Dowler’s double – with under 3 months between them

We return to one of the great things about our database for today’s blog post: the way it makes it possible to search the accident records more easily and identify links that might otherwise be missed. One way we’ve shown this in the past has been via the ‘double accidents’: those where a single person has had more than one accident (for example, see this post). Today’s post concerns another of these.

Southam station in 1904, site of Dowler's accident.

Southam station in 1904.
Courtesy National Library of Scotland maps.

It relates to 53 year old goods guard Thomas Dowler, of the London and North Western Railway. His first accident occurred on 5 August 1913, at Southam station in Warwickshire. He was about a third of the way through his 10¼ hour turn, trying to uncouple two wagons in the rake of 25 his train was moving. He tried 3 times with his shunting pole as the train was moving at low speed, but couldn’t get them to uncouple. When the train came to halt ‘he got between [the relevant wagons] to uncouple by hand.’ However, he hadn’t allowed for the fact that as the shunting spur was on a falling gradient ‘the wagons ran out to tight couplings’ (i.e. each wagon rolled a little further forwards) ‘and whilst Dowler was walking between the slowing running wagons he was struck by the one in the rear and stumbled.’ His right shoulder was bruised and sprained, though it could have been much worse; Inspector Amos Ford considered Dowler to have ‘acted unwisely in going between the wagons until he had taken steps to prevent them moving’. As a result, he attributed the accident to Dowler’s ‘want of caution’, a common phrase of the time (1913 Quarter 3, Appendix C).

Map of Foleshill station, where the accident occurred.

1912 map of Foleshill station.
Courtesy National Library of Scotland maps.

Dowler was obviously not seriously hurt, as he was back at work – and injured again – on 24 October 1913. This time the accident took place at Foleshill station, about two-thirds of the way through a 10 hour turn. Standing in the space between the up main line and the shunting neck, he was working on the wagon labels attached to his train (the pieces of paper which made the wagon’s destination and other important details clear). Amos Ford investigated once again, finding that Dowler had ‘stood too near the shunting neck’ and failed to spot wagons being moved along the line. He was hit by those wagons and knocked down, bruising his body, but again, nothing more serious. Ford reverted to the almost-default ‘this mishap must be attributed to want of care’ (1913 Quarter 4, Appendix C).

We already know that there will be more ‘double’ cases in our coming project extensions – and in at least one case, a triple accident. It will be interesting to see if any of the names in our first run of data appear again, as the longer run perspective will further increase the value of our database. Watch this space for more!

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