On 12th June1889, 89 people died and hundreds were injured in Ireland’s worst railway disaster (get closer by clicking the images).
That morning almost 1200 people crammed into 13 carriages at Armagh Station - about 400 more passengers than expected. At 10.15am, the train departed for Warrenpoint on the Methodist Sunday School excursion, despite concerns as to whether engine No.86 could cope with so many passengers.
Twenty minutes later, these concerns proved well-founded. The engine stalled on a steep hill three miles outside Armagh. The decision was taken to divide the train and pull the front four carriages into Hamiltownsbawn. The remaining nine carriages were secured with a handbrake and by wedging stones under the wheels. However, when moving off, the main engine nudged the separated carriages and jolted them backwards.
Those onboard couldn’t escape, because it was common practice to lock carriage doors on passenger trains carrying children. Many of the children who survived the Armagh disaster had been thrown from the windows.
Gathering speed, the carriages with 600 passengers onboard, hurtled downhill and collided with the oncoming 10.35 train to Newry. The Armagh accident remains Ireland’s worst railway disaster.
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