TWO memorials mark the tragedy which became known as the Welshampton rail disaster.

At 10.20pm on June 11, 1897 a passenger train bound for Manchester from Barmouth left the track near Welshampton which resulted in the death of 11 people.

An excursion to Barmouth had been organised by the United Sunday Schools of Royton who were among a group of 320 passengers on board a train of mixed Cambrian Railways (CR) and Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) stock of 15 carriages, pulled by two locomotives.

Earlier in the day a Cambrian Railways guard had complained of the rough-riding of a small 4-wheeled L&YR brake van, which on the return journey was at the front of the train.

The train left Barmouth at 6pm and crossed Wales without issue.

However at about 10.20pm one of the engines and 13 of the coaches left the rails 154 yards east of Welshampton station.

Nine passengers were killed in the first fatal accident on the line since it was built and two other passengers and a railway employee died later from injuries.

Although the initial investigation centred on the first carriage to leave the rails, an L&YR third-class brake coach, the enquiry concluded though that the speed of the train was too high considering the state of the track which had many sleepers in need of replacement.

Cambrian Railways top brass disputed the findings and maintained that the Lancashire and Yorkshire vehicle was to blame.

A memorial on the front of the Town Hall in Royton, Greater Manchester names, those killed in the accident.

A second memorial, installed by local people, at the side of the A495 Ellesmere to Whitchurch road, near to the site of the accident, shows the Cambrian Railways coat of arms.

The railway line between Oswestry, Ellesmere and Whitchurch is now disused and, although some of the line is visible, the site of the accident itself has been ploughed out.

Welshampton Station building still exists and has been converted into a house but the second memorial stone remains just in front of its fence by the roadside.

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