Event to remember notorious North East train derailment during General Strike
Events are planned in the run-up to the centenary
An infamous train derailment during the General Strike which thankfully saw the driver avert disaster is being remembered in a new event in the early autumn.
The Cramlington train crash of 1926 was a momentous occasion during the General Strike, which left Britain in turmoil for its nine-day duration in May that year.
Interest in the bitter dispute is growing as the centenary approaches, and members of the Westoe and Harton Miners' Banner Group in South Shields have organised a public event this September.
Ronne Peterson, chairman of the Westoe and Harton Miners' Banner Group, explained: "The derailment happened on March 10, seven days into the General Strike, when striking miners uncoupled a rail on the mainline Edinburgh to London railway.
"The intention was to derail a blackleg coal train that they felt was undermining the strike. Unfortunately for the perpetrators, it was a passenger train, the carriages of which were part of the Flying Scotsman being pulled by the Merry Hampton engine."
Despite 281 passengers aboard the train, the volunteer driver had been warned of trouble ahead and slowed down, meaning when the engine and five carriages were derailed no-one was killed.
"The only injury was minor, to a man's foot. Most people were treated for shock and bruises and continued their journey from Newcastle," said Ronnie.
Eight Cramlington miners were each sentenced for up to eight years for their involvement in the event, eventually being released early due to pressure from the trade union rank and file, politicians and the judiciary itself who saw the original sentences as too harsh.
"The leader of the wreckers was Bill Muckle who was born in Westoe in December 1900. His father looked after the pit ponies. They lived here until 1902 when they moved to Cramlington," said Ronnie.
"The judge, who sentenced them to such harsh imprisonment was Justice Wright from South Shields, he had previously stood unsuccessfully as a prospective Liberal MP in Darlington, so you could see how his political views would influence his decision."
South Shields-based playwright Ed Waugh will give an illustrated talk about the Train Wreckers and Alan Mardghum, Durham Miners Association secretary, will also speak.
Top actor Jamie Brown will recite and sing.
Ed who penned the acclaimed plays Hadaway Harry and Carrying David, and whose latest play Wor Bella transfers to Newcastle Theatre Royal in April 2024, said: "Were the Cramlington Train Wreckers terrorists or workers trying to defend their livelihoods, family and community against an economic onslaught that actually took place after the General Strike ended?
"The story is one of high dramatic tension and has become an important part of British history, although largely forgotten today. With the centenary approaching it is important to assess the events in an informed, dramatic and entertaining manner."
The Cramlington Train Wreckers' meeting take place at Harton and Westoe Miners' Welfare in Low Lane, South Shields (NE34 0NA) on Friday, September 29 at 7.30pm.
Tickets only £2 via eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-cramlington-train-wreckers-tickets-686461864917