FENIAN OUTRAGES IN LONDON.
Te Aroha News, Volume I, Issue 29, 22 December 1883, Page 3
FENIAN OUTRAGES IN LONDON.
An Underground Train Wrecked. Ever since the frightful explosions at the local Government Boavd offices in April last smashed our windows and shattered our nerves, people who (like myself) reside opposite the Houses of Parliament at Westminster have listened to any noise in the shape of a concussion with feelings of the liveliest apprehension. Judge, then, what our alarm was when about 8 o'clock on the 30th instant there came from the regions of the underground railway (lying immediately beneath my study window) just such janother explosion, followed first by an omnibus, silence, and then by a pandemonium of shouts and shrieks. In reality, of course, the blast was a mere toy affair compared to the appalling blow-up in Charles-street, but it occurred so near to us (in fact, as I shall explain presently, in the tunnel barely 100 yards away) that we Palace Chambers folk fancied something preternaturally dreadful must have eventuated. My first idea, I confess, was that the long-threatened Fenian pledge to injure the Houses of Parliament had been redeemed, but a glance at the clock tower still standing calm and unhurt in the same old place speedily dissolved this suspicion. On reaching the street, I found an immense crowd already collected, the entrance to the underground railway station blocked by a cordon of police, and everybody asking everybody what had happened. The first explanation I heard was given by a porter, who averred that an explosion ot gas had taken place in the tunnel between Charing
Cross and Westminster Bridge, but without hurting anyone, as luckily no train had chanced to bo passing at tho time. This soomcd such a foasiblo solution of tho affair that we most of us went back to dinner relieved, and it was not till our party lookod in at the National Liberal Club some hours later that we loarnt tho truth. Thero tho wildest rumours woro prevalent, Tho ' ' Central News " telograms announced that within a few minutes of the luckily harmless blow up at Westminster another most disastrous explosion had wrecked an underground train and injured a number of passengers in the tunnel between Praed-street, Paddington, and Edgware Road ; moreover the directors feafed dynamite had been laid down in several other parts of the line, and in order to make everything safe had suspended traffic. Though all sorts of strange stories floated about between 10.30 and midnight, no absolutely reliable reports were received, and it was therefore with keeninterostpeople looked forward to the official accounts in the newspapers. From the latter I have selected the following excerpts: — The " Globe " says : "Late last night it was reported that two explosions, attended with serious injuries to limb, if not to life, had occurred simultaneously on the Underground Railway. Tho least disastrous of the two explosions occurred about midway in the tunnel between Charing Cross and Westminster at five minutes to eight. Although the shock and its attendant damage may have been slightly exaggerated, it is certain J that the facts are serious enough. Happily, no train happened to be in the Westminster tunnel at the time. A loud report was heard at both the Charing Cross and Westminster ends, and a shock was felt which extended far along the line, and which smashed tho windows of the signal box on tho Westminster platform, tho signal box being near the mouth of tho tunnel. That no greater damage ns done may bo attributed to the fact that tho dynamite or other explosive agent— for it seems absolutely certain that an explosive agent must have caused the disaster— hml been deposited within thirty yards of a blow-hole. Much of the explosive iorce was thus convoyed up tho air-shaft. Serious damage was, however, done to the line, some rails being so twisted and bent that it was absolutely necessary to replace them with new ones, a supply of which is always reserved for emergencies. This is not a very dillicult operation, but it was also judged prudent to make a thorough investigation oi the whole line, in order to see whether trains might pass through in safety.'" The explosion at Prned-strcet is described ns follows in the " Daily Telegraph " oi the 3Jst October: — "Intense excitement was caused last night by a loud explosion, which seemed to come from the Underground Kailway at Praed-strcet, and by tho appearance a few minutes after at the gateway of the station in Edgware Road, of crowds of excited passengers, followed by men assisting injured people to the nearest hospital. All sorts of rumours respecting the catastrophe were afloat, exaggerating the result as they passed from mouth to mouth, and thousands of people soon crowded the precincts of Edgware Road and Praed-street, all the way to St. Mary's Hospital, anxious to learn the truth, and seeking after relatives w ho might have been in the train. It requiicd for some time a larire cordon of police to preserve any regularity of traffic, and to keep a way clear tor those who were being conveyed with wounds of a more or less severe character from tho station to the medical institution. Of this droudful explosion, which occurred in the tunnel, little if> known, even by tho^e who were in the train at the time. A loud report like the firing of a cannon, then sudden darkness, for every gas lamp irom end to end of the carriages went out: then breaking glass, and splintcra ot wood flying in all directions, cutting and wounding those with whom they came in contact; then, above all, the shrieks of the injured and the screams of the panic-stricken — all this was the outcome of a moment, and created u scene of extreme^ confusion. It seems that the train arrived at Praed -street Station, from the Mansion House via South Ken feington, a few minutes before eight o'clock. It consisted of six of the usual first, second, and third-class carriages of the Underground Railway, with the engine in front, and, as may naturally be supposed, the compartments of all three clashes of carriages were, at such an hour, heavily freighted. Many of the passengers were people from the country, who had been spending the day at the Fisheries Exhibition, and were then retming to f-tations whence they could travel homewards. The train left Praed-street all safe on its journey to Ed»varo Road, but its lights had hardly disappeared in the tunnel—at all events it had not gone more than twenty or thirty yards — when a loud explosion was heard, followed by a concussion of such force that nearly all the lamps of the Praedstreet Station were extinguished. The train travelled on its way. Subsequent investigation show ed that the effects of the explosion, whether caused accidentally or not, were mainly confined to the two last carriages, and it is probable that the engine-driver was unaware of the full effects of the. catastrophe. The permanent way was also damaged. The distance from Praed-street to Edgware Road is not great, but the terrible ordeal which the passengers underwent even during the short interval required to traverse the space can with difficulty be realised. Darkness complete and profound reigned, made more unbearable by the dread which filled all. When the train arrived at Edgware Road, the first effort of those who had any command of themselves was to assist the men and women who were injured. Some who were dreadfully burned — - how, yet remains to be discovered — and some prostrated more by fright than actual wounds, were carried up the stairs to the main road, and taken in any vehicle which could be found to St. Mary's Hospital in Cambridge Place, Paddington. Others who seemed to have suffered less either walked themselves or were'helped to dispensaries, chemists' shops, and surgeries in the neighbourhood, and were attended there. Several were content to pursue their journey on being transferred to another train, while others, too much shaken by the fright, insisted on finishing their night's ! travel in a cab."
Personal Narratives. One of the injured, James Turner, aged 16, a porter, of 85, Abingdon-road, Highstreet, Kensington, gives the following account of the occurrence :—: — 44 After we had left Praed-street Station I saw a very bright light reflected upon the side ot the carnage. I was going to put my head out of the window to see what it could be when I felt my face severely scorched, and was thrown back into to the carriage. I was stunned for about a minute or two, and on coming to myself there was a strong smell, more Tike gas than anything else, in the tunnel. I was half suffocated by it. I then went to the other side of the carriage, but the door was locked, so that I had to remain inside. Part of the door was blown quite in. I was in the last carriage but one, in which there was a brake. The side of the door where it fastened was quite blown away. The train continued its course amidst the cries of the passengers in
tho other carriages, who kept shouting "Help!" Wo woro in the most complete darkness until we reacliod tho Edgwareroad Station, whoro wo pulled up. Only ono othor person was in tho carriago, a young man, but ho was not much hurt." John Hodnett, who sustained severe injuries to the head and face, says he was travelling in a third-class compartment in tho rear of the train between South Kensington and Moorgate • street. On arrival at Pxwd-street, a lady got out, and he removed his position to tho seat sho had vacated, which happened to be nearest the window. The imin then moved out of the station, and ho was laughing" and talking with some friends, when all of a sudden he felt a dreadful crash, and lie was thrown violently towards the side of the carriage. The next moment the gas lamp was dislodged, and fell, the glass cutting his eyes and face. The windows, window panels, and sides of the carriage were forced in, and the gas in all the compartments was extinguished. Pie thought at iirst that a collision had occurred, and asked whether the train was in motion. He was stunned, and bleeding profusely, and could not tell what was happening. He was told the train was still going on. .Many of the people endeavoured to get out, but tho train being in motion they wero reassured that no collision had occurred, and accordingly kept their seat?. Had the train stopped) a number of persons would have jumped out, and the consequences might then have been disastrous. In tho meantime tine cries, groans, and shrieks of the passengers wure heartrending. Many of them wore crushed and bleeding, for the compartments were closely packed v ith people from the Fisheries Exhibition. On arrival at Kdgware Road, tho greatest confusion prevailed. Injured passengers were being assisted out by the officials and others, and taken to the Malting rooms. Tho doctors dealt with the cases as rapidly as possible, sending the worst to the St. Mary a Hospital for treatment, and there Hodnett was eventually taken.
Further Particulars. It is said that about three months ago the Metropolitan Railway authorities were warned by the police that intelligence had been recoived from America indicating some such outrage, and special precautions were accord ikgly taken. The damaged train was visited at the Company's Neasden workshops yesterday morning by the chairman, Sir Edward Watkin, as also by the Government Inspector, Captain Cundill. It was apparent that the explosion had occurred under the hindmost carriage. Here the end of the footboard was torn a>vay for a couple ot feet, the panels and w indows were blown out, and one partition completely shattered. The two carriages next to this sustained damage of a similar character, but to a less extent. Every square of glass was shivered, most of the lamps were blown from their places, and the advertisement plates shaken from their frames. The interiors of the carriages are strewn with broken glass, splinters of wood, bolts, umbrellas, hats, and here and there a bloodstained pocket-handkerchief. Most of the injured passengers appear to have been the occupants of the middle carriage. The door of one of the compartments as well as the flooring is stained with blood, and the cap of AVarren, the injured soldier, was found, bearing marks of a heavy blow.