70th anniversary event to commemorate 1948 rail disaster

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An event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Wath Manvers Rail Accident will take place on Saturday 7 July and will be attended by survivors, local residents and staff from Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH).

Marking this anniversary, the event is being held at LNER Social Club in Swinton from 12 noon until 4pm and will include special guest speakers, film footage from the scene of the accident and a presentation by clinicians from Montagu Hospital, from which staff helped to care for the injured on that fateful day in 1948.

The St Pancras to Bradford Express Train left the station at 11.45am on 18 May 1948, comprising of 12 coaches and 194 passengers. Reaching a speed of 60 to 65 miles per hour, the train derailed on a 30 foot embankment near Wath, due to track distortion caused by very hot weather. Sadly, the accident took the lives of eight people with a further 55 cared for at the Mexborough hospital.

Covering the incident on 22 May 1948, The South Yorkshire Times reported: “Matron of Montagu Hospital, Miss M.J. O’Callaghan did an excellent job of work, rarely had such an emergency been dealt with so smoothly and with less irritability.

“Miss O’Callaghan said they had been greatly helped by the assistance of first aid workers on the scene of the crash, who had constantly rung the Resident Medical Officer, telling him what to expect in each ambulance that left for the hospital. Montagu Hospital, of a normal capacity of some 120 beds, suddenly had to cope with casualties equivalent to nearly half its total accommodation. The response was admirable, and we are proud to record the splendid service rendered here in Mexborough.”

Organiser Michael Brearley said: “This event is an opportunity to remember those who sadly lost their lives 70 years ago on the railway line near Montagu Hospital. It is also a time to remember the emergency services who responded and the role Montagu Hospital played on that fateful day. I want to invite local residents to come along to help mark the occasion and also engage in our local history.”

A few weeks after the disaster, the NHS was founded on 5 July 1948 and was launched with a total hospital staff of 68,013, not including doctors. Today there are around 1.7 million people employed by the NHS across the UK, making it the fifth biggest employer in the world.

Suzy Brain England OBE, Chair of the Board at DBTH, said: “I want to thank Mike for inviting the Trust to be a part of this event. Montagu Hospital remains an important pillar of the community, offering top notch facilities and caring for our friends and relatives in their time of need. We are proud to be able to mark this anniversary alongside local residents.”

The event, open to all, starts at 12 noon on Saturday 7 July at the LNER Social Club in Swinton, Rowms Lane, S64 8AE.