ACCIDENTS

1862 - Near West Pennard

The first accident referred to in the company's minutes occurred on 10th of June 1862, a few months after the Somerset Central had taken over the working of its own line from the Bristol & Exeter.
An empty stock train from Templecombe was derailed near West Pennard, nobody was hurt, but damage was done to the station platform, to the line and to the coaches, whose wheels were found to be one and five eighth of an inch out of gauge.
 
1874 - Near Evercreech Jcn

Another accident due to neglectful maintenance occurred on 5th of October 1874 soon after the opening of the Bath Extension, and was caused by a subsidence in the centre of the new embankment. Soon after leaving Evercreech Junction, the fireman of an up train suddenly found the locomotive and tender ‘jumping up and down’, the engine went over the bridge and rolled down the embankment, killing the driver.
At the inquest the coroner's jury recommended that the regulation about the inspection of the line before the first morning train should be included in the printed rules. The Bath Chronicle (8 October 1874) reported, "The Line, since its opening, has not been considered any too safe by more than one competent judge, and signs have not been wanting of the line not having properly set".
 
1876 - Radstock (Foxcote)

See separate page detailing the Radstock (Foxcote) Accident of this year
 
1877 - Near Wincanton

There was another derailment, on 26th of February 1877 near Wincanton, in which the driver was killed. The engine involved was a Midland 0-4-4T No. 1262, and as a result this class was not allowed to work south of Evercreech until the road was relaid, the L&SWR. supplying six engines to meet the emergency.
 
1885 - Binegar

At Binegar on the 31st of July 1885. the very day that the double line from Chilcompton had been brought into use after being passed by the Board of Trade inspector, certain alterations in the interlocking gear in the signalbox were required, and while these were being carried out, the signalman, William Appelbee, accidentally moved the wrong lever and diverted an up express into collision with a goods train standing on the down line.
Guard Beakes, the oldest guard on the line with thirty years service, and one of the passengers were killed, seven passengers were also injured. Appelbee was later tried for manslaughter, but was acquitted.
Interlocking gear had been removed without a man being appointed to watch the facing points, but apparently Appelbee had not been adequately instructed as to the exact situation when he moved the wrong lever and thus brought about the accident. It was the company's officials rather than the signalman who were found guilty of negligence. It also transpired that the train was not provided with proper continuous brake power which would have enabled it to come to a stop from a speed of 27 m.p.h. within the available distance of 160 yards.
 
1886 - Near Binegar

On the 3rd of February 1886, two goods trains collided on the single line just south of Binegar at 2.45 am, one of the firemen was killed.
A down goods train was given a clear road, and even picked up the banking staff, although an up goods was already on the block. The signalman, John Cox, had apparently forgotten this train, the entries in his register being extremely confused, and the driver of the down train (who had incidentally been involved as fireman in the Radstock accident of 1876) had no business to proceed beyond Binegar without a crossing order, after failing to cross the up train as scheduled on the double line section between Chilcompton and Binegar.
Cox was sentenced to six months hard labour, though Colonel Rich's report on behalf of the Board of Trade criticised as unsafe the handling of trains on the single line portion of the Somerset & Dorset by the crossing agent at Bath, and recommended the adoption of the train staff or tablet system.
 
1929 - Bath Goods Yard

On the 20th of November 1929 the 3.25 p.m. freight train from Evercreech to Bath got out of control while descending the bank from Combe Down tunnel into Bath, it was derailed at high speed at the entrance to Bath goods yard and was almost completely wrecked.
The Engine Driver died from his injuries, two railway employees in the goods yard were hit and killed by flying debris, and both the Fireman and Guard on the train were injured.
The train consisted of 37 wagons and a brake van, hauled by S&D 2-8-0 No. 89, working tender first.
The Ministry of Transport's inspecting officer concluded in his report that the enginemen were overcome by smoke and fumes whilst the engine was labouring through Combe Down tunnel and were not in a condition to exercise control over the train.
 
1936 - Near Radstock and on to Midford!

This next incident could easily have been written for an old Ealing Comedy Film.
On the 29th of July 1936, an up freight train hauled by a 2-8-0 locomotive, had just passed signals at danger in the vicinity of Writhlington signal box, near Radstock. It came into slight collision with 0-6-0T locomotive No.7620, which was engaged in shunting duties at Braysdown Colliery.
The crew of the 2-8-0 engine had jumped off in anticipation of the collision. The driver of the 0-6-0T, also realising what was about to happen, started to reverse his train and leaped off, his fireman did the same, leaving the regulator slightly open. The driver then managed to clamber aboard the now almost stationary 2-8-0 and brought it to a halt, The 0-6-0T rolled off towards Bath, minus its crew, propelling a rake of 8 wagons in front of it at ever increasing speed on the undulating gradients. By the time the runaway train reached Midford, some 5 miles away, most of the wagons had been pushed off the track on the sharp curves, causing considerable damage and partially wrecking the signal box and station buildings at Midford. Fortunately the eventual derailment of the last wagon brought the engine to a stand before it could foul the junction at Bath.
 
1949 - Near Ashcott


Just to the west of Ashcott station, a narrow gauge line from the Eclipse Peat Company crossed the S&D line on the same level. On the rather foggy morning of the 26th of August 1949, a small petrol locomotive hauling a couple of peat wagons stalled on the crossing. The driver tried in vain to uncouple the wagons and move the loco, he then ran down the line to warn the approaching 8.05 a.m. train from Glastonbury consisting of one passenger coach and several wagons hauled by class 3F 0-6-0 No. 3260. However he was not seen by the crew because of the fog.
The train collided with the little petrol locomotive and was derailed. The crew leaped off the footplate as the engine plunged down the bank and into mud at the bottom of a large drain beside the line.

The stricken locomotive, No.3260 'stuck in the mud'.The crane from Bath managed to re-rail the coach, but because of the muddy ground surrounding the locomotive it was impossible to position a crane to lift it out in one go. It took eight days to cut up the locomotive into small pieces, all under four tons, which were lifted away with a makeshift crane fitted to old railway sleepers.
See the Ashcott page for a picture of the little petrol engine crossing the S&D line (without being hit!).

 

Copyright © Kevin Clapcott
Most recent revision Friday August 10, 2007