Incident directory

1953 - The Clifton Hall Tunnel Collapse

28/04/1953

Country:

UK

  • Rail Incidents

Severity:

Description

Date of event

28th April 1953.

Time of event

Approximately 05:35 (INITIAL CALL)

Name of premises

Stretford Tunnel.

Location

Temple Drive, Swinton.

Service area

Lancashire County Fire Brigade (LCFB) now Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS).

Nature of incident

Confined space incident – special service call (SSC).

Property type

Transport - railway tunnel.

Premises use

Railway tunnel.

Construction type and materials

Brick lined railway tunnel and traditional brick-built houses above. Tunnel built (completed) circa.1850, approximately 1186 m long, 7.3 m wide and approximately 6.7 m high. Tunnelled dug through loose sand and marl (over deeper coal seams) with 8 approximately 2.7 m to 3 m diameter, brick and timber, vertical construction shafts used, that were back filled after main tunnel construction (Langley, 1953).

Occupancy

Occupants of houses.

Fire source and location of fire

N/A

Synopsis

Brief Synopsis

A Divisional Officer (DO) was seriously injured on the 28th April 1953, in a further collapse of an already partially collapsed building, a tunnel and subsequent house collapse, while on a Special Service call (SSC). The DO died on the 6th November 1953 after these injuries led to further complications (House & Settle, 2016).

On the 13th April 1953 brickwork had been reported to have fallen onto the railway line within The Clifton Hall Tunnel, also known as, Black Harry. The location this took place was where an old, unknown tunnel constructional shaft had been filled in. Steps were immediately taken to stop railway traffic and then subsequently to strengthen the tunnel at this point. Before the work had been completed, on the morning of the 28th April 1953, the main tunnel and old construction shaft section collapsed creating a crater on Temple Drive where 2 houses collapsed and fell in. A 3rd house was also severely damaged and a further, 4th house, was also subsequently demolished. 5 persons, occupants of the houses, died (Langley, 1953).

From what is currently understood, from verbal communication (Bonner, 2017), the fire service was summoned, amongst other rescuers, whereby the DO who was involved in the rescue incident apparently fell into the crater during further subsequent collapses and movement. He and another firefighter (Ff) were seriously injured. The DO died sometime later on the 6th November 1953.

Unknown author 5 states that the DO died from cancer (Unknown author 5, 1953).

It is not fully known what impact the incident and the DO’s subsequent injuries had on this and/or his eventual death. At the time of initial datasheet creation, it seemed that the DO died from the injuries and/or complications from these due to the incident only. It appears that there were/are possibly several discussion threads as to the actual final cause of the DO’s death at time of writing latest datasheet version update.

 Pic 01and02

Incident image from Forgotten Relics.co.uk.

 Pic 03

Tunnel plan image from Forgotten Relics.co.uk.

 Pic 04

Plan from Langley, 1953.

 Pic 05

Plan from Langley, 1953.

 Pic 06

Plan from Langley, 1953.

 Pic 07

Unknown photographer, from Evening Chronical, Unknown author 4, 1953, via and courtesy of Bob Bonner and the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum.

 Pic 08

Unknown photographer, from Evening Chronical, Unknown author 3, 1953, via and courtesy of Bob Bonner and the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum.

 Pic 09

Unknown photographer, from Evening Chronical, Unknown author 3, 1953, via and courtesy of Bob Bonner and the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum.

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Main findings, key lessons & areas for learning

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Fire & Rescue Service summary of main findings, conclusions, key lessons & recommendations

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

FBU summary of main findings, conclusions, key lessons & recommendations

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Other report summary of main findings, conclusions, key lessons & recommendations

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

IFE Commentary & lessons if applicable

None produced at this time.

Known available source documents

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

FRS Incident Report/s

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

FBU Incident Report/s

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Incident Report/s and/or improvement notices

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Lancashire Constabulary Incident Report/s

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

North West Ambulance Service Incident Report

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Building Research Establishment (BRE) Reports/investigations/research

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Coroner’s report/s and/or Rule 43 and/or Regulation 28 Notices etc

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Dear Chief Officer Letters (DCOL), FRS Circulars, FRS Notices and/or Bulletins etc

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Notifications from National Operational Learning User Group (NOLUG) and/or Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles (JESIP)

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Other information sources

House, A. & Settle, P. et al. (2016). The firefighter memorial trust book of remembrance [online]. Available at. http://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/FirefighterMemorialTrust/Content/Filler  [Accessed 20th September 2017]. The Firefighters Memorial Trust.

Note. With the above source reference, it is not currently possible to link directly to the relevant page of the memorial book.

Langley, C. A. (1953). Report on the collapse of Clifton Hall tunnel which occurred on 28th April 1953 at Swinton near Manchester in the London Midland region British railways [pdf] Available at http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/docsummary.php?docID=944 [Accessed 4th June 2017]. Her Majesty’s stationary office (HMSO).

Unknown author. (Unknown date). Out of the blue, Clifton Hall Tunnel is now exposed [online] Available at http://www.forgottenrelics.co.uk/tunnels/cliftonhallexposed.html?docID=944 [Accessed 4th June 2017].

Unknown author 2. (Unknown date). Black Harry’s timber time bomb [online] Available at http://www.forgottenrelics.co.uk/tunnels/cliftonhallcollapse.html [Accessed 4th June 2017].

Bonner, B. & Course, A. (2017). Private communication. [Verbal]. 5th June 2017.

Unknown author (1954). The last call. Fire (January). Page 163.

 Pic 10

Unknown authors 3 (1953). Unknown title. Evening Chronical. (28th April). Unknown page number. Courtesy of Bob Bonner and the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum.

 Pic 11

Unknown authors 3 (1953). Unknown title. Evening Chronical. (28th April). Unknown page number. Courtesy of Bob Bonner and the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum.

 Pic 12

Unknown authors 4 (1953). 5 sleeping people killed as homes crash into tunnel. Evening Chronical. (28th April). Page 1. Courtesy of Bob Bonner and the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum.

 Pic 13

Unknown author 5 (1953). Echo of the “Black Harry” disaster injured fire chief carried on - died. The Manchester Evening News. (11th November). Page 5. Courtesy of Bob Bonner and the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum.

 Pic 14

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Service learning material

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Videos available

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

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