We’re delighted to be able to make the database containing details of the railway worker accidents available to you. It’s taken months of hard work on the part of the volunteers to get the data entered into the database, but it is well worth it. We now invite you to make use of it and to provide us with your thoughts and feedback.
The data is available as a downloadable spreadsheet at the foot of this page. Before that we’ve provided a series of important notes to help you make best use of the spreadsheet and data.
Fair use and open access acknowledgment
We’re delighted to be able to make this resource freely available to you, and hope that you’ll find it useful and fascinating. As this is a project that has been supported by public bodies, we want to make the data available to all, at no cost, for non-commercial purposes. Do please use it fairly and respectfully.
If you go on to use the information we’ve provided in a public environment , we’d be grateful if you would give us an acknowledgement – that might be saying a little about the project if you’re giving a talk or including a credit line in something you write. If a written piece, we’d be keen for you to use:
‘Details of railway worker accidents have come from the ‘Railway Work, Life & Death’ project, run by the University of Portsmouth and National Railway Museum: www.railwayaccidents.port.ac.uk. Please provide due acknowledgement if you reuse these details.’
We want to hear from you! We will use your feedback to improve what we offer and to shape the next developments in the project. Do please either email us (railwayworkeraccidents[at]gmail.com) or fill in the feedback form on this website. We’re interested in things like:
What is your interest in the data and what use have you made of it?
What would you like to see to make the data more useful?
What data would you like to see added in the future?
How have your opinions of railway worker accidents changed?
Can you tell us more about an accident?
You might find you’ve got more details about an accident – where it featured in a newspaper report, say, or an account of the incident written by someone who was involved, or a copy of a compensation claim – or any of the other myriad documents and artefacts that were produced as a result of an accident. If so, we’d love to hear from you – particularly if it relates to one of the accidents featured in the reports detailed in the database, but also if it doesn’t.
In the longer term we are hoping to add a facility so that you can upload images of these documents and they can start to build into a much bigger story about railway worker accidents. For now, we’d be grateful if you could email us with further details: railwayworkeraccidents[at]gmail.com.
What should I do if I spot an error, omission or inaccuracy?
Do please let us know – preferably with your thoughts on the correction. We’ll then factor that into future revisions/ updates. It’s likely that – despite our excellent team of volunteers and the cross-referencing we’ve done – some issues will have slipped through the net. Please use either the feedback form or email us (railwayworkeraccidents[at]gmail.com) if you spot something and we’ll look into it.
The database contains details of all worker accidents detailed in Appendices B and C of the Railway Inspectorate reports, but excludes cases of passenger train accidents (which sometimes also killed or injured workers – Appendix A). Those reports are already freely available, for example through the Railways Archive website (detailed in our links page).
Where can I get the full report?
Hopefully you’ll find what we’ve done here useful – so, extracting the most significant details from each accident report and transcribing them into a standardised and easily searchable format. However, it’s not the full report of each incident. Sadly, we couldn’t afford to make these publicly available. If you do want to see the full report you can still get hold of them in person: at the National Railway Museum in York, through ‘Search Engine’, or at the National Archives at Kew in reference RAIL 1053.
To enable you to do this, the first four columns of the spreadsheet give you the full references to the original document – the title, sub-title, ‘command number’ (the order from Parliament that the report be printed) and the document date (each corresponds to a quarter of the year).
What was this?
Like every other area of life, the railway industry has spawned its own specialist terms, abbreviations and odd phrases which you may not know – what was spragging? What was the four foot way as opposed to the six foot way? What happened in tow-roping or fly shunting?
We realise that those familiar with the railways might be aware of these terms – but not everyone using this resource is familiar with the railways. As a result we’re compiling a handy guide to railway terms. It’s a work in progress at the moment, but please check back for more – and let us know if you find a term you don’t understand, and we’ll add it to the list.
Keep checking the blog
Although the data is now released, the project isn’t over – and we’re keeping the blog updated regularly, with cases we’ve spotted which highlight interesting points, as well as guest contributions (which we’re happy to receive from you – do let us know!) and posts on related topics.
A note about using the data
We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we’re dealing with people who were injured or killed in these accidents. As a result, if you are using the data, we request you do so sensitively – out of respect to those involved originally, and in case there are any living descendants of the individuals named.
So, this is the bit you’ve been waiting for – the data. It is provided in an Excel spreadsheet, for you to download and use for non-commercial research.
We’ve tried to be consistent in how details are presented, though there will be variations between volunteers, so think creatively when searching; some examples –
* some people retained ‘waggon’ whereas some put it in its modern spelling of ‘wagon’;
* you might find railway companies given as full names or in later references as abbreviations (so, South Eastern and Chatham Railway; SECR);
* people’s surnames are as they were given in the original reports, though there has been some variation about the first names – sometimes they are fully spelled out, sometimes they follow convention of the time (so, ‘Geo.’ for George; ‘Wm.’ for William), and sometimes they appear as an initial only;
* some railway company names vary even within the reports (so, the Alexandra (Newport) Docks and Railway also appears as the Alexandra (Newport and South Wales) Docks and Railway, and the Alexandra Docks and Railway).
We’ve listed each casualty on a separate row, even if two or more people were involved in the same incident – we thought this would make it easier to pinpoint individuals.
The data is ‘locked’, so whilst you can still search it, you cannot alter it. If you think you’ve spotted an inaccuracy, please contact us and we will investigate. The spreadsheet is presented to you in chronological order, from the first quarter of 1911 through to the second quarter of 1915. In addition to the straightforward ‘search’ function, you can also sort by filters accessible from the drop-down menu at the head of each column.
The database is available by clicking on the download button below.
Enjoy your research – and please let us know what you think of our work.