St Bedes Junction rail crash

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St Bedes Junction rail crash
Date17 December 1915
LocationSt Bedes Junction near Jarrow
Coordinates54°58′38″N 1°28′57″W / 54.9773°N 1.4824°W / 54.9773; -1.4824Coordinates: 54°58′38″N 1°28′57″W / 54.9773°N 1.4824°W / 54.9773; -1.4824
LineNorth Eastern Railway
CauseSignalman's error
List of UK rail accidents by year

St. Bedes Junction lies between Jarrow and Bede Metro stations on what was the North Eastern Railway line between Newcastle upon Tyne and South Shields. From the junction, a mineral line descends on a gradient of 1 in 100 to Tyne Dock Bottom. On 17 December 1915, in the early morning in fog, a goods train ran out onto the main line past St Bedes signalbox having been banked in the rear up the incline by a six-coupled tank engine. The banking engine, uncoupled, dropped away from the goods train and came to a stand on the up main line, but was not seen by the signalman. Shortly afterwards, the signalman accepted the 07:05 passenger train from South Shields to Newcastle on the up line and the 06:58 empty stock train from Hebburn to South Shields. The passenger train collided with the rear of the banking engine at 30 mph, telescoping the two leading coaches. Almost immediately the empty stock train collided with the wreckage, killing the fireman. The gas-lit passenger coaches were consumed by fire, killing 18.


The signalman's failure to notice that the goods train had been banked was the primary cause of the disaster. But also at fault was the driver of the banking engine who stood for 17 minutes before obeying Rule 55 and sending his fireman back to the signalbox, by which time it was too late to avert the accident. The continued use of gas-lighting also contributed to the severity of the accident and a circular was sent to all railway companies stressing the importance of replacing gas with electric lighting.


  • Rolt, L.T.C.; Kichenside, Geoffrey (1982) [1955]. Red for Danger (4th ed.). Newton Abbot: David & Charles. pp. 213–214. ISBN 0-7153-8362-0.

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