Charles Dickens and the Staplehurst rail disaster

When his train derailed while crossing a bridge, the celebrated novelist confronted death, despair and destruction to save others – and his work.

Shortly after 3pm on 9 June 1865, the daily train from Folkestone, Kent, to London chugged past the small, country station of Headcorn when the driver saw an alarming sight not far up ahead. At the side of the railway stood a man waving a red flag, a sure sign of something amiss on the line ahead.

The driver whistled for the brakes, but it was too late to stop the train, carrying well over 100 passengers. The carriages careened off the rails, sending several over a small viaduct. The quiet town of Staplehurst, Kent, turned to carnage as survivors clambered to get free of the wreckage. The screams of the trapped rang out and bodies littered the ground.

The crash killed ten people, injured 40 more and left one of the most famous writers of the age, Charles Dickens – a first-class passenger that day – greatly disturbed for the rest of his life.

Read the rest of this interesting article here: Charles Dickens and the Staplehurst rail disaster

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