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Memories of 1947 Gidea Park train crash: Schoolboy whose parents died in accident considers himself lucky to be alive

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:16 02 January 2019

Dennis in hospital after he was injured in the Gidea Park train crash. Pictured with Sister Loftus and Dr Hambling in Rush Green hospital. Photo: Dennis Dimond

Dennis in hospital after he was injured in the Gidea Park train crash. Pictured with Sister Loftus and Dr Hambling in Rush Green hospital. Photo: Dennis Dimond

Dennis Dimond

A schoolboy whose parents died in a train crash in Gidea Park more than 70 years ago has said he has always considered himself lucky, and would like to speak to anyone who also has memories of the tragedy.

Back row, from left to right, Dennis's sister Margerie Dimond, Burt Pimm, his dad Percy Dimond, his mum, Gladys Dimond. Middle row: On the left is a family friend who Dennis didn't remember the name of and right is Stella Field. Front row, from left to right Dennis's sister Margaret, Dennis Dimond, Stanley Pimm (Burt's son) and their dog Bonzo.Back row, from left to right, Dennis's sister Margerie Dimond, Burt Pimm, his dad Percy Dimond, his mum, Gladys Dimond. Middle row: On the left is a family friend who Dennis didn't remember the name of and right is Stella Field. Front row, from left to right Dennis's sister Margaret, Dennis Dimond, Stanley Pimm (Burt's son) and their dog Bonzo.

Dennis Dimond was 12 when six people - including his mother and father - died on January 2, 1947 when a train leaving the station was hit by a mail train.

There was dense fog around Romford, and the driver missed warning signals.

The local train’s rear carriage was thrown over the station roof.

“Love, hot water and good food” were Dennis’s memories of his parents, Percy and Gladys Dimond, who were both 49 at the time.

Aftermath of the Gidea Park train crash in 1947. Stills: British PatheAftermath of the Gidea Park train crash in 1947. Stills: British Pathe

He said they were “simple people who lived uncomplicated lives”.

His father was a foreman, and worked on the lines that ran from London Liverpool Street, and Dennis - who served in the army after he left school - said he would tell him how he would stand on his shovel on the side of the tracks as the trains passed, and would often say “imagine if I’d stuck my head out or had fallen over”.

His “loving” mother was a housewife, and going to the theatre was a treat for the family.

They had been to the Stall Theatre in Holborn, to see Capades of 47 and were on their way home to Brentwood.

Aftermath of the Gidea Park train crash in 1947. Stills: British PatheAftermath of the Gidea Park train crash in 1947. Stills: British Pathe

Dennis, who now lives in Grays, considered himself extremely lucky as after the crash he was left with a broken arm and a dislocated shoulder.

He said: “Other than my leg and shoulder I didn’t have a mark on me, just a bit of dirt.

“I still can’t believe it to this day that I survived, it was a miracle really.

“I still consider that I didn’t feel any pain from the crash.

“These things happen, we have all experienced them, it was an equally tragic day for the families of everyone who died.”

After hearing the “crunch” of the train crash, his next memories are oflying on the platform where he was being looked after by a sailor and the sailor’s mother. He was wrapped in the sailor’s grey coat, and her fur coat.

He was then taken to hospital by two porters who stepped in as paramedics, and that was where he met the only other person he recalls who was involved in the crash.

While in hospital Dennis was in a bed next to soldier who had been injured at Gidea Park.

“All I ever heard were moans and groans from him.

“He was bruised from head to toe, and every time he would turn over in bed he would groan and wince because of the pain.

“But he was only next to me for a few days before he left,” said Dennis.

Once he was discharged from the hospital Dennis was taken in by his next door neighbours - who he went on to call his aunt and uncle - Bert Pimm and his sister Connie. He lived with them until he joined the army when he was 18.

Connie came to visit Dennis at every opportunity possible, and for eight months came to see him every day.

“They were both lovely, and the best people I could have ever had in my life.”

Dennis, who served in Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, praised the kindness of the doctors, nurses and staff that looked after him in hospital.

His surgeon, Mr Ernst, was an alumnus of Brentwood School - where Dennis later went to study - and he said that despite having a double compound fracture and requiring surgery to mend it, his left leg is only one millimetre shorter than his right.

“Everyone I have met and spoken to about the accident has treated me with infinite kindness.

“I still to this day consider myself extremely lucky, and I just believe if you treat others with kindness then you will receive the same back.”

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