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Details of the Accident

Place Taunton
Date 6th July 1978, 2.41 a.m.
Railway Company British Railways (Western Region)
No. of Fatalities 12
Cause of Accident Fire
Description On the 21:30 Penzance to Paddington sleeper train, a fire was caused by an electric heater which had been obstructed by sacks of dirty bed linen causing it to overheat. Most deaths were due to smoke inhalation. The practise of locking doors was criticised as a result. Accident led to change in practice and also a change to materials used on sleeper carriages.

Sources/Further Reading

  • The Times, Friday 7 July 1978
  • The Times, Saturday, 10 October 1981

List of Fatalities

11 of the 12 fatalities that have been identifed so far are listed in the table below together with brief notes on any other information found

The last column shows the General Register Office (England and Wales) or Statutory Register (Scotland) reference where this has been identified.

Surname First Names Age Occupation Residence Notes GRO/SR Reference
CORNISH Ronald Gordon 36 Torpoint, Plymouth, DEV Married to Pauline 1978/Sep Taunton D 23 1185
JONES John 37 Regional head of the British Film Institute Crawley, SRY Left wife and two daughters.
GALPIN Gary Charles Hartley, Plymouth, DEV
HALL Trenchard Louis R. 42 M.D. Plymouth, DEV Husband of Patricia and father of Mary 1978/Sep Taunton D 23 1275
HALL Patricia Ellen 42 Plymouth, DEV Wife of Trenchard and mother of Mary 1978/Sep Taunton D 23 1276
HALL Mary Elizabeth L. 18 Plymouth, DEV Daughter of Trenchard and Patricia 1978/Sep Taunton D 23 1276
MURDEN Patrick Gerald 40 The Hoe, Plymouth, DEV 1978/Sep Taunton D 23 1184
SHARPE Christopher John 27 Plymouth, DEV 1978/Sep Taunton D 23 1185
KNIGHT William John 74 Cattedown, Plymouth, DEV 1978/Sep Taunton D 23 1278
MICHL Leopold 55 Vienna, OES Husband of Herta 1978/Sep Taunton D 23 1277
MICHL Herta 53 Vienna, OES Wife of Leopold 1978/Sep Taunton D 23 1277