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The Grantham High Speed Accident of September 1906: the emergency response

Late on a midweek night in September 1906 an express passenger and mail train descended upon Grantham station at high speed out of the darkness.  It was due to stop, but instead it disastrously derailed at a low-speed junction.  Many of the wooden carriages fell down an embankment, broke apart and caught fire. 

How did the emergency services of the town cope with such a sudden and unheralded catastrophe? 

Several people were killed outright by the impact and were beyond help, but there were many injured casualties.  Some were able to free themselves, but others were unconscious, badly injured, or trapped by the heavy steel carriage bogies and underframes, and they were unable to move as the flames began to take hold.  Their survival would depend upon:

  • a first response from those who happened to be at or near the scene;
  • the speedy arrival of the local fire brigade, and the effectiveness of its training and equipment;
  • people with medical skills arriving to provide immediate first aid as casualties were rescued;
  • the care of the injured after arrival at hospital, in some cases over a period of several weeks.

By researching the story of the accident in new directions we've uncovered some insights into the effectiveness of the emergency response, including how the accident shaped the future of both Grantham's medical provision and its fire and rescue service.

Read more on the following pages:

  • The Grantham Fire Brigades (in preparation)

Back to Incidents on the Railway at Grantham