Snowdon Mountain Rly accident 1987


These pictures from Flickr show an unusual situation on the railway just under a hundred years since its major accident that bedeviled the opening day of 1896. No. 7 Ralph came to grief near the summit. According to maxturner64 who posted his pictures on Flickr in March 2010, the engine derailed and the rack split. No.7 slid some distance downhill before coming to a halt – luckily on the right side of the tracks rather than the other where a repeat performance of the 1896 accident could have ensued.

The accident was caused by the failure of one of the coupling rods on No.7’s motion gear. The steel used in the casting of the rod was found to be of inferior quality. The guard of the passenger carriage was Ronnie Roberts, who halted its progress by quickly applying the emergency brake – before the automatic brakes came on. As for the locomotive, No.7’s crew jumped out as it hurtled down the tracks for a distance of around 250 yards from the summit. Neither crew suffered severe injury fortunately. Another derailment observed at the summit in 1990 may have been due to rocks displacing the train wheels link to maxturner64’s pics

The book ‘Snowdonia’ by Jim Roberts (Sutton Publishing Ltd, 2000) has a different picture of the accident involving No.7. Its text says “Accidents will happen! This minor mishap occurred in August 1987. No one was hurt.” It is possible the two SMR staff on the right are Mc Avvenie and Day, No.7’s crew at the site some time after the incident – as the train that was behind has returned to Llanberis.

The Neecke family from Holland visited North Wales in August 1987. It appears they ascended Snowdon on 14th August 1987. They were walking the Llanberis path when they noticed the trains stopped at Clogwyn. Continuing to the summit the Neekes came across the derailment scene. Their pictures actually show the site the day after the incident, when No.7 was rerailed and taken back to Llanberis. The above image from John Neeke’s page shows No.4 Snowdon on site, having brought up heavy equipment for the work needed to rerail No.7. A further picture from his site shows the severely damaged trackwork nearer to the summit link to the Neecke site

Another photograph of the derailment has surfaced on Flickr. This shows the work site in fairly thick cloud, with No.4 and the ‘Truck’ (the works train) behind. It was taken by Hefin Owen, presumably on possibly the 15th August 1987. Hefin’s photograph shows that the front of Ralph Sadler has been more or less placed back on the tracks. This is a good picture because now we have a progression of photographs from the complete derailment towards partial re-railing of the locomotive.

Two trains were trapped at the summit station for several days until the blockade could be removed and the lines repaired.

No.7 ‘Ralph’ has been stored at Llanberis since the accident. She was one of the three 1922/3 Swiss-built Winterthur locomotives ordered specially for the Snowdon Mountain Railway. No.8 Eryri is also out of service, leaving No.6 Padarn as the only operating locomotive from this batch with their distinctively curved front plates

Another picture related to the August 13th 1987 derailment can be seen here. Its No 4 Snowdon with the caboose seen in foggy weather delivering equipment to the incident site. See the pic at Flickr

Comments are closed