oldwarrenpointforum

Sometimes I pretend to be normal, but it gets boring so I go back to being myself
It is currently Fri Nov 24, 2017 3:09 pm

All times are UTC




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:59 pm 
Offline
Moderator
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 9:57 pm
Posts: 1848
Location: Warrenpoint
THE RUNAWAY TRAIN OF 1889
A WARRENPOINT EXCURSION WHICH NEVER ARRIVED.

For as long as I remember I have been intrigued by the appalling tragedy of the Armagh to Warrenpoint excursion train which resulted in the deaths of 80 people, many of them children, and at least 260 injured.
My interest was first aroused by learning at first hand the details from my grand-mother, who as a young girl lived in Armagh at the time, and knew many people involved in the disaster. But this interest became even deeper when after being born in Armagh City I came to live in Warrenpoint as a boy, and thus knew well the two places connected with the tragedy.
As the Centenary occurs on the 12th of June 1989, it might be of interest to the ‘Point people to read the details of the famous “Railway Disaster” which caused the whole system of train safety in the British Isles to change by an Act of parliament.
The Sunday School excursion to Warrenpoint was organised by the Methodist Church in Armagh City and carriages were ordered for 800 people. Dundalk Locomotive Department of the G.N.R. were responsible for the arrangements, and the train was to be made up of two brake vans and eleven passenger coaches. It was decided to provide loco No. 86 with Driver McGrath in charge, and this engine should have been powerful enough to haul a train of 800 people over the hilly branch line from Armagh to Goraghwood via Markethill. However it subsequently transpired that the driver had very little experience of the Armagh to Newry line, and this may have been a major factor in the events which took place.
The empty train proceeded to Armagh via Portadown where two more coaches were added the 15 coach train arriving at Armagh Station about 8.35 am. At this point the Station Master told driver McGrath that he proposed to add a further two coaches in view of the numbers travelling being well in excess of the original 800.
Driver McGrath rightly protested, saying he had two coaches added at Portadown and doubted whether his engine could haul the load. John foster, the Station Master, taunted McGrath by saying that no other drivers had ever refused trains of that size with a similar engine, and at 10.15 am. Engine No. 86 hauling 15 coaches and about 940 passengers left Armagh for Warrenpoint.
As was common practice at that time with trains which carried a lot of children all the doors were locked. Railway regulations then were such that no “block” system as we now know it was in operation. Instead on single track lines it was the practice to allow 10 minutes between trains and assume that the leading one was on time. The regular train to follow the Warrenpoint excursion was the 10.35 to Newry due to leave 20 minutes later.
However very shortly after leaving Armagh, at about a distance of 4 miles, the Warrenpoint train stalled on a steep slope. After assessing the situation the train crew, led by James Elliot the Chief Clerk from Dundalk, decided to divide the train in two, take the leading half to Hamiltonsbawn Station which was convenient, and come back for the other half. This was achieved by using the brakes and “putting stones under the wheels” of the ten heavily laden coaches.
Then tragedy struck, the brakes did not hold, the stones were ineffective, and the half train ran down the slope at an ever increasing speed. In the meantime the regular 10.35 am. Train left Armagh on time, and before corrective action could be taken, it ran into the “Warrenpoint Runaway.”
The consequences were horrific with 80 people being killed — 22 of them children. A father, mother and two children of one Armagh family all perished and the injured totalled 260. Indeed to quote from the standard work on the subject, ‘Historic Railway Disasters’ by O.S. Nock,”Although above all a great tragedy, the collision at Armagh proved later to be a momentous turning point in British Railway history.” A turning point in so far that within months, Parliament passed the Regulation of Railways Act 1889, which introduced the space interval block system, and made mandatory the fitting of automatic continuous brakes on all passenger trains. These moves ensured that the circumstances which caused the Armagh Disaster could never happen again.
I am certain that in the years since 1889 many hundreds of thousands of excursionists made the rail journey to Warrenpoint in complete safety. I wonder how many of them had heard of the 22 children and 58 adults who never saw the sea at Warrenpoint on that fateful morning of June 12th 1889.



Jim McCart, February 1989.


This article was taken from The Warrenpoint Historical Group Magazine, Spring 1989.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:25 am 
Offline
Member
Member
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:08 pm
Posts: 3853
Location: Warrenpoint
Sad but interesting reading there dukestreet. Hints of the Titanic disaster too. I was not aware the train driver had come under pressure to take the extra coaches despite his obvious concerns.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:51 pm 
Offline
Member
Member
User avatar

Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 1:48 pm
Posts: 5147
Dukestreet - never heard of that tragedy until now.
I think everyone else but the driver was to blame.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 7:47 pm 
Offline
Member
Member
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:08 pm
Posts: 3853
Location: Warrenpoint
Image

I came across this photo of the accident this evening (on ebay of all places). A terrible scene.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 7:55 pm 
Offline
Site Admin
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sun May 06, 2007 2:30 pm
Posts: 10335
Location: Warrenpoint
I spotted that picture myself Pat, I also found this map and plan of the accident on wikipedia.

Image


Image


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 7:59 pm 
Offline
Member
Member
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:08 pm
Posts: 3853
Location: Warrenpoint
I've no plans to bid on it in case anyone else is interested !


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:16 pm 
Offline
Member
Member
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:32 pm
Posts: 1364
Location: Warrenpoint
The train that stalled on the steep slope ( referred to as loco no. 86 in the original article) :

Image


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:18 pm 
Offline
Member
Member
User avatar

Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:24 pm
Posts: 7522
Location: Warrenpoint
There is a very good book by J.R.L.Currie `The Runaway Train Armagh 1889` which includes all those pictures, sketches and plans and gives a very good account of the lead up to the accident, the crash itself and its aftermath....................

This extract is taken from the final page ...........................

A marble tablet was placed in the entrance hall of Armagh City Infirmary which reads .............................

"The two principal wards of this Infirmary with the Entrance Hall,Board Room,Operating Room,Surgery and Stair-case, have been reconstructed by Public Subscription in commemoration of the Great Services rendered by Surgeon Palmer and the staff of this Institution to the Sufferers in the Railway Accident near Armagh 12th June 1889"


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:19 am 
Offline
Member
Member
User avatar

Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 1:48 pm
Posts: 5147
patMG07 - what a horrible tragedy indeed.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:01 pm 
Offline
Member
Member

Joined: Sun May 17, 2009 5:34 pm
Posts: 333
Yes I remember watching a program on telly regarding the same sort of tragety happening to trippers coming to the Point.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 6:01 pm 
Offline
Site Admin
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sun May 06, 2007 2:30 pm
Posts: 10335
Location: Warrenpoint
125 years ago today.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-27806226


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] 

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group