In 1964 a special train was put on to take 230 school children from Staffordshire to York. They were on their way to enjoy the sites of the city, a true adventure.
2 hours after it set off, it was derailed along the platforms at the suburban station of Cheadle Hulme.
3 lives lost and yet another disaster on the rails, join us this time to find out what happened.
Signals to Danger
Season One – Episode 22 – Cheadle Hulme 1964
Hello again, and welcome back once again to Episode 22 of Signals to Danger. Back on schedule, arriving on time, no delay repay claim necessary!
As I do every episode, I’ll open by thanking you for your downloads, shares and likes and your interaction on social media. And I’ll remind you that should you want to join those conversations you’ll find the podcast at @signalstodanger and me at @danielfoxrail on twitter, and the podcast is on Facebook and Instagram as well.
As ever, I’ll remind you about our website, signalstodanger.com. On there you can find show notes, transcripts, the shop and more.
While you’re on there there is also a page on how you can support the podcast if you wanted to. There’s a link there for the Patreon, and I would love to take the opportunity to thank Douglas, Jim, Zenfox and Martin for signing up. Speaking of friends of the podcast, this episode actually came about from a suggestion from a regular listener Julia, hopefully I do it justice for you!
As a sign of getting back on track, I decided it was time to revamp the opening credits, so it’s time now for our brand new version to play us into the episode!
The platforms above the leafy suburb had become a hive of activity. The shouts and cries of rescuers, railwaymen and children filled the air, as people desperately fought to free the trapped.
The year is 1964, and the place Cheadle hulme
This is Signals to Danger, A podcast where we look at major rail disasters which have occurred in the UK, explain what happened, how the investigation was carried out, and how each of these accidents shaped the industry going forwards.
I’m Dan, I work within the rail industry in my day to day life but today I’ll be the one taking you through this podcast.
We start every episode by briefly revisiting the events which were taking place at the time, and this episode is no different, so let’s have a look at 1964.
On the 1st January a staple of UK TV was born, and between then and 2006 it formed a fundamental part of our culture. The longest running weekly music show in the world. Of course, it’s Top of the Pops.
Later in the month, the trial of 11 of the great train robbers begins in Buckinghamshire. We spoke briefly about them in the last episode, but in 1963 a 16 strong gang of london gangsters held up a mail train, stealing 2.6 million pounds, around 55 million when adjusted for inflation today. Unsurprisingly, the resources of the police were poured in to catching them, and following the trial most were handed incredibly stringent sentences of between 20 and 30 years.
This wasn’t the only criminality under scrutiny in 1964, over the course of the year both Keith Bennett and Lesley Ann Downey went missing from the Manchester area. Unfortunately time would teach us that they had both become victims of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, although the moniker of the moors murderers would be how they would become better known.
In better news, March sees Pirate radio station radio caroline take to the airwaves, again this was technically a criminal act, although far far less harmful than what we’ve heard of so far. Over the next few weeks it was joined by several more.
September sees the release of the Sun newspaper, replacing the daily Herald, as well as the release of Bond movie, Goldfinger.
October sees Rhodesia become the independent republic of Zambia, seeing off 73 years of British Rule.
On the 23 December Richard Beeching announces his intention to resign as Chairman of the British Railways Board after three-and-a-half years. During his tenure he proposed the closure of many smaller and financially non-viable railway lines as well as many passenger services on surviving lines. This became known as the Beeching axe, and there is still ill feeling today from some parties as a result of the decisions made.
So that wraps up another eventful year, but as ever we need to focus down to one day. This time round it is the 28th of May.
An introduction to Cheadle Hulme
As far as the map of Britains railways looks, Manchester is fairly prominent. It’s no London in terms of stations but the city centre itself sees 4 central stations, Piccadilly, Victoria, Oxford road and Deansgate. From these stations lines span out across the North and up into Scotland and south to the capital. Edinburgh, Liverpool, Newcastle, Doncaster, Cardiff, London and many many more can be reached on direct services from Manchester city centres platforms.
This web of rails stretches out across the country, and every day people travel hundreds of miles.
But like many other urban areas, it’s not just long journeys made to and from these stations, Manchester had a thriving pre-covid commuter crowd. The metropolitan county of Greater Manchester, which incorporates some adjacent towns and the city of Salford, has a rail network of 130 miles of track, and 92 stations.
The lines into the city centre are predominantly split into North and South, with many of the routes terminating in Manchester Victoria from the North, and Manchester Piccadilly to the south. Over the years some connecting lines have been introduced to allow traffic from each side of the network to cross over, firstly in 1988 to allow traffic from Salford to get south toward Oxford Road and Piccadilly, and more recently in 2017 the Ordsall chord was introduced to allow traffic from Victoria to travel directly through to Piccadilly.
Commutors into the city arrive at Manchester Victoria from the towns of Ashton-under-Lyne, Rochdale, Salford, Eccles, Bolton and further afield. It was an old commuter line into Victoria, now converted to a tram line, which featured in our fourth ever episode, Irk Valley Junction.
But, that is enough about the North of the city. Todays episode focuses on the other half of Manchesters commuter spread, the lines from Manchester Piccadilly. Here trains arrive from Sheffield via the Hope Valley, The peak district towns of Glossop and Hadfield, the southern suburbs of the city towards Sale and Didsbury. One of the strongest links into Piccadilly actually comes from the Town of Stockport and its suburbs, around 6 miles to the south of Manchester city centre.
And this is where we start to focus in on the subject of todays story.
ONe of the many lines leaving manchester was the crewe line. This line, originally a venture of the Manchester and Birmingham railway company was built between 1840 and 1843, including an imposing viaduct over the river mersey, shadowing the town of stockport in the valley below. In 1942 a station was built in the suburb of Cheadle Hulme.
Originally a normal, 2 platform station on the line through the area, in 1945 however, a change was made. A new Branch of the railway was built between stafford and Manchester, and the junction where this line joined the crewe line was just south of the station at Cheadle. The station was rebuilt over the junction, meaning it ended up with four platforms, two of them along the line of the crewe lines, and another two curving off in the direction of stafford. The station remained like this for the next century, bringing us up to 1964, and the story of the lollipop express.
The Train and it’s journey
As the railway expanded in the 19th and early 20th centuries it brought about a revolution almost as important as the industrial one which birthed it, a social revolution. Almost overnight a population previously tied to their own towns and villages were handed affordable access to other towns, cities and resorts. Those who lived in the mill towns of west Yorkshire could afford to get to the yorkshire coast for a holiday, and families separated by swathes of the country were able to visit each other more frequently.
Alongside this the railway birthed the commuter we know and love today. As the network grew and created these spiders webs around our cities it became increasingly feasible for people to live where they didn’t work. But we know that and we know that’s why stations like Cheadle existed.
The affordability of rail travel actually gave rise to a whole other type of train, the special.
Specials were, and indeed still are, trains which sit outside of the normal timetable. When we spoke about railtours in the episode on Wooton Bassett, those are classed as special trains. Outside of the heritage scene however you can also see specials for such reasons as football matches, trains put on specially to get fans from one place to another for matches, although I often wonder if that’s far more for the benefit of normal travellers!
If we rewind the clock to the middle of the last century, special trains were a lot more frequent. With the comfort and availability of coaches, and a motorway network not yet anything like it is today, rail was by far the best option for day trips, school trips and what we would call excursions.
Churches and schools, local authorities and employers would all work with the railway, be it British Railways or the Big Four that came before, to arrange the provision of special trains to take day trippers and holiday makers across the country.
It’s one of these trains which we need to focus on today. The lollipop express. Which isn’t something I’ve made up, although in a remarkable coincidence as I write this sentence I’m sat on a train next to my 2 year old daughter as she eats a lollipop. No, this is a nickname that had been given to one specific special train in the spring of 1964.
The service started in the village of gnosall (knowsall) in the county of Stafford and would call at Stoke and Maccelsfield as it headed North, before travelling across the country, over the pennines and to the historic city of York.
As much as I’m always waxing lyrical about its significance to the railways, I have heard a rumor that York has significance outside of that. And I suppose its true. An historic city with walls, roman heritage and beautiful buildings, York has always drawn the attention of tourists, for as long as tourists have existed.
The lollipop Express consisted of 9 carriages, predominantly full of parties of schoolchildren, over 230 of them in fact. They were headed to the city for a day trip to visit the castle, the minster and the railway museum.
I’m sure the mood was high, and the excitement of the children on board must have been obvious to everyone on board and accompanying them.
At 7 55 in the morning the special had left Knowsall, and with a passed out fireman and the controls, Mr Smith, the class 5 steam locomotive at the head of the train made its two calls at stoke and macclesfield, before continuing on towards greater manchester, and the journey east that would follow, over 200 children laughing and singing in the carriages behind.
The Accident & Aftermath
As the Lollipop express approached the southern side of Manchester it was nearly brought to a stand by signals at the village of Adlington. When they cleared Smith opened the regulator on the locomotive, increasing the speed of the train up to around 60-65 miles an hour. A few minutes later as the train passed Bramhall signal box he made a light brake application bringing the speed back down to 40 miles an hour.
The train was now on the approach to Cheadle Hulme station. All that remained was the right hand bend into the junction. Half way along the curved platforms of the station was an under bridge, this means a point where the railway is carried over the road by, well, a bridge. The A5149, imaginatively named station road here, runs underneath the station. The reason that this is important however is that in May of 1964 some substantial works were taking place here. The road beneath was being widened, and this meant that the bridge needed the same treatment. In order for the works to be carried out there was a temporary bridge and speed restriction in place through the Macclesfield platforms at Cheadle Hulme station. 10 miles an hour.
Smith later told investigators that he had used the brakes to make further applications as he approached Chcadle Hulme, and he estimated that he had reduced speed to 10-15 m.p.h. Before reaching the platforms of the station.
As the train travelled through the platforms it became clear to the footplate crew that something had gone awry. Fireman Gillyett, in the loco with Smith, looked back along the train and saw that the third and fourth carriages of the train were jumping about. He shouted a warning to Smith, told him to stop the train. Smith in turn made a full brake application and brought the train to a halt, the locomotive coming to a stand around 700 feet beyond the platforms, on the main line towards Stockport.
Smith and Gillyett were fine, as was their locomotive, and the two carriages immediately behind it seemed unscathed as well, but moving backwards along the train things changed. The rear bogie of the third carriage, still coupled and upright, was derailed, never a good start. Just behind it however was the fourth coach, this one laid on it’s side across the tracks of the junction. Aside from the fact it was overturned, it was only lightly damaged considering it had been dragged along the rails on its side, but damaged it was.
Behind this carriage there was a 400 foot gap, which didnt bode well for the 5 carriages behind.
The 5th and 6th coaches had turned over against the platform edge, and been dragged along it; the left hand sides of these coaches were simply wrecked. The bogies of the 5th coach had been wrenched away and were in a tangled heap under the 6th coach with those of that coach.
The rails under these coaches had also broken Loose and were bent and twisted.
Examination of the draw-bar hook at the leading end of the 5th coach showed that it had broken to cause the separation of the train, most likely due to the forces of the carriages , platform and track all becoming entangled.
The 7th coach, and the 8th which was partly on the bridge, were also leaning to the left, but
damage to their bodies was more or less limited to a few displaced seats.
The 9th coach was more or less upright on the bridge with the rear bogie still on the rails.
When I describe the carriages here as being on the bridge, I’m using the phrase slightly loosely. The temporary bridge had consisted of three spans, each composed of tracks running over waybeams, an arrangement of “I” Beams crossbraced with each other to support the running rails. The track over the second and third spans, in the direction of travel, was destroyed, as it was over most of the platform.
The front bogie of the 9th coach and the rear one of the 8th had moved to the outer side of the curve when the track over the bridge was destroyed and were straddled across the outer waybeam, so they were were on the bridge, but the tracks had been taken out of the equation.
It was clear to look upon the scene that something disastrous had taken place, and those working on the train, station and in the signal box knew that the response needed to be immediate.
The guard on the Lollipop express was H. J Davis. He was travelling in the rear carriage of the train, and had escaped any major injury. Davies walked along the train warning rescuers against going on top of the coaches until power had been cut off. The line to crew was electrified, and the spur to Macclesfield was shortly to follow, but only the platform section had been completed so far.
He saw a railwayman speaking on the Electric Traction telephone on the platform and assumed that he was arranging for an isolation, but he said that nevertheless, he asked the signalman as soon as he reached the box to make sure that power was off.
Rescue work was undertaken as quickly as possible, although the damaged carriages made work difficult.
27 people were transported to local hospitals, most of them children. At least two of the children ended up having limbs amputated, and one of the female students remained in a coma for three months, her parents taking turns standing vigil by her bedside.
Tragically a British Rail representative travelling on the train who had helped organise the trip did not survive the accident. They were joined by two of the children Louis Stevens, and Christine Heffernan.
A dream day out had quickly turned into a disaster, and what should have been happy memories for the children were quickly replaced by physical, and psychological scars.
<Musical Interlude sad/dramatic – Reprise?>
Introduction to the Investigation
The disaster at Cheadle Hulme tugged on the heartstrings of the nation. The nature of the victims and the fact that this should have been such a positive experience meant that the story hit hard.
It was very clear that the incident needed to be explained fully, and so Colonel W Reed and his team from the railway inspectorate arrived with the intention of providing these answers. It wasn’t just the people of Cheadle, stafford and stoke who needed the answer. These types of carriages and infrastructure was used all over the country, everyone needed to know their journeys were safe.
As ever, a number of questions needed to be answered by investigators.
Firstly, the train had clearly derailed, but what mechanism had been responsible for that taking place, what is it that had caused the wheels of the train to leave the rails.
Secondly, once the mechanism was discovered, had it been caused by any external factors?
Finally, had any opportunities been missed to prevent the accident or limit it’s severity?
Once these questions were answered, Reed could report back to the Ministry of Transport, and hopefully the industry could be made safer for the future.
What derailed the train?
The fact that the Lollipop Express had derailed was clear, all but 3 carriages were laid in various states of distress along the platforms of Cheadle Hulme station.
It’s been a while since I’ve dragged you all through my chain of inquiries on how derailments take place so I think I’ll crack it out again.
Most derailments can be chalked up to one of a few reasons, inappropriately excessive curves in the tracks, issues with switches and crossings either failing or being used incorrectly, another component failing, or that old chestnut, human error.
So in the spirit of previous episodes, let’s unpick the derailment at Cheadle.
We know that the platforms at Cheadle leading from Maccleslfield were on a curve, we discussed it earlier in the episode. But, was the curve excessive? Not particularly. The speed through the station was routinely limited to 45 miles an hour, and the accounts of the driver, fireman and guard of the express all tallied with that speed not having been exceeded. The curve was certainly present but mitigated for.
In fact the 45 miles an hour speed restriction was a bit of a moot point at this point, as due to the bridge works on the station, a 10 miles an hour speed restriction had been placed on the lines through the branch platforms. The curve is certainly not too excessive for 10 miles an hour. Chalk that one off.
Second option then? Any switches or crossings to interfere with the safe running of trains?
Well Cheadle Hulme station is placed on a curve, so yes, there are switches at the location, how else would trains get from one line to another?
To understand whether or not the switches and crossings at this location caused the accident we need to look at their locations in relation to the resting places of the train and it’s wreckage.
THe first three carriages and locomotive had passed through the junction unscathed, and the fourth coach lay on its side more or less in the middle of the junction, but this was by far the least damaged portion of the train. The 5th carriage through to the 9th, the most heavily damaged, were still inthe platforms of the station. The severed draw hook on the 5th carriage would have been caused by the forces of the derailment, and it’s resting place meant that at the point it sheered it was nowhere near the pointwork.
When you add this into the fact that no real issues were found with the points it’s clear that failed points were not to blame for this accident. Cross in that box as well.
This leads us on to the third option, perhaps another component had failed to cause the accident.
As part of the investigation into Cheadle, the track and train were investigated for failures. Much of the train itself was heavily damaged, the latter half of the carriages had a lot of damage to the underframe, bogies and brakes were ripped from some and other fittings had come loose.
Driver Smith had not made any complaints about the brakes or running of the train, but as a matter of course they were examined. brake tests were made on the undamaged part of the train and the brake was found in good order on the engine and first three coaches. Tests on the remaining coaches were not possible but nothing amiss was found not attributable to derailment damage.
Train faults out of the picture, investigators turned to the track. Working back from the locomotive there was damaged caused by the derailed bogie and derailed forth carriage, but at the point where you reached that fifth carriage the track was pretty much destroyed underneath the derailed coaches.
When we get damage like this one of the best things we can do is trace it back along its length to reach the origin. Normally the first piece of damage is usually the start of the incident. So as investigators made their way back along the platform they finally reached the temporary bridge. This is where they found their answers. Two of the spans had fully destroyed track, but the first one, the one closest to macclesfield was not completely destroyed.
There was clear evidence that the track had been pushed outwards over the waybeams and
that the clamps had failed to hold it. Clamping bolts were bent where they had been forced against the edge of the beam flange and some had been pulled through the sleepers or the transoms. Many of the sleepers on the bridge had snapped close to the chair of the outer rail when the sleeper was no longer fully supported by the waybeam. The waybeams under the outside rail over the old abutment nearest to the station had moved outwards approximately 5 ins, the bolts of the plates having sheared.
This was pretty substantial damage to a critical component, and told investigators exactly where the derailment had started. Something had literally burst apart the tracks over this temporary bridge, and as each of the vehicles of the train passed over they derailed in sequence, bringing destruction to a sleepy Stockport suburb.
What Broke the Bridge?
As ever, the what is never enough, the why needs answering too. It’s great to know that the burst tracks of the line over the bridge caused the derailment at Cheadle Hulme, but it really isn’t enough to leave it there. The root cause needs to be found, and to that end the investigation continued.
One factor was clear though. The damaged tracks had happened as the Lollipop express traversed the bridge. It could not have happened before. The state of the tracks over that first span meant that the locomotive and first three carriages would never have made it over in the condition that they did if the damage was pre-exisiting. The damage had to have been cause as the train crossed it.
So the next step was understanding what had caused that to happen.
The bridge was temporary, but that didn’t equate to it being any less safe, or secure. It just meant that it wasn’t going to remain in that state forever, there were restrictions to how the bridge could be used, but that’s why speed over the restriction was limited. As with many other structures on the railway, the bridge was subject to stringent design standards and rigorous inspections.
The bridge fully met the standards required so that was written out quite quickly. Next they turned their eyes to the inspections. We’ve seen time and time again that if inspections are missed, crucial components can fail, and diaster can strike. Grayrigg, Doncaster, we’ve talked about it previously.
However the inspection regime seemed to have been carried out comprehensively. THere were inspections which were daily in respect of the track and three or four times a month for the bridge.
Mr. Kelly, one of those questioned, said that in addition to the weekly inspections, which were visual, he tested the bolts about once a month with a spanner, the last time being on 29th April, but he had never found bolts to be loose.
He had a gang of four men who worked systematically on a number of temporary bridges, and they had last worked on this one on the 3rd May.
Mr. Parry, the other man with responsibility for inspecting the bridge, said that he would test the tightness of the bolts by tapping them during his inspection or by watching their behaviour under traffic from underneath the bridge.
Which meant that there didn’t seem to have been any faults with the bridge which should have led to the accident. So does that mean that there was no obvious cause? Unfortunately, no. If we briefly go back to question one, there was one other reason for derailments which I slightly glossed over. Human Error.
There was a 10 mile an hour speed restriction over this bridge. This would not put excessive forces on the track or temporary structure. Smith, in control of the train, estimated that he had reduced speed to 10-15 m.p.h. before reaching the platform.
Unfortunately this was not reflected in the opinion of others who had seen the accident take place. WHen driver SMith went up to the signalbox at Cheadle after the accident, the first question he was asked was “why did you approach so fast?” Signalman Dillon was a regular at the box, and was familiar with what trains looked like at the right speed.
His thoughts were backed up by a supervisor working on the bridge, the roar of a train approaching at speed was so unusual that he walked from his cabin to watch it pass, and saw the derailment take place. As well as him, The accident was witnessed by several members of the Civil Engineering Staff, both those concerned with track maintenance and those with the bridge work. They were all of the opinion that the train had approached at a speed greatly in excess of the restriction at that point.
Eyewitness accounts were not quite enough to seal the deal though, but we know that we love a bit of maths on this show!
Investigators looked at the timings for the journey which the guard had provided. The journey between Macclesfield and Cheadle was recorded as having taken 14 and a half minutes. When you account for the adverse signal and nearly coming to a stand at Adlington, this time isn’t consistent with 10 miles an hour, not even close.
Another calculation was based on the final location of the locomotive and the first few carirages. Engineering knowledge showed where the train would have stopped had it been travelling at 10 miles an hour, and the space just did not line up. The actual speed that would have been needed to lead to where the engine came to rest, allowing for the severe slowing caused by the derailment itself, matched with the number reached from the timings.
The lollipop express had not hit the bridge at 10 miles an hour. It had done so at 45 miles an hour. The heavy engine had burst the tracks, pushing the temporary fixings to their limit and beyond. The first 3 carriage continued to spread the tracks further apart until the last bogie of the third started to derail, followed by the rest.
Smith didn’t change his story. When it was pointed out to him that the heavy damage to the coaches, and the distance which his engine and the first four coaches had travelled after
the train became divided and the brake was fully applied, was inconsistent with a derailment at 10 m.p.h.. he simply said that he could not account for it…
Despite the fact that he told inspectors he was fully aware of the speed restriction, Smith had failed comprehensively to abide by it, and as a result 2 children and a colleague were dead.
What could have prevented it all?
Even if Smith had forgotten the speed restriction, we know from previous episodes that there should have been a reminder of it.
Temporary speed restrictions are something very heavily regulated in the industry. Traincrews, even as early as the 60s, received weekly notices including any alterations to tracks, speeds, signals etc. Smith, alongside all other drivers who signed this route received these notices.
Despite the fact he hadn’t driven trains on the route for some time, he should still have been fully aware of it… but he didn’t abide by it.
There are additional protections in place, as well as the notes on the notices, speed restrictions were backed up by signage on the ground as well.
The beginning of such a temporary speed restriction is shown by a ‘C’ Indicator illuminated at night, for each track at the site, with warning boards at braking distance on the approaches.
These warning boards comprise a horizontal plank of wood painted yellow, with a ‘V’ shaped point at one end and a fish tail at the other. The board has two holes, about two ft. apart, for signal lamps with yellow lenses.
The board and lamps are fixed on a short post in the ground on the left hand side of the track which they refer to and above the board is an illuminated figure to show the speed at the ‘C’ Indicator. The dimensions of the board are not laid down in the Rule Book but the usual length is about 5 feet and the width 1 ft. For restricted places a much shorter board can be used with the lamps closer together.
The end of the restriction is indicated by a T’ Indicator.
C on these boards stands for Commencement, and T stands for Termination. Dead easy.
So were these signs in place at Cheadle?
The ‘C’ Indicator for the Down line was about 100 yards from the bridge and the warning board 3 miles away, close to the Home signal for Bramhall Loop signalbox, which has the distant signal for Cheadle Hulme below it. The board, however, consisted simply of a short unpainted plank with two holes close together for the hand signal lamps, and neither pointed nor notched.
The design was not standard, and may not have provided the same warning to a driver as a standard one would have. The investigators acknowledged that these boards are a warning
signal to the train driver and they should be of standard design and brightly painted so as to ensure as far as possible that they will not be overlooked.
This does not excuse Smith, he should have been looking for warnings at this point based on the notices, and even a non standard sign should have been spotted by a vigilant driver.
The commencement board was only 100 yards from the point the tracks burst, and even if he had seen that, there would have been no time to slow his train significantly before the damage was done.
Smith failed to carry out his duties properly, but the situations wasn’t helped by incorrect signage.
Technology which could have prevented this accident already existed. If we throw our minds back to the episode on Nuneaton, we discussed a speed restriction sign which was missed at night because a light had failed. One of the outcomes of that was the expansion of the Automated Warning System to include temporary speed restrictions.
Admittedly we’re skipping forward a decade with that crash, but AWS, the Automated warning system, had been around for over a decade before this point. Firstly introduced to provide an in cab warning of adverse signal aspects, the system was later proved to be more than capable of providing protection of speed restrictions, both permanent and temporary.
Had these lessons been learnt before 1964, then the lives of these children could have been saved, but at the very least if the potential use for AWS had been seen here? Well maybe we could have prevented Nuneaton as well?
Episode Conclusion – Memorial and poignancy please.
The derailment of the lollipop express took place over 55 years ago, but this isn’t quite long enough for living memories to fade.
Even in the last few years, news outlets from Greater Manchester and Staffordshire remember the accident in throwback articles. The BBC ran an article in 2014, speaking to John Gibson, a man who at the time had been a 9 year old boy whose life was forever change when he lost an arm at Cheadle.
They also tell the story of Mary Tiernan, the little girl who had been in a coma for three months. The media dubbed her sleeping beauty, and followed her story closely, it was a year before she managed to get home, but she did survive, and at the time that article was written she was a 59 year old grandmother twice over.
The 50th anniversary of the accident was commemorated by a service in Stafford, attended by hundreds. Those who had been directly affected, students from staffordshire schools and many others visited to pay their respects. Also present were the families of two children who never got the opportunity to grow up, Christine Heffernan and Louis Stevens.
<start closing credits>
Up and down the country, every single day parents send their children out on trips. School trips, church outings, youth group holidays. They never believe that there will be any danger in doing so. And why should they? Goodbyes on that May morning will have been normal, see you later would become a broken promise for three families. It’s hard to produce this podcast and not think about that every now and then. I know next time I say goodbye to my loved ones, I’ll make sure that I say it properly.
Thank you as for tuning into episode 22, A fine example of what you can pull together with just a 7 page accident report!
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Until next episode, Travel Safe!