We’re delighted to be able to make the database available to you. It contains details of railway worker accidents investigated by the state (1900-15 and 1921-1939), applications to the Great Eastern Railway Benevolent Fund (1913-23) for assistance after an accident, and seven runs of data produced by the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants/ National Union of Railwaymen trade union between 1889 and 1920: legal cases (1901-1905), death claims, disablement claims, fatal and non-fatal compensation, the orphan fund and representation at coroner’s inquests. As our other project extensions take shape, we’ll add more data.
It’s taken years 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, National Railway Museum and Modern Records Centre: www.railwayaccidents.port.ac.uk. Please provide due acknowledgement if you reuse these details.’
We’d also love to hear from you if you do use the data – please let us know. It helps make our project more sustainable for the future.
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 or an individual?
You might find you’ve got more details about an accident and those involved – 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 cases 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’s in the database?
The database is set up as a spreadsheet, currently containing three worksheets.
The first contains details of all worker accidents detailed in Appendices B and C of the Railway Inspectorate reports 1900-1915 and 1921-1939 (the gap in the middle was a result of the First World War). It excludes cases of passenger train accidents, which sometimes also killed or injured workers. There cases were found in Appendix A of the reports, and are already freely available, for example through the Railways Archive website (detailed in our links page).
Sheets two-six are full transcriptions of various different funds and support provided by the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS)/ National Union of Railwaymen (NUR) trade union (now the RMT) for their members. Often this is financial detail, about monetary support provided after an accident, ill-health or old age.
The seventh sheet is a full transcription of the contents of the ASRS’s legal book. Covering 1901-1905, it lists all cases where the trade union had an interest in defending its members: there are many accidents, but also other matters, too.
The final sheet contains details of Great Eastern Railway workers injured in accidents and making applications to the Company’s Benevolent Fund between 1913-23.
As more data becomes available we shall add it in the form of new worksheets.
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.
Where can I get the full state accident report?
Hopefully you’ll find what we’ve done here useful – so, extracting the most significant details from each of the Railway Inspectors’ accident reports 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. The only exception are the 1939 reports, which we’ve only found in one location and which aren’t publicly available. This means our spreadsheet is the best that is currently possible.
To enable you to locate the pre-1939 accident of your interest, the final 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).
Similarly, the ASRS/ NUR data is transcribed in full, thanks to our volunteers at the MRC and NRM, and for the legal book, thanks to everyone who got involved in the 2019 ‘Transcription Tuesday’ event. The original legal volume is held at the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick (MRC), reference MSS.127/AS/7/3. The other volumes are also all held at the MRC, with refernece details provided in the spreadsheet.
The GER data is transcribed in full, but if you should wish to see the original, it is held at ‘Search Engine’ at the NRM, reference 2005-7531.
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 –
* 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 Railway Inspectorate worksheet is presented to you in chronological order, from the first quarter of 1900 through to the second quarter of 1915, and then from the third quarter of 1921 until the end of 1939.
The ASRS/ NUR worksheets are presented in the order entries appeared in the original volumes. These are not always chronological. For the most part we’ve mirrored the layout of the original volumes. For the legal cases volumes this includes starting with entry number 369. Any text in red represents something where we couldn’t decipher the original manuscript. Any blank spaces mean no data was entered. So far as we can tell, all of those mentioned were either men, or in the cases where women appear, they were claiming on behalf of men who had been killed at work.
The GER worksheet is also presented in the order entries appeared in the original book – you will find that there are multiple entries for some individuals, but they don’t necessarily appear side by side. It is possible to filter and sort the data should you wish to do this. Also, please note that the applications for support include a station – we understand that this is the station at which the applicant was based when they applied, not necessarily where the accident took place.
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. You can also search across the worksheets to identify common data.
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.