At Norwich Thorpe Station on 10 September 1874, at Norwich station a momentary misunderstanding between the Stationmaster, Night Inspector and young Telegraph Clerk, resulted in an inevitable head-on collision. The residents of the picturesque riverside village of Thorpe-Next-Norwich were shocked by a ‘deafening peal of thunder’, sending them running through the driving rain towards a scene of destruction. Surgeons were summoned from the city, as the dead, dying and injured were taken to a nearby inn and boatyard. Every class of Victorian society was traveling that night, including ex-soldiers, landowners, clergymen, doctors, seamstresses, saddlers, domestic servants and a beautiful heiress.
For many months local and national newspapers followed the story, publishing details of subsequent deaths, manslaughter trial and outcomes of unprecedented compensation claims. The Board of Trade Inquiry concluded that it was ‘the most serious collision between trains meeting one another on a single line of rails […] that has yet been experienced in this country.’
Using extensive research, non-fiction narrative, informed speculation and dramatized events, Phyllida Scrivens pays tribute to the 28 men, women and children who died that night, revealing the personal stories behind the names, hitherto only recorded as a list.