The Great Thorpe Railway Disaster 1874
Book Launch

Thursday 30 September, 6.30pm

Tickets £5 (redeemable against book purchase on the night, tickets include a glass of wine)

Jarrold invites you to join us for an evening with Norwich writer and speaker Phyllida Scrivens, launching her new local history book, The Great Thorpe Railway Disaster 1874: Heroes – Victims – Survivors.

Phyllida will be in conversation with fellow author and broadcaster Pete Goodrum, discussing her research into this infamous Norwich rail crash, discovering the fascinating stories behind the 28 men, women and children who lost their lives as a result of the collision, hitherto recorded simply as a list of names.

About the book

At Norwich Station on 10 September 1874, a momentary misunderstanding between the Night Inspector and young Telegraph Clerk resulted in an inevitable head-on collision. The residents of the picturesque riverside village of Thorpe-Next-Norwich were shocked by a ‘deafening peal of thunder’, sending them running through the driving rain towards a scene of destruction. Surgeons were summoned from the city, as the dead, dying and injured were taken to the near-by Three Tuns inn (now The Rushcutters Inn) and a riverside boatyard. Every class of Victorian society was travelling that night, including ex-soldiers, landowners, clergymen, doctors, seamstresses, saddlers, domestic servants and a beautiful heiress. For many months local and national newspapers followed the story, publishing details of subsequent deaths, manslaughter trial and outcomes of record-breaking compensation claims. The Board of Trade Inquiry concluded that it was ‘the most serious collision between trains meeting one another on a single line of rails […] that has yet been experienced in this country.’ Using extensive research, non-fiction narrative, informed speculation and dramatised events, Phyllida Scrivens not only pays tribute to those who died but commemorates rescuers at the site of the accident, the doctors who fought to save lives and a number of notable survivors, including, surprisingly, two future Mayors of Norwich.

About the author

Phyllida Scrivens lives with her husband in Thorpe St Andrew, less than half a mile from the site of the railway disaster. She is the author of two previous books, her debut biography being Escaping Hitler, published by Pen and Sword Books in the UK and Skyhorse Publications in the US. Her group biography, The Lady Lord Mayors of Norwich 1923-2017, won the Best Biography Prize at the East Anglian Book Awards in November 2018. She is a popular public speaker, giving talks on her work throughout Norfolk and beyond. Phyllida studied for an MA in Creative Non-Fiction with Biography from the University of East Anglia, graduating in 2014.

About the interviewer

Pete Goodrum is a Norwich man. He has held senior positions in advertising agencies, working on national and international campaigns, and is now a successful author of books including Norwich in the 1950s and Norwich in the 1960s, both published by Amberley. Pete's other books include Norfolk Broads; the Biography, and Five Norwich Lives. Most recently he wrote Jarrold 250. A History. This locally bestselling book tells the story of Jarrold and was published to celebrate their anniversary.

He makes frequent appearances on BBC local radio covering topics ranging from advertising to music and social trends. And he is a much in demand public speaker. Pete wrote and presented ’Sixteen Minutes’, the documentary film about the Thorpe Rail Disaster. It aired on BBC 1.

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