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The Grantham High Speed Accident of September 1906: the passenger casualties

A few minutes after 11pm on the night of Wednesday 19th September 1906 a London to Edinburgh sleeping car and mail train, which had been due to stop at Grantham, ran at speed through the station against the signals. At Grantham North signal box the points were set towards the Nottingham line because, shortly before the express was due to arrive, a goods train from Leicester had passed across the junction. Consequently the Scotch express took the diverging line at Grantham North well in excess of the safe speed. The ensuing high speed derailment on the bridge and embankment beyond the signal box, and fires which subsequently broke out in the wrecked wooden coaches, took 14 lives including those of the locomotive crew.

Much has been written about the accident and its likely causes.  Tracks through Grantham can add little to existing published accounts, so we refer interested readers to the 'further reading' listed below.

However, with the exception of the unfortunate driver and fireman, the stories of the people who died that night have not been revisited.  The passengers that fate brought together on the train were 'a mixed bunch', and we are discovering some remarkable untold stories.  Some have left reminders which can still be traced today - if you know where to look.

Follow the links in the list of the casualties below.

A Post Office Employee:

  • Charles Edwin Elson of London, a mail van attendant

Nine Passengers who died at the scene:

Two passengers who died of their injuries several weeks later:

  • James Willam McGregor of Glasgow (on 18th October)
  • Alfred Ernest Bagnall of Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex (on 19th October)

A further passenger who died soon afterwards from diphtheria:

  • Peggy Robertson aged 3 years, daughter of Sgt. Robertson (on 10th November)

There is more about the accident in our page people and incidents in the history of Grantham North signal box.

For further reading about the 1906 accident see:

  • The Grantham Rail Crash of 1906 by Harold Bonnett (Bygone Grantham, 1978 ISBN 0 906338 05 0)
  • Great Northern News  (GNN) No.149 (Sept/Oct 2006) pages 149.11 to 149.23, The Grantham Accident, 19th September 1906 [originally published in 1982, revised and illustrated]; supporting information and correspondence in GNN Nos. 150, 151, 152 & 153.  Published by The Great Northern Railway Society .
  • The Railway Magazine Vol.152, No. 1,265, September 2006, pages 22-27 Grantham - The mystery solved, 100 years on? by Nick Pigott
  • The Railway Magazine Vol.152, No. 1,266, October 2006, pages 25-26 Grantham Crash: The real 'mystery' is why the most obvious question was never asked! by Nick Pigott

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4 thoughts on “The Grantham High Speed Accident of September 1906: the passenger casualties

  1. Anne Jackson

    Peggy Robertson died 10th November 1906 from injuries received and shock sustained at the same time.
    Daughter of Sgt. John Robertson.

    Reply
    1. TracksthroughGrantham1

      Hello Anne,
      Thank you for the information about Peggy Robinson. I have now added her name to the list of casualties.
      John Clayson

      Reply
  2. Doug UTTING

    Hello - James MILLER was my Great Great Grandfather. I have some information on him but am still trying to locate his grave. I think I am right in saying that only one victim was buried in Grantham so he is likely to be in Kent somewhere. Doug UTTING

    Reply
    1. TracksthroughGrantham1

      Hello Doug,
      It's very interesting to hear from a descendant of one of the victims of that tragic accident which took place so many years ago. We have some press reports of the time which mention James Miller and I'm sending them to you by separate email. You are right that only one of the people who were killed was reported as being buried in Grantham - a Mrs Baguley.
      With best wishes,
      John Clayson

      Reply

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