London to Birkenhead Express departs from Paddington 2 minutes late and travels the 36 miles to Reading at a reduced speed of 37.5 mph (instead of 43) due to severe frost and fog



The train arrives at Reading 10 minutes late and collects another 200 passengers from the Basingstoke to Reading train


Brake van 352 and Carriage 639 are added to the train




The train arrives at Oxford (29 minutes late)


Due to the large numbers of people travelling and the need for extra locomotive power, third-class carriage, No. 845, and locomotive, No. 478, are added to the front of the train




The train leaves Oxford 35 minutes late (due to arrive at Banbury at 12.18




Frederick Bell, stationmaster at Woodstock Road Station, near Kidlington, sees the train go through on the down-line (towards Birmingham)


James Hill fireman of Engine 478 sees a man waving his hat out of the left-hand side window of Coach 845


Henry Richardson driver of Engine 478 sees snow and dirt flying off the wheels on the right-hand side of Coach 845 on approach to the wooden bridge over the River Cherwell.




Henry Richardson stops his engine and returns to the scene



Frederick Bell sees the first passenger running down the track followed by Head Guard, Price



Bell sends a telegram to Oxford and sends a local train waiting on the up-line (towards Oxford) platform back to the scene


“From Bell, Woodstock, to Gibbs, Oxford. Frightful accident to down express near Kirtlington. Bring all medical men and all help possible. Very urgent. Both lines blocked.”




After some delay due to faulty wires the telegram is received by W Hopkins, chief telegraph operator at Oxford, who informs his superior, James W Gibbs, stationmaster at Oxford



A special train leaves Oxford packed with medical staff and equipment such as “screw jacks” to lift the debris from the track

By Linda Haynes

With special thanks to Linda Haynes for the above information.

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