Mass grave of train-crash victims, Abergele

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Mass grave of train-crash victims, Abergele

Behind St Michael’s Church is the mass grave of 33 victims of an accident which occurred on the railway near Llanddulas on 20 August 1868. See below to discover who they were (more details coming soon).

The accident involved the Irish Mail running into goods wagons, two of which contained paraffin. The combination of paraffin and wooden-bodied carriages resulted in a fierce fire. You can read how the accident happened on this page.

The passenger train was the prestigious express service between London and Holyhead, for the ferries to Dublin, and the victims came from all classes of society. Their remains were mostly charred beyond recognition, which meant that individual graves were impractical. Unusually, a peer and a judge were buried with some of their family servants.

Only three of the dead could be identified. They were the only victims for whom death certificates were issued.

Two of the 33 buried here were employees of the London & North Western Railway. They were a guard and the fireman (stoker) of the Irish Mail’s locomotive.

The loco driver, Arthur Thompson, survived the accident but was badly injured. He died on 15 October and was buried near his home in England.

With thanks to Dr Hazel Pierce, of The History House

Postcode: LL22 7AN    View Location Map


Victims of the 1868 Pensarn train crash
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The Right Hon Henry Lord Farnham

Lady Farnham

The Rev Sir Nicholas Chinnery Baronet, aged 63. Of Flintfield, Co Cork. Son of Sir Broderick Chinnery and a member of Queen's College, Cambridge. His London home was 18 Hyde Park Square. When he died, his only child was Anna Elizabeth Frances Margaretta and the Baronetcy became extinct. He left £120,000 (over £9m today). A monument to Lord and Lady Chinnery was erected in St Andrew’s Church, Chesterton, where his parents are buried.

Lady Chinnery, aged 54. Anne Fane, daughter of the Rev John Fane Vernon of Aubawn, Co Cavan, married Lord Chinnery (above) in 1843. The couple died while on their way to visit her mother, Mrs Vernon of Clontarf. The remains of a tall, slender female were believed to be those of Lady Chinnery. The couple's daughter was in Scotland recuperating from the birth of her son when she learned of her parents' death. Lady Chinery’s maid was Caroline Stearn, below.

The Hon Judge Berwick

Elizabeth Mary Berwick

John Harrison Aylmer

Rosanna Louisa Aylmer

Arthur Fitzgerald H Aylmer

Rosalie Franks

Kate Sophia Askin

Fanny Sophia Thornburgh Askin

Charles Cripps

Capt Joseph Priestley Edwards, of the West Yorkshire Yeomanry Cavalry. Was a deputy lieutenant and magistrate for Yorkshire.

Priestley Augustus Edwards. Son of Joseph, above.

E Lovell Farrell

Joseph Holmes

Jane Ingram

Mary Ann Kellett

Caroline Simcox Lea

Augusta Simcox Lea. Sister of Caroline, above.

William Townend Lund

W Henry Owen, aged 23. Born in Chester in 1845. Aged 22, he became the first organist and choirmaster of St Bartholomew’s Church, Dublin. Son of well-known singer and composer John Owen (bardic name Owain Alaw). dove

Edward Outen

W Bradley Parkinson

Christopher Slater Parkinson

Mary Ann Roe

Whitmore Scovell

Kathleen Scovell

William Smith

Caroline Stearn, aged 24. Maid of Lady Chinnery, above. Born 10 Feb 1844. From Paddington, London. Daughter of coach painter Henry Stearn and chapel keeper Elizabeth. Initially a dressmaker, she became Lady Chinnery's maid in 1864. Caroline always carried Lady Chinnery's little dog in a basket when they travelled. At the train-crash inquest, her sister Elizabeth, a parlourmaid, identified the dog's chain and Caroline’s keys.

Elizabeth Strafford

Louisa Symes

Arthur Thompson. Driver of the Irish Mail which crashed near Pensarn. He died of injuries at home two months later, on 15 October 1868, and was buried near his home in England.