FROM THE ARCHIVES: ECCLES NARROWLY AVOIDS RAILWAY EXPLOSION DISASTER
On August 27 1964, a lorry containing 3,000 gallons of lubricating oil narrowly avoiding falling onto the busy train lines at Wellington Road in Eccles.
The drama unfolded when the driver, Roy Burton from Essex, had driven to the area from Stanhope Refinery on the estuary of the River Thames.
Burton parked his lorry overnight with the rear wheels just yards away from the heavy boundary fence of sleepers alongside the railway line.
At 11pm the police were informed that the lorry was slipping backwards and was in danger of crashing onto the railway lines below.
The cargo of oil, had it been ignited, could have caused one of the worst railway disasters in British history.
All train services were immediately halted and the police were summoned to Mr Burton's lodgings on Wellington Road to tell him of the danger that his lorry and more importantly his cargo was in.
An emergency operation swung into place with the other vehicles on the car park being moved to safety, two fire engines from Eccles were called and were on standby whilst the police tried to locate a breakdown vehicle large enough to cope with the sliding tanker.
The potential disaster got worse as the tanker smashed through the heavy boundary fence and was poised precariously above the railway lines some 20 feet below.
As the agonising search for a breakdown vehicle continued, a brave lorry driver, Don Herd from Leeds, seized the opportunity to bravely manoeuvre his own truck into a nose-on position with the tanker.
The fire brigade managed to secure a heavy chain and lock the two vehicles together in a bid to stop the lorry and its load crashing onto the railway line below and proceeded to haul them to safety.
Another driver, Mr Marshall, then climbed into the cab containing the oil and bravely steered the vehicle to safety thus averting what would have been a disaster for Eccles and no doubt for Mr Burton.
The area of Wellington Road has changed beyond recognition since that day in August 1964 with the arrival of the M602 motorway which opened in November 1971.
This article originally appeared on SalfordOnline on 27th August 2014, it is reposted here courtesy of its Author, the esteemed and very fashionable Tony of Flynn