Stun­ning pho­to­graphs of train de­rail­ment found af­ter 20 years

Cynon Valley - - YOUR VIEWS - ABBY BOLTER abby.bolter@waleson­

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

Linda Paschali

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