Railways, Trams, Steam, Traction
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Post by Deepol » Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:52 pm

Cutting of a forlorn Polar Star after the accident near Didcot in November 1956 which I was instrumental in the removal of smoke defector handrails from initially the Western Region Brits.
The 10 coach excursion train from Treherbert to Paddington which 70026 was heading was derailed at Milton, between Steventon and Didcot, after it had been diverted to the Up Goods Loop from the Up Main Line on which engineering works were in progress. Polar Star went down a 20ft. embankment with the first four coaches which were wrecked. Three more coaches were derailed. 10 people were killed, and 96 were taken to hospital. The driver and fireman were not very seriously injured.
All lines were clear by 8 next morning, which would never happen on today's railway with a speed restriction enforced. 70026 was not rerailed until Sunday, December 4.
At the opening of the official enquiry into the accident, the driver admitted that he had overlooked notice of the diversion, and was travelling at about 35 m.p.h: He was on a strange engine, with a left-hand drive, and failed to observe two signals at the approach to the loop. Handrails on the smoke deflectors also obscured the drivers' view, and these were later removed and replaced with hand holds on all the "Britannia" class locomotives which ran on the Western Region.
At the foot of the embankment.
A later cutting taken of her at Paddington showing the hand holds on the deflectors replacing the rails. i'm sure all the Britannias were subsequently modified.
Paul Strathdee

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