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The Ashton Reporter at the time described what happened; “Shortly before six o’clock a heavily laden mineral train of nearly sixty wagons from Birmingham to Leeds passed through Dukinfield Station. The train was going up the incline and curve at a moderate speed and all the wagons were safely attached to each other and proceeding along in the usual way. On approaching Stalybridge Station the driver felt the load lighten and on looking round saw that the coupling of a wagon had broken, about the fourth from the engine. Over fifty wagons laden with coal, timber, minerals and other goods began to travel back down the line.” Travelling down the steep incline, the wagons gathered pace. Numerous attempts to apply the brakes proved fruitless as the runaway train sped down the line. In spite of frantic efforts by a guard, the wagons continued to hurtle backward towards Dukinfield Station and unable to do any more the terrified guard jumped clear. As the wagons thundered past the Dukinfield West Signal Box, Fred acted instinctively Fred knew that a “workers” train travelling from Stockport to Stalybridge was due along the same line at any moment packed with hundreds of workers preparing for their morning shift at the local mills, factories and mines. Fred turned the points, forcing the runaway train onto a track and towards Dukinfield goods yards and it was only Fred’s quick-thinking actions that steered it off course and away from the passenger train. Three wagons went over the buffers and were hurled into the air with others derailed and wreckage strewn across the line. Miraculously no-one was injured. Within hours of the accident, Fred was hailed a hero and a report of his actions appeared in the Manchester Guardian that evening headed “Runaway Train at Dukinfield - Disaster Narrowly Averted”. News of Fred’s deed spread further and reached one of the shareholders of the London and North West Railway, Mrs FJ Robinson. The next morning Fred received a hand-written letter from Mrs Robinson who thanked him for his actions and enclosed the then princely sum of two guineas. Another plaque (a bronze one this time) commemorates the installation of a replica of the original station clock. The original resides in the National Railway Museum, York. And finally, the one-way only Stokport to Stalybridge Parliamentary ‘Ghost’ train arrives each Friday evening having called at the only two stations on the line (Denton and Reddish South). 19

Model Railway Express Issue Two January 2017  
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