Have you been delving deep into the project database, following us on Twitter (@RWLDproject) or keeping a close eye on the ‘On this day’ Twitter feed on the homepage of the website?
If so, and you were paying close attention, you might have noticed over the last 2 months or so you’ve not seen any references to accidents in 1915. So why has 1915 disappeared?
To state the obvious: the reports ceased, so there’s no data. The pressures of the First World War meant that publishing the reports was no longer a priority – though of course, passenger reports were still printed.
However, it seems that the inspectors did continue their investigations after June 1915 – just that the reports ceased. Some of the trades union records held at the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick refer to railway inspectorate investigations, as do some of the railway companies records held at The National Archives.
The overall statistics of worker accidents for this period also appear to show a decrease in absolute numbers of staff killed or injured at work. Although accident figures were still collected, they are not comparing like with like if placed alongside the figures up to July 1915. We believe that requirements to report all worker accidents were loosened, again as a result of the war, producing a false downturn in the numbers.
The gap in publication of the worker accident reports continued until July 1921, when the reports made a re-appearance in public, for the rest of the inter-war years. These reports are now the source for one of our project extensions, currently under way with the assistance of our National Railway Museum volunteers and with the support of the Office of Rail and Road.
We live in hope that the missing 6 years will turn up somewhere – if you’ve got them stored away in a dusty attic, please let us know!