Archive | Accident reports

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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Working 9-5? Not in 1915 – Long hours 1

In the early 1890s a public scandal arose over the hours some railway employees worked. We might conclude that the press and MPs who took up the case were very public spirited and willing to campaign on behalf of others, particularly as it resulted in the 1893 Railway Regulation Act which (theoretically) restricted employees’ hours […]

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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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Why break the rules?

  A guest post, by Arthur Moore, one of the project’s volunteers   Having spent some time inputting Board of Trade accident reports on to the project spreadsheets as a volunteer, it was interesting to find a photo which showed the disparity between the rules and actual working practices. ​The reports said that on 5th […]

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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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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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How many accidents is too many?

The answer is, of course, one. But we live in the real world, and only too frequently accidents happen. We’d hope only once, but sometimes they strike the same individual twice. One such case has been uncovered by one of our volunteers and makes for interesting reading. On 25 February 1912, labourer Joseph Brown went […]

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