The Railway Work, Life & Death project.

Earlier this month in Sunday Sundries I gave a shoutout to this project about railway worker accidents in Britain and Ireland from the late 1880s to 1939. At the time the database documented 3,914 deaths. Information on another 17,000 British and Irish railway worker accidents between 1900 and 1939 has now been released, it’s free.

“The new data adds railway staff accident reports produced by the railway inspectors employed by the British state. Our initial coverage included 1911-1915; we’ve now filled in the gaps, to cover 1900-1910, and 1921-1939 (there’s a gap in coverage due to the First World War; nothing before 1900, and after 1939 the reports change and aren’t publicly available). Even with the 17,000 cases, this is only a fraction – around 3% – of all railway staff accidents at this time; most weren’t investigated by the state officials.

The accidents were spread around the UK and Ireland: nearly 13,000 cases in England, just over 3,000 in Scotland, about 900 in Wales and a little over 300 on the island of Ireland; not forgetting the sole case from the Channel Islands!

Around 4,500 of these incidents were fatalities; the rest injuries, varying considerably in extent and harm inflicted. Men feature more heavily than women – indeed, only 34 accidents to women were investigated by the state inspectors. The ages covered range from 7 to 82. And whilst most people included were railway employees, by no means all were: nearly 800 cases were investigated in which a non-employee was harmed.”

Read more at and/or download the spreadsheet

One Reply to “The Railway Work, Life & Death project.”

  1. So far, I’ve found no family members…Fascinating database, regardless – definitely gives a rather eye-opening view into the occupations of those who worked for the railroad.

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