Memories of Doncaster rail crash horror

Charmain Gaud still has vivid memories of the Balby train disaster
Charmain Gaud still has vivid memories of the Balby train disaster

A woman has told of her vivid memories of the horrific Balby Bridge rail disaster at Doncaster.

Charmian Gaud, who has since emigrated to Australia, was just three years old in 1951 when she and mother Marion were in the crash.

Charmain Gaud as a little girl

Charmain Gaud as a little girl

Fourteen people were killed in the crash when the third carriage being hauled by the Cock o’ the North locomotive derailed, slamming into Balby Bridge.

Twelve were seriously hurt in the crash, but Charmian doesn’t remember the screaming of injured passengers that morning.

“No horror is in my memory, just walking along the railway track with a brick high wall and the carriages which were crookedly on their sides on the rail,” she said from her home in Melbourne, Victoria, where she now lives.

“My mum said didn’t I remember all the people screaming? She said she hadn’t talked about it when I was a child because it was so traumatic.”

It was only fate which kept the pair out of the accident.

“She also said that we would have been in one of the damaged carriages if I had taken up the offer to move to the restaurant car for a drink,” Charmian said.

Charmian and her mother were on one of their regular trips when the disaster happened. They lived in Scunthorpe at the time and used to change trains at Doncaster on their way to see a grandmother.

Charmian uses the internet to support her memories these days.

“Looking on Google maps I can now see the wall of the rising road at Balby Bridge on digital maps and where the station is,” she said.

She learnt the death toll in an article on our website.

Watching a film called Lion, about an Indian boy who gets lost on a train and reunites with his family after 25 years spurred her on to look for more information. The boy in the filmuses Google Earth to return home, years after being adopted. She said she could easily believe the vivid memories at the end of the film where the character travels through streets using his memory.