Christmas Crash Test for School of Signalling Model Railway

This is a guest post written by Associate Curator of Railways, Russell Hollowood.

On 29 December 2014, the School of Signalling Model Railway will abandon part of its usual operating programme to recreate the rail crash at Irk Valley Junction on 15 August 1953. Expert volunteers will use the model railway to explain how a combination of casual rule breaking and failures in concentration led to death and destruction in a Manchester suburb.

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway were pioneers of electrified suburban railways, beginning with Liverpool - Southport in 1904 and Manchester - Bury following in 1916. A Bury electric train was involved in the disaster at Irk Valley. (Ref 10444617)

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway were pioneers of electrified suburban railways, beginning with Liverpool – Southport in 1904 and Manchester – Bury following in 1916. A Bury electric train was involved in the disaster at Irk Valley. (Ref 10444617)

Team leader, Phil Graham, a lifelong railway person and signalling expert, explains that “the whole point of the Signalling School Model Railway was to train signallers and other railway staff in safe railway operating procedures. This re-enactment is instructive, in that it demonstrates perfectly, the terrible consequences of breaking those rules.”

First used as a teaching aid on 13th January, 1913, the School of Signalling Model Railway was used to train railway workers in safe railway operation until 1995. Restored between 1999 and 2010, it now holds a world record, as the world’s oldest continually working model railway. As a museum object, it is a priceless living link with generations of railway people and their 2015 successors. So you can be sure, that Phil and the team will not harm it, in the process of re-running the tragic events at Irk Valley Junction.

Built in 1912, the Signal School Model Railway is still used to teach rules and regulations to the railway workers of today and tomorrow.

Built in 1912, the Signal School Model Railway is still used to teach rules and regulations to the railway workers of today and tomorrow.

If you want to discover what went wrong at Irk Valley Junction, then come along to our museum on 29 December to watch the 2pm demonstration of the School of Signalling Model Railway.

Click here to discover more.

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