Victims of Clapham rail disaster to be remembered at 25th anniversary service

By SWLondoner staff

A memorial to mark the 25th anniversary of the Clapham rail disaster, which claimed 35 lives and injured over 100, will be held this Thursday December 12.

The Reverend Canon Hilary Johnson will hold two services at the memorial garden close to the crash site by Spencer Park – a small memorial for survivors and families followed by a larger public remembrance service.

The disaster in 1988 occurred at 8:13am when the 06:14 Poole to Waterloo service crashed into the back of the 07:18 Basingstoke to Waterloo service, which had stopped 300 yards from Clapham Junction station – Europe’s busiest junction.

Moments later an empty train leaving London crashed into the wreckage and the disaster remains the deadliest rail crash in Britain since the Lewisham crash in 1957.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union, told Press Association: “Twenty five years on, we remember those who lost their lives and those who survived thanks to the work of the emergency services and staff from within our own industry.”

First on the scene were staff and pupils from Emmanuel School, based on Battersea Rise, who helped to pull the injured from the wreckage and were commended by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

“It was a horrendous day,” said headmaster Mark Hanley-Browne. “There are only four staff here that were here at the time and they don’t like talking about it.

“Twenty-five years on and it’s still very raw. It doesn’t go away.

“For us it was one of things that we wish never had happened but when it did we were so close we did everything we did to help and comfort those who had lost loved ones.”

Survivor Alison Clark, 49, was in the front of the Poole train and suffered such serious head injuries that it was three weeks before she regained consciousness in St. George’s Hospital, Tooting.

The crash has had a lasting impact on Ms. Clark’s life but she believes the fact she does not remember it has helped her recovery.

“I was very very lucky,” she told the Evening Standard. “Three people sitting close to me didn’t make it.

I used the train when I started work again, but I was never happy doing so. They had been really nice to me at work, but I decided to move to a job nearer home.

“Now I don’t travel on trains unless I have to.”

Picture courtesy of Ray Forster, with thanks

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