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view document PDF (0.6Mb download)Report on the Fire which occurred in an Express Passenger Train on 14th July 1951 near Huntingdon in the Eastern Region British Railways

Document Summary

The report into the fire on an express passenger train near Huntingdon in 1951.

This document was published on 10th March 1952 by Ministry of Transport.

It was written by Col. R. J. Walker.


This item is linked to the Accident at Huntingdon on 14th July 1951


The original document format was Stapled Book, and comprised 17 pages.

This document was kindly sourced from Stuart Johnson and is in our Accident reports collection. It was added to the Archive on 23rd June 2006.

Copyright Information

This document is Crown Copyright, and is subject to the terms governing the reproduction of crown copyright material. Depending on the status and age of the original document, you may need an OPSI click-use license if you wish to reproduce this material, and other restrictions may apply. Please see this explanation for further details.

"There can be little doubt that the fire started in the hole in the floor through which the air duct to the toilet was taken. In all probability, it was caused by a piece of live coal from the engine which entered from the underside and lodged in the air space between the asbestos and the lower wood layer of the floor. I think it likely that this occurred soon after the train left King's Cross, and that the wood smouldered for some time before the fire spread through the hair felt to the upper layer of wood ; then, fanned by the air flow underneath the coach, it gradually spread upwards through the hole, and caused the thin trickle of smoke which was noticed by the passengers. Eventually, the smouldering fire reached the sponge rubber floor covering and, as this was itself covered by a carpet, it did not ignite, but partially melted and gave off the heavier fumes (isoprene) which were noticed by the passengers about 10 minutes before Huntingdon was reached. Finally, when the train stopped (and perhaps, because it stopped), the rubber burst into a small flame. This, in turn, came in contact with the leather cloth coveting on the side of the coach, and in a very few seconds the end of the coach was fully ablaze, and the fire was out of control."

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