Day Log/1883-02-24

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On this day, an incident was recorded near Snowdon Ranger Station on the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways

The 20:25 train left Rhyd Ddu bound for Dinas, in darkness and apparent good order. The (unidentified) Single Fairlie ran, bunker first, pulling a Gloucester brake composite six wheel carriage, and 2 small third class four-wheelers. They duly stopped at Snowdon Ranger and shortly after departure from there, the incident happened.

The train split at some point, and the rear portion came to a stop, some 960 yards west of the station. The forward part continued for another 580 yards, to near Quellyn Bridge, before the Guard, (who must have been in the composite carriage), realised. He managed to signal the driver to stop, and ordered him to set back the train, in order to try and find the wagons.

The engine set back, and unfortunately collided with the trucks with some force, that they were thrown off the track and down on to the lindeside, on their sides. The Gloucester carriage was "considerably" damaged by this part of the incident.

At 23:30, the guard, Thomas Morris (I), knocked up R H Livesey at his Caernarvon home, and informed him of the situation as he understood it to be. Livsey imediately went to Dinas, where he found the driver asleep in the cab, but the fireman was sober. The Guard had also been drinking, but was not in the same state of inebriation.

The engine, still being in steam, was used by Livesey to run back to Snowdon Ranger. He found the third class carriages lying on one side of the line.

On questioning, the guard admitted that all three of them, the train crew, had been drinking in the Snowdon Ranger Hotel before they set off, and that they were running fast in order to make up time, when the incident happened. The Guard had not made up the train correctly, with the brake vehicle being at the rear of the line. The derailed vehicles had run for around a quater of a mile along the ballast.

William Roberts, the ganger, had arrived at the scene around 14:00, Sunday, and found the track to be "true to gauge" (there is no indication when in relation to incident)

According to testimony from the Guard, Morris the crew had arrived at Snowdon Ranger a minute early at 20:37, and left, on time at 20:50 he thought. He maintained that he had been with the Rhyd Ddu Stationmaster all the time, who had come down on the train, doing his accounts andresetting thepress dates for the following Monday "I did not go into the hotel, I did not have anything to drink. I noticed the carriages were missing at Quellyn Bridge, and we set back at no more than four m.p.h. I went into Caernarvon (sic) for Mr Livesey, and had two glasses of beer before going to see him. I did not know the Driver and Firemen had been at the hotel at Snowdon Ranger.

I had spoken to the Driver at Quellyn Bridge and I was too frightend to notice what state he was in. I know I should have gone back with my headlamp to look for the coaches instead of setting back....

John Williams, the fireman, had been a cleaner and fireman almost since the line first opened. He said they all went into the hotel for a glass of beer and were there about five minutes. 'I don't think any of us had more than two glasses ..... the stationmaster from Rhyd Ddu never comes on that Saturday night train ..... (I might have) put my brake on a little harder than usual, as I admit, we were running a little faster than usual'.

Major Marindin the BoT inspector, concluded that the two light carriages must have been jerked off the track by a sudden application of the break (sic) when the train was running at high speed to make up the lost time at Snowdon Ranger, the guard having disobeyed the standing rule about having the heavy carriage at the end of the train. The second collision was caused by the carelessness of the driver and the disregard of the rules as show by the Guard. Had the coupling merely broke and the coaches following the train downhill at a high rate of speed, the collision would have been worse. The disregard for the truth by the Guard, and mismanagement of the train by all 3 crew was incredible.

Marindin further recommended that a better class of employee be engaged and though the workload did not warrant it, a stationmaster at Snowdon Ranger would proabably stopped the situation occurring.

He also commented on the actions of the licensee of the Snowdon Ranger Hotel, and that they deserved the attention of the county licensing authorities, in allowing the driver to get so drunk that he was a serious risk to the public.

The driver was dismissed from company employment.[1]

  1. ^ Boyd, James I.C. (1972). Narrow Gauge Railways in South Caernarvonshire. Lingfield, Surrey, England: The Oakwood Press. pp. 239–241. ISBN 9780853611158. OCLC 707587.

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