NS004 ~ Peart and Dean 1898

Set members: 571 and 581

In 1898 Walter Peart and Henry Dean were the driver and fireman of the Great train known as the Windsor Express. On 18 July 1898, they were driving the 4:15 train from Windsor to Paddington when, just outside Acton, the connecting rod broke. Part of it was driven through the boiler casing and caused damage to the firebox which overwhelmed the men with cinders, steam and fire. They succeeded in applying the brake and bringing the train to a safe standstill before leaving the engine at Acton station [Ref http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Western_Railway_accidents]

At hospital, Peart explained why he hadn't jumped out:

I stopped my engine. ... When it happened, I got back out of the way, and I thought to myself, the train is running as fast as ever. I thought I would go back to the fire and put my vacuum brake on. I did it, and as I got out from the fire and the smoke I couldn't run and when I was by the side of the engine my leg was struck by the connecting rod, which was broken.

Among the lives saved by Peart and Dean was that of Mr Goschen, First Lord of the Admiralty, who wrote with a subscription to their families. However, Peart and Dean themselves died of their injuries in St Mary's Hospital. The inquest jury desired 'to place on record their high appreciation of the conduct of the two deceased men in applying the brake and in keeping at their posts, thus averting a very serious catastrophe which would have endangered the lives of the passengers of the train.' Both men left widows, and Peart also had five children [ref http://carolineld.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/postmans-park-27-railway-heroism.html]

Notes on the Poems:

581~The Gallant Twain was printed soon after the accident.

571~Humble Heroes was printed some months later and puts Peart and Dean in a wider context of heroic actions by working people of all sorts.