Britain’s Railway Disasters

Fatal Accidents From the 1830s to the Present Day

Michael Foley

Date Published :
April 2014
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
100 integrated images
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Hardback
ISBN : 9781781593790
Pages : 224
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
Binding : Paperback
ISBN : 9781526766564
Pages : 224
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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Passengers on the early railways took their lives in their hands every time they got on board a train. It was so dangerous that they could buy an insurance policy with their ticket. There seemed to be an acceptance that the level danger was tolerable in return for the speed of travel that was now available to them.

British Railway Disasters looks at the most serious railway accidents from the origins of the development of the train up to the present day. Seriousness is judged on the number of those who died. Information gleaned from various newspaper reports is compared with official reports on the accidents.

The book will appeal to all those with a fascination for rail transport as well as those with a love of history.

Michael Foley examines the social context of how injuries and deaths on the railways were seen in the early days, as well as how claims in the courts became more common, leading to a series of medical investigations as to how traveling and crashing at high speed affected the human body.

Interesting facts:

* Passengers were locked into carriages and often tried to acquire keys to the doors.

* Traveling in second and third class was much more dangerous than first class.

* Punishments inflicted on early railway companies for causing death were often based on a law dating back the middle ages.

* Not only was there often more than one fatal crash in the same week, there were some multiple fatal accidents on the same day.

* There was an ailment known as railway spine. It was similar to whiplash injuries seen in modern car accidents.

About The Author

Michael Foley was born in Derry in 1947.He was joint editor of The Honest Ulsterman from 1970 to 1971 and contributed a regular satirical column, ‘The Wrassler’, to Fortnight magazine throughout the early 1970s.His first collection of poetry, True Life Love Stories, was published by Blackstaff Press in 1976, followed by The Go Situation in 1982 and Insomnia in the Afternoon in 1994. He has also published a collection of translations of French poetry and four novels. The Guardian described his book The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes it Hard to be Happy as 'a work of admirable scope ... energetic, witty and erudite' Formerly a lecturer in Information Technology at the University of Westminster, Michael is now retired and lives in London. Follow Michael on Facebook (

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