The station at Chelford is on the main line from Crewe to Manchester and by road a short distance from Knutsford along Chelford Road.

At the time of this railway accident, it was part of the London and North Western Railway.

On Saturday, December 22, 1894, the 4.15pm Manchester to Crewe express was hauled by two locomotives LNWR Waterloo Class 418 Zygia and Experiment Class 518 Express.

The train consisted of 16 carriages, and the lead engine was Zygia. As they set off towards Chelford Station, the station master, John Hyde, was supervising the shunting of a luggage train travelling from Crewe to Manchester.

The shunting engine pushed an empty high-sided wagon down the main line into a siding.

A violent northwest wind blew at the time, and the light was fading. The stationmaster saw that the high-sided wagon was being blown toward the main line.

At the time, another six wagons were being shunted into the sidings, and the one under the influence of the strong wind crashed into them, fouling the main line.

Northwich Guardian: A news report of the crashA news report of the crash (Image: Paul Hurley)

This was at the same time as the Manchester-Crewe express approached the scene travelling at about 60mph.

The station master ran towards the approaching locomotive, waving a red lamp, but the driver assumed that he was signalling as part of the shunting operation and carried on at full speed.

Zygia hit the wagon, fowling the line, and fell onto its side, acting as a block for the rest of the train, whilst its tender ran up onto the platform.

The driver was thrown from the footplate across a hedge with just slight injuries, and the fireman was killed.

Express remained on its wheels but off the lines, and the carriages were damaged, the first one colliding with the front of a signal box and several more wrecked.

Northwich Guardian: Some of the damage to the carriagesSome of the damage to the carriages (Image: Paul Hurley)

A call went out for medical assistance, and the first lady pulled from the wreckage had lost both legs.

The rescue operation continued, but the last bodies were not recovered for 24 hours. In all, 14 passengers were killed and 48 injured.

The injured survivors were taken to the Railway Company Hospital in Crewe, the Crewe Town hospital and a Manchester Hospital.

A train was sent to convey the uninjured to Crewe and onwards. A telegram of condolence was sent to the head of the LNWR on behalf of Queen Victoria.

The Crewe Arms Hotel was the venue for the investigation, and Major Marindin, Government Inspector, was nominated as the investigating officer. After all, the witnesses had been interviewed, and the conclusion arrived.

The accident report stated that no one was to blame, including the Chelford Station master.

The advice given was that goods vans being shunted should have brakes fitted. And when shunted on sidings parallel to the main line, operations would cease when a train was passing.

It was agreed, however, that this was not an order and would prove practically unworkable.