Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Who would have thought as they bade her "Good-bye," that on earth they would never meet again?
Loved ones gathered round her at the railway station. "You are not nervous?" they asked anxiously, "it is a long way to go alone."
"No," she had answered cheerfully, "why should I be? I am in good hands, in safe keeping," and with fond farewells they parted.
The train moved on, and mile after mile of fair verdant country was safely passed, until, with an awful crash, a sudden railway accident brought death and suffering in many a ghastly form among the passengers.
That quote is the opening page and a half from an odd little old book I picked up on eBay entitled "An Incident of the Penistone Railway Accident". Given it's title I had assumed that it would probably be an account of one of the many accidents that occurred on the railway around Penistone; either a personal account or something pulled together from newspapers clippings etc. What it actually turned out to be was a religious tract! The above quote is the only mention of railways within it, and Penistone is only ever mentioned in the title.

The title page gives the full title as "Suddenly! An Incident of the Penistone Railway Accident" and describes the book as "Being No. I, Fourth Series, of Pleasant Stories for the Young". While it lists the publisher as "G. Morrish, 20, Paternoster Square, E.C." it doesn't give a publication date, although a web search led to a Google Books page which lists it as published in 1887. Interestingly my copy seems to have been to the states and back if the sticker in the front, which reads "Loizeaux Brothers, Importers, 1 E. 13th St., New York", is to be believed.

The frontispiece is actually a nice engraving, unfortunately I think the publishers didn't pick the illustration for any reason other than aesthetics. To my eye the proportions of the locomotive look wrong -- the engine looks too wide for it's height. In fact I think the image depicts a broad gauge locomotive (the rails being 7ft 1/4in apart rather than the standard gauge of 4ft 8 1/2 in) which explains why it looks much wider than I would expect. From a bit of digging around the nearest match I can find is to the Great Western Railway (GWR) Star Class locomotives -- Northern Star being a good example as the photo to the left (taken by Tony Hisgett) shows. Northern Star isn't a perfect match to the drawing but it's pretty darn close. Strangely though all members of the class had been withdrawn by 1871, 17 years before I think the book was published, so it wouldn't have been a particularly up to date illustration. Which ever class of locomotive it was meant to represent, if we assume that it is a broad gauge locomotive then it certainly doesn't depict any engine that ever passed through Penistone as the GWR never ran a line into Penistone, and none of the companies that did laid broad gauge track.

All in all, it's an odd little book that has nothing whatsoever to do with Penistone or any of the railway accidents that did occur in the area, so why use Penistone in the title? I think I know the answer but that will have to wait until a future blog post.

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