of the line. At twenty minutes to 10 the line still remained blocked, and the passengers had on reaching the spot to be transferred from one train to another. It was hoped that the line might be cleared by midnight.

1 A.M.

Messrs. Grierson, Tyrrell, Kirtley, and other officials are still hard at work with a large staff clearing the line, which is so blocked that trains can only run to each side of the spot where the accident occurred. A fire made from the broken carriages lights up the surrounding fog. The passengers as the trains arrive get out and walk through the rubbish, lighted by the fires to the train on the opposite side. Great exertions are being made by the Great Western officials to clear the line, but this cannot be effected till the morning at the earliest. All the traffic is delayed.

The Times, Saturday, Feb 07, 1874; pg. 12; Issue 27920; col B

Note: additional paragraphs breaks have been introduced to make the article easier to read online.

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