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A priest crawled into the wreckage to give the last rites; DATELINE DISASTER 50 years ago a horrific train crash at Dorridge left 3 dead SPECIAL REPORT.

Byline: CATHRINA HULSE Staff Reporter

"AS FIREMAN worked to free them, a Roman Catholic priest crawled into the wreckage to administer the last rites."

Stark words taken from a newspaper report 50 years ago as it informed readers of the devastation following a train crash which claimed the lives of three railmen at the tiny Knowle & Dorridge railway station.

The tragedy unfolded on August 15, 1963 after a signalman's error saw a luxury Pullman express run into the back of a goods train.

The dead men were all from Wolverhampton.

Driver Sidney Bench, aged 63, of Ringwood Road, Bushbury, co-driver Thomas Morris, also 63, of Winchester Road, Fordhouses, and fireman David Corkery, aged 31, of Stafford Road, were all in the cab of the Pullman's diesel engine.

One was rescued immediately, but died. The others were trapped for 25 minutes before being carried out.

Tragically, Corkery was only on the train to cover for the sickness of another fireman.

The Birmingham to Paddington express, pulling nine coaches with 100 passengers, crashed into the goods train seconds after approaching the station at about 40mph.

It hit the back of a shunting engine which was loaded with export Land Rovers. Do the Tell us recollections. cathrina.trinitymirror.

Inside the cab, the three men were trapped and rescue workers, using oxy-acetylene equipment, battled desperately to free them. The Birmingham Evening Mail reported extensively on the crash.

Donald Holland, one of the conductors on the Pullman, told the Mail: "There was no warning.

"We were speeding between 40 and 50 mph and had just started to slow YOU recall accident? your Email hulse@com down when there was a crash and a succession of two or three further shocks before the train came to a standstill."

None of the passengers were hurt but chef Peter Harrold was severely scalded when he was thrown across his kitchen by the impact.

Two more employees were treated for shock.

A crash inquiry later heard evidence from two young train-spotters who had witnessed the whole thing.

Peter James, then 14, of Torrington Avenue, Coventry, said the Pullman came round the bend towards Knowle Station at 30 to 40mph and said the signal at the far end of the platform was at danger.

His friend, then-15-year-old Paul Sliwinski, of Templar Avenue, Coventry, said the train had slowed to 20mph when the crash happened.

Signalman Evan Jones, 55, said he had started a shunting move which brought the freight train into the path of the Pullman.

" I did not appreciate that I had given a line clear call for the Pullman," he said.

Do YOU recall the accident? Tell us your recollections. Email


The Land Rovers stand mangled on the goods train following the crash.

Bob Gillman reports for ATV Midlands from the scene of the crash at Dorridge station. Picture courtesy of ITV.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 29, 2013
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