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An express passenger train, the 12.30 p.m. from Manchester, London Road to London, Kings Cross, with through carriages for Grimsby Docks, in connection with the evening steamer sailing, had left Woodhead tunnel and was gathering speed on the downhill gradient towards Penistone. As it entered the curve at Bullhouse, the driver felt the engine develop an uneasy roll, but before he could apply the brakes, he heard a crack. A driving wheel axle on the locomotive had snapped, and the resulting spread of the driving wheels distorted the track. The axle fracture was probably caused by metal fatigueel axle broke.