Miscarraiges of justice really ” do my head in “, and I can well understand the anguish of the Hillsborough victim relatives and friends, but after BBC Panorama colluded with bogus Road Safety Charity BRAKE in a programme on the Sowerby Bridge Disaster for me it got personal as my friends were demonised.
The Sowerby Bridge Disaster happened in the 1990s when a Fewston Eight Wheeler Foden ( driven by a retired Ex-Police HGV driver ) ran out of control down the steep hill into the town centre killing Six people. By then Norman Bettinson was Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, and it was almost certainly he who rigged the outcome of the Accident Investigation to protect the Police’s reputation on Road Safety.
Apparently the aforementioned Ex-Police driver had only ever driven their Horse Box, with a syncro-mesh gearbox and never anywhere near full plated gross weight. The Foden was a different animal altogether, with a Fuller Nine Speed Range Change constant-mesh box where you must match the revs to change gear-box. That means ” double de-clutching ” where you have the blip the throttle in neutral to change down. An experienced skilled man can cleanly change both up and down without ever touching the clutch once moving, and probably know where the 10th gear fits into the shift sequence as well.
BBC Panorama showed the wreck of the Foden and the condition of the brake linings after the fact, both the ” second-steer ” and leading drive axle linings were burnt out. It was on these two axles on which the spring parking brake actuators operated, which is the key to the cause of the accident.
Whilst watching the programme it was almost immediately apparent to me that the driver had ” Pumped the Brakes ” like with a car with faulty hydraulic brakes. Thus he lost all his air pressure, leaving him with only the spring parking brakes with an efficiency of 16% or capable of holding the vehicle on a gradient of One in 6.25. As the brakes were probably significantly ” faded ” after coming down from the summit of the A629 over Denholm from Keighley, their efficiency would have been less than that. Fatal if said driver missed a gear as you can’t ram it into a lower gear like you can with a syncro box !
My suspicions were confirmed after I got into an argument over it with the young executive transport CEO of a Scottish based Dairy corporate on LinkedIn, who claimed to have studied the case during his time at University. He said that pedestrians at top of the hill had heard the driver test-ING his brakes, but you can only hear air brakes when they are released. He claimed that I didn’t know what I was talking about, and I got electronically excommunicated from LinkedIn shortly afterwards.
Fewston Transport was convicted for poor maintenance but the ( a good friend of mine ) Fewston Charge-hand Fitter was charged with Manslaughter. By then I had a computer with printer so I got in touch with Will Murray at Huddersfield Department of Logistics and sent him a detailed analysis of the case. The charges against my friend were dropped as they claimed he was unfit for trial due to having contracted MS or something similar, ( Probably due to the stress he was under ) despite the protestations of BRAKE !
Perhaps the main contributory factor to the Sowerby Bridge Disaster was the fact that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority forced Fewston to move its garage from Swinden Quarry ( just past Craeco on the road up to Grassington ) to Skipton Rock Quarry. The Rock garage is up a narrow track full of speed humps so you lose at least 15 minutes just to call in before mechanical inspection. I believe that aforementioned disaster driver was booked to do three trips to Huddersfield that day, a hard task for even a ” Top link ” driver and stick to drivers hours legislation.
Fewston was a ” Shell Company ” set up by the banks to take over Tilcon’s tipper fleet on the advent of new EU sheeting regulations. The Tilcon tripper drivers were quite well paid, and took a huge cut in wages, plus being forced to be cold and pissed wet through all day in bad weather. Take my own personal case, I did five loads a day from Swinden ex-works to RMC Burnley for which we were paid on a percentage of the takings. After the sheeting regulations were introduced it meant working an extra hour a day for nothing plus getting ” shit up to the eyeballs ” and risking serious injury. Tilcon who always bought British Foden was subsequently taken over by another company, Fewston bought Scania’s, no doubt the fat cat Stock Market Parasites were pleased with the deal.