The 1965 Wickford Rail Crash
A long forgotten event!
I was at work in Basildon on the 24th February 1965 when I heard the first reports of a rail accident in Wickford. I was to learn from the car radio at lunch time that there was a derailment at Wickford. It occurred where the branch line to Southminster joins the Liverpool Street to Southend Victora line which is quite near the railway bridge in Wick Lane.
After work I went down there to see the ‘disaster’ with some friends. Our main interest was to see the civil engineering equipment that was being used in the recovery operation. We had all been trained as engineers so we did have a genuine interest in the equipment being used. The emergency services had removed fences by the railway bridge in Wick Lane to allow access and to facilitate the recovery work. The distance from Wick Lane bridge to the accident was about 300 yards. We knew there were no people trapped on the train so we clambered down the embankment to see what had happened. There were flood lights illuminating the railway carriages that were on their sides. It did not take long for the police to tell us to clear off, which we did. If you are not already aware this rail junction is about 800 yards from Wickford Station so the train would not have got up to full speed.
I have subsequently searched the internet for reports of this accident which I have found at: –
At this web site there is a report of this derailment. Due to Crown Copyright this cannot be reproduced here without permission. It was written by Col W. P. Reed and published on 28th June 1965 by The Ministry of Transport.
I summarise the report in my own words to avoid infringing the Crown Copyright.
An electric eight coach passenger train derailed after leaving Wickford just after 10.00hrs, at the points to the Southminster branch line. It occurred due to an apparent error made by the signal man. The last two coaches derailed causing damage to the overhead electric gantry and other damage. There were minor injuries to two passengers.
You can read the full report at the Railway Archive website.
Trusting that my memory is still accurate; this accident was well reported with photographs in local newspapers so there should be other archive material available.