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William Huskisson and the First Railway Tragedy

William Huskisson (born March 11, 1770) was a statesman, financier and MP but he will always be remembered as the first widely-reported person in history to be fatally injured in a railway accident.

While attending the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, Huskisson rode down the line in the same train as the Duke of Wellington. At Parkside, close to Newton le Willows, the train stopped to observe a cavalcade on the adjacent line.

Several members of the Duke's party stepped onto the trackside to observe more closely. Huskisson went forward to greet the Duke but as he was leaving the train, the locomotive Rocket approached on the parallel track. Huskisson was unable to get out of the engine's way in time and his left leg was crushed by it.

After the accident, the wounded Huskisson was taken by a train (driven by George Stephenson himself) to Eccles, where he died a few hours later. The monument where his remains are buried is the centrepiece of St James Cemetery, Liverpool.

Have you listened? Check out an account of the tragic incident in the Virtual Museum.



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