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A MYSTERY SOLVED
By Ken Millward
Recently, a fascinating collection of photographs from the MLS archives was presented by Paul Shackcloth. The show was called 'People and Places' and as the title implied each image included a human element - be it passengers, employees, passers by etc.
The mystery started when the above image appeared. No-one present could say where or when the photo was taken, or knew any details of the incident it depicted. We all agreed that it was almost certainly on the Southern Region and had the feel of a coastal holiday resort about it.
Close examination of the photo revealed two significant clues. One was the sign giving directions to the coach station and the other was the name of the road running parallel with the railway - Junction Road - depicted on the sign on the brick retaining wall. All that was necessary was to find Junction Road somewhere in a south coast town!
Where would we be without online maps!
The search ranged from Brighton to Bournemouth via Bognor Regis without success until suddenly there it was - Junction Road, Eastbourne. Everything was in the right place including the coach station.
After typing 'Railway accident at Eastbourne' into the search engine all was revealed.
The date was August 25th 1958 and the locomotive involved, No. 73042 from Stewart's Lane, was in charge of the previous evening's 7.47pm Glasgow to Eastbourne sleeping car express when it collided head on at 7.29am with an EMU for London Bridge.
Unfortunately five people were killed including the motorman of the EMU and twenty two people were treated in hospital. A further eighteen were slightly hurt and treated at the scene. Pathé News made a film about the accident.
Driver Wembridge in charge of the sleeper train was subsequently found to be responsible for the catastrophe and he appeared at Sussex Assizes in Lewes on 11th December charged with manslaughter and later acquitted.
How pleasurable and fulfilling I found researching to be - especially when a positive result is achieved.
Last update April 2014. Comments welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org