Orgreave Paddy Mail accident

The Orgreave Paddy Mail accident occurred on 13 December 1926 and was the second part of a double crash which took place immediately to the west of Orgreaves Colliery signal box, about one mile west of Woodhouse station.

Note: The signal box was named "Orgreaves Colliery", with an 's' being added to the name, in error, however the railway company never corrected the mistake and it remained as such until its eventual demise.

The line at Orgreave was four track, the centre tracks being the main lines worked under Absolute Block regulations, the outer lines, designated 'goods lines' were worked, for goods trains, under Permissive Block regulations.

Shortly after 5 a.m. on 13 December 1926 the Orgreaves Colliery signalman accepted the 1.15 a.m. Dewsnap to Nottingham goods train from the Darnall West signalman (the intermediate signal box, High Hazels Colliery, being closed at the time) on the 'up goods' under the Permissive Block regulations. This train collided with the rear of the stationary, 2.50 a.m. Mexborough to Woodford goods train, consisting of around 40 wagons, mostly empty, which was stood at Orgreaves home signal. The weather was said to be foggy, the fog being dense in places. A number of empty wagons were derailed and some were thrown foul of the 'up main' line.

"Paddy Mails" were operated in connection with all three shift changes at the collieries. These were hauled from Sheffield Victoria, as far as Orgreaves Colliery Sidings by the main line company, using whatever locomotive was available. At this point the colliery's own locomotives took over and in connection with this operation 'Rothervale No.6' was fitted with vacuum brakes.

Just before 5.30 a.m. the Orgreave "Paddy Mail" left Sheffield Victoria, and having called at Darnall and running on the 'up main', hit the wreckage. The "Paddy" consisted of 14 assorted, elderly vehicles hauled by an ex-G.N.R. "Atlantic" driven by Fred Bagley of Neepsend engine shed. The train was reported as carrying around 800 miners heading for the start of shift. The train would have left Darnall before the first accident happened and with no intermediate signal box there was little that could be done top halt its progress. The locomotive hit the wagons, there being no great force as the train was slowing to take the branch points and the "Paddy" was brought to a halt within 50 yards, however some damage was done to the front coaches. Although there were many minor injuries to the colliers going on shift only 19 miners required the attention of staff at Sheffield Royal Hospital, one being detained with back and thigh injuries, and there were no fatalities.

Many of the uninjured miners from Orgreave left the train and walked along the lines to the pit head ready for the morning shift, a failure to arrive in time for the man-riding cages to the pit bottom would result in either lower paid surface work for the day or, even worse, being sent home with no pay. For the miners from Treeton it was too far to walk within the time and many were taken back to Sheffield by the railway.


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