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Col. Frederick Henry Rich (8 March 1824 – 22 August 1904) was a British soldier, who served with the Royal Engineers and was the Chief Inspecting Officer of the Railway Inspectorate between 1885 and 1889. He investigated many of the major railway accidents in the late 19th century, including those at at Staplehurst in 1865, in which the author Charles Dickens was involved, and at Norton Fitzwarren in 1890.

Family[edit | edit source]

Rich was born on 8 March 1824 at Woodlands, Castleconnell near Limerick in Ireland, the son of John Sampson Rich (1789–1880) and Amelia née Whitfield (1801–1883).[1]

Military history[edit | edit source]

Gentleman Cadet Frederick Henry Rich joined the Corps of Royal Engineers as a Second Lieutenant on 11 January 1843.[2] He was promoted to First Lieutenant on 1 April 1846,[3] to Second Captain on 17 February 1854 [4] and to First Captain on 23 February 1856.[5]

During his early years with the Royal Engineers he had various postings in England, including Chatham, Woolwich, Devonport and Dover.[1] He was posted to Ireland for a year in 1845, before being posted to Canada and then to the West Indies from August 1847 to January 1851.[1] Between April 1851 and May 1859 he returned to Ireland followed by two years in Malta.[1]

In April 1861, he was seconded to the Board of Trade as an Inspector of Railways, remaining in this post until October 1872, when he spent the last four months before his retirement at the War Office.[1]

He was further promoted to Brevet Major on 24 August 1866[6] and to Lieutenant-Colonel on 8 May 1967.[7] He retired on full pay on 1 February 1873[8] with the honorary rank of Colonel.[9]

Inspector of Railways[edit | edit source]

Staplehurst rail crash (Engraving in Illustrated London News)

Rich was initially seconded to the Board of Trade as an Inspector of Railways in 1861[1] but continued in this post after his retirement from the Royal Engineers, serving as Chief Inspecting Officer of the Railway Inspectorate between 1885 and 1889.[10]

During his time with the Railway Inspectorate of the Board of Trade, Rich investigated in excess of 250 accidents.[11] Rich was "noted for the great attention he pays to all details" in his investigations.[12]

In June 1865, Rich investigated an accident at Staplehurst, in which a South Eastern Railway Folkestone to London boat train derailed while crossing a viaduct where a length of track had been removed during engineering works, killing ten passengers and injuring forty.[13] The author Charles Dickens was travelling with Ellen Ternan and her mother on the train; they all survived the derailment. Dickens tended the victims, some of whom died while he was with them. The experience affected Dickens greatly; he lost his voice for two weeks and afterwards was nervous when travelling by train, using alternative means when available.[14]

In October 1868, Rich reported on his investigation of the Abergele rail disaster in which 33 people were killed, making it at the time, the worst railway disaster in Britain.[15] The accident was caused when the Irish Mail train collided with runaway wagons at Llandulas near Abergele.[16]

At Stairfoot in South Yorkshire on 12 December 1870, a rake of runaway goods wagons collided with a passenger train resulting in 15 deaths and 59 injuries.[17] In his report into the accident, Rich found that the goods guard at Barnsley was gravely at fault for not ensuring the standing wagons were better secured. The layout of the yard was also criticized as there were no trap points to protect the running lines in the event of such a mishap.[18]

The train crash at Norton Fitzwarren occurred on 11 November 1890, at Norton Fitzwarren station on the Great Western Railway, approximately two miles south-west of Taunton in Somerset. A special boat train carrying passengers from Plymouth to Paddington collided with a goods train that was being shunted on the main line. Ten passengers were killed, and eleven people (including the driver and fireman of the special train) were seriously injured.[19] Rich recommended "that all stations where there is much shunting, or where stopping trains are liable to be set aside for fast trains to pass, should be provided with refuge sidings" to avoid similar accidents.[20]

As well as investigating railway accidents, Rich also inspected new railway lines and other works prior to their opening. These included the Faringdon branch of the GWR (May 1864),[21] the Sidmouth Railway (June 1874),[22] the Ribblehead Viaduct (May 1876)[23] and the Severn Tunnel (November 1886).[24][25] In September 1872, Rich investigated the explosion of a locomotive boiler at Bray in which the driver and firemen were killed.[26]

List of major accidents investigated by F. H. Rich[edit | edit source]

Criteria for inclusion: Fatalities of 3 or more or injuries of 20 or more.

Date Location Fatalities Injuries Brief description Cause Inspector's report
10 June 1864 Curzon Street goods station, Birmingham 0 30 Head-on collision between of a passenger train and a goods train Pointsman error [1]
29 October 1864 Ballinasloe 2 34 Derailment of a passenger train Track defect and excessive speed [2]
9 June 1865 Staplehurst 10 40 Train ran over bridge where rails removed for work. Charles Dickens a passenger Inadequate worksite protection [3][4]
15 July 1865 Peterborough 0 27 Runaway train, train misrouted, rear collision Site staff error, failure to secure brakes [5][6]
16 September 1865 Wemyss Bay 0 76 Passenger train hit buffers at station Excessive speed and failure to apply brakes properly [7][8]
2 November 1865 Stratford 0 25 Collision between two passenger trains in dense fog Inadequate signalling arrangements, inadequate fog protection [9][10]
30 March 1866 New Cross 0 50 Collision between a stationary train and a moving train Driver error [11]
4 September 1866 Surrey Canal Junction 0 25 Collision between a passenger train and a light engine Driver error [12]
13 January 1867 Stonehaven 3 3 Collision between two light engines in snow Station staff error and pilotman error [13]
7 March 1867 Bowling Tunnel 2 22 Collision between two passenger trains Signaller error [14]
9 September 1867 Dove Holes Tunnel & New Mills 5 5 Collision of a cattle train with a ballast train and subsequent collision of the runaway portion of the cattle train with a passenger train Signaller error [15]
27 February 1868 Arniston Colliery, Gorebridge 3 0 Collision between a goods train and an engine and brake van Guard error [16]
20 August 1868 Abergele 33 0 Irish Mail train hit unsecured wagons on the line Runaway goods wagons [17][18]
24 October 1869 Welwyn Junction 3 NK Derailment of a passenger train Points split under train [19]
7 June 1870 Pleasington 2 27 Derailment of an excursion train Tyre defect [20]
13 May 1871 Stairfoot 15 59 Collision between passenger train and runaway goods wagons Shunter error and lack of continuous brakes [21]
12 December 1871 Belfast 2 55 Head-on collision between passenger train and goods train Fireman intoxicated [22]
30 May 1872 Boghead Sidings, Paisley 0 29 Collision between a passenger train and a shunted goods train Signal defect [23]
5 July 1872 Gilsland 4 1 Collision between an empty freight train and a ballast train Excessive speed and failure to protect train [24]
3 August 1872 Agecroft sidings 4 15 Collision between an express train and a coal train Signaller error [25]
3 July 1875 Scotsgap 4 25 Derailment of a passenger train Defective coupling [26]
4 March 1890 Carlisle 4 15 Runaway passenger train collided with a light engine Driver error [27]
8 November 1890 Norton Fitzwarren 10 12 Passenger train collided with a goods train that was being shunted on the main line Signalling error [28][29]

Wives and children[edit | edit source]

On 31 August 1848, he married Elizabeth Bayard (1826–1885) in Delaware, USA. She was the daughter of Richard Henry Bayard, US Senator and Chief Justice of Delaware.[27] They had nine children, including:

Elizabeth Bayard Rich died on 20 October 1885.[31] Frederick re-married in 1891 to Cecile d'Olier Gowan,[32] who survived him, dying in Bournemouth on 15 December 1926.[33]

Frederick Henry Rich died at Oareford, near Oare, Somerset on 22 August 1904 leaving an estate of over £92,000.[34]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "British Regimental Registers of Service, 1756–1900 for Frederick Henry Rich". http://interactive.ancestry.co.uk/3253/40940_2000729177-00658/89819?backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.co.uk%2f%2fcgi-bin%2fsse.dll%3fdb%3dCanadaRegimentalBooks%26h%3d89819%26ti%3d5538%26indiv%3dtry%26gss%3dpt%26ssrc%3dpt_t76837989_p48351797999_kpidz0q3d48351797999z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid&ssrc=pt_t76837989_p48351797999_kpidz0q3d48351797999z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid&backlabel=ReturnRecord. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  2. "No. 20189". 24 January 1843. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/20189/page/ 
  3. "No. 20591". 3 April 1846. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/20591/page/ 
  4. "No. 21522". 17 February 1854. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/21522/page/ 
  5. "No. 21896". 27 June 1856. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/21896/page/ 
  6. "No. 23162". 14 September 1866. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/23162/page/ 
  7. "No. 23248". 7 May 1867. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/23248/page/ 
  8. "No. 23943". 31 January 1873. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/23943/page/ 
  9. "No. 23943". 31 January 1873. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/23943/page/ 
  10. "Inspecting Officers (Railways)". http://www.steamindex.com/people/inspoff.htm. Retrieved 30 January 2015. 
  11. "Rich, Lieut. Col. F. H.". Railways Archive. http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/doclisting.php?showSearch=true&text=&startYear=all&endYear=all&development=all&event=all&category=all&author=87&publisher=all&published=all&sourced=all&submit=Go. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  12. Walker, Thomas Andrew (1888). "The Severn Tunnel: Chapter 11". https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Severn_Tunnel/Chapter_11. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  13. "Accident at Staplehurst on 9th June 1865". 22 June 1865. http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/BoT_Staple1865.pdf. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  14. "The Staplehurst Disaster". University of California: Santa Cruz. http://omf.ucsc.edu/dickens/staplehurst-disaster.html. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  15. Kichenside, Geoffrey (1997). "Chapter 2 Disasters of Victorian Years". Great Train Disasters. Avonmouth: Parragon. pp. 21–22. ISBN 0-7525-2229-9. 
  16. "Accident at Abergele on 20th August 1868". 3 October 1868. http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/BoT_Abergele1868.pdf. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  17. Rolt, L.T.C.; Kichenside, Geoffrey (1982) [1955]. Red for Danger (4th ed.). Newton Abbot: David & Charles. pp. 184–186. ISBN 0-7153-8362-0. 
  18. "Accident Returns: Extract for Accident at Stairfoot on 12th December 1870". http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/docsummary.php?docID=217. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  19. Rich, Col. F. H. (15 November 1890). "Report of the Board of Trade Enquiry" (PDF). http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/BoT_NortonFitzwarren1890.pdf. 
  20. "Accident at Norton Fitzwarren on 11th November 1890". 15 November 1890. http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/BoT_NortonFitzwarren1890.pdf. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  21. Vaughan, Adrian (27 Aug 2013). The Faringdon Branch and Uffington Station. Amberley Publishing. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=xUCIAwAAQBAJ&pg=PT38&lpg=PT38&dq=%22F+H+Rich%22+Railway+inspector&source=bl&ots=KX4yK21Yfq&sig=2-BsmERI7gh27FIc7Ecpsp7z8cI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=hN_JVJuBA4ytacrNgNAH&ved=0CCAQ6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q=%22F%20H%20Rich%22&f=false. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  22. Maggs, Colin Gordon; Paye, Peter (1977). The Sidmouth, Seaton and Lyme Regis Branches. Oakwood Press. 
  23. "Milestones Locomotives: The Ribblehead viaduct" (Word document). http://locodriver.co.uk/Railway_Encyclopedia/Part229/Part01/TEXT01.rtf. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  24. Walker, Thomas Andrew (1888). "The Severn Tunnel: Chapter 11". https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Severn_Tunnel/Chapter_11. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  25. Walker, Thomas A. (27 Jun 2013). "The Severn Tunnel: Its Construction and Difficulties, 1872-1887". Cambridge University Press. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=PIhpQtwWFDoC&pg=PA164&lpg=PA164&dq=%22F+H+Rich%22+Railway+inspector&source=bl&ots=AANhhe984v&sig=ftv-JFp6m5PM1uId6BoV0b90nVs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Bd_JVLCRBIrLaPK7gugC&ved=0CEkQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=%22F%20H%20Rich%22%20Railway%20inspector&f=false. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  26. Shepherd, Ernie. "Boiler Explosion at Bray, 16 September 1872". Irish Railway Record Society. http://www.irrs.ie/Journal%20181/181%20Boiler%20Explosion.htm. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  27. Clay, Henry (2015). The Papers of Henry Clay: Candidate, Compromiser, Elder Statesman. University Press of Kentucky. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=b58eBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA354#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  28. Warsop, Keith (2004). The Early F.A. Cup Finals and the Southern Amateurs. Soccer Data. p. 121. ISBN 1-899468-78-1. 
  29. "Frederick St. George Rich". Dreadnought Project. http://www.dreadnoughtproject.org/tfs/index.php/Frederick_St._George_Rich. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  30. "The Papers of Admiral Sir Henry Ralph Crooke". http://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/db/node.xsp?id=EAD%2FGBR%2F0014%2FCRKE. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  31. "England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858–1966 for Elizabeth Bayard Rich". http://interactive.ancestry.co.uk/1904/31874_221723-00114/3263735?backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.co.uk%2f%2fcgi-bin%2fsse.dll%3fdb%3dUKProbateCal%26h%3d3263735%26ti%3d5538%26indiv%3dtry%26gss%3dpt%26ssrc%3dpt_t76837989_p48351798000_kpidz0q3d48351798000z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid&ssrc=pt_t76837989_p48351798000_kpidz0q3d48351798000z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid&backlabel=ReturnRecord. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  32. "Frederick Henry Rich in the England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837–1915". http://search.ancestry.co.uk/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=FreeBMDMarriage&h=24010640&ti=5538&indiv=try&gss=pt&ssrc=pt_t76837989_p48351797999_kpidz0q3d48351797999z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  33. "England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858–1966 for Cecile d'Olier Rich". http://interactive.ancestry.co.uk/1904/31874_222579-00073/4099288?backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.co.uk%2f%2fcgi-bin%2fsse.dll%3fdb%3dUKProbateCal%26h%3d4099288%26ti%3d5538%26indiv%3dtry%26gss%3dpt%26ssrc%3dpt_t76837989_p48352565549_kpidz0q3d48352565549z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid&ssrc=pt_t76837989_p48352565549_kpidz0q3d48352565549z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid&backlabel=ReturnRecord. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  34. "England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858–1966 for Frederick Henry Rich". http://interactive.ancestry.co.uk/1904/31874_222550-00304/4174503?backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.co.uk%2f%2fcgi-bin%2fsse.dll%3fdb%3dUKProbateCal%26h%3d4174503%26ti%3d5538%26indiv%3dtry%26gss%3dpt%26ssrc%3dpt_t76837989_p48351797999_kpidz0q3d48351797999z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid&ssrc=pt_t76837989_p48351797999_kpidz0q3d48351797999z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid&backlabel=ReturnRecord. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 

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