Burscough Junction Station, early 1900s. (Photo courtesy - Trevor Bridge).
A major accident at Burscough Junction station on the 15th January 1880, in which 9 people were killed and more than 50 were injured. The accident was caused by a combination of human error, a defective and outdated signalling system and inadequate track layout which could not cope with complex train movements. Spur lines had been built to connect the Liverpool to Preston railway line to the Wigan to Southport railway line, known as the Burscough Curves, this meant that more complicated train movements were being made between the two railway lines.
At approximately 6:05pm the southbound train left the station heading for Ormskirk having been turned onto the down line by the signalman on duty at Burscough. 200 yards south of the station, adjacent to the Brickfield (Platts Lane) siding, the train collided with the Liverpool to Preston train which had left Liverpool at 5:30pm. The northbound train was eventually due to carry on to Fleetwood to disembark passengers for the Belfast steamer ferry.
The first two carriages of both trains were completely shattered and the passengers thrown about in all directions. Those who could, scrambled out of the wreckage to be met by railway officials who had heard the collision and were making their way toward the site of the crash. A number of medical gentlemen arrived by special train and rendered very valuable services. The injured were taken to Preston Infirmary by special train at 10:00pm. The pointsman, Anthony Melia, from Burscough Junction station was taken into custody and appeared at the subsequent inquiry. Anthony Melia was found not guilty, by the inquiry, of criminal negligence.
Dr Hall of Preston, who was a passenger on one of the trains rendered valuable assistance at the scene of the accident.
As a result of the accident the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway promised to carry out improvements to the station to prevent a similar disaster occurring. Over the next two years new signal boxes were installed and the entire points system reviewed to allow shunting and local train movements to be independent of main line train operations.
No memorial to the crash exists on the site.
Edward Sutton, Ormskirk. Aged 36. Guard, Burscough train.
Thomas Looney, Ormskirk. Aged 50. Engine driver, Burscough train. Robert Sanderson. Aged 20. Fireman, Burscough train.
Robert Montgomery, Preston. Aged 38. Hatter and clothier.
Robert Clarkson, Preston Aged 39 Fireman, Liverpool express.
James Haythornthwaite, Burnley Aged 21 Wholesale potato dealer.
Michael Boyle, Fleetwood Aged 40 Butcher.
William Rawcliffe, Preston Aged 21 Draper's assistant.
John Henry Crossfield, died 2nd February 1880 in Preston Infirmary after having his leg amputated the Sunday prior.