Stunning photographs of train derailment found after 20 years
LINDA Paschali was getting ready for school when she heard what sounded like thunder.
But when she looked out of her window the teenager saw a steam locomotive pulling dozens of coal trucks out of control and speeding backwards down the tracks towards the edge of the mountain behind her home.
Grabbing a small cartridge camera she had been given for her birthday she headed out into the back garden of her Maesteg home and then climbed over the wall to venture closer.
Linda took dramatic images of the steam loco from St John’s Colliery, which had stopped by now and been left teetering precariously on the edge of a mountain surrounded by puzzled National Coal Board (NCB) officials.
Now 64 and retired, she had long forgotten about the derailment and her stunning photos until she went looking for a baby picture of her son and rediscovered the pictures instead.
“It’s about 20 years since I have seen them and they brought back memories,” she said.
She believes the crash – near her childhood home in St Mary’s Crescent, Garth – happened in May or June of 1968, when she was a pupil at Maesteg Comprehensive.
But, knowing no other details apart from the fact the driver had jumped clear and no one was injured, she shared them with us in the hope of getting some answers.
And Neil Parry, the secretary of Llynfi Valley Historical Society, has been able to shed light on the event, believing the NCB Bagnall loco went off the rails in either 1971 or 1973.
He worked on the traffic weigh bridges at both St John’s and the washery – where coal was washed, sorted and graded before sale – between 1962 and 1989, when the washery closed. He recalled a previous derailment in 1961 under similar circumstances.
“The loco started sliding and the driver tried to put the brakes on and off (to stop the slide),” he said of the 1970s incident.
“The crew jumped off and started putting more sand on the line (to provide traction).
“Eventually they couldn’t control it and they all jumped off. At the end of the railway is a twmp and it just rolled up over the twmp.”
None of the crew were injured in the incident, but all have since passed away.
Neil said as production was everything for mines a shut down due to a backlog of full coal trucks was not allowed.
So train drivers, who completed the run from the colliery to the washery six or seven times a day, were always pressured into taking more wagons than strictly allowed. Each wagon weighed around 20 tons.
The NCB continued to use steam locos long after they had been taken out of commission on passenger railways.
Neil said as they were used in Maesteg far longer than in other locations, railway enthusiasts from around the world would visit to take pictures.
Linda Paschali rediscovered these pictures she took as a teenager of a steam coal loco derailment in Maesteg after 20 years. The loco derailed behind Linda’s house