LOOKING BACK: Lucky escape for train passengers

The
1955 Westwood train crash

The 1955 Westwood train crash

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Peterborough is a proud railway city and a key stop on the East Coast main line, one of the most important transport links in the country.

Thousands of trains pass through the city each year and thankfully most do so safely.

The locomotive was completely derailed and the two leading coaches fell onto their sides.

The locomotive was completely derailed and the two leading coaches fell onto their sides.

A recent report which highlighted an incident at Fletton junction when a speeding train led to four people suffering minor injuries shows we can never be complacent.

Investigators concluded there could have been a serious accident with a possible derailment.

On September 1, 1955 a train did derail just north of Westwood Bridge with today’s dramatic pictures showing the aftermath.

The 3.50pm Kings Cross to Leeds passenger train was leaving Peterborough North Station at just after 5.20 pm when its front bogie frame broke. The locomotive derailed with its two front coaches falling onto their sides.

The accident happened just north of Westwood Bridge.

The accident happened just north of Westwood Bridge.

Fortunately, the train had only reached 20mph and the low speed was cited as the reason why there were no deaths.

In total five people were hurt, with four needing hospital treatement.

The nearby Baker Perkins’ works fire brigade and ambulance volunteers turned out to the emergency. They cut a hole in the lineside fence through which ladders and blankets were passed. The passengers were provided with tea in the works canteen.

Remarkably, the track was cleared and the main line was open to traffic by 9.20am the next day.

AERIAL VIEW: This picture was taken in 1973 and shows Town Bridge crossing the River Nene. City landmarks in view are the Lido and the Key theatre. The city courts had not yet been built.

AERIAL VIEW: This picture was taken in 1973 and shows Town Bridge crossing the River Nene. City landmarks in view are the Lido and the Key theatre. The city courts had not yet been built.

An official Ministry of Transport report into the accident was written by Lt Col G R S Wilson.

He noted: “The derailment of the bogie wheels was noticed at once by Driver A. B. Barringer who promptly made a full application of the vacuum brake and closed the regulator.

“The derailment then spread rapidly backward to all wheels of the engine and tender, and all the wheels of the two leading coaches and the leading pair of wheels of the 3rd coach were derailed as the track was broken up. The other 10 coaches remained on the rails.”

If you have any memories of the crash please get in touch.