Beginning this year, Jamaicans will observe the anniversary of a horrific train crash that occurred in the central parish of Manchester in 1957. The anniversary will be recognized annually on September 1.
The announcement was made on Thursday by Culture Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange.
Claimed close to 200 lives
Known as the Kendal Train Crash, the tragedy took place in the district of Kendal and claimed close to 200 lives.
“This Friday, September 1, we will as a nation officially recall the circumstances of the horrendous train accident which claimed close to 200 hundred lives,” Grange said.
She noted that the decision was made following discussions with individuals including Beverley East, author of the book, Reaper of Souls.
Reaper of Souls gives an account of the Kendal Crash using fictional characters.
National Library exhibition
The Minister said among the activities this year to commemorate the Kendal Crash, “The National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) will be putting on an exhibition which will include general historical information on the train crash which was the second worst rail disaster in the world at the time. It will also display newspaper headlines and photographs of the scene of the crash.”
She said that consideration was also being given to the NLJ going into partnership with the Jamaica Library Service to have the exhibition placed in all parish libraries, starting with the library in Manchester.
St. Anne’s Church commemorating crash
Grange said St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Kingston was also commemorating the Kendal Crash with a memorial Service on September 3.
Many of those who died in the accident were members of St. Anne’s who were returning to Kingston from an excursion to Montego Bay when the accident occurred.
The Kingston bound train had two diesel engines leading 12 overcrowded wooden coaches transporting 1, 600 passengers when it derailed at Kendal, resulting in the deaths of some 200 people and seriously injuring several others.
The cause of the crash was narrowed down to a failure of the train’s braking system as it negotiated a curve. However, some people were of the opinion vandals on the train’s braking system.