Sunday 20 March 2016

Death on the Chapeltown & Thorncliffe Railway (Sheffield) 1939 - 1945

In March 2016 I received this mail -

"I submitted a post to the Sheffield Forum and a member told me that I should drop you a line with regards to my posted topic that I need help with. Please have a read over my post below and kindly inform me if you would be able to help with this research enquiry.

I am currently researching for a 'pilot' television programme and have been drawn to the fact that during the WW2 era in Sheffield, there was an accident that occurred between the old Chapeltown & Thorncliffe Railway (aka 'Chapeltown Central Railway') on White Lane in Chapeltown and the former Tank Factory on Warren Lane in Chapeltown which belonged to Newton, Chambers & Co.

As far as I am able to find out so far, two or more servicemen were killed in a bomb blast whilst on a train heading to the old Tank Factory, as well as a third person who was killed on the actual platform itself.

The incident would probably have been reported locally between the years 1939 and 1945 that the old Tank Factory was in existence.

I have made contact with the present owners of the now disused railway station and they have been extremely helpful in working with me to recreate this particular time period, but the only two parts of my research that I am yet to find out now are as follows;
The names / ranks / numbers of the servicemen who were killed, i.e. their identities.
The locomotive (and driver?) involved in that specific incident.
If there is anyone out there who knows anything about what went on during this incident, knows anyone else who would be able to provide some help with this, please be assured that you will receive full credit on the broadcast programme for your participation."

A very interesting mail  and so I had a check on the digital newspaper archives for the Times, The Guardian and The Daily Mail via the University for the period 1939 - 1945 and found nothing at all. I realise that they may have been wartime restrictions and censorship but I expected at least the proverbial glimmer

I aso checked the CWGC site for service casualities who were buried in the local cemetery (Burncross/Ecclesfield) They were 4 WW2 casualities interred there but none fitted the bill.

I currectly have access to Find My Past and its excellent British Newspaper Digital Archive. I tried to find any relevant cuttings there but yet again there was nothing at all. Again a surprising outcome

I then tried this site which has helped me in the past and is quite comprehensive with regard to railway accidents
and also

but nothing again re the accident.

I replied to te reseacher

"that the only way forward in Sheffield is a trip to the Local Studies Library and a manual trawl through the local press(on microfiche). A very daunting prospect indeed due the the fact that no date is  given. I believe that the tank factory was involved in the production of Churchill tanks and that tank model did not come on stream until 1941. And so it may be better starting at 1945 and working backwards. Of course if the accident was censored (and I fear that this may be the case) it would not appear in any newspaper/newsreel.

I will put the information you supplied on my blog and ask for info if that is OK with you. If I get any response I will let you know. If you do get anywhere can you let me know - it looks a very interesting story"

He replied

Many thanks for your further kind assistance.

This is an extremely intriguing piece of research and one that I am determined to get to the bottom of.

I've heard that the servicemen who were killed in that bomb blast at the old Chapeltown railway still remain and haunt the area in a spiritual form, if you believe in that kind of thing, that their souls are trapped here.

With the amount of information seemingly non-reported or indeed 'covered up', as the case may be, it makes me ask myself why and what is so secret about all of this.

Please let me know if you happen to come across anything further that may help further this research."

And so of anyone reading this has any suggestions or better still information please let me know


  1. Hi, I would be interested in this too as I have tried to research this too.there is a memorial plaque on the side of a shop in chapeltown? It has I believe 3 names on it,and somewhere over the years I have heard it is the 3 men killed in the blast ? I could be totally wrong and these men are not related to this incident is on the side of the last building where dominoes pizza place is now,one of the second names of one of the men is ball which is my name hence why I would like to research this.Hope this helps or you could shed some light on the memoria, thanks

  2. my grandfather told me a live shell caused the accident