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Arnold historian Bob Massey shares a story about a disastrous trip to the seaside for one local young woman…

Today we take a seaside trip for granted, but in the 19th century holidays of any type were rare as ordinary people worked six days a week .

Travel was difficult and the roads were nothing but dirt tracks making a journey of any distance an unpleasant experience.

The invention of the railways changed all that. They were quick and comfortable and people now started to travel .

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Holidays in the form of day trips were now possible for the slightly better off at least, and people looked forward to their day out.

On August 6, 1857, Ann Brewster, a 19-year-old farmers daughter, boarded at train at Burton Joyce for a day excursion to Grimsby. 

She was excited to be visiting the sea and having time away from her father’s farm at Stoke Bardolph.

Her father was George Brewster. He was a farmer with some 186 acres who employed five labourers to assist with the farm work.

He and his wife Mary had three children. Ann was the middle child, with an older brother Samuel and a younger brother Edward.

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The family was fairly well off and were able to employ three servants to carry out the work around the house as well as the three labourers.

George’s brother John was also a well known solicitor with a large practice in Nottingham. Ann could therefore well afford this day’s treat.

Ann Brewster lived on her parent’s farm in Stoke Bardolph

The train she caught that day had left Nottingham at 6am that morning for the special excursion and was scheduled to pick up passengers at stations all along the Nottingham to Lincoln line.

It had stopped first at Carlton before picking up at Burton Joyce. After leaving Burton Joyce it stopped at Lowdham before proceeding to Collingham, its next stop. It arrived into Collingham at about 7am.

Just beyond Collingham Station the rails were in the process of undergoing repairs. As the train left Collingham it began picking up speed and suddenly started to run away, now travelling too fast for the condition of the rails ahead.

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Before the driver could stop the train, several of the front carriages jumped the rails on the weaker section. Fortunately, there were only a few passengers on the train at the time and most of them were occupying the rear coaches.

The loud noise and the shaking of the train would have caused great fear and alarm amongst the occupants of the rear carriages – which included Ann Brewster.

The farmer’s daughter became convinced her carriage would crash and that she’d be crushed. She attempted to jump from the train, which was still moving. She was the only passenger to do so.

When jumping from the carriage, her dress got caught in the door and pulled her back towards the train. She struck her head on a telegraph pole at the side of the track.

With the train still moving, her carriage now encountered the derailed front coaches, one of which caught the stunned Ann with one of its wheels and killed her instantly.

The remaining part of the train, including Ann’s carriage, righted its self and came to a stop safely.

None of the other passenger sustained more than bruises.

In all there had been some 30 carriages in the train with only a couple suffering derailment. The engine had remained on the track.

The other passengers were disembarked onto the rail embankment. Leaving the carriages and passengers in charge of the carriages, the driver took the engine onwards to Lincoln to report the accident and get assistance.

On its return, Ann’s body was then conveyed to Collingham. An inquest into her death was quickly organised and held later that same afternoon. The jury, under the direction of Mr Harrison, the Deputy coroner, examined the scene of the crash.

After they had listened to the evidence they returned a verdict of accidental death on the poor Ann Brewster – the only victim of this holiday disaster.

  • Bob Massey is a local historian who writes books and also gives talks about Gedling borough’s rich history and heritage. You can find out more about his projects by visiting his website: http://www.bobmassey.info

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