Carriage Mishap

As railway workers peer over the bridge parapet a breakdown crane is preparing to lift the errant carriage. Another carriage can be seen standing in the siding. Photo courtesy Roy F. Burrows Midland Collection Trust, Midland Railway Study Centre, Derby.

The photographs on this page are of an accident at Woodlesford station which took place on Wednesday 20 July 1910. The mishap happened when a train was being shunted into the station goods yard with the rear carriage overshooting the buffers and plummeting down the embankment into Aberford Road. 

The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that several empty passenger coaches were being shunted on a siding running parallel with the main line. “Too much force was used and the coach in question crashed into the buffer posts and then jumped the parapet of the bridge falling into the road below, ” it said. The accident happened shortly after seven o’clock in the morning when there were few people about. Luckily there was nobody on the road at the time and there were no injuries. The coach was badly damaged but successfully recovered by a breakdown crane from Holbeck depot during the course of the morning with the road finally cleared about noon.

This photo was the first to be taken about an hour after the mishap.

The train was for miners who were working at the newly opened Water Haigh colliery and possibly the existing pits of T. & R. W. Bower over the River Aire near Swillington.  Many of the men lived in Leeds and Hunslet and to save them a long walk or cycle ride negotiations must have taken place to lay on a new service which had recently been introduced. It left Leeds Wellington station at 0530, called at Hunslet at 0536 and arrived at Woodlesford at 0543.

Many of the Water Haigh men would then walk along the tracks to reach the pit instead of going by Eshald Lane. After its arrival the locomotive was detached from the carriages to “run round” them via the goods yard because of the way the points were arranged. It was then coupled to the back of the train and drew the carriages into a long siding next to the line from Leeds between the platform and Pottery Lane bridge.

After just over an hour, when the crew would no doubt have their breakfast, they would push the carriages back across the two main lines and into the goods yard siding ready to set off back to Leeds at 0730. It must have been during this manoeuvre, and possibly with an inexperienced driver or guard, that the train failed to stop in time resulting in the rear carriage crashing through the buffers and plunging into Aberford Road. There must have been red faces all round!

This photo was issued as a postcard dated 9 September 1910. The jib of the breakdown crane is just visible through the trees. Experts from the Breakdown Crane Association say it had a 15 tons capacity and was built by Cowans Sheldon at their Carlisle factory. It was based at Leeds from 1893 until 1923.

The woman  with her hands behind her back, in the centre of the picture below, was Eliza Booth Penn who lived in Swillington. She was the daughter of Edward Bretherick, a coal dealer who lived at Norwich Street in Hunslet. At Woodlesford church in 1902 she married Thomas Penn, a Staffordshire born miner. Their son, Reginald Penn, who later became the assistant enginewright at Water Haigh colliery, told the Rothwell Advertiser in 1970 that one of the boys on the bridge was called Rowland Parkes. In 1910 he was 5 years old. His parents were James and Eliza Ann Parkes. James was also a miner and they lived at Mosley Street off Castleford Road in Normanton. Young Rowland was probably in Woodlesford visiting a relative of his mother whose maiden name was Bland. Ann Bland, who lived at 31 Church Street, was a barrel washer at Bentley’s brewery and was probably also amongst the crowd.

A large crowd watches the carriage being lifted back up the embankment.