accidents

Very few tourists reported accidents, and in most cases, they were not serious. Not all of the accidents listed below happened to tourists, but they were reported by them, or were in books they might have read. A few tourists died as a result of accidents, or foolhardiness, when on Snowdon and Cader Idris.

Accidents and near-accidents
There were several sorts of accident from which tourists might have suffered. Reports of some of these were have been published in contemporary newspapers and would have been known to local guides and inn keepers.
As far as we know, no tourist who kept an account of their journey suffered from an accident serious enough to curtail their journey (but I am awaiting the chance discovery of a tourist’s body in a bog, with his possessions and journal intact.)
One of the main concerns was travelling up and down steep hills in vehicles, in case the horse(es) lost control near a precipice or the drag failed or its chain broke. (The drag was a metal shoe fitted under the rear wheels to stop them revolving when going downhill. It was held in place by a chain which sometime became extremely hot as a result of friction on the drag. The drag chain occasionally broke and the only solution was to call out a local blacksmith to repair it – the 18th and 19th century equivalent of the AA or RAC.)
Lists of accidents by subject and then in chronological order by date of accident.

THIS PAGE INCLUDES REFERENCES TO:
Accidents on mountains
Road Accidents
Ferry Accidents
Railway accidents
Accidents at waterfalls
Shipping accidents
Industrial Accidents
Personal Injury
Other Accidents
Safely home

ACCIDENTS ON MOUNTAINS
Tourists were likely to hear of serious accidents, in detail, from the mountain guides and inn keepers, and some of the stories found their way into guidebooks.

[1850?]
Some tourists were able to climb most of Snowdon and Cader Idris on pony-back.
It is surprising with what safety and agility these animals walk over the steep paths and stones they have to pass; and the guide assured us that he had been in the habit of going with travellers nearly twenty years, and never knew a single accident occasioned by them.
Humphrey’s Guide to the summit of Snowdon (c 1850), (Carnarvon, [1850?], p. 10, from “Guide to Bangor, Beaumaris, and Snowdonia,” by Mr John Smith, of Liverpool, 1825

1800? Snowdon
The first two miles of our descent we by no means found difficult, but wishing to take a minute survey of the picturesque Pass of Llanberis, we changed the route generally prescribed to strangers, and descended a rugged and almost perpendicular path, in opposition to the proposals of our guide, who strenuously endeavoured to dissuade us from the attempt ; alleging the difficulty of the steep, and relating a melancholy story of a gentleman, who many years back had broken his leg. This had no effect : we determined to proceed ; and the vale of Llanberis amply rewarded us for the trouble.
The Cambrian Tourist, (1828 edition)

1804 Snowdon, Howell Williams
My guide now begged that I would view a certain spot, where happened the following accident, in the winter of 1804. A man named Williams, having been promised a jug of honey at an apiary east of this mountain, to avoid a circuitous road, came this way to receive his present, accompanied by two young men of his acquaintance. Much snow had fallen during the preceding night, and drifted to that side of the hollow which has the path, and consequently the footing was rendered slippery and unsafe. Williams, who was the foremost man, suddenly disappeared: his companions arriving at the spot, and observing the aperture which his body had made in the snow, called out aloud; but receiving no answer, they concluded that he must have perished, and sorely lamented his fate. They now proceeded cautiously to the bottom, to endeavour to discover his mangled remains, if haply they could reach the spot; for they could not, from the nature of the horrid-looking place, encourage the least hope that he could survive the fall of nearly three hundred yards. But on nearing the ground, what circumstance could have excited their astonishment more, than the sight of their friend, safe, and unhurt? for we cannot consider a little laceration of the hands, occasioned by his catching hold of the pointed rocks in his way, as, in such situation, of any concern. But here I have to record a strange instance of the perversion or infatuation of the human intellect.—Williams, instead of exhibiting joy and gratitude on his wonderful deliverance, seemed to be sensible only of the loss of his jug!
Pugh, Edward, (1761-1813), Cambria Depicta: A Tour Through North Wales illustrated with Picturesque Views, By a Native Artist, (London: 1816), pp. 156-157

Howell Williams
On one side of Snowdon is a place remarkable for the number of bee-hives kept there. A man, named Howell Williams, had been promised a jug of honey from one of the owners of those provident insects. When on his way to receive it, he undertook to descend this precipice by a winding track, cut by the miners to bring the copper ore to the top, for its readier conveyance to Caernarvon. Alas! he had not descended many steps, ere the snow, which had lately fallen in great quantities, gave way under his feet, and he was precipitated to the bottom, a distance of not less than 400 yards, and in several places quite perpendicular. Two of this man’s associates passed the same way soon after, who knew that he had gone just before them. On perceiving the place where he had slipped, and traces of him in the snow below, they exclaimed,” Poor Williams, he is dashed to pieces” Descending with caution, in expectation of discovering the mangled remains of their comrade, they found him, to their joyful surprise, upon his legs, and not materially wounded, except that his hands, though protected by worsted gloves, were much torn by catching hold of the rocks as he fell, which checked the acceleration of his motion. So indifferent was this poor man to the singular horrors of his situation, and his uncommon preservation, that he expressed more concern for the loss of his jug than for the accident which had occurred to himself. Nothing, however, besides the snow, could have saved him from destruction.
Anon, An account of the principal pleasure tours in England and Wales, (London: 1822), pp. 212-213

Howell Williams
A-propos, a singular accident happened there to one Howell Williams. It seems he had been promised a pot of honey by some bee-keeper on the side of Snowdon, opposite that on which Williams lived. As a short cut on his way, he attempted to descend this precipice by a winding track cut by miners. There had lately been a full of snow, and Howell had not descended many steps, before the snow gave way under his feet, and he was precipitated nearly 400 yards, much of the descent being quite perpendicular. Two of his companions passed the same way shortly afterwards, and knowing that Williams had gone for the honey, and seeing the marks of his fall, exclaimed, “Poor Williams, he is dashed to pieces.” They descended with great caution to look for his mangled corpse, when lo; they found, not a corpse, but their friend standing on his legs uninjured—on seeing them, he exclaimed, “Oh! dear, my jug, I have broken my jug.”
Humphrey’s Guide to the summit of Snowdon (Carnarvon : [1850?]), p. 19 (Mr H-B-Y’s ascent)

1819 Beddgelert
‘I of course wandered over the church yard thinking of poor dear Hill-hart’s fate.’[accident?]
Jones, Jenkin, (Captain, R.N.), Tour in England and Wales, May – June, 1819, NLW, MS785A, p. 96

1819 Between Beddgelert and Llanberis
{hired a pony, tried to take a short cut to Llanberis but} ‘the scientific mountaineers are the only safe conductors’ {his pony got stuck in a bog, and managed to drag him out.}
Parker, John, (1798-1860) 1819, September (as an Oxford student)‘Journal of a short tour through part of North Wales in 1819’, NLW MS 18256C Tours through Wales 1819-47, p. 7

1828
{advice on climbing Snowdon, from Llanberis – a guide should always be taken}
‘not long since a Gentleman set out from Caernarfon to ascend Snowdon and persisted in going alone, he gained the summit but had not been long there before he was enveloped in clouds, after waiting some time, hoping they would disperse, he endeavoured to return but from the denseness of the mist found this to be impossible he therefore wrapped himself in his cloak and lay down for six hours; in the meantime, his wife becoming alarmed for his safety, sent a guide, who found him at some distance from the summit but in such a situation that a single turn of his body would have precipitated him down one of those vast steeps that run down the base of the mountain.’
Anon, A journal, with sketches, of a walking tour from Kington to Aberystwyth and through parts of North Wales, (182)8; and Manuscript Account of a Tour into Wales undertaken May 1828 [in north Wales], NLW MS 6716D, f. 27

1833 was this an accident? [nothing found in contemporary newspapers]
Mr W Payson ‘on his way to the north to go the south – lost on Cader Idris’ [in pencil] found in the pool of the three [Grains]
NLW ms 2718C (Edward Griffiths 28), p. 41 A visitors’ book kept at the Golden Lion Hotel, Dolgellau, 1832-1840, 11th April, 1833

1835
The often miserable Rev. John Skinner (1772-1839) had very bad handwriting, but fortunately some of his journals were copied by his brother whose handwriting was good. For this tour, however, there is no copy and Skinner’s journal is very difficult to read, complicated by the lack of punctuation and his enthusiasm to record everything at speed, resulting in a somewhat incoherent account. The account was accompanied by several sketches, including a self-portrait of him leaning against the ‘friendly stone’ part-way up Snowdon once he had decided not to continue to the summit. Other, rather poor sketches show the landscape and a distant view of the building in which their ponies were sheltered during the ascent. John was about 63 years old and had been injured when his grey (horse) threw him soon after they started the ascent, but his daughter, Anna, walked to the summit with the guide. Sadly we have no record of her experience of the ascent or whether she saw the sun rise from the summit.
we made arrangements for ascending Snowdon the guide having promised to provide a pony for Anna and I knew I might ?only on the sure footed ??? or faithful grey to follow the path that others trod as I never have found her deficient when put to the proof [.] As the man promised to call us at twelve in order to be on the summit of the mountain at four to see the sun rise I thought it most advisable to go early to bed … I accordingly did so Anna did not be drawn so when the summons arrived she was enabled instantly to obey it and I was not long in putting on my clothes but in my haste not having made my access? ????? aspirations [of] the ?expedition as far as t’was myself concerned was doomed to be unpropitious. For the first three miles along the Caernarfon road I drove Anna in the car … no. 5 [sketch] … we were to become equestrians. as soon as we arrived at the farm house a little way out of the road, it was so dark that we could scarcely discern the way we had taken on the turnpike and followed the guide who was on the horse procured for Anna who trotted on before grey with so much speed she had enough to do to keep up. but on leaving the turnpike I could see nothing so the guide dismounting and giving his horse to the boy who had accompanied us (?????? at the back of the carriage) to lead he continued? the vehicle over some of the most jolting road we had traversed in any part of our tour and I began to apprehend that a breakdown at midnight at the threshold of our aspiring enterprise would be by no means agreeable however it might have afforded an episode to our journals. but evils did not terminate here on quitting the carriage it was so dark the man could scarcely see how to put the saddle on my horse as the side saddle had all along ???? on that the guide brought for Anna which in I had of being a poney was at least 15 hands high she was soon mounted – I thought as this animal hard? our accustomed to the mountain and was led by the guide it was much better she should ride it than take grey who was not much of a mountaineer especially after the adventure at March Howel when she stuck in a bog with my daughter on her back who was extricated by Mr Leach since such period she has been rather shy of encountering difficulties out of the common way – but here she was tried beyond what she had the power to perform and on reflection I have much to be thankful for that the adventure terminated with no less injurious consequences. We had not proceeded 200 yards the guide proceeding leading grey following after his ????? Anna’s horse and the lad walking by her side something like the white thread of a post? path occasionally being seen but then lost again when the ?gender made a ????? whether grey was alarmed at this or at the noise of a stream close at hand or at the rugged ???? of the footpath or at her want of sight how to proceed I know not but this fact I know she started from the trackway and got upon some soft boggy ground when rearing up and finally ??????????? on her haunches – I found myself sprawling on my back fortunately there was no stone in the way to come in contact and ???? the strength of my pericranium, so I scrambled up as soon as grey and resumed her legs but both master and mare seemed entirely of the same mind not to proceed forwards in the manner we had intended and both Anna and the guide being also assured that  2 legs and 10 toes were much better than all the hooves of Rileys company we determined on ascending the steep as pedestrians ?????? ?????? ????? the guide said it was three miles from where we were stood to the apex and in parts very rugged and steep the horses were accordingly dismissed under the escort of the man and boy to be put in the stable at the farm and plucking up our courage we began to climb Anna having hold of the guides arm and the boy and myself walking in the rear I found afterwards the noise which grey heard and had occasioned her disaster proceeded from a mountain torrent rushing near the wall which separated the field from its channel  and from which we procured an exit by a wicket which the guide knew where to find snow by feeling and ???????????? than by sight but it seems that it is not altogether requisite to have sight to make the ascent as on my complaining I could not in the least see the way nor know when to lift up my foot ot when to step down which occasioned various perturbations on my part the guide said he had once led up a gentleman to the very highest pinnacle who was quite blind neither did he know he was so till the summit was gained indeed sight under present circumstances stood me in little stead I would discern the fragments of the rock as white objects before me and that was all their position whether elevated a foot or as much depressed beneath my tread I had no means of ascertaining but my feeling with the staff the guide ?provided me with which had an iron spike at the bottom Having proceeded some distance in this manner I began to flag and found it necessary to halt occasionally but then the difficulty of getting up from my seat again for by this time I perceived I had gotten a wrench ??? over my right hip probably when recovering my legs after my fall which made it very painful to rise when once sat down. Still I wished to persevere hoping as the day dawned I should be fuller able to pick out my way and walk with less ?????? however as Anna seemed quite strong and active I accepted the guide’s arm and thus continued to keep my legs a quarter of a mile further but was then constrained to give in [underlined] as the pugilists call it and own myself vanquished by Snowdon but still it was a giant who was the conqueror not a pigmy I never shall forget as long as I live the friendly stone against which I lent a huge mass eight or nine feet in height perhaps more not being able to sit down my hip becoming so painful but here I rested leaning against the mass the boy standing near me which the guide who had given me a sip of brandy out of his pocket companion took Anna under his arm who was loath to quit me had I insisted on her completing the enterprise though I could not and I was left to my contemplation still the morning began to break which was about half past three I believe for I could not discern the hands of my watch to say for a certainty what time it was – I then asked the boy whether he thought he could find the way back to the farm house where we had put up the horses he said if he could only be certain of the way for a quarter of a mile he then fall into the foot path but he could not tell how to find it till there was more light here then I continued to lean and the young ascanius before me who could just understand English enough to answer common questions but not satisfy me as to the extent of road leading to the summit when Anna was gone and the length of the way of the way we had to descend to the farm but from what I could collect it was nearly ???? distant sending I began to feel cold I told the boy we must endeavor to find the way at all events as I could not think of staying any longer as I felt it so chilly not withstanding I had on my great coat and a silk handkerchief round my neck but the exertion I had made has occasioned so much perspiration, my linen was become quite wet through and in the course of five minutes it became sufficiently light for me to discern the lakes we had passed to the left one called Llyn Gader as having ?turf in the recently of some strong hold I presume the other was Lyn Gwaithlyn both of these basins contain trout and char and an occasionally drawn by Mr Williams the lord of the soil to supply his table of these I made memoranda vide 10 & 11 [images] also of the appearance of the summit of Snowdon seen as the day became more advanced above the ledge which I did not pass (vide 12) on this a pillar has been erected which was quite visible in the clear expanse the stone which had been my Ebenezer was at the foot of this steep ledge and against which I rested my side and which was a friend indeed in terms of ???? . I sketched this from me ?mary with the Welch page awaiting my orders to wind our weary way to the base of the hill again vide 13. No. 14 is intended to describe our pass downward and I cannot well describe the satisfaction I felt in taking off my shoes and drying my feet quite drenched with the dew of the mountain before the fire at the farm house where we arrived at about five o’clock soon after I sent the boy with the horse which had been procured for Anna to meet her on her return as I had no apprehensions of ?????????? or danger in broad day on a horse well accustomed to the country … The old lady of the house soon blew the peat fire into as grand a flame as the material would permit and … made me some tea. … It was seven ere the adventurer and her guide [returned] as Anna did not use the horse trusting rather to her own steady footing than to the long legs of her stead … we made the best of our way back to Beddgelert {and went to bed}  … extortionate charges at the inn [not the Goat inn] … to the guide I paid 10s to the boy 1s 6d. {the landlady asked 5s for the poney}.
Journal of John Skinner, vol. 14, British Library, Egerton ms 3112, ff. 183-184; Egerton MS 3113, ff. 1-7

1840, climbing Snowdon
Charlotte had nearly met with a bad accident from a heavy gate falling back upon her leg but a severe bruise was the only evil it occasioned & she limped on.
Hibbert, Mary Anne, Gloucestershire Record Office, D1799/F329, 25th September, 1840

Mr Smith’s accident about 1865
Climbed Cader Idris
Detailed description of Mr Smith’s accident.
William Plomer, Kilvert’s diary 1870-1879: selections from the diary of the Rev. Francis Kilvert, p. 133-134

ACCIDENTS ON THE ROAD
These were mostly as a result of coaches breaking down. Considering the total number of miles covered by the tourists whose accounts we have over 200 years, only a few had accidents that they thought worth recording.

ROAD AND VEHICLE ACCIDENTS

PENMAENMAWR
The road between Llanfairfechan and Conwy, under Penmaenmawr, was renowned for accidents, either caused by vehicles slipping off the narrow road cut into the cliff, of from rocks tumbling down onto travellers. This road was improved by the end of the 18th century, but travellers occasionally noticed gaps in the wall on the sea side.
Several accidents on this stretch of road were reported by tourists, although none suffered from one themselves.

(1776) Penmaenmawr
Two or three accidents, which have happened on this road, will remain as miracles. An excise-man fell from the highest part, and escaped unhurt. The Reverend Mr. Jones, who, in 1762, was rector of Llanelian, in the isle of Anglesey, fell with his horse, and a midwife behind him, down the steepest part. The sage femme perished, as did the nag. The divine, with great philosophy, unsaddled the steed, and marched off with the trappings, exulting at his preservation.
I have often heard of another accident, attended with such romantic circumstances that I would not venture to mention it, had I not the strongest traditional authority, to this day in the mouth of everyone in the parish of Llanfair Fechan, in which this promontory stands. Above a century ago, Siôn Humphries of this parish paid his addresses to Anne Thomas of Creyddyn, on the other side of Conwy river. They had made an appointment to meet at a fair in the town of Conwy. He in his way fell over Penmaen Mawr: she was over-set in the ferry-boat, and was the only person saved out of more than fourscore. They were married, and lived very long together in the parish of Llanfair. She was buried April 11th, 1744, aged 116. He survived her five years, and was buried December 10th, 1749, close by her in the parish church-yard, where their graves are familiarly shewn to this day.
Pennant, Thomas, Tours in Wales (1883 edition, vol. 3 p. 109)
Bingley and at least one other tourist repeated the story of the Rev Mr Jones, Rector of Llaneilian, Anglesey, who survived a fall from the road in 1762

(1794) Penmaenmawr
{Another story about an accident on Penmaenmawr, quoted from Pennant}
Clutterbuck, Robert, Journal of a Tour From Cardiff, Glamorganshire through South and North Wales, Cardiff Public Library, MS 3.277, vol. 1, p. 53

(1801) Penmaenmawr
‘Along a shelf of this tremendous precipice is formed part of the great Irish Road. This is well guarded towards the sea by a strong wall and supported in many parts by arches turned underneath it … Before the wall was built, accidents were continually happening by people falling down the precipices, but since that time, I believe it has been accounted perfectly safe. {He then repeats the stories Pennant published.} On the evening of 31st July 1801, during a tremendous storm of thunder, a mass of stone, supposed to weigh several thousand tons was … precipitated with a dreadful crash into the sea … a woman and horse narrowly escaped destruction … I was not many miles distant from the place at the time. … Before this pass was formed, which is now near forty years ago, the usual mode of going betwixt Conwy and Bangor was either in boats, or, waiting the departure of the tides, to proceed along the sands at low water. The latter mode was frequently attended with danger, owing to the soft places left by the fresh water streams … There was a horse path along the side of the mountain, but it is said to have been excessively dangerous and bad. …        
Bingley, William, (1774-1823), A tour round North Wales, performed during the summer of 1798 [and subsequently], (1814 edition), pp. 95-96

(1838) (recorded elsewhere as 1832 or 1834) Penmaenmawr.
{Story of The Rev Mr Jones (Rector of Llaneilian, Anglesey) who fell from the road in 1762 with his midwife. He survived, she didn’t}. [Presumably quoted from Pennant or Bingley].
Byron, W., 1838 Journal of a tour of north Wales, Cardiff Central Library, MS 2.1093, p. 13 

1802 Penmaenmawr
a terrace road, supported by walls, conducts us round the Penmaen Mawr, a huge bare overhanging rock, rising almost perpendicularly from the sea, and formerly the terror of travellers, from the numerous fatal accidents caused by the crags giving way under the feet. At present it is probably insecure at the breaking up of a frost from the large fragments of rock which at that time roll down across the road, sometime breaking through the wall which bounds it towards the sea but at this season, unfortunately, no traveller can signalize his courage by attempting this formidable pass.
Anon (female), Diary of a Lady’s Tour in Wales Eighty Years Ago, Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser, 10 October 1884

OTHER ROADS

1795 near Caerphilly to Pontypridd
the forewheel of our Welsh chaise took leave {no one hurt}
Eardley-Wilmot, Sarah, (nee Haslam), National Museum of Wales, Library, Cardiff, MS179554           

1788 Llanrwst
Our coach furnished with plough horse and plough driver … our driver and his horse tumbled {the horse was injured; haymakers helped raise the horse}
Oliver, Peter, A tour to North Wales, British Library, Egerton Papers, 2672-3, vol II transcript, p. 646

1798 Cann Office
On our arrival here a gentleman with two ladies were just setting off in a whisky from the inn door: addressing himself to me, he inquired about the state of the road to Mallwyd; … The whisky had been broken to pieces, the ladies much hurt, and obliged to take refuge in a miserable cottage, for the night, at the foot of the Bwlch; where one small room contained the hospitable inhabitants and their guests: while the horse was indebted for his lodging to the civility of a domestic swine.
Evans, John, Rev., (1768-1812), A tour through part of North Wales, in the year 1798, and at other times : principally undertaken with a view to botanical researches in that Alpine country: interspersed with observations on its scenery, agriculture, manufactures, customs, history, and antiquities. (London, 1800), p. 53

1801 near Llanrhystud
We nearly met with a most melancholy accident but which by a signal act of Providence we happily escaped. The lad, Jacob who drove from the box and who had been with us for 5 days was a very careful as well as skillful Driver, and knowing as he thought, the road, called out to the leader ‘hold up’ here is a drip that is a little current of water that crosses the road, but in a moment we were mounded exceedingly high and the two leaders sunk so deep that the Boy could with great difficulty keep his seat, the other lad drew up in an instant jumped from the box and opened the Chaise door which reclined very much on one side, when he lifted Mrs M. out he trembled to such a degree that he could scarce stand, my son alighted with me as fast as possible, and I asked what was the matter? The boy replied ‘I don’t know, but something very wrong, on our examining our situation, we found that they were building a bridge over the drip, but that they did one half first to leave the passage clear, and it being dark the drivers had kept on their proper side of the road, by which means we had reached the crown of the Arch, but the further side not being made good, only some loose earth having been thrown upon the brick work, the fore horses sunk up into their bellies, for had they moved 6 inches forwarder the Chaise must have been overset, and it would have fallen 6 or 8 feet perpendicular, in all probability it would have turned bottom upwards, and lucky should we have been to have escaped with a fractured limb; how shameful was it to leave such a place without a rail.
Martyn, T., A Tour of South Wales, [1801], NLW MS 1340C, p. 117

DOLGELLAU TO BARMOUTH ROAD
The road [to Barmouth] is so very dangerous that even the Welch kerfil [Cefyl – horse] and his driver must meet with frequent accidents … The magistrates  … have agreed to blow up [the mountains jutting out to sea] and form a road … above high water mark and guard it with a wall at two guineas per yard: which is now the most charming road I ever travelled.
Hutton, W., Remarks upon North Wales: being the Result of Sixteen Tours Through that part of the Principality (Birmingham, 1803), p. 28

1802 Near Devil’s Bridge
The only circumstance that occurred that at all relieved the dreariness of the road, was a narrow escape with our lives; in passing along a very narrow road, we passed by the side of a high hill, on one side of which was a declivity of several feet where we met with a string of waggons by the side of one of which was a Welsh pony loose, who when we got near fell to kicking and plunging and ran up against our horse, consequently alarmed him and us very much. I immediately jumped out and took the traces drew the Gig out of the road and by this means I think escaped the most imminent danger. …
Anon, ‘A Journal of a Tour thro’ North Wales [and the Lake District]’, NLW MS 789B, pp. 16-17

1804 near Cader Idris
Chariot overset down a steep of about 15 feet near another of 100. Ladies bruised but proceed
Duncan, J.S., Tour Through Wales from Oxford, 1804, NLW MS 16714A, f. 9r  [this section written in note form]

1805 Hafod to Rhayader
‘We quitted Hafod and entered upon the most frightful road that can be imagined. Two miles from Hafod is a small Ale House which was the last habitation we saw for 13 miles. We passed some lead mines. The road was tolerable for a few miles tho’ all the way was dreadful, steep pitches and frightful precipices with torrents running in all directions. At last the road became so bad that we began to despair of getting on at all and in one place the carriage was set fast between the rocks, one horse was thrown down and another taken out. At last, by mere dint of pulling, our horses got it up. A Welch drover came by who told us we were then six miles from Rhaider, so we sent Edward on for four post horses, a Guide and a lantern. As it began to grow dusk, we continued to walk on, and when it became quite dark waited in the carriage till the Guide came’ … [arrived at Rhaider at 10 p.m. 15 miles in 7 hours]
Hon Anne Rushout, [Tour of Wales, 1805], Geoffrey Bright, ‘A tour in central Wales in 1805’, Radnorshire Society Transactions, Vol. 28, (1958), pp. 7-10

1806 Caernarfon
{On his journey from Beddgelert, the groom drove to the edge of the road to avoid a hole, fell off and the horses bolted}
d’Orleans, Antoinne Philippe, Duc de Montpensier, Tour in Wales, [1806]; Hay, Malcolm, (translator) ‘Prince in Captivity’, London, 1960, 14th September, 1806

1814 near Eisteddfodgurig
COACH ACCIDENT. – The London and Aberystwith mail, on its way to Kington, was overturned on Monday morning last, near Stretough [Eisteddfa Gurig?], going at the foot of Plynlimon. In consequence of the snow-storm the coachman had provided an extra pair of horses, and the postilion missed his way in crossing the road, where on one side is a ravine of considerable depth, into which the coach and two inside passengers (Mr J Hughes, and Mr Monkhouse, of Aberystwyth), were precipitated, the whole turning over twice or thrice, and yet both gentlemen miraculously escaped with only a few slight scratches and bruises. The coachman and guard threw themselves off, and were not hurt, and the postilion received no injury, although he was in a most perilous situation. In a few hours the coach etc was righted, and proceeded on its journey.
The Times, 21.1.1814

1812, near Llangollen
Whilst travelling by this unfenced precipice [in the Vale of Llangollen] our risibility was often excited by the trepidation and grievance of Mr Sharp who at our exclamations of Oh! How sublime, how beautiful! uttered a hearty response “give me good safe roads” the whole way to Llangollen [This] afforded some of the party a high sense of admiration until? turned with fear, which proved a sad drawback to the enjoyment of those who were timid. [sic]
Anon, (Woman from Sudbury, Suffolk, probably Henrietta Hurrell fl. 1812-1855)
John Rylands library, Manchester, Eng mss. 421, p. 69

1819
{The drag chain slipt off twice, the second time, they were on a steep hill and it was impossible to stop so were obliged to go at a brisk rate until the bottom of a hill.}
Sandys, William, (1792-1874), Sandys, Sampson, (1797-1880) (brothers) ‘Walk through South Wales in October, 1819’, NLW Cwrt Mawr MS393 C, p. 77

20.7.1832 Penygwryd
I found that a carriage had met with an awkward accident on the Beddgelert road, and the coachman of the Snowdonian having been detained an hour and a half helping to put matters right …’
Parker, John, (1798-1860), NLW MS 18256C Tours through Wales 1819-47, ‘Journal of a Second Welsh Tour in July 1832’, p. 253

1838 near Capel Curig
{The Coach and four they were in had an accident and the postilion was injured. Went on the Tynymaes.}
Byron, W., 1838 (recorded elsewhere as 1832 or 1834) Journal of a tour of north Wales containing many engravings, Cardiff Central Library, MS 2.1093, p. 97

4.9.1834
Took the Barmouth coach for Ffestiniog in torrential rain and floods near Beddgelert when a small accident prevented a serious smash because the coach was over-loaded. Both front springs were broken after crossing a flooded bridge. Some continued in a car.
Letts, Thomas, NLW MS 22341B, f. 84

1843 near Pont Aberglaslyn
At the turnpike we nearly had a bad accident the post boys drove ill and could not manage their horses and came against the turnpike gate the let of the wheel boy was jammed in between the gate and his horses, I extracted it for him and he then took off the gate from its hinges and let the carriage through  – all safe
Diary of the Duke of Newcastle, The University of Nottingham, Manuscripts and Special Collections, Ne 2F 7, p. 48

1851 Between Kidwelly and Llanelli
On ascending another steep hill our horses jibbed and we found ourselves in an uncomfortable situation as the stone which our conductor carelessly threw under the wheel missed it and had it not been for Papa who immediately places another in its stead we should have found ourselves very soon in the ditch.
Rolls, Georgiana, Trip of the yacht ‘Flirt’ in 1851 along the coast of Scotland, to Ireland, then Wales and on to England, Gwent Record Office, D361.F/P.8.112, 17th June, 1851       

FERRY ACCIDENTS

There are six ferries from Caernarvonshire into Anglesey; Beaumaris.—Several accidents have at different times happened at these ferries: 1664, 1723, 1726, 1785
LOSS OF THE ABER MENAI FERRY-BOAT
Bingley, William, North Wales including its Scenery, Antiquities, Customs and Sketches of its Natural History, delineated from two excursions through all the interesting parts of that country during the summers of 1798 and 1801, 2nd edition, 1804.

About 1705 and 1785
On the 5th December 1785 between 50 and 60 people drowned when returning to Anglesey after the fair at Caernarfon and about 80 people died in a similar accident 80 years earlier.
Williams, William, ‘A Survey of the Ancient and Present State of the County of Caernarvon by a Landsurveyor [William Williams], 1806, NLW Ms 821C, p. 268

date unknown, Severn Ferry
Our landlady entertained us, at supper, with the story of a melancholy accident that happened, a few years ago, to a party who were endeavouring to cross the Severn at a time when the weather was unfavourable. A sudden gust of wind took off the hat of a gentleman, and conveyed it away, in an opposite direction, when the boat was half way over. The gentleman insisted that the waterman should put about and endeavour to recover it. They assured him that it was as much as their lives were worth to risk such an attempt. The other passengers remonstrated with him, but in vain; the gentleman continued inflexible, and finding all his entreaties were to no purpose, he suddenly seized the helm, and endeavoured to turn the boat. In the struggle this occasioned, the helm got a wrong twist, and the boat instantly filled and went to the bottom. The hat was afterwards found, when it appeared that the owner had cogent reasons for his inconsiderate conduct, as several bills were secreted in the lining of it.
Clarke, Edward Daniel, (1769-1822), A Tour through the South of England, Wales and Part of Ireland, made during the Summer of 1791, (London: 1793)

1812?
It had been planned that we should proceed from hence to Tintern Abbey but on expressing our wish to the driver he assured us the roads were almost impassable and that if we attempted it we should not return before night and made so many obstacles that finding all the party except myself had seen it, I begged it might be given up without hesitation. The most agreeable method of going from Chepstow to Tintern is by water but the melancholy accident which had recently occurred quite prevented our thinking of that. A party of nine or ten had taken a boat on the Sunday previous for the purpose and were returning by moonlight, when they were close to the place of landing in consequence of a vessel being moored in some improper manner, the boat ran against the cobbles and was overset and seven of the party lost their lives. There were three sisters, two of whom were lost; the third was taken up after some time clinging to the underside of the boat and was restored to feel the bitterest anguish. Six of the bodies had been found and were deposited in the castle at the time of our visiting it.
Bletchley, Ann, Letter describing a trip from Swansea to Pontardulais, Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Record Service, SY 49

1839 Severn Ferry
See The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Sep 11, 1839; pg. 4; for a report on the recovery of bodies.The Bristol Mercury (Bristol, England), Saturday, September 7, 1839, referring to the accident on Sunday last (i.e. Sunday 1st September, 1839)

1844, Conwy Ferry
{On Christmas day, 1806, the boat which conveyed the Chester and Irish mail was upset with eight passengers, the coachman and guard, and of 15 persons including the boatman, only 2 were saved.}
Matthews, John and Hannah, NLW MS 23063C, f. 124v

RAILWAY ACCIDENTS

1868
We pass on past the principal entrance gates and arrive at Abergele, this place is noted as the scene of the terrible railway accident which occurred on 20th August 1868, when the Irish mail run into some trucks laden with petroleum that had escaped from the siding of Llanddulas almost instantly came a vast blaze from the ignited spirit and the train was enveloped in flames.  Lord and Lady Farnham and some 33 others met with instant death, their remains being interred in one grave in Abergele Church yard.
Reynolds, Edwin John ‘Two hundred and fifty miles through North Wales on a Wagonette, being an account of our summer holidays of 1890’ by Edwin John and Emma Maria Reynolds of Belle Vue Place, Manchester, Denbighshire archives, DD/DM/1113/1

SHIPPING ACCIDENTS

1785
{Dreadful tale of a ferry accident between Caernarfon and Anglesey, 1785}
Vernon, Thomas Shrawley, Denbighshire Archives, NTD.1240, p. 25, (copy of an original in Warwickshire Record Office CR2886)

ACCIDENTS AT WATERFALLS
1821
27.8.1821 (Monday)
To Devil’s Bridge, the waterfalls
‘Some weeks ago a woman fell from a place near the bridge, 160 feet and escaped with her life.’
Morgan, Charles Octavius Swinnerton, (1803-1888), ‘Journal of a tour through North Wales – 1821’, Society of Antiquaries of London, OCTAVIUS MORGAN SAL/MS/680, fols. 20v-39v; Transcription and notes in Evans, Dai Morgan, Octavius Morgan : journal of a tour through North Wales in 1821, Archaeologia Cambrensis, vol. 160, (2011), pp. 235-263

1824, near Ffestiniog
We had safely seen the first fall and our little guide had pointed out Hugh Lloyd’s pulpit. We were clambering down to the principal fall and our numerous party was scattered amongst the brakes and young trees that clothe its sides, when suddenly I saw one of the foremost slip down the smooth side of what appeared to be an almost perpendicular rock. She went so gently that I thought it was intentional, till I observed that she was sitting. I then found that it was indeed a slip. She stopped and we all exclaimed ‘she is safe’ when again she slid on and we lost sight of here. It was a dreadful moment. We all fancied her fallen into the torrent and dashed to pieces against the rocks, but raising myself a little I again saw her head and the next moment she turned round and nodded by far the most composed of the party and we now found it was Sarah. Our anxiety then was to get her safely up. We females were all in too great a tremor to attempt then what in our firmest moments we could not have done. Our guide was too young to be of use, but my uncle found his way down and clinging to a tree with one hand, with the other and with the little guide’s assistance she was rescued from her perilous situation for all the time she was clinging to nothing but grass. Had she been less composed herself in all probability a broken limb would have been the least misfortune, now a bruised ankle, a torn stocking and a few bruises were all the damages.
Martineau, Margaret, Travel diary of Margaret Martineau – journey from St Albans into north and South Wales, Hampshire Record Office, 83M93/21, p. 26

1840, Ffestiniog
Captain Chapman conducted us to the waterfall. There is no pathway to the lower part and it cannot therefore be seen to advantage in its present state. It is also dangerous. A young lady was killed 4 years ago by slipping down and a clergyman Mr Lowe of Oxford fell down last year but was most providentially preserved by falling into a natural basin below.
Venn, Henry, (1796-1873) ‘Tour in Wales, June, 1840’, Birmingham University Library, CMS/ACC81, F11/5, 21[sic 22.6.1840]

1844 Devil’s Bridge, Cardiganshire
we set off with our good humoured Cicerone to explore the glen and the falls. Above the bridge, a precipitous path leads down to the torrent, which dashes on with great impetuosity; and has worn several deep basons in the rock; into one, 30 feet deep, a strange gentleman fell; the guide raised an instant alarm, and with great difficulty, and even the risk of life, dragged him out for which act of prowess he rewarded him with sixpence!
Anon, An Account of a Tour in Wales c 1830 1844, NLW MS 10566, f. 51

PERSONAL ACCIDENTS

Warre, 1804,
Monument to Warre who drowned in the Wye
The monument to the memory of John Whitehead Warre of Hendon a youth who was drowned near this spot in the sight of his parents on the 14th September 1804 – he was bathing & was seized with the cramp which occasioned the fatal accident – the uncle of one of our boatmen was present when it occurred.
Porter, Phoebe, Journal of a tour down the Wye & through South Wales, 1824, Worcestershire Record Office, BA 3940 Parcel 68 (i) 705: 262

1825 Barmouth
25th July In the evening I had the misfortune to sprain my ankle coming down stairs & Mr. S ran to fetch Mr Morris the surgeon who ordered me six leeches which agreeable companions kept me up till a late hour.
26th July Mr Morris came in the morning, ordered me salines & not to get up all day…
27th July Betty the servant carried me downstairs for dinner.
29th July Walked downstairs for the first time since my accident & after breakfast the boatman carried me down to the pier when we had a pleasant sail.
Spurrett, Eliza, Journal of a Tour in North Wales, 1825, The Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland, 7D542/1

1840 Llanegryn church which had ‘a chancel screen of great interest’
I met with a serious accident here today while attempting to look within the rib work of the ceiling where the panels have been removed. I stood upon one of the benches that appeared firm enough to bear me. But before I was aware of its not being fixed into the floor, it gave way with me, carrying with it another bench and an entire pew. I got up severely bruised but without any broken bones. The clerk and the officiating minister were present and were very kind.
Parker, John, (1798-1860), NLW MS 18256C Tours through Wales 1819-47, p. 292

27.8.1861 Milford
Yesterday … I slipped and strained my knee [accident]. I had nine miles to walk home …
Brooke, Stopford Augustus, Rev (1832 – 1916), Letters from Rev Stopford Augustus Brooke to Mrs Mary Charlotte Mair Simpson, daughter of Nassau Senior, NLW Nassau Senior, (1) E423

OTHER SORTS OF ACCIDENT

Abermaw, 1816 (John Walter)
Detailed description of a funeral of an Irishman, a Cambridge student, in Abermaw for a reading holiday, who had drowned whilst bathing.
Walter, John,   1816.  Bangor University Archives, ms. 27, 28

SAFELY HOME

1788
Got home about 11 o’clock in safety, being favoured to travel 600 miles without meeting with an accident worth mentioning.
Rees, Elizabeth, A Few Remarks made in an Excursion through part of the Counties of Glamorgan, Monmouth, Hereford … in the Year 1788, Cardiff Central Library, MS 3.458

1797
‘We reached our homes after travelling nearly 400 miles and seeing almost every beauty that lay in our reach, without, thank God, any accident happening to either man or beast.
Vernon, Thomas Shrawley, Denbighshire Archives, NTD.1240, p. 37, (copy of an original in Warwickshire Record Office CR2886)

1818
Reached home in ye evening having traversed in ye same vehicle 680 miles without a single accident or even alarm.
Anon, Welsh Tour, NLW Cwrt Mawr MS 542B, 28.8.1818

1836
We had been absent nearly sixteen days, & had travelled about four hundred miles without the slightest accident or danger, & returned home highly gratified with our short, but very pleasant excursion. Finis.
Esther Williams, Cardiff Central Library, MS1.521

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