Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES
RATANA (WANGANUI) RAIL ACCIDENT
SATURDAY 26 MARCH 1938

In the early hours of Easter Saturday, 26 March 1938, the "special" passenger excursion train from Wellington to New Plymouth derailed four miles north of Turakina on the Ratana flat. (Today the rail does not follow this route but heads north from Turakina towards Fordell)

At the time the area was covered with haze and banks of fog. The driver of the train, Edward PERCIVAL had not driven this section of track for many years and became dis-orientated. The train ran into a bank of fog and the driver missed a speed restriction board thinking he was further from a "6.4 chain radius curve" (approx 130 metre radius) than he actually was. The driver made a short light application of the brakes but it was not enough and the train entered the curve at an estimated 50mph instead of the recommended 20mph.

The subsequent inquiry found that the driver was a "steady, competent, experienced driver with a first-class record." The excessive speed was found to be "an honest error of judgement to which the presence of haze and fog contributed. The inquiry recommended that speed recorders be installed on all engines used for hauling express, mail and passenger trains.

Seven people died and twelve people were taken to Wanganui Hospital. This official casualty list is from the Wanganui Chronicle of 28 March 1938.

THOSE WHO DIED AS A RESULT OF THE RATANA RAIL ACCIDENT
LEWIS Ethel Mrs 50 Years Of 14 Murphy St Wellington. Leaves a husband and four children. Killed at scene
MILLER Ken 33 Years Of 43 Taranaki St, Wellington. Married. Fireman on the train. Died in hospital as a result of his injuries
QUINTON Percy W 63 Years Of 59 Ghuznee St Wellington. Died in hospital as a result of his injuries
SOLLITT Zoe Muriel Miss 21 Years Resided with her mother at 20 Martin St Palmerston North. Killed at scene
STROUD Leslie Walden 18 Years Single of 167 Riddiford St Wellington, son of Mrs J K STROUD of 186 Guyton St, Wanganui. Killed at scene
TULLOCH Hazel Doris (Peggy) Mrs 24 Years Of 29 Bay St, Petone. Daughter of Mr & Mrs A T SPURDLE of Bignell St, Wanganui. Died in hospital as a result of her injuries.
WEBB Esma Wilton Mrs 23 Years Of 1 Herald St Wellington. Daughter of Mr & Mrs W COSTELLO, Maxwell Ave, Durie Hill, Wanganui. Leaves a husband and 2 children. Killed at scene



THOSE WHO WERE INJURED AS A RESULT OF THE RATANA RAIL ACCIDENT
BATTISON Elsie Miss 22 Terrace Garden Wellington Wound on forehead. Condition satisfactory
CARLYLE Mrs 11 Picton Ave, Newton Wellington Cut on head. Condition fair
CLARK Peter Shannon 41 years. Shock. Condition not serious
DUTTON Sissy 16 Parliament St Wellington Wound on head. Condition not serious
ELLIS Mary 51 Duncan St Wanganui Compound fracture of right leg. Condition serious but improving
GARDINER J D C/o Mrs Falkner, 31 Caius Ave Gonville Wanganui Broken leg and severe cut above knee. Condition fair
HANFORD Annie Mrs 198 Tinakori Rd Wellington Cuts on legs and forehead. Condition satisfactory
McKENZIE Laura Marine Pde Seatoun Wellington Bruises on face and shock. Condition satisfactory
PAGE F Mrs 124 Dixon St Wellington Extensive bruises on back. Condition fair
PERCIVAL Edward 66 Sar St Wellington Driver of the train. Severe burns on arms and upper body. Condition fair
SQUIRE Harold V 9 Hinau Road Haitaitai Wellington Injured foot. Not serious
WATT Janet Miss Ballance St Petone Injuries to hip and head. Condition fairly serious

Return To HOME

FAMILIES I AM RESEARCHING | MISCELLANEOUS GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH |NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES | NEW ZEALAND AND WORLD WAR ONE | NEW ZEALAND ROLLS OF HONOUR – BY LOCATION | NEW ZEALAND ROLLS OF HONOUR – BY CONFLICT | NEW ZEALAND ROLLS OF HONOUR – MILITARY NURSES | PAKEHA/MAORI TRANSLITERATIONS |PASSENGER LISTS TO NEW ZEALAND | SHAND – FAMILY HISTORY | SPONDON, DERBYSHIRE, ENGLAND | TE PUKE, BAY OF PLENTY, NEW ZEALAND | WOMEN OF SOUTH TARANAKI