Railway Work, Life & Death project – help sought Posted 9 August 2017 by Paul Howes Photo courtesy: Mike Esbester In 1911 alone over 28,000 employees were injured or killed on British railways. The government department responsible for the railways, the Board of Trade, had been investigating some of these casualties since the 1890s, to find out what happened and to make recommendations to improve safety in the future. These reports are a fantastic resource, giving plenty of detail about who was involved and working practices, as well as what happened. But it’s often difficult to get hold of these reports, or even to find out what they contain. Late in 2016, as a joint initiative of the University of Portsmouth and the National Railway Museum (NRM), the ‘Railway Work, Life & Death’ project started to try to make these records more accessible and see what we could learn from them. A team of NRM volunteers has been working through the Railway Inspectors’ reports for the years 1911-15 (when the reports were temporarily stopped as a result of the war). They have done fantastic work, reading each report, extracting the key information and placing this in a spreadsheet. With the details standardised in a spreadsheet, they become easily searchable, making the information more accessible and useable Dr Mike Esbester of the University of Portsmouth has been leading the project and recently contacted the Guild to ask for our members’ help. The project has just made the first batch of data freely available via the project website: www.railwayaccidents.port.ac.uk. The Project has catalogued nearly 4,000 individuals involved in accidents over the four and a half year period. Full details for each individual are available to download in a spreadsheet. One of the hopes of the project was that it would be of interest to a variety of audiences – including family historians, social historians and the general public. So, now that they’ve released some data, they would like some feedback. Please take a look and offer any feedback you want to share through their website. Mike will be speaking at our seminar, entitled “Accidents will Happen”, in Abberley, Worcestershire next February.