When the railway was built to Shepperton and Sunbury in 1864, the original intention of the promoters, including the Lord of the Manor of Shepperton, William Schaw Lindsay, was that the line would continue to a station by Chertsey Bridge.
The London and South Western Railway, who were contracted to work the line, already had their own station at Chertsey and would not agree, so although Shepperton was laid out as a ‘through’ station rather than a terminus, no train was to go further towards Chertsey. Until that is, the 21st April 1982, when an electric Class 508 unit made a valiant attempt to do just that!
I was driving to work in Staines that morning along Green Lane, and as I reached the top of the High Street, was amazed to see a train hanging over the brick wall at the end of the railway. It had come within a whisker of demolishing the new traffic lights which had only just been installed at this junction. Upon returning from work I stopped off, as had several hundred other people by that time, to watch a huge mobile crane which had been brought down the line, attempting to lift the errant train back onto the tracks. A flimsy piece of tape cordoned off the scene – I can’t help but think that the whole area would have been evacuated these days. It was almost a social occasion, as people gathered to share their views and experiences, and take photos. Of course there were no mobile phones, so no footage was immediately uploaded to YouTube as it would be today! Eventually the line was cleared for services to resume.
The story made the national news, including a large picture in the Times newspaper. It transpired that braking trials had been conducted on the line the night before, which involved greasing the rails, and it was said that these had not been cleaned sufficiently. This meant that the unfortunate driver of the first train of the morning, when he applied his brakes, helplessly slid though the station and hit the buffers, pushing the train upwards and over the wall.
A small correction to this article. Reader Richard Law, whose father witnessed the crash, tells me that the accident was actually as a result of faulty brakes, not greasy rails, and the train was not the first of the morning. I am happy to set the record straight.
The next meeting of the Sunbury and Shepperton Local History Society is on Tuesday 19th March at Halliford School, when Cherrill Sands will be speaking on ‘Arts and Crafts Gardens in the South East’. The talk starts at 8pm and all are welcome, £2 admission for non-members