Saturday, 8 March 2014

Exciting race of a runaway engine.

In an era of the Health and Safety Taliban. It's sometimes interesting to read of the heroics of some individuals. Heroics that were above and beyond the call of duty. Today, the two footplate staff would be commended by the public and then sacked by their employers for breaking the Health and Safety policy.

This is an article lifted from the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent.
Dated the 6th January 1866.

On Tuesday afternoon, the wires flashed the astounding intelligence to the authorities at the Central Station Newcastle, that engine No. 392 was then tearing along the line at a tremendous speed without any one upon it. The consternation of all parties was immense, and it was at once concluded that the unrestrained race of the locomotive must result in causing considerable damage at some portion of the line. 

It appears that the engine was standing with a ballast train at Durham, only the fireman being on it, the driver standing on the ground near. While thus standing, No. 392 was run into by another engine. The shock detached the ballast engine from the train, threw open the regulator, and pitched the fireman upon the ground. The result of the regulator being open was that No. 392 came away at a gradually increasing rate of speed. Meeting no impediment to its progress, the engine ran on at a great pace. The passengers on the platform at Leamside Station were startled by the guide less engine rushing past, and the wildest conjectures were of course indulged in as to the strange occurrence. It is usual to slacken speed in approaching and crossing Victoria Bridge, and when the engine came rushing on with unchecked speed, the company's servants at Washington at once saw there was something wrong. 

At this station an engine was standing, the driver of which is named Ralph Gilchrist. He at once saw that the engine was a runaway, and detaching his engine from the train, he followed as fast as he could. It was a long and exciting race the run-away going at a rate of speed estimated at 60 miles an hour. That Gilchrist only succeeded in ranging up alongside of it at Washhouse lane, about half a mile outside of Gateshead. As soon as this was effected, the fireman, John Batty, in the most courageous manner, and at the risk of his life, jumped from his own engine on to No. 292, and succeeded in bringing it up, fortunately without any damage being done, as must have been the case had Gilchrist aud Batty not succeeded in their pursuit. It was intended by the company's servants at Gateshead, in case the engine should reach that station without being stopped, to open the switches and run it among some empty wagons in the goods yard but fortunately, it was not necessary to carry this plan out. The prompt action of Gilchrist and Batty was ruled commendable, and they are certainly entitled to the thanks of the directors for what they did. 

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