The Woodhead Tunnel Accident
On 16 July 1884, the accident often referred to as being either at the Bullhouse Bridge or Woodhead Tunnel occurred at 12:30 pm. An express passenger train, leaving Manchester, had exited the Woodhead Tunnel speeding toward the town of Penistone. The engineer reported hearing a crack as they banked through a curve near the Bridge. The axle had fractured, and both the horsebox and engine derailed, although they remained upright.
Because this was a passenger train, there were carriages filled with people – a large number of them women travelling at a “decent” hour for ladies – that also derailed and slid down the embankment. A reported 24 people were killed.
The cause of the accident was determined to be metal fatigue. One of the great dangers encountered by people of the Victorian age was that travelling by train could be deadly. Derailments, boiler explosions, and collisions were all too common.