April 26th 2019 (the meeting will be preceded by a short 10 minute AGM)
Alan Hayward presents “The Severn Railway Bridge Disaster 1960”.
It was the longest railway bridge in England, built in 1879 to export minerals from the Forest of Dean. As a single track bridge on cast-iron columns it was vulnerable, being repeatedly struck by vessels.
All 22 spans were being strengthened for heavier trains in October 1960 when the bridge was struck in darkness and fog by two oil barges out of control, only minutes after the last train. Two spans collapsed, and the oil caught alight. Five barge crew members perished, but by sheer good fortune 30 bridge workers were unharmed. British Railways planned restoration but with only negligible compensation decided on demolition. The bridge finally disappeared in 1970.
A fascinating presentation, Alan adroitly navigated some fascinating aspects of history, business, politics and much engineering complexity to lead us in a gripping story of human endeavour, frustrated by commercial pressures and forces of nature not to speak of sheer human incompetence, that resulted in a catastrophe that was almost waiting to happen.
Club Day trip on Saturday July 13th - final payments for places at this meeting. Numbers needed for the August outing.
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