The 1988 Clapham Rail crash

Corona main Forums Suspicious Media Events The 1988 Clapham Rail crash

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    Tom Dalpra

    Mmm, yes. I’m not quite sure about where it is. It looks like it’s plonked in the middle of a parking space. Funny…

    I quite like the hands. No thumbs…

    The inscription on the other side is where I instantly find a weak witness, if you will.


    It reads:

    ”For those that lost their lives in the Clapham Junction Rail Disaster on 12 Dec 1988, those who were injured, their families, friends ( yes this is badly worded. It reads as if it’s for the families and friends of the injured not the dead!) and all who helped and cared at the time and afterwards”. ( Well that really is a catch-all isn’t it? I mean I wasn’t there, but I cared. When I saw it all over the news, I cared. Then and afterwards. Hey it’s for me as much as the victims and the injured people’s friends and families).

    For me, the endeavour to connect as many real people as possible to Clapham at the expense of a respectful, simple, specific memorial, to the dead, is telling
    If no one really died you can just bung up something that looks like a temporary advertising board in a parking place and be sloppy with the wording. Who’s gonna grumble? The friends and families of those that were ‘injured’?

    It should have read – ”For all those that lost their lives, but especially for those that were ‘slightly shaken’ and got off the train unscathed on to a safe track and were escorted up to the school – and their friends and families in all parts of the world who know it happened because their mate or cousin was there, oh and plus anyone who knows anyone who’s in the Salvation Army or the St Johns who knows someone who says they were there. During, afterwards and forever.”

    Interesting video here.



    Was you thinking of this handshake too, or is this too much of a stretch:

    The memorial is here just along the railway track on the way to Clapham Junction station


    Wow,Tom. That BBC has some clips which scream out drill. And at 0.30 that head injury has elements of crisis actor about it. I’ll post some screen shots later. This is all looking very interesting. The expressions of Nicola Falcini at the commemoration are particularly animated


    “I need a coffee I’ve been in a, I think I’ve been in a train crash”

    after she arrives at work….. I guess it was only a small shunt, you wouldn’t pay much attention to it, would you? You’d just,er, alight in a cutting with emergency services everywhere, walk along the track beside the third rail, perhaps clambering up onto the platform past the warning notices about not trespassing on the railway and perhaps continue onwards to “work” by bus.
    Oh, this witness is Marilyn Robinson who was seen to be “a bit dishevelled”
    She then remembers…someone mentions the crash

    “…the one where the people died..”

    Ah,that incident earlier this morning….

    WHat happened to the rail worker?

    The full report in November said the direct cause of the accident was faulty wiring by signals technician Brian Hemingway. His mistakes had allowed a signal to remain at green when the Basingstoke train had stopped just beyond it.

    But it said Mr Hemingway’s “uncharacteristic” errors were because his judgement had been blunted by a “totally unacceptable” level of overtime. He had been working seven days a week for 13 weeks.
    What became of Brian?

    And of the Emanuel school masters? [a commemoration service was held in the school in 2013]

    It was a horrendous day,” said headmaster Mark Hanley-Browne. “There are only four staff here that were here at the time and they don’t like talking about it.

    I bet they don’t. Source:

    THe Alison Clark story is interesting. The three people “sat” with her, presumably complete strangers, were know to her to have died.

    Alison was unconscious for three weeks, had two stomach operations, extensive plastic surgery on her face and three months of physiotherapy

    The monument was made by Richard Healey. As you say, the wording is curious.

    Healy also designed the Ladbroke Grove train crash memorial:
    – a strange subject to specialise in; the memorial was unveiled in 1989, November 1.

    There seems to be no information whatsoever online on this sculptor or stonemason. Curous in itself.

    An appeal raised £443,000, most of which was spent on a roadside sculpture and the garden.

    “It’s been left as if the crash didn’t happen. It’s unrecognisable,” said Andrew Collis, a TV producer at Teddington Studios, who commutes from Tukewell in Essex to Teddington.
    “It’s of no lesser value than the 7/7 memorial. Anybody who had someone involved in the crash would be absolutely shocked. It had such a wide reaching effect on everyone, yet if you look at the garden it seems to have been totally forgotten.”

    [there is no such place as Tukewell]
    July 2009


    News report (available to academic institutons)

    Margaret Shiels reports on the evidence at the Clapham rail disaster inquiry from senior British Rail technician Brian Hemingway including a statement read out where he says he can’t specifically remember carrying out the job but he has accepted responsibility for work on the wire which caused the crash. Evidence showed a faulty fuse caused a flickering light that led to the fatal crash.

    Margaret Shiels reports on senior British Rail technician Brian Hemingway’s evidence and cross-questioning at the Clapham rail disaster inquiry. He has accepted responsibility for work on the wire which caused the crash, and hasn’t had a nights sleep since. His poor work had not been checked by supervisors.


    The [Hidden] report identifies 11 signal engineers and managers who, it says, must share the blame for the disaster…..[who] had made errors some worse and more numerous than others,but, the judge declared: “No one is put in the dock”. The most senior was Mr Clifford Hale,”captain of the ship” in BR’s Southern Region signals department until the day before the disaster,who announced his resignation minutes after the report became public…..Senior signal technician Mr Brian Hemingway was named as the man responsible for the wiring errors… his work in the Clapham Junction A relay room. “He was a man who was methodical in his practices, whether good or bad, and among the bad were his habits of failing to shorten wires and in particular to cut off eyes and failing to secure such wires by tying them back out of harm’s way”,2413907
    So, Hemingway was very methodical about not doing the job properly as, one imagines he was trained to do. Allegedly.

    This is too absurd for words.

    After the report was released, Clifford Hale resigned as quality manager for the British Railways Board. He was the regional signaling engineer at the time of the accident.

    Hidden’s report said Hale made the ”dangerous assumption” that once a problem was identified, it would be fixed. ”The problem about Mr. Hale’s management was that it demonstrated the lack of communication which pervaded the signals and telecommunications department,” the report said.

    So that clears up the coincidence – Mr Hale was signals manager until Sunday, then the morning of the crash, he was suddenly the quality manager for what appears to be the whole of the BRB, with final salary pension to match no doubt.

    This would seem to be the same Cliff Hale who was IRSE president in 1987. “Institute of Railway Signal Engineers” – too much of a coincidence.
    Wife: Margaret who named a diesel locomotive at Fort William in 1987.

    There’s an interesting BBC report from a firefighter.Clifford Thompson from Bethnal Green station [miles away] years later here:

    there were dozens of emergency service vehicles and also TV crews.

    It was a surreal sight, like a massive film set. [of course!]

    I walked down the steep embankment – at the bottom was a ledge with a vertical drop about 15ft (4.5m) into the cutting – and saw the jumbled mess of iron and steel.

    Ladders and ropes were used to help us get down there.

    I played a very small part in the rescue operation: one of about 250 firefighters who attended the incident….we worked with quiet determination to make sure that the final bodies were recovered with as much dignity as possible
    The new president (2013) of the IRSE is a Mr Cliff Weedon

    who wrote:

    I am also greatly indebted to another well known IRSE Past President Cliff Hale who was Chief S&T Engineer on the Southern Region of British Rail in the period when I completed my training and, as well as guiding me through his regular helpful interviews, had sufficient faith in me to grant leave of absence for 3 years to undertake a research project in Cambridge and Bath Universities on track to train data transmission using audio frequency track circuits. The ‘proper’ digital
    coding of track circuits that we prototyped then in 1985 to 1988 is finally coming into production, albeit with more advanced coding techniques. We will be having a paper on the recent developments during the next session which I hope will be of interest to those who believe the future retains a place for continuous track based train detection.

    No mention of Mr Hale’s deficiencies as identified by Hidden there, nor of the Clapham event.


    Seems like there was another drill here in 1991, resulting in one “death”, same problem requiring a solution – the same carriages. A FIVE mph bump resulting in, er a whole carriage being wrecked

    so, crashing into the buffers caused this?

    Looks like a drll, quacks like a drill…and the obligatory wiki page…and BBC “on this day” page, a sure sign that this is a hoax.

    More images here

    looks like a parallax image, to imply the carriage rode over the one in front.

    It later emerged that 542 people had been injured in the crash.

    The dead man was named as 24-year-old computer programmer, Martin Strivens, from Orpington in Kent.

    A second person, 59-year-old Patricia McCay, from Forest Hill in south London, died three days after the accident from injuries sustained in the crash.

    The driver, Maurice Graham, 25, was found to have traces of cannabis in his blood in a drugs test conducted three days after the crash but the inquiry found there was insufficient evidence to suggest this had caused the accident.

    The favoured age range of “victims” – under 30s and over 50s.

    I’d go so far as to state this is one of the most obvious ones I have come across.


    The LFB have reminded me of this crash from the golden period of UK rail river and plane “disasters”, this one March 4 1989 to be precise. Purley, South London. Two time expired trains of slam door coaches were wrecked in Clapham style

    For some reason, LFB has chosen to upload its set of this “disaster” immediately following the conclusion of the disaster exercise even though this exact anniversary is an odd 17 year one. Pure coincidence then that this simulated rail disaster should end just before the anniversary of the, er, disaster at Purley.

    At 1339 on a rainy Saturday in March 1989, a Littlehampton to Victoria express train crashed into the rear of a Horsham to Victoria bound train.
    [13 images]
    The collision derailed the train and six carriages careered down the embankment.
    The collision derailed the train and six carriages careered down the embankment.
    hmmmm no other damage to property.
    Let’s look at the ages of the “victims”

    Colin Clark, ***55, and 60-year-old Eric Simper, both from Worthing; Janet Taylor, 79, and Edith Greene, 74, both from Hove; and Veronica Salisbury.

    any guess how old Veronica was? Yep, born 1924, making her at least 64.

    Many more were trapped on board for hours after the doors jammed shut, with nearby residents running to the scene and trying desperately to smash the windows to get the wounded out.

    Driver Robert Morgan suffered memory loss after the crash, and believing he had jumped a light he pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter and spent four months in jail.

    Another near-miss in 1991 prompted a safety review, and Mr Morgan’s conviction was quashed in 2007.
    He died two years later in a sailing accident in the Isle of Wight. He was 66.
    October 22, 2010

    According to the coroner’s office in Newport, Isle of Wight, there are uncomfirmed reports of other sailors hearing Mr Morgan’s cries for help at 5pm on Saturday, March 21 — but by the time they reached him, he was already dead.
    March 26 2009


    And the ever present memorial to prove it happened..

    employee David Scanlon took home the plaque, which pays tribute to the five people who lost their lives, to clean and re-mount it on to slate. It is now the centrepiece of the station’s garden.

    British Transport Police Inspector Mick Morris was one of the first at the scene all those years ago.
    He said the disaster was one of the most distressing events he has attended during his 34 years with the police force.
    This week Insp Morris, who is now based in Southampton, said he was pleased to hear the memorial had been revitalised.
    “I think it is really good news for the friends and relatives of those who lost their lives that day,” he added.
    “It is positive for them that they can have somewhere peaceful to go and think of their loved ones.”
    Rev Charles Trefusis is the vicar of Christ Church Purley, which opened its doors to act as a makeshift emergency centre for the walking wounded.
    “Having met the families of those who died and were injured that day, I am immensely grateful to the rail company for the work they have done,” he said.

    February 2 2011

    ***The Herald and Gazette entertainments editor

    Fiona Donnelly-Rheaume, who lived at the time in Norton Road, Hove, was haunted by hallucinations and nightmares about the crash. She lost her job, home and her fiancé in the six months afterwards and received treatment for psychological trauma for the following year.

    Fiona moved to Germany, where she met her future husband and qualified as a teacher. She now lives in Canada and has a 14-year-old daughter. Every year on March 4 her thoughts are with the other victims of the disaster. She said: “I am truly grateful to be alive.”

    Tony Squires, who went on to become mayor of Littlehampton, was a guard on the train.
    His guard’s van had rolled down the embankment and he was bruised and covered in blood. Despite his injuries, he returned to the train and scrambled up the muddy slope to help others.
    Tim Fellows, from Polegate, was a rookie ambulanceman and was returning from a job in London when police flagged him down.
    He helped treat the hordes of injured passengers as they emerged from the wreckage. Tim said: “It was really going in at the deep end. I had only been in the ambulance service for six weeks at the time.
    “I stayed by the ambulance treating three or four patients while my colleague went to the main area of crash.”
    Ninety four people were injured in the accident.

    Er, wasn’t the guard’s compartment just part of a passenger coach?

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 6 months ago by xileffilex.
    • This reply was modified 5 years, 6 months ago by xileffilex.

    Small correction, it was obviously the 27th anniversary of the Purley “disaster” this week, still an odd one.
    See also the 27 Club –
    From probate records…
    Eric Donald Simper of Corbiere, 18 Fairview Avenue Goring-by-Sea d 4 March, probate 27 April 1989 London £84525

    Colin Albert Clark b 1934 4 Cobden Road, Worthing, Adm. Brighton 24 April 1989 not exceeding £70000

    Janet Taylor was actually Jane Taylor.

    Edith Greene , 83 The Drive, Hove, probate july 4 1989 £166702 b 1914
    both the above died in hospital, allegedly – hence Sutton recorded death, rather than Croydon.

    Jane Taylor 8 Courtney Gate, Courtney Terrace probate July 13 1989 £522094 b 1909
    Veronica Mary Salisbury leave no probate trace, indeed there is no trace of any of her life.
    March 04, 2014 [25th anniversary]
    Survivor of Purley rail disaster says tragedy still haunts him 25 years on

    Curious “memorial garden” here
    Purley Memorial Garden

    From the 20th anniversary

    1 March 2009

    Sixteen-year-old Sam Muggridge, who lived just behind the station, told the local paper how she looked on in horror as bloodsoaked survivors stumbled into the station.

    “They were screaming and staggering and covered in blood.
    “I was standing on the platform when I heard a loud bang.
    “When I looked I saw the carriages of one train topple off the bank. Then I heard all the trees crashing down.
    “The next thing I saw was people trying to get out and walk along the track back to the station.”
    Emergency services rallied magnificently to the challenge of treating the injured and the dying and local residents did all they could to assist.
    One of those was world boxing champion Duke McKenzie whose Glenn Avenue home backed onto the Brighton line.
    He said: “It was pretty traumatic.
    “I leaped out like I was a paramedic or something but when I saw the devastation I did not know what to do.
    “I remember speaking to a lady who was 50 or 60 years old and was in a bad way, I was trying to calm her down.”
    Mayday hospital was put on red alert and the bulk of its 2,000 staff rushed to work to help the victims, with members of the public queuing up to give blood.
    More than 50 people were taken to the hospital, pushing its facilities to breaking point.
    The hospital did such a superb job that they received a personal visit from the Prime Minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher on the Sunday.
    Princess Diana visited staff and survivors at the hospital on Monday congratulating them on their hard work.


    Clapham was hot on the heels, well seven years, of the famous Seer Green train crash, at a conveniently isolated spot west of London towards Gerrards Cross. Unfortunately a heavy snowfall made the use of the air ambulance helicopter in the drill impossible. Otherwise, the usual boxes were ticked, e.g high ratio of deaths to victims, the Wexham Park hospital having already drilled for such an eventuality…and a highly spurious action, a train stopping for a branch on the line, which triggered the drill.

    The Fire Chief [?] at 2.25 in the video gives the game away by comparing it with the Moorgate “disaster” in the London Underground in the mid 1970s. I wonder if there is also a monument at Seer Green?

    In the video, we notice around 3.25 in the video, June Gabriel describing the injuries to her son Nicholas, in a clipped accent…
    “Nicky, who was in the front compartment has got, er four broken bones, broken jaw, [touches her jaw], broken arm, broken rib, and broken tibia.
    Yep, that’s four bones. Nicely distributed throughout the body.
    “and he’s on the drip erm they think he’s going to be all – he is going to be alright, his sight is alright, he doesn’t seem to have concussion, he speaks alright”
    “You’ve seen him?”
    I’ve seen, yes, we’ve seen him, yes”
    “Is he conscious?”
    “He is conscious, yes, he’s just gone down now to have his [strokes jaw] wired” [laughs]
    “Has he said what happened?”
    “No, he can’t think of anything ? what has happened and I said ‘you were in a train crash’

    Oddly, June Gabriel [nee St Clair] omits to mention Nicky’s younger brother who was also in the crash…
    Report on the Seer Green rail crash (11/12/81) in which four people died. Begins with a first-person account by the reporter, who witnessed the bodies of the driver and a student being brought to Wexham Park Hospital. Also includes interviews with crash survivor Norman Wilkes, who said he was trapped for about half an hour; Mark Gabriel, who was travelling on the train with his brother, Nicky, and friend, Neil Hopkinson. His mother June [V.] is also interviewed about the condition of her son Nicky, who needed his jaw wired together following the accident. Male reporter not identified.

    Two of the deaths were said to have been thirteen-year-old schoolboys heading to High Wycombe.
    The other deaths were said to have been the driver and a male student.

    Cheeky chappie cockney firefighter: “it was quite bad…started getting, er cutting the driver out, trying to get the driver out, he was the most obvious bloke in pain, there’s another chappie hanging out the side with two of the passengers supporting him…”
    “How long was it before you actually got the driver out”
    [pause] “Hour?”
    “must have been”
    “about an hour, hour and a half”

    Sounds like a plumber quoting for some work on one’s boiler.
    “one of the crash victims is suffering from a broken back, another is said to be suffering from multiple fractures”
    [sounds like Nicky]
    Drill speak from a senior fire officer…

    “Well, as far as we are aware….the driver of the first train has gone up on top of the other one..trapping various people in the compartment below, devastation really.. it’s not one of those situations you encounter every day…to some extent reminiscent of Moorgate but not in the tunnel fortunately”

    The Gabriels’ father died in 2001

    My brother Nick and I are braving hypothermia, swarms of killer jellyfish and raw sewage in the Bournemouth Pier to Pier swim in memory of our dad Ken, who was a passionate advocate of the joys of swimming (and fags, booze and frying in dripping, hence the fatal heart attack).

    I know times are tough but any donations would be gratefully received. Thank you.
    £162.50 Event: Bournemouth Pier 2 Pier, 14 Jul 2013 [11 years after the event]

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by xileffilex.
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