Leeds Mercury (22/Apr/1905) - Railway Collision at Huddersfield

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.





A serious accident, involving the loss of two lives and injuries to five or seven persons, occurred at Huddersfield station yesterday afternoon.

A North-Western engine and two coaches were being shunted out of the station when they came into collision with the 1.50 L. and Y. train from Bradford.

Three of the latter coaches were telescoped, and so severe was the collision that some of the debris fell over the bridge into the street below.

Fortunately, few passengers were in the train, or the consequences would have been terrible.

Not for many years has a railway accident occurred at Huddersfield comparable to that which occurred yesterday afternoon on the viaducts just outside the Huddersfield Joint-Station.

The viaducts are a conspicuous feature in the railway engineering at Huddersfield, and a collision occurring thereon opens out large possibilities. The 1.50 Lancashire and Yorkshire passenger train from Bradford to Huddersfield, on the Cleckheaton branch, had arrived to within a few yards of the station when it came into collision with a heavy tender and engine belonging to the London and North-Western Co., which was being shunted, along with two corridor coaches and a guard’s van, from the main line.

Carriages Telescoped.

The effect of the disaster was most severely felt in the passenger train, the front of which was stored in, and the three carriages next to it were wrecked. The first was piled up endways on to the second and third, which were telescoped.

It is stated that the train was proceeding slowly at the time towards the station, otherwise the disaster must have been much more serious.

News of the collision spread quickly, and a large number of medical men attended. Dr. T. K. Crosland was the first to arrive. Members of the railway staff and borough police, under Chief Constable Morton, followed in a short time.

Fortunately the passenger train had comparatively few occupants in the wrecked coaches.

Two Killed.

Those only slightly injured made their escape on the line without much difficulty, but it was soon ascertained that two of the passengers remained underneath one of the shattered carriages, and efforts were immediately directed to rescue them. lit was not, however, till about a quarter to four that the first body was recovered, that of Ralph G. Farrand, a mason, employed by the London and North-Western Railway Co., and reading at Blackburn Road, Birstall. Farrand appeared to have been killed instantly.

The other victim, Catherine Yates Milne (46), widow, 54, Belgrave Street, Leeds, was pinned by a wheel of one of the coaches. Her right foot was nearly severed, but she remained conscious up to within a short time of her death, which occurred at about a quarter to five, and before her removal.

Five Injured.

Five of the injured persons were removed to the Huddersfield Infirmary. Their injuries were not of a very serious nature, but all of them are detained in that institution. Several persons, suffering from shock and slighter injuries, were treated by local medical men or at their own homes. Amongst these were—

Mr. Geoffrey Brooke, son of the late Mr. George Brooke, of Mirfield, was in a first-class compartment, and went through the floor on to the rails. Hatless and coatless, be took a cab and drove to the surgery of Dr. Macgregor, of Lockwood, where his injuries were attended to.

Mr. George Weston, St. Peter's Street, Huddersfield, sustained a severe shock in his fall from a compartment of the third carriage.

An old employee of the London and North-Western Company — Matthew Hirst, a waggon-shop foreman — was driven from the end of one carriage into another, and, having scrambled from the wreckage, assisted in getting the other passengers out.

The drivers and firemen of the two engines escaped without serious injury.

W. Cliffe, of Mirfield, who was in charge of the Lancashire and Yorkshire engine, sustained scalds on the wrist, by the bursting of a steam pipe; and his fireman, J. Hough, Mirfield, sustained cuts.

Fred Haigh, Hillhouse, driver of the North-Western engine, was unhurt; but his fireman, Arthur Nicholson, of Miriam Street, Fartown, who had sustained bruises, was treated at the Infirmary.

Was the Signal Down?

As to who is responsible for the collision does not appear, but it is stated that, the driver of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's train found that the signal was down.



Ralph G. Farrand, mason, Blackburn Road, Birstall.
Catherine Yates Milne (46), widow, 54, Belgrave Street, Leeds.


The following were removed to the Huddersfield Infirmary, and are there detained:—

Frances Shillito (28), named, 7, Barnby Street, Wilson Road, Wyke, fractured scapula.
Emily Brearley (33), single, 8, Hallroyd, Shipley, bleeding in the scalp.
Joe Balnforth (32), Roundhill, Cleckheaton, shaken.
Frank Moore (27), Craven Lane, Gomersal, bruises and shock.
Arthur Nicholson (24), Miriam Street, Fartown, bruises and shock.



Another of our reporters writes:

The trains which collided were the Lancashire and Yorkshire passenger train, due out of Bradford, at 1.50, and a London and North-Western train of three empty carriages. The former was in charge of W. Cliffe, of Mirfield, and the London and North-Western train was under the charge of Fred Haigh, of Hillhouse.

The collision occurred on the viaduct at the entrance to the station. The Lancashire and Yorkshire train was entering the station at a gentle speed, with, as it is said, the signals in its favour, when the London and North-Western was seen on the same line too late to avert a collision.

The Work of Rescue.

The Huddersfield Ambulance Brigade were soon on the spot, and Dr. Crosland was among the first to render aid, whilst medical assistance was freely tendered by Doctors Robinson, Irving, Walker, Rowell, Wright, Wilson, Porritt, and others.

The work of rescue was rendered very difficult by the position of the wrecked vehicles, blocking the whole of the metals, whilst a great crowd assembled, and hindered rather than furthered the work.

Mr. Jos. Sykes, station-master, and Mr. John Morton, with a large force of police, assisted in keeping back the crowd, which momentarily swelled in numbers, as evidences of the accident could be seen from Fitzwilliam Street, below.

It was not till after four o’clock that the railway crane was brought from Mirfield and used in clearing the line and removing the debris from above the injured persons.

The work of rescue went on as fast as possible, restoratives being supplied to those in worst case, whilst those who had not suffered so severely were at once conveyed to the Infirmary. Several were able to leave without aid. It was not till a break-down gang appeared on the scene that the carriages, which were more or less interlocked, were separated.

Mrs. Milne’s Heroism.

One or more carriages had mounted high above the wreckage, and it was under the remains that the worst injured were found.

Mrs. Milne was not dead when discovered, and, indeed, asserted she was not suffering any great pain, and that her case could wait until those more seriously injured were attended to. Her right leg was, however, sadly crushed, and she sustained serious internal injuries that shortly led to her death.

Official Reticence.

It was started that the London and North-Western train had been made up close by the scene of the accident, and had entered the line from a siding; but on points relating to circumstances occurring immediately before the accident the authorities are intelligibly reticent.



Amongst the occupants of the ill-fated train was Mr. W. Brook, of Adelaide Street, Bingley, who was travelling to Huddersfield in company with his wife and child.

They were seated opposite each other, and at the moment of the terrible impact Mr. Brook was flung to the other side of the compartment. He came in contact with his wife, and then, on the rebound, was thrown to the other side of the carriage. As soon as was possible they made their way through the debris.

Mrs. Brook, who received a black eye, felt the shock very acutely, but Mr. Brook and the child were not injured.

Remarkable Escape.

Mr. Geoffrey Brooke, son of the late Mr. George Brooke, of Mirfield, who was in a first-class compartment of the second carriage, had a remarkable escape.

He was thrown from one side to the other, and then fell on the rails through the floor. His coat and trousers were torn to tatters, and the buttons ripped off his boots.

Making his way on to the platform, he drove to the surgery of Dr. MacGregor, Lockwood Road. On examination, it was found that there were between twenty and thirty cuts and bruises about his limbs and body.

Underneath the Wreckage.

Efforts were at once directed to rendering aid to a woman who was underneath the first coach, and to two men who were found to be alive. The latter wore extricated, and were removed to the Infirmary.

It was not known at first whether any one had been killed, but from the nature of the collision it was assumed that if there were any persons in the carriages which had been, telescoped some one must have been killed, and so it turned out; but this was not known till about three o'clock, when it was seen that there was the body of a man under a wheel, and when extricated he was dead.

The L. and Y. Train.

The Lancashire and Yorkshire train consisted of engine and tender and eight coaches, including the goods van at the rear of the train, and the first carriage hod a parcels compartment,

The force of the impact was such as to cause the carriage next to the tender to mount on to the next carriage, which was practically smashed to pieces. The roof of the second carriage and part of the carriage itself were forced on to the third carriage, but the rest of the train escaped without any injury, and that portion of the train kept on the metals; but the engine of the Lancashire end Yorkshire train was knocked off the road.



The woman Milne was got out about four o’clock, and about ten minutes to five the body of the man Farrand was found; but rescue in this instance had come too late.

Farrand's case is particularly sad, for he was to have been married today to a Miss Parkinson, of Longwood. Miss Parkinson was on the platform waiting to welcome her betrothed, and her distress as she saw the train dash into the other carriages was intense. When the, news of the worst reached her she was almost prostrated with grief. Instead of orange blossoms, the would-have-been bride will wear the mourner's veil.

A woman was found with her cloak fastened to a beam of one of the wrecked carriages, her head being thus pinned. The debris was removed sufficiently to allow her to crawl out, and she was taken away, apparently not seriously hurt.

"Struck in the Head."

Mr. George Weston, picture-frame maker, St. Peter’s Street, Huddersfield, was returning from Heckmondwike, where he had been to inform some friends of the death of a niece that morning.

"Following immediately on the crash," he said, in an interview, "I was suddenly struck on the head and thrown to the floor of the compartment. I pulled myself together, and jumped to the ground clear of the debris. I was very much confused, however, by the escaping steam. At the same time I saw a man with a baby in his arms leaving the compartment next to mine."

Mr. Weston added that he managed to stagger into a waiting-room, and finally was taken home in a very dazed condition, suffering great pain in the head and body.

Engine Front Smashed.

Some idea of the severity of the collision may be gathered from the fact that the Lancashire and Yorkshire engine had the front completely smashed in, and the three front carriages were smashed to splinters.

Fortunately there we few passengers in the front part of the train, or the death-roll would have bean fearful to contemplate.

The tender of the Lancashire and Yorkshire engine was buried in the end of the first carriage, which was sloping upwards. The wheels of that carriage rested on the body of what had once been a carriage, but which was reduced to matchwood, and this was slightly up-ended, also sloping towards the third coach, which had been telescoped by the second one.

'The roof of the second carriage and part of the side had been carried on to the roof of the third carriage, along with scene of the internal portions of the carriage.

A Mass of Firewood.

When the dense cloud of steam and smoke, which for a few moments enveloped the scene, had cleared away, it was seen that the ground for yards around was littered with splinters, as though loads of firewood had been tipped over the rails. How any one could escape alive was a marvel, and for a time it was doubtful whether any one had survived the terrible impact.

Rapid Release of Imprisoned Victims.

At once a large gang of railway porters, policemen, yard hands, and others were on the scene, and with wonderful care and dexterity they commenced removing the wreckage. Gradually the mass was cleared off, and the imprisoned victims were released.

By this time nearly every medical man in the neighbourhood was on the spot, and as the injured were extricated they were promptly conveyed on stretchers to the station, and placed in cabs or borne by hand to the Infirmary. Drs. Horsfall and Donald were in attendance, and in a few minutes all the injured were safely in bed.

How quickly the work of extrication was executed is shown by the fact that the first of the sufferers was at the Infirmary within thirty-five minutes after the accident, and the others arrived in quick succession.

Comparatively Slight Injuries.

Interviewed by a "Mercury" reporter shortly after midnight, the House Surgeon stated that, so far as could be ascertained, none of the injuries were of a serious natures. The only broken bone was that of Mrs. Shillito, whose shoulder-blade was broken.

The injury to Mrs. Brearley had doubtless been caused by a blow on the head, which, while inflicting little external injury, had caused a suffusion of blood under the scalp.

All the victims were severely bruised and badly shaken. They had all sustained a severe shock to the whole system, bub whether any had suffered internal injuries could not be ascertained until later. At the moment, however, all the signs pointed to this not being the case.

After being put to bed and the injuries washed and dressed, all the patients were given a sedative drug, which quickly put them into a peaceful sleep, from which they will probably awake with the first severity of the shock considerably assuaged.

Clearing the Line.

When the gang of platelayers arrived on the scene they rapidly proceeded to clear the line, but the damage to the permanent way was considerable. The main line was ripped up for a considerable distance, and after the wreckage had been removed this had to be repaired. The men worked strenuously for hours before traffic could be passed over the road, and even the trains reaching Huddersfield in the early hours of this morning had to be pulled up, and passed slowly over the damaged ground, with a crowd of swinging lamps signalling almost every inch of the way.

Wreckage in the Street.

The accident occurred so close to the viaduct that portions of the debris fell over into the street, among these being the doors of two or three compartments. Danger to those in the street was apprehended, and barricades were erected to prevent the people coming too near.

The work of removing the debris went, on very slowly, and at half-past six the remains of the two worst-damaged carriages still required attention.



Precisely how the accident occurred will have to be cleared up later.

At the spot where the collision took place the line from Bradford and Halifax crosses over the metals from Leeds, and it would thus seem that for an appreciable space, of time the two trains were practically travelling side by side.

It is said the signal was in favour of one of the trains, presumably that from Bradford, and it is possible that the driver of the North-Western train mistook this for his signal, and was thus led to advance towards the platform.

Cliffe, the driver of the Lancashire and Yorkshire train, had with him as lineman C. Lough, of Mirfield. Both were injured, Cliffe suffering from scalds, and Lough from a bruised hip and cut cm the left hand.

Haigh, the driver of the London and North-Western train, does not appear to have been injured, but Arthur Nicholson, of Fartown, his fireman, was removed to the Infirmary, suffering from bruises and shock.

The sound of the collision was heard by Dr. G. W. Crosland, who lives near, and be rushed to the station under a conviction as to what had taken place.

Mr. H. Whiteley, of the Huddersfield St. John Ambulance Brigade, was also among the first on the spot. There was no lack of willing helpers, as the accident occurred within such convenient distance of the Infirmary and other medical institutions in the town.