Author Archive | Mike Esbester

A miscellany of Waterloos

In railway terms, Waterloo generally brings one thing to mind: the London mainline station, in our period the terminal point of the London & South Western Railway. It was of course named for the famous 1815 battle in which Napoleon was defeated, which took place 203 years ago today – and it wasn’t the only […]

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A World War Two case

So far we’ve largely confined ourselves to the cases found in our database, to give you more detail on a small – but increasing – number of the 3,915 individuals involved in accidents, and to demonstrate some of the value of our project. Today’s post, however, strays beyond existing territory – and is a precursor […]

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A flyaway telegraph message

There are many cases in our database in which we see similar circumstances – and often similar outcomes: track workers hit by trains, shunters crushed between wagons, slips, trips and falls, porters injured whilst moving goods, and so on. There are, of course, a great many cases which are truly unique – one of which […]

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Applying the brakes

Yesterday our project Twitter feed (@RWLDproject) tweeted a case in which a worker attempted to apply a vacuum brake with a coupling pole. This caused a few raised eyebrows, some heated discussion, and some initial thoughts that we’d got our wires crossed: after all, these are two technologies which don’t work in the same way, […]

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Histories of medical humanities and attitudes: Examining class and shock via the accident reports

The accidents and reports from which our database draws reveal much about all sorts of aspects of British and Irish society around the time of the First World War. Plenty of this relates directly to the lives – and sometimes deaths – of railway workers. But underlying this we might find other aspects that speak […]

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A question of trust

How far could workers control their own fates? In the 19th century and well into the 20th it was believed by many – certainly the railway companies’ managers – that workers were ultimately responsible for the vast majority of the accidents that befell them, as they made choices and acted ‘carelessly.’ What was rarely taken […]

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