Model Railway Forum banner
1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Chief mouser
Joined
·
11,775 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Next Tuesday (4/12/07) will mark the 50th anniversary of the Lewisham train crash in which 90 people lost their lives and more than 200 were seriously injured. It has been announced that a memorial service will be held at St. Johns Church, St. Johns Vale London SE8 4EA on Sunday 2/12/07 at 3pm. The church is apparently very near the scene of the accident.

Regards
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,500 Posts
The church is in St John's Vale near the junction with Lewisham Way/Loampit Hill (A20). St John's station is two minutes walk down St John's Vale.

(My secondary school was a further 5mins walk away in Ashmead Road and backed onto the railway between St John's and New Cross stations - great for trainspotting! I'd been there in the first year since Sept '57. The day of the crash we were sent home an hour early because of the fog's density.)

There is a book "St. John's Lewisham - 50 years on - Restoring the traffic" written by Peter Taplow, and recently published by Oakwood Press (Series X87, ISBN 978 0 85361 669 6). Despite the last part of the title, the book still deals very much with the actual crash, the latter half being the story of how the lines were cleared and services restored. At the back of the book is a fold-out plan of all the tracks and signals in the Lewisham area. Warmly recommended reading.

Regards,
John
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
All railway disasters are terrible, but there was an aspect to this one which was particularly tragic . It was a commuter train to the Kent dormitory towns and a high proportion of the victims were young to middle-aged men returning home from the City. It therefore left a very large number of children without their fathers, often in clusters in various towns. At my school there were so many victims the school had to make special arrangements for the kids. Thirty years later I met one of my old teachers again and one of the first things he asked me was whether I was a Lewisham Boy - such was the impact it made on staff and pupils alike. This must have been repeated at a number of other schools in the area.

Remarkably, Spitfire suffered relatively little damage and was soon back in service. Nowadays they would have changed its name out of consideration of the feelings of those who had suffered a loss, but in those days they looked at things differently. I still can't see a picture of it without a twinge of sadness - and I was one of the lucky ones.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
536 Posts
Following the disaster the Royal Engineers were requested to install a temporary bridge to carry the suburban lines over the main line below.
As a fitting tribute to their skills the temporary bridge still remains in use today,
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,500 Posts
It is correct that 'military trestles' were used to help reconstruct the bridge, but the Royal Engineers involvement was limited to helping with the supply of such items and ancillary bits and pieces from the then-operating Longmoor Military Railway. The design and erection of the replacement bridge was otherwise the work of the Southern Region civil engineers and their staff. The trestles were erected by the 17th of December (on concrete foundations that could only be made from the 11th of December after all the debris had been removed from site) and the beams across the trestles to support the track and decking of the Nunhead-Lewisham line were in place by the 30th of December. Track was then laid and the complete bridge tested on the 12th of January by simultaneously running two N class steam locos across it.

There were plans to rebuild the bridge permanently, but in the end following certain modifications at the time of the reordering of the tracks to form the present 'flyover' to take Charing Cross trains over to the up fast line etc, it was decided to retain the bridge.

(All the above information from "St John's Lewisham - 50 years on" mentioned in my first post above. In addition in photos on pages 89, 92, 111, 113, and 114 the spire of St. John's church is to be seen a short distance away)

I can't imagine Network Rail moving so fast these days should something similar happen!
Regards,
John Webb
 

·
Chief mouser
Joined
·
11,775 Posts
QUOTE (Don @ 28 Nov 2007, 17:54) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Remarkably, Spitfire suffered relatively little damage and was soon back in service.

If I remember correctly it was Spitfire's derailed tender that caused the bridge pier to collapse onto the leading coach of the train. It has always struck me as miraculous that the motorman of the electric approaching the overbridge managed to stop in time.

QUOTE (John Webb @ 28 Nov 2007, 20:04) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I can't imagine Network Rail moving so fast these days should something similar happen!

Unfortunately I suspect all to true. Partly because the system no longer seems to own its own specialist plant - everything needs to be hired in.

Regards
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,293 Posts
In one of those odd quirks of fate my father was in the preceding train. Being a steam enthusiast he was in the habit of travelling in the leading coach with the window open - I guess it was lucky he didn't miss his train or yours truly might not be on this forum!


When my mother arrived to pick him up at the station she got the utmost reassurance that his train would be on time and not to worry and that everything was fine.... it was only when they got home that they discovered the awful news.

60134
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
119 Posts
My memories of the Lewisham Disaster are scant, I was only 12 at the time but our school "The Grove" in St. Leonards had arranged a school outing to Fords of Dagenham and a visit to the Science Museum in South Ken, in the week following the crash. I can remember that as the train passed the
crash site, we seemed to crawl past, all we could see was tarpaulin shrouded shapes in the cutting, word spread through the train that this was the crash site, up to then I had been blissfully unaware of the crash and it's reprecussions and only recently (20 years ago) read extensively about the accident and saw the newreels from the John Huntley collections.

Scary to think it was it was 50 years ago next Tuesday, thankfully with the advances made to signalling and rolling stock, such an accident with such terrible death and injury is very unlikely today.

As an aside, here in Western Australia we are awaiting the opening of a completely new railway line from the City to Mandurah in the south, the line has cost 1.6 billion Aussie dollars and is over a year late in completion, this has been attributed to a worldwide shortage of signalling engineers and technicians. The signalling was extensively redesigned and is officially rated at a maximum of 140km/hr but line speeds of 155km/hr have been recorded. Trains are now being used to train the drivers and to iron out any last minute 'bugs' in the system, but the official opening is on the 23rd of December and every one in Perth gets to ride on the trains for free on that day, that includes all bus and ferry services so it will be an interesting day. They are conducting a ballot for seats on the first trains to run, there will be three trains, one for the dignitries and guests, one for the public won in the ballot and one for the members of the workforce that built the railway.

Cheers
 

·
No Longer Active.
Joined
·
13,319 Posts
If you are going some pictures would be good to see - be nice if the first train was the one with the guys that built the new line, but I expect it will be the usual non-entities & freeloaders first !
 

·
Chief mouser
Joined
·
11,775 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
QUOTE (60134 @ 29 Nov 2007, 19:19) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I guess it was lucky he didn't miss his train or yours truly might not be on this forum!

Quirk indeed and then we wouldn't get the Tornado updates.

QUOTE (dbclass50 @ 30 Nov 2007, 08:43) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>If you are going some pictures would be good to see

Or failing that a link to the local news.

Regards
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top