INCIDENT IN AUGUST 1852
[Source: Alan Young]
Extract from Thomas Normington The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (1898) pp 49-50
I remember being the guard in charge of an excursion train from Holmfirth to Hull in August 1852. The train consisted of twenty-five carriages, full of passengers. On the return journey, the engine and train came to a stand on the short curve of a rising gradient between Thongs Bridge and Holmfirth Stations. It was midnight, and very dark, and in those days carriages were not lighted. I left my van, walked up to the engine, and asked the driver what was wrong. He replied that the train was too heavy, and the engine could not possibly take it further. I asked him if he could take half the train, and he said he would try. I then gave the assistant guard a hand lamp, told him to go back towards Thongs Bridge station, show his red light, and stop any engine or train which might be coming to Holmfirth. I then divided the train into two portions, and sent the driver on to Holmfirth with the first. We had proceeded towards the station some two hundred yards, when I heard the echo of an engine running at great speed up the valley. I felt sure it was coming towards Holmfirth. I immediately jumped off the first portion of the train and ran back to the rear part, which I had left standing on the line. To my amazement I found the assistant guard standing by the brake van; he had not gone back as I had previously instructed him to do. I still heard the echo of the engine coming at great speed. I continued running back in great fear, and almost breathless with the thought of what I feared would happen. It turned out to be an empty engine coming to Holmfirth, and, fortunately, the engine driver was well on the look out. He caught sight of my red light just as he entered the sharp curve, and brought his engine to a stand within twelve inches of the train which was standing on the main line full of passengers. After the engine had passed me I turned back to the train, and on finding that the engine had just stopped clear of smashing into it, I said to the driver, ‘Ah, Jim, thou’rt worth thy weight in gold for being on the look out’, and, pointing to the assistant guard said, ‘As for thee I could hang thee on that tree, and never think I had done wrong’. His neglect and carelessness might have led to death and injury to a large number of passengers.