THESE images recall a lucky escape for rail passengers following a major accident in north Essex more than 30 years ago.

But seven people had to be rescued from the wreckage when a train ploughed through the end-of-the-line barriers on August 12 1987.

The incident at just after 1pm saw the train, travelling at 50mph, crash into the buffer stops at Walton and slam in to the station waiting room.

The front coach suffered the worst of the damage having separated from the rest of the train but the other two carriages only suffered slight damage.

Seven people, including the train driver, were taken to hospital by the emergency services who arrived on the scene in minutes but, astonishingly, there were no fatalities.

More so having seen the photographs taken off the waiting room as fire crews worked in the aftermath of the crash.

The station itself had opened as Walton-on-the-Naze in May 1867 by the Tendring Hundred Railway which was operated at the time by the Great Eastern Railway (GER)

In the history of north Essex there have thankfully been few rail incidents.

The worst was more than a century ago, when three people were killed and several injured when the Cromer Express travelling from Norfolk to London ran through Colchester at high speed and collided with the tender of a light engine.

It had been moving slowly forward on the same line.

Witnesses said they could see sparks flying for miles as the trains attempted to avoid an inevitable collision.

Accident reports said the driver of the light engine, who was on it alone at the time, was badly injured and the driver and fireman of the express train were killed


Railway historian Jim Connor wrote a book in honour of the centenary, researching the individual stories.

The express train driver, Billy Barnard, for example, had also lost his own father in a train accident 13 years earlier..

Fireman on the train that day, Sidney Keeble, was a friend of Billy’s who had been in the job for four years.

The third victim, guardsman George Burdett, had been travelling in the leading van.

Jim put together a whole host of witness accounts as part of a centenary publication, The Wreck of the Cromer Express - The Colchester Railway Accident of 1913.

He explained he did not actually include his favourite - which he had no way of proving was true or not.

“I didn’t include it in the book I wrote because I could not get it substantiated, but it said that as the other train came towards them and it was immediately clear they would not survive the impact, all three hugged each other.”