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:
- James Miller of Rochester, Kent
- Roland Philipson of Tynemouth, Northumberland
- Jessie Briggs of Nottingham
- Sgt. John McDonald Robertson of Hamilton, Lanarkshire and Netley, Hampshire
- Ivy Winifred M. Robertson aged 8 years, daughter of Sgt. Robertson
- Edward (Teddy) Edwin Robertson aged 15 months, son of Sgt. Robertson
- Albert Henry Kimpton of Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire
- Georgina Florence Baguley of Doncaster
- Rachel MacDonald of Aberdeen
Two passengers who succumbed to the effects of their injuries four weeks later:
- James William McGregor of Glasgow died on 18th October 1906
- Alfred Ernest Bagnall of Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex died on 19th October 1906
A further passenger who died from diphtheria seven weeks after the accident:
- Peggy Robertson aged 3 years, daughter of Sgt. Robertson; Peggy died on 10th November 1906, soon after she and her mother were discharged from Grantham Hospital
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