Somerset Guardian/Somerset Standard
Friday 8th January 1971

Probe ordered on Radstock rail crash

BRITISH RAIL take a serious view of the level crossing crash at Radstock on Wednesday and have ordered an immediate domestic inquiry.

This was stated yesterday by Mr John Cormack, assistant PRO, British Rail, Bristol. He was referring to the incident in which a string of 19 empty railway wagons ran away and crashed through the level crossing gate on the old Frome-Bristol railway line.

No one was hurt, but Mr Cedric Brown, of Welton Road, Radstock, had a narrow escape.

He was halfway over the crossing in a van when he caught sight of the wagons. “I saw the first truck come through the gate, and slammed into reverse and went back,” he said.

The driver of another van behind Mr Brown, said, “I saw the trucks coming, and I thought he would never get clear.”

The crash of the breaking gates brought people from shops, and the wagons came to rest blocking the main Bath-Shepton Mallet road.

One of the four gates was completely demolished, and another damaged as the wagons rolled past.

A large van had just gone over the crossing, travelling towards Bath, but there were no pedestrians on the crossing.

The wagons were only moving slowly, and came to rest when seven had gone through the gate.

They had been left in the goods yard on the Frome side of the crossing, and were unattended when they went through the gates.

The road was blocked for about 15 minutes, until a diesel locomotive towed the wagons clear.

According to Mr Cormack, the train had come from Frome and the accident happened while some of the wagons were being detached.

A single decker bus laden with passengers might well have been in the path of the runaways but the driver had stopped to allow Mr Brown to come out into the main stream of traffic from the Frome road.

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