Sonning Cutting railway accident

Sonning Cutting Railway Accident

UK Rail Accident
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Sonning Cutting railway accident

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The Sonning Cutting railway accident occurred during the early hours of 24 December 1841 in the Sonning Cutting, near Reading, Berkshire. A Great Western Railway (GWR) luggage train travelling from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads station entered Sonning Cutting. The train comprised the broad-gauge locomotive Hecla, a tender, three third-class passenger carriages and some heavily-laden goods waggons. The passenger carriages were between the tender and the goods waggons.

Recent intense rain had saturated the soil in the cutting causing it to slip, covering the line on which the train was travelling. On running into the slipped soil the engine was derailed, causing it to slow rapidly. The passenger coaches were crushed between the goods waggons and the tender. Eight passengers died at the scene and seventeen were injured seriously, one of whom died later in hospital.

Details of the accident and subsequent proceedings were reported widely by the newspapers of the day.

First reports

The first reports of the accident were published in The Times on Christmas Day, with the headline "Frightful Accident on the Great Western Railway". Reporting was hindered by "strict reserve on the part of all the company's servants", but the account given in the newspaper could, according to The Times "be relied on as substantially correct".

The train left Paddington at about 4.30 am with about 38 passengers aboard "chiefly of the poorer class". Just...
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