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"Horror in the fog"


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Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

Fog is a hazard that has claimed many lives over the years, mostly through automobile accidents but on the 4th of December 1957 it contributed to a tragedy on a truely horrific scale

The 4th of December 1957 was anticyclonic and this was just after the Clean Air act had been passed so pea soupers were still a bane.

Rrea00119571204.gif

Thick fog had blanketed London that day and visibility was down to 15 yards during rush hour causing travel chaos.

The 4.56pm steam train from Cannon Street station to Ramsgate and the 5.18pm electric train from Charing Cross to Hayes both left late due to the fog.

The 5.18pm came to a halt at signals close to Lewisham Junction in east London. The driver of the 4.56pm train was behind but due to the fog he failed to see the warning signals of the danger ahead, at the last moment he saw the red light in the fog but disaster struck when he crashed into the back of the stationary train. Carriages derailed and they smashed into a overhead railway viaduct which then collapsed onto the carriages.

The fog was so dense that no one saw the crash and the the sound of the impact was muffled. By a fluke, a train that was on the railway line above managed to stop before it came to the collapsed viaduct as the electrics was cut off.

Rescue workers struggled to get to the scene but what confronted them was truely appalling. The fog hampered rescue workers because it was so dense. Some survivors of the crash literally groped unaided nearly a mile along the track to the next station in the fog.

90 people were killed in the disaster and scores were injured, one of the worst rail disasters to have occured in the UK

The tragedy will always be remembered as the "Horror in the Fog" as the newspaper headlines of that day reported.

57train.jpg

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Posted
  • Location: Stewartstown (51m asl) , N.Ireland. (In Dazzling Dazza Land)
  • Location: Stewartstown (51m asl) , N.Ireland. (In Dazzling Dazza Land)

Crumbs :lol: , horrific!

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Posted
  • Location: Barnehurst nr Bexleyheath, Kent
  • Location: Barnehurst nr Bexleyheath, Kent

The train I get to and from work goes via Lewisham. That is a tragic thing to have happened and sends a shiver down my spine!

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Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

We are very fortunate that we didn't live in that era of pea-soupers. It staggering that people were able to move about. It was well-known that people actually got lost in the fogs even when they were in a familiar neighbourhood. Visibility were down to just a few feet at times. How trains could have run in those conditions is beyond me.

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Posted
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks

!! a few of us are old enough mate!

1958 early winter in London, I remember leaving near Wembley, bright morning with some patchy fog, and catching the tube, seemed a bit grey before we disappeared under the streets. Came out at Trafalgar Square, well was going to, only to be met by people, hankies over faces coughing/spluttering, and when I got to where daylight should be, if anything it was darker than in the tube.

Absolutely amazing, thick dark greyish yellow, so I turned round and went back.

Living in a coal mining area as a kid I was used to fogs so thick you literally could not see 5 foot in front of you. You got used to the few cars and the buses moving at a snails pace often with someone on front of them with a torch or similar.

Quite what it must have been like as an engine driver I simply cannot imagine. Again one got used, in the fog, by railway lines, hearing the fog signal, a loud bang, as a train went over the detonator, always assuming the railway staff had been out and placed them.

The good old days!!

John

Edited by johnholmes
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Wow what an amazing account and most horrorfying for the people involved :lol:

I Cant imagine a "pea souper" fog but from the many stories you hear - esp the above, i dont think i want to experience one.

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Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam
!! a few of us are old enough mate!

1958 early winter in London, I remember leaving near Wembley, bright morning with some patchy fog, and catching the tube, seemed a bit grey before we disappeared under the streets. Came out at Trafalgar Square, well was going to, only to be met by people, hankies over faces coughing/spluttering, and when I got to where daylight should be, if anything it was darker than in the tube.

Absolutely amazing, thick dark greyish yellow, so I turned round and went back.

Living in a coal mining area as a kid I was used to fogs so thick you literally could not see 5 foot in front of you. You got used to the few cars and the buses moving at a snails pace often with someone on front of them with a torch or similar.

Quite what it must have been like as an engine driver I simply cannot imagine. Again one got used, in the fog, by railway lines, hearing the fog signal, a loud bang, as a train went over the detonator, always assuming the railway staff had been out and placed them.

The good old days!!

John

Great memories there John, I've heard stories of the fog even entering homes, theatres, cinemas etc. Unbelievable.

London.fog.jpg

london_fog2_240x320.jpg

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Posted
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks

yes if you went to the cinema, it was a bit murky and the spotlight showed up rather like the bus photo above.

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Posted
  • Location: Bedfordshire/Herts border 40m asl
  • Weather Preferences: Cold, crisp, calm and sunny
  • Location: Bedfordshire/Herts border 40m asl

I think it was the emphasis on the type of coal that was burned both domestically and industrially. There was a higher reliance on coal powered industries compared to recent decades and in the 50's and 60's not many people had central heating so most houses needed fires to provide heat and/or solid fuel boilers to produce hot water. The Clean Air Act was bought in to reduce pollution. As a very small child I can remember my parents talking about the difference in price of smokeless coal (it cost more) compared to what they used in previous years. Can also remember thick fogs when I was very young in the 60's.

And, am being slightly provocative here, the weather was colder then so coal was used for longer in the year than we can imagine now......

However, what about those multi vehicle pile ups in thick fog we used to have on the motorways not that many years ago? Wasn't that in the 80's? And does that blow my theory above out of the water?

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Posted
  • Location: Bognor Regis West Sussex
  • Location: Bognor Regis West Sussex

My grandfather used to tell a tale of cycling near Slough in the really bad fogs arounf that time. he reckoned he regularly had a tail of cars and lorries crawling along behind him in the fog. One day he forgot them and took a shortcut, yep they followed him! Into the field.

My mother at that time suffered from severe asthma and would end up in hospital at least twice in the winter due to the smoky fogs. Terrible times, we moan about pollution now but I suppose most of it is unseen now.

Edited by coldfingers
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Posted
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks

fog made far worse by pollution. Smoke fires for industry and homes. The clean air act, ironically, as Mr Data showed, once it really got going did make a vast improvement as the posts on here show. Only myself seems to have first hand knowledge of those days. Believe me they were a bit Dickensian.

But to answer OP fog initially made far worse by the poluution.

John

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Posted
  • Location: Norfolk
  • Location: Norfolk

My parents often used to tell me the 'true' nature of fog when i was younger and thought it was a foggy day, the Smog in London was a killer and its a blessing we no longer have to face that sort of difficulty, especially with modern driving habits!

The only time I have experienced anything like a pea-souper was on the A414 between Harlow and Chlemsford, visibility was probably 20-30 feet in places and I joined the back of a trail of lorries doing about 10 mph the whole way. Probably would have been in a ditch but for them, never seen fog like it before or since.

You do post some cracking topics in here Mr D!

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Posted
  • Location: Bognor Regis West Sussex
  • Location: Bognor Regis West Sussex

[. Only myself seems to have first hand knowledge of those days. Believe me they were a bit Dickensian.

But to answer OP fog initially made far worse by the poluution.

John

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  • 1 year later...
Posted
  • Location: Stevenage Herts
  • Location: Stevenage Herts

i can even remember in the 70% and all those moterway pile ups at least one big one a year. The famous ' wall of fog' that you to just sweep across the carridgeways. Horrific often leaving a small mountain of burnt out unrecognisable vehicles. thank god due to carefull monitering of speed this is much rarer on this scale now

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Posted
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada

Well I'm sure many of you already know this, but isn't it true that in December 1952 there was a high death toll in London during a prolonged spell of smog? I seem to remember that thousands of people (more than the normal death rate, that is) passed away during that period which also came in this first week of the month, if memory serves me correctly.

What's the Times front page for that period?

There was also a large death toll from smog in the Pittsburgh PA region in 1948 some time, so the problem used to be quite widespread.

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Posted
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
Well I'm sure many of you already know this, but isn't it true that in December 1952 there was a high death toll in London during a prolonged spell of smog?

Met office article here including death rates

Another interesting article here

'The accepted figure is that the London smog killed around 4000 people'

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  • 1 year later...
Posted
  • Location: SE London
  • Location: SE London

The train I get to and from work goes via Lewisham. That is a tragic thing to have happened and sends a shiver down my spine!

yes, it is an elevated platform some distance above street level. no doubt the safety of trains these days would prevent a repeat tradegy. i would hope, as i too go via Lewisham some times
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Posted
  • Location: SE London
  • Location: SE London

Well I'm sure many of you already know this, but isn't it true that in December 1952 there was a high death toll in London during a prolonged spell of smog? I seem to remember that thousands of people (more than the normal death rate, that is) passed away during that period which also came in this first week of the month, if memory serves me correctly.

What's the Times front page for that period?

There was also a large death toll from smog in the Pittsburgh PA region in 1948 some time, so the problem used to be quite widespread.

Pneumoconiosis was a major cause of death. this disease is more commonly attributed to Miners Lung
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