Lytham St.Annes Coat of Arms
Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England


Railway Accident, Moss Side, Lytham 1849

Newspaper report about a serious collision on the Preston & Wyre Railway at Moss Side near Lytham. Many passengers were returning from the Lytham Agricultural Show. 

The Preston Guardian, Saturday, September 22, 1849




We have noticed in another part of to-day's paper, the serious mismanagement of the trains on the Preston and Wyre Railway on Thursday last. On such an occasion as the Agricultural meeting, when the stress of passengers is great, we may expect some little longer time to be occupied in the transit; but on Thursday the length of time taken in travelling between Preston and Lytham was out of all character. There appeared the whole day, (indeed, I we hear that to some extent this is observable on other occasions,) an entire absence of management or system, as if the persons in connexion with the line acted independent of one another, and of any plan of subordination or authority.

This irregularity had on Thursday evening well nigh been attended with most disastrous results. As the special train from Lytham, which left there about twenty minutes past nine, neared the Moss Side Station, about two miles from Lytham, it came in contact with an engine and a train of six empty carriages which were coming from Fleetwood, some one or other there having fancied they might possibly be wanted at Lytham. We may remark that this train entered the Lytham branch line after the time commenced for the dispatch of the special train to Preston, and that from the main line to Lytham there is only a single line of rails. As they came within sight of the Moss Side station, the station master had held out two white lights the signal for "all right," so the train proceeded, fortunately at a slow rate.

As the train from Lytham approached, the same signal was held out to it. The train had travelled the whole way, at an exceedingly slow rate, and this was being slackened for stopping at the station. The engine men and stokers on each train saw the other advancing, and immediately reversed their engines, and as they were not going fast, the speed was soon greatly reduced, but not so as to avoid their coming in contact, with considerable force.

Before this took place, the men in charge of the respective engines jumped off." The concussion took place about thirty or forty yards on the Lytham side of the station. It shook the passengers from their seats,— throwing some of them with such force that their heads staved in panels of the partitions between the compartments, and smashed thick plate glass panes in the coupés. Both engines were disabled from proceeding any farther, and one of them was thrown off the line; the body was injured, the wheels damaged, buffers broken and otherwise seriously "wounded." Some of the carriages were very much smashed, and in this respect the company will suffer a very heavy loss. A considerable number of the passengers were severely cut and bruised, and many ill shaken, but no lives were lost, nor did any one receive any serious injury likely to be permanent. Blackened arms and legs, a few cat lips, scratched faces, and a few bloody noses, were the principal injuries sustained, beyond a multitude of hats staved in, and a few coats torn. The escape from serious loss of life was almost Miraculous.

On the accident occurring, the two engines appeared immovable, one being off the line, and the other, though on the line, was so injured that the water came from the boiler; so the fire was at once raked out. It was the opinion of the railway employees that no movement of the engines could be made for some hours either one way or the other, and nearly an hour elapsed before any effort was made to remedy the evil. Some of the passengers returned to Lytham, others sought the hospitality of the, farmers of the neighbourhood, many walked to Kirkham, some few, we believe, to Preston, while a considerable number "stood by the ship," determined to see the end of the catastrophe. The night was cold, but fair, and the unfortunate travellers whiled away their time as best they could, in congratulating themselves on their hair-breadth escape, in jokes on their scratched and "bonnetted" companions, and in denunciations of the mismanagement that had caused the delay. After some time an attempt was made to get—by the aid of an engine which arrived from Lytham—the battered engines to the siding, about half a mile nearer Lytham, and this was with some difficulty at length accomplished.

Punch says the best way to prevent railway accidents is to have a director in the train; but this, it appears, is not always effective, for Mr. Marshall, one of the directors of the company, was a passenger. It was well it was so; for we believe it was only his authority, and that rather tardily exercised, that got the passengers off at all. The disabled engines being got on the sidings the train proceeded, though at a very slow rate. It got off by the help of an engine sent from Kirkham, about half-past eleven, and arrived at Preston three or four minutes before one o'clock—the whole of the party thankful for their safe arrival.

When the train reached the Maudland station, another strange proceeding took place. The Preston passengers were all ordered by the porters to alight at this unusual spot, although the train had to proceed under the tunnel, on account of the Blackburn and Lancaster trains being there waiting for passengers for those places. Remonstrance was made, so the train was allowed to proceed to its proper destination. We understand that a searching investigation will be made into the cause of the accident; and it would not be amiss, at the same time, to extend the inquiry into the general management of the line.

We learn that there was a narrow escape from an accident at the Moss Side station, a short time ago, from the neglect of a signal or a shunt.

In the morning of Thursday a serious if not fatal accident occurred on the line. A servant-man, taking to the show some cattle belonging to W. Turner, Esq., of Flax- moss House was riding on one of the boxes containing the cattle, when his head came in contact with one of the bridges, and he was thrown down and seriously hurt. He was alive yesterday morning, though in a very precarious state.