Vale of Neath carriages on the North Eastern Railway

Timetables, traffic, industries served, operational issues

Vale of Neath carriages on the North Eastern Railway

Postby Tim Birch » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:29 pm

On Saturday 28 August 1880, William Hawley, a shoemaker and a Corporal in the 2nd West York Engineer Volunteers fell to his death over the parapet of a bridge on the NER near Barkston Ash when the door of a carriage he was in opened unexpectedly. His regiment was travelling to a parade in York and the special train had been made available from Leeds (NER). The inquiry into the accident states ' The carriage ...is the property of the Great Western Railway, and contains two 2nd class and two 3rd class compartments and a centre compartment labelled "luggage" which is fitted with plain wooden seats on hinges.' This accommodation was below the standard of 3rd class accommodation in general. It was converted in 1878 from a Vale of Neath 6-wheel carriage 27'4" long. The central luggage compartment had a door 2'11" wide although the compartment was only 4'4" wide. It was felt that these dimensions meant that Cpl Hawley was unable to hold on to anything as the door swung open. Apparently the GWR had converted 11 similar carriages and intended to convert some more.


This raises some questions-
Was the stock converted to provide extra capacity for holiday traffic?
If so, why was the GWR not using it on the August Bank Holiday?
Having converted the stock only two years previously was it loaned for use by the NER - not a neighbour of the GWR?


The source of the information is the BoT accident report prepared by Maj Marindin RE.
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Re: Vale of Neath carriages on the North Eastern Railway

Postby Noel » Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:54 pm

The VoN was a broad gauge railway, which only converted to mixed gauge in 1863, and was effectively taken over by the GWR in 1865. This doesn't give them a lot of time to build standard gauge stock, and, assuming they had enough broad gauge stock, no particular reason to do so. Was the conversion from broad gauge to standard?

It would be very interesting to know what company or companies owned the rest of the stock in the special train; the GW one may just have been a random stray, possibly a through coach [or one of several through coaches] for a NE-south Wales service which was "borrowed", either officially or unofficially, by the NER as it was already in the North East, or something similar. There seems no particular reason for the NER to have gone so far afield to hire stock, quite apart from the cost of getting it to Leeds, which would have involved at least one other railway, and, as you suggest, the GWR would probably have needed it themselves if it was on their system at the time.

incidentally, 28/8/1880 being a Saturday, I would have thought it was an unusual day for a parade to involve a volunteer unit, most of whose personnel would normally be working. It wasn't a Bank Holiday weekend, as it was the first Monday in August at that time, not changing until 1965, experimentally, confirmed by legislation in 1971.

Have you considered asking the NER Association if they know anything about it?
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Re: Vale of Neath carriages on the North Eastern Railway

Postby Tim Birch » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:54 pm

Noel, thank you. I had forgotten about the Bank Holiday change. One of the other corporals states that the battalion was paraded to go to York for a review. There is no mention of the origin or nature of the other carriages in the train, other than to state that the train comprised front and rear break vans and 23 carriages. It was waiting for the battalion when it was marched on to the platform at Leeds and the implication is that it started from Leeds. I will take up your suggestion of an enquiry to the NER Association.
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Re: Vale of Neath carriages on the North Eastern Railway

Postby Noel » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:12 am

Looking at the length of the train, and assuming 8 persons per compartment, and 5 compartments per coach, the total is over 1000 people. Officers will of course be no more than 6 per compartment, and coach sizes will have varied, but it suggests to me that possibly the First West York Engineer Volunteers was also on the train. In any event, the parade being at York suggests that more was involved than just the one unit. It may, therefore, be worth checking the local newspapers at the Newspaper Library https://www.bl.uk/collection-guides/newspapers# and https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/; in that era such parades would normally get a lot of attention in the local papers, and they would probably have covered the death, and quite possibly the inquest and the BoT enquiry, as well.

I also found this via Google https://www.britishbadgeforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15689; post 5 refers to a book which your local library may be able to obtain for you, probably from the British Library if they have it, but whether it will help at all to answer your questions is another matter!
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