'Secret' 1976 Winchcombe Derailment

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Fradgie

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On 25th August 1976 a Toton to Severn Tunnel Junction coal train derailed at Winchcombe, Gloucestershire on what was then the Stratford upon Avon - Cheltenham line via Honeybourne. Enquiries and searches both online and to various local and national archives have failed to locate any photographs of the Class 45 or 46 (it was certainly a Peak) that was at the head of the train. Nor does there appear to be any 'official' BR report into the derailment. While I believe the locomotive was not derailed quite a few coal wagons were derailed and caused serious damage to the track. There seems to be so little 'out there' it's almost as if the derailment is a secret!

The derailment led to BR closing the line in November 1976. Can anyone shed any light on which Peak loco it was, does anyone have any pictures of the derailed train, especially the Peak and does anyone know of or recall any official reports into the event?

Many thanks
 
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John Webb

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I believe this accident was caused by the same sort of embankment slippage (and at a nearby point) that caused problems for the GWR preserved railway a couple of years ago. A look at their website http://www.gwsr.com may produce the information you seek.
There was almost certainly an internal BR report on the accident, if only to push the case to close the line. The Railway Inspectorate may have been informed, but not much point in them doing anything if BR had already said they intended to close the line! The BR report may be lurking in the National Archives at Kew.
 

30907

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IIRC the RI didn't routinely investigate incidents where passenger trains were not involved.
 

Fradgie

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Thanks John. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in the post all the archives checked so far (GWRS, NRM, Railway Archive online and National Archives at Kew) hold nothing in reference to the accident. The point raised 30907 is also pertinent to this, as it wasn't a passenger train it would not necessarily attract a full investigation and report. It is so strange though that there appears to be no pictures of the derailment or knowledge of what Peak loco was hauling the train. Still someone reading this might still come up with the goods.
 

steamybrian

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IIRC the RI didn't routinely investigate incidents where passenger trains were not involved.

I agree that incidents where no one was killed or injured and no major damage was done to the infrastructure then there is no requirement to undertake an enquiry of publish a public report.
A number of freight train derailments occur without public reports.
 

John Webb

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Looking at the History Lesson pages of the GWSR, there is mention of a book by Audie Baker, described as "... excellent but unfortunately out of print book 'An illustrated history of the Stratford on Avon to Cheltenham Railway' (Irewell Press, ISBN 1-871608-62-7)"; the item goes on to suggest that second hand copies can be found or it might be borrowed from a library. It's possible this book may well have the information you are seeking.
 

Fradgie

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John, I am afraid not, I have the book and it is an excellent compendium of facts and the history of the line but unfotunately it does not mention in any great detail the elements related to the derailment.
 

John Webb

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John, I am afraid not, I have the book and it is an excellent compendium of facts and the history of the line but unfotunately it does not mention in any great detail the elements related to the derailment.
Ah well! It was a thought. There must have been something internal to BR at the time. But whether it survived privatisation is another matter, of course!
Another "clutching at straws" perhaps, but local newspaper records, if you haven't already tried?

By the way, in this case wasn't it the track causing damage to the train rather than the other way round :)?
 
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ChiefPlanner

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Might be worth having a trawl through local newspapers of the day - there may be some in nearby libraries - and certainly in the British Library at St Pancras. You need a readers card and about 24 hours notice to order the volumes down from Boston Spa. No charge.

Local papers often cover(ed) such incidents in some detail.
 

1966mcta

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Might be worth having a trawl through local newspapers of the day - there may be some in nearby libraries - and certainly in the British Library at St Pancras. You need a readers card and about 24 hours notice to order the volumes down from Boston Spa. No charge.

Local papers often cover(ed) such incidents in some detail.

As the 40th Anniversary of this incident is in a few days time, I raised this subject on another forum, asking if anyone knew which loco was involved. I was informed that it was a Peak - 45076.

It also appears that one of the tracks was reinstated and ok to use, but by that time the decision had been made to close the line so no further use was made of it and the track was removed around 1979.
 

Harbornite

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This was one of the more foolish closures carried out by BR. I can sort of see why they didn't want to spend money repairing a diversionary route at a time of lower traffic levels and economic problems, but I don't see the loci in closing the section between Stratford and Honeybourne that hadn't even been severed.
 

Zerachiel76

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Am I missing something but when I look at google maps the line through Winchcombe is still there? Was it removed and then reinstated?
 

yorksrob

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Am I missing something but when I look at google maps the line through Winchcombe is still there? Was it removed and then reinstated?

The section North to Long Marston is still there. The bit to Stratford's definitely missing though (or it was when I walked along it a couple of years ago).
 

Polarbear

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As I recall, there was some discussion at the time regarding the closure of this line. Notwithstanding the derailment, parts of the line had certainly been relaid with CWR (albeit second hand). Also, concrete troughs were laid along the line in 1976, suggesting a possible signal upgrade. All came to nothing as BR seemed to use the derailment as an excuse to close the line.

I will see if I can dig out the Modern Railways for around this time if I get chance.

The line south of Honeybourne was completely ripped up soon after closure was announced & the present GWR operation had to pretty much start from scratch.
 

IanXC

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Am I missing something but when I look at google maps the line through Winchcombe is still there? Was it removed and then reinstated?

Indeed. It is now the home of the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway.
 

yorksrob

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It's strange that the GW/WR never thought to build interchange platforms at Cheltenham Lansdowne Road.
 

Harbornite

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Am I missing something but when I look at google maps the line through Winchcombe is still there? Was it removed and then reinstated?


Between Tyseley and Stratford, the route is double track and used by London Midland local services. The track between stratford and Long Marston is gone, it is now a walkway called the greenway. The line betweeen LM and Hineybourne JN is single track and survives for ad hoc freight movements. South of Honeybourne, the inly surviving stretch is the gloucs warks railway whih stretches from Winchcombe to Cheltenham racecourse. The line is currently being extended north to Broadway.


As I recall, there was some discussion at the time regarding the closure of this line. Notwithstanding the derailment, parts of the line had certainly been relaid with CWR (albeit second hand). Also, concrete troughs were laid along the line in 1976, suggesting a possible signal upgrade. All came to nothing as BR seemed to use the derailment as an excuse to close the line.

I will see if I can dig out the Modern Railways for around this time if I get chance.

The line south of Honeybourne was completely ripped up soon after closure was announced & the present GWR operation had to pretty much start from scratch.


The railway mag did an article on it, the line was listed for closure in 1972 but by 1975, BR had changed their minds due to to the cross city line proposals and faster trains on the other route. Therefore, they chose to retain and upgrade the line wih new evel crossing barriers etc. Then came the derailment...
 
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