Article dated : Fri, 2nd January 2004

Shocking Railway Accident

On 21 August 1878, Sittingbourne Station was the scene of a terrible calamity following a collision between a "cheap fast" train from the seaside resorts of east Kent and a train of trucks that was being shunted. The London, Chatham and Dover Railway train was returning to London heavily laden with day-trippers from South London and passing at full speed through the station it collided with the shunting train "with the force of an explosion whizzing far away".

Five people were killed and thirty to forty others were injured. The killed and injured were first and third class passengers as these were the two carriages at the front of the train behind the tender and therefore were "wrecked in a fearful manner". By some miracle the engine-driver, stoker and first guard of the "fast" train escaped uninjured although very much shaken.

The inquest was held on third of September 1878, in contrast to present day where with an accident of this magnitude the inquest would take many months to arrange. The verdict of the jury was that the deaths had been caused by the cupable negligence of the Head Guard and Under Guard of the shunting train and both individuals were committed for trail on the charge of manslaughter.