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Railway memory of Dickens in crash tragedy

Crash survivor Dickens
Crash survivor Dickens

Author Charles Dickens died exactly five years after being involved in one of the first serious train crashes to happen in Kent.

On June 9 1865 he was returning from a holiday in France on the Folkestone boat train when it crashed on a bridge over a river at Staplehurst.


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Ten passengers were killed and more than 50 injured. Henry Benge the foreman for the railways was found guilty of the manslaughter of the passengers and sentenced to nine months hard labour. He had no watch and was unable to accurately tell the time of the arrival of the train and so had not completed the repairs to the bridge across the River Beult.

Dickens subsequently wrote a ghost story called The Signal Man about a railway signal man who desperately tried to stop a train crash. The author died on June 9 1870 at his Kent home.

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