Monday, May 21, 2012

Robin Gibb and the Hither Green Disaster

Many of the obituaries for Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb, who died at the weekend, mention that he escaped death  in the Hither Green rail crash. On 5 November 1967 a  Sunday evening express train from Hastings to London derailed shortly before the train crossed the St Mildred's Road railway bridge, between Hither Green and Grove Park railway stations. Most of the carriages overturned, two of them having their sides torn off. 49 people died.

Robin Gibb was on the train, along with his fiancee Molly Hullis. They were returning from visiting her parents in Hastings. Gibb recalled 'the carriage rolled over and big stretches of railway line came crashing in straight past my face'.  At the time he was only 17, but the Bee Gees had already had their first big international hit earlier that year - New York Mining Disaster 1941. He reflected: 'If our hits were not making so much money, I would not have been able to buy first-class tickets. Most of the people who died were in the second class compartments, which had no corridor to protect them'

Recovering immediately after the crash, Gibb wrote the song 'Really and Sincerely':  'It doesn't mention anything about a train crash but it does reflect the mood I was in' (quotes from The Bee Gees: Tales of the Brothers Gibb by Andrew Hughes).

Later in 1967, The Bee Gees played in Lewisham at  a charity show in aid of the Hither Green train disaster fund.

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