Burscough Junction Station Crash

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Burscough Junction Station Crash
Date 15 January 1880
Time 18:08
Location Burscough, Lancashire
Country England
Rail line Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
Cause Human error, Defective signalling, Inadequate track layout
Trains 2
Passengers not known
Deaths 9
Injuries more than 50
List of UK rail accidents by year

The Burscough Junction Station Crash occurred on 15 January 1880 at the Burscough Junction railway station on the Liverpool to Preston railway line in England.[1] The line was operated by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway company at the time. There were nine people killed in the accident and more than fifty people were injured.[2]

The cause of the accident was a combination of human error, a defective and inadequate signalling system and an inadequate track layout which could not cope with complex train movements. Spur lines had been built to connect the Liverpool to Preston railway line to the Wigan to Southport railway line, known as the Burscough Curves, this meant that more complicated train movements were being made between the two railway lines.

At approximately 6:05 pm the southbound train left the station heading for Ormskirk having been turned onto the downline by the signalman on duty at Burscough. 200 yards south of the station, adjacent to the Brickfield (Platts Lane) siding, the train collided with the Liverpool to Preston train which had left Liverpool at 5:30 pm. The northbound train was eventually due to carry on to Fleetwood to disembark passengers for the Belfast steamer ferry.[3]

The first two carriages of both trains were completely shattered and the passengers thrown about in all directions. Those who could, scrambled out of the wreckage to be met by railway officials who had heard the collision and were making their way toward the site of the crash. A number of medical gentlemen arrived by special train and rendered very valuable services. The injured were taken to Preston Infirmary by special train at 10:00pm. The pointsman, Anthony Melia, from Burscough Junction station was taken into custody and appeared at the subsequent inquiry.[4] Anthony Melia was found not guilty, by the inquiry, of criminal negligence[5]

Dr Hall of Preston, who was a passenger on one of the trains rendered valuable assistance at the scene of the accident[6]


As a result of the accident the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway promised to carry out improvements to the station to prevent a similar disaster occurring. Over the next two years new signal boxes were installed and the entire points system reviewed to allow shunting and local train movements to be independent of main line train operations.[2]

No memorial to the crash exists on the site.



  1. ^ Raynar Wilson, H. (1925) RAILWAY ACCIDENTS Legislation & Statistics 1825 to 1924. The Raynar Wilson Company, London.
  2. ^ a b Rosbottom, Ernest (1987). Burscough - The Story of an Agricultural Village. Preston: Carnegie Press. pp. 179, 182. ISBN 0-948789-12-3. 
  3. ^ a b Sydney Morning Herald 17 March 1880
  4. ^ Auckland Star 11 March 1880
  5. ^ The Standard (London, England), Friday, 13 February 1880
  6. ^ a b Aberdeen Weekly Journal. 16 January 1880
  7. ^ GRO Index England & Wales Vol. 8b Pg. 216
  8. ^ GRO Index England & Wales Vol. 8b Pg. 562
  9. ^ a b c GRO Index England & Wales Vol. 8e Pg. 385
  10. ^ GRO Index England & Wales Vol. 8e Pg. 386
  11. ^ GRO Index England & Wales Vol. 8e Pg. 387
  12. ^ The Daily Gazette, Middlesbrough. 16 January 1880
  13. ^ The Leeds Mercury. 16 January 1880
  14. ^ Liverpool Mercury. 16 January 1880

Coordinates: 53°35′30″N 2°50′51″W / 53.59163°N 2.84758°W / 53.59163; -2.84758