On this day in history : 27th May 1975 – The Dibbles Bridge coach crash, near Hebden, North Yorkshire kills 33 people – and is the highest ever death toll in a road accident in the UK….

Dibbles Bridge – Image : Karl and Ali CC BY-SA 2.0

The coach, belonging to Riley’s Luxury Coaches, was carrying elderly passengers from Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire to Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales on a day trip….

Whilst travelling along the B6265, on a downhill stretch between Greenhow and Hebdon, coach driver Roger Marriott missed a gear and applied the brakes…. The previous week the brakes had undergone a service and new linings had been fitted…. However, the brakes were unable to hold the coach and it continued to accelerate – the brakes began to heat up and then failed altogether…. The vehicle hurtled down the 1,300m 1:6 gradient hill from Fancarl Top to the bottom of the valley – before crashing through a steel barrier and then a 1m high stone wall above the bank of the River Dibb…. The coach landed on its glass fibre roof some 5m below in the garden of a cottage – its sides buckled on impact…. The owners of the cottage were enjoying a barbeque at the time and son-in-law Lincoln Seligman was first on the scene….

Dibbles Bridge

An inquest was held at Skipton Town Hall in July 1975 and was told that because of defects, due to the service and maintenance carried out, there was no breaking on the offside rear wheel…. Owing to deficient brakes the driver had been unable to negotiate the bend in the road…. The main loss of life had been caused by victims being crushed between the seats…. 33 were killed, including the driver – and a verdict of accidental death was recorded…. The owner of the coach company was fined £75 (the equivalent of just under £650 in today’s terms) for running a vehicle with defective brakes….

There had previously been another fatal coach crash at Dibbles Bridge…. In June 1925 seven people were killed and a further eleven injured when a coach carrying members of the York Municipal Employees’ Guild and their families on an outing to Bolton Abbey also suffered break failure….

1925 postcard of Dibbles Bridge coach crash – public domain

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