Author Archive | Mike Esbester

Hidden traumas

Around 20% of the accidents that were investigated by the railway inspectors and featured in this project were, tragically, fatalities. No question, then, that work was stopped for that individual. The remaining 80% of investigated accidents were, then, injuries; many of them were serious, involving amputations or other life-changing wounds, and no doubt stopping work […]

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Mrs Jane Horner and the illicit lift

It may perhaps surprise us to find women amongst the list of casualties the project has catalogued – but it shouldn’t. Plenty of women worked, including on the railways, where even before the First World War they numbered in their thousands. Though precise figures are difficult to come by, around 13,000 has been suggested, out […]

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Accidents at all grades -1

Undoubtedly the majority of railway worker accidents were incurred by those exposed to danger on a day-to-day basis – the manual grades, like the platelayers, shunters, guards, porters, workshop staff and engine crews. But sometimes you find cases where those higher up the ranks were involved. One such case occurred at Kilmeaden, near Waterford, in […]

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The accident data is now available!

We’re delighted to say that the accident data is now available for you to use! You can find it on ‘The Accidents’ page, as a spreadsheet for you to download and search at your leisure. This represents the culmination of the work so far, including several months of hard effort from our superb team of […]

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They started – and died – young

Volunteers working on the ‘Railway Work, Life & Death’ project have uncovered the stories of nearly 4,000 individuals who were either injured or killed whilst working on Britain’s railways between January 1911 and June 1915. Amongst the casualties was 16-year old James Beck, a ‘wagon greaser’ (someone responsible for ensuring the axle boxes of freight […]

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What next?

Over the last month there’s been some behind the scenes activity, as we work out our next steps. Some of that is practical – chiefly, how we make the details of the accidents available to you in the most convenient and easily searchable format. But some of it is also more long-term, like what we […]

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1911-15: 3,911 individuals involved in accidents

Our superb volunteers have excelled themselves and have just finished cataloguing all the railway worker accidents investigated by the Railway Inspectors between 1 January 1911 and 30 June 1915, when investigations were halted due to the war. We were expecting a figure of around 3,000 – but the actual figure was 3,911 individual workers either […]

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Did illiteracy kill James Coughlin?

We might tend to question the extent to which many of the working classes – for it is the working classes who are largely the subject of these accident reports – could read or write. For the railway industry the indications are actually that the workforce was highly literate, but the ability to read certainly […]

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The accidents are mounting up

A quick update – the volunteers have been hard at work going through hundreds of accident reports and getting the details into the spreadsheet; I’m pleased to say that they’ve managed to get through 24 of the 36 sets of accident reports. This means we’re already two-thirds of the way through our material, after only […]

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