The Elswick Accident of September 1909

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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by 61070 » Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:55 pm

52A: Thank you very much for the further research on Robert Shilladay - it's interesting to learn that his father was a railwayman too.

Since writing the update I have been in touch with Gateshead Council, who manage Saltwell Cemetery where Robert was buried. They have a record of the grave number but, because the family did not purchae the grave during the 14 years follwing his interment, in 1924 it was sold to another family to 'fill up', as it were. Because of this the cemetery people thought it unlikely that there would be any form of memorial to Robert Shilladay, although I haven't been along to check.

I tend to think that the correct spelling is Shilladay, by the way. 'Shillady' seems only to appear in the press reports, and we know how unreliable newspapers can be. 'Shilliday' appears, I think, in one of the census returns (1911?), but I reckon it is a census enumerator's error when they were completing the form, because Caroline Shilladay (Robert's widow) clearly signs 'Shilladay' on the form.

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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by 52A » Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:10 am

Shilladay in the 81 and 1901 census. Shillady in 1891 and Shilliday in 1911.

I agree that Shilladay seems to be the correct one, all very confusing when you are trying to track someone down! I did wonder about the grave but it would appear to be non starter.

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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by 61070 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:01 pm

By sheer coincidence on the 102nd anniversary, attached is an update on research into the accident at Elswick on 14th September 1909. I've done it this way as it's rather lengthy.
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Elswick accident update 2011-09-14.doc
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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by 52D » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:31 pm

An Excellent update. Was the date coincedental?

George52D
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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by 61070 » Thu Sep 15, 2011 6:52 pm

Many thanks George. It's coincidence to the extent that I've been intending to share an update for some time and then, about a week ago, I realised that the anniversary was approaching. So the coming date provided the impetus.

I intended to include, for comparison, reference to a Railway Inspectorate report on an accident that occurred just over 6 years earlier, in May 1903, on the same line and only about 1.5 miles nearer to Newcastle, at Shot Factory Lane. This was the collision of a local passenger train into the rear of a train of empty coaches, resulting in 22 injuries but no fatalities. The detailed statements from, and questioning of, many witnesses, and the conclusions carefully drawn from conflicting evidence in this enquiry, are in marked contrast to the extent of the evidence sought and presented at the Coroner's Inquest into the Elswick accident, which seems to be the only published inquiry into that incident.

http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/docume ... ay1903.pdf

Of course the circumstances involved a passenger train on main line railway, so the BoT's investigation was required by law. However, I think it's interesting to compare the purposes and outcomes of the two processes - a coroner's inquest into a death and a Board of Trade Railway Inspector's inquiry into a (non-fatal, in this case) railway accident.

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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by 52A » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:23 pm

Elswick update, further comments (none critical!). The conditions of employment for the average footplateman in those days show that the normal working day was 10 hours, if you were lucky. There were no paid holidays and there was no supply of uniform clothing. There are reports of footplatemen being on their engines for up to 35 hours continuously, a Highland Driver is recorded to have gone on duty at 12.40 on Friday and left duty at 13.00 on Monday! A NER Driver worked consecutively 17.5, 17, 15 and 18.25 then had a leisurely last day of 12.5 hours. Another man on the Brighton line reportedly worked 89 hours in 6 days, 10 hour days indeed! The Railways 8 Hours Bill was not implemented until 1st January 1911 for various grades of staff but again these hours were exceeded. They were hard men in those days working for harder taskmasters, anyone believing that those were the good old days should read The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Tressell! Back to Elswick, what part did fatigue play in this accident, it is not really considered. Shilladay left home at 0130 for Berwick where he was to book off and the accident happened at 2300. Did he actually book off, how much rest did he have and what did this booking off consist of before resuming duty. His working hours in days prior to this are also not recorded. These questions form very much a part of accident enquiries in later more enlightened years.

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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by 52D » Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:11 pm

A most valid point 52A.
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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by Nitram54 » Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:48 pm

The name of the driver was Robert Martin Shilladay. His brother and father were called John and were both Railwaymen too.
My maternal Grandmother was one of the daughters of Robert Shilladay and after the crash and his death she was taken, along with her siblings, by her mother to live in Bradford where my Mother was born. So I'm the great-grandson of Robert and I too am a railway loco driver.

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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by 52D » Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:01 pm

Thanks for posting Nitram54( I guess its an anagram of Martin or you are somehow connected with Fisons who had a fertiliser called Nitram) I know John and Terry will both be pleased to see your input. We have a lot of info on the crash im sure you would be interested to see it all. Its good to make a connection even though the results were tragic for your family.

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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by richard » Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:12 pm

George, 61070, 52A: If you have collated all this information, has there been any thought of publishing it in the NERA? (or perhaps you did and I've forgotten!)
Richard Marsden
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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by 52D » Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:16 pm

We have it in its original form just transcribed, its not in article form but it could be worth doing I grant you.
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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by 61070 » Sat Dec 13, 2014 10:47 pm

Nitram54 wrote:The name of the driver was Robert Martin Shilladay. His brother and father were called John and were both Railwaymen too.
My maternal Grandmother was one of the daughters of Robert Shilladay and after the crash and his death she was taken, along with her siblings, by her mother to live in Bradford where my Mother was born. So I'm the great-grandson of Robert and I too am a railway loco driver.
Hello Nitram54,

Thank you so much for getting in touch. As the story of the accident unfolded during our research on the photographs we became very conscious of the family tragedy that it brought about. It occurred when there was much less support than there would, hopefully, be today for someone who found themselves in the position of your great grandmother and her young family.

The forerunner of this thread was this one:
viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1980
If you scroll to halfway down the first page you will see the photo posted by 52A which started the ball rolling, and the discussion continues, on and off, for 6 pages - it's well worth a look. (There's a link to that page at the beginning of this thread but it had stopped working - I've sorted it now.)

It's very interesting that you too are on the railway, carrying on in the tradition that began with your great great grandfather.

While I was looking into the background to the accident there was much that came to light about John and Robert Shilladay - and also your great grandmother, Caroline. It's a few years ago that I was doing that bit of research so I'll look out my notes and send you something through the forum by PM (private message) in the next week or so.

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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by Nitram54 » Thu Dec 18, 2014 7:48 pm

Thanks very much, my family will be pleased. Do you have any information as to how the accident happened?

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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by 61070 » Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:35 pm

Hello Nitram54,

The accident happened because the Newcastle to Leeds overnight goods train, on which Robert Shilladay was pilot between Forth Goods Station and Low Fell, ran into a works siding, which was effectively an extension of the NER Independent line on which it had been travelling. It collided with an industrial shunting locomotive, derailed and then fell into a coal drop.

The direct cause was either the misreading of, or inattention to, signals on the part of Robert Shilladay as pilot. The driver, Chritopher Chandler of Leeds, appears to have escaped sanction though I believe he was not blameless. According to the proper procedure it was Chandler who should have been at the regulator, being guided by Robert Shilladay as pilot. Instead, Chandler was 'standing at the back of the cab eating some food’ at the critcal moment when the train, driven by Shilladay, left Forth Goods Station and took the Independent Line, rather than the Main Line which it would normally have used. On the basis that 'two heads are better than one' I believe the accident may never have occurred if the rulebook had been obeyed and both men had had their attention on the job.

As contributory factors both Chandler and Shilladay had been on duty for many hours (granted with rest breaks, but it is not recorded how much rest they actually took), and it would also appear that most of the relevant signals, being on the left, were poorly positioned for the sighting of their lights - it was a dark night - from the driving position of a locomotive which was driven from the right.

Because there was no Board of Trade enquiry into this accident, lessons that might have been applied to the benefit of railway safety went unlearnt.

I'm glad to say that I've tracked down my notes and will send you some more information about the accident and about Robert and Caroline Shilladay soon, as promised.

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Re: The Elswick Accident of September 1909

Post by 52D » Mon Dec 28, 2015 11:52 am

Elswick Armstrongs 1909.jpg
Just had this shot sent to me this morning, a nice surprise to wake up to.
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