As part of the launch of Black History Month recently we had a very special guest reader in the E Library. Beverley East, author and graphologist, read extracts from her new book ‘Reaper of Souls’ followed by a question and answer session.
‘Reaper of Souls’ is a work of fiction based on the real Kendal train crash disaster which occurred on the 1st September in 1957. The train had left Kingston station and was bound for Montego Bay. On the trip back from Montego Bay the train became derailed costing the lives of over two hundred souls and injuring several hundred others. It appears that overcrowding and technical problems led to the disaster that robbed so many of their lives.
Beverley’s narrative is formed from three different points of view and the book begins on the day of the crash. The characters in ‘Reaper of souls’ are based on her relatives and people who she interviewed over a period of time. It's a subject matter close to Beverley’s heart for she lost fourteen relatives in that fateful crash including her grandparents on her father’s side.
One can only imagine the courage it must have taken to revisit such a tragic event, yet courage has allowed Beverley to unearth a hidden part of history. She told her audience how the majority of people do not realise that Jamaica had a railway system at that time let alone that Jamaica’s greatest rail disaster had occurred.
When Beverley finished reading extracts she invited people to ask her questions about the book and events attached to it. She was receptive and you could see that she loves interacting with the public and that they love her! By the end of the session I felt that we were more like old friends than strangers as people posed for photographs with her.
It is obvious that the Kendal train crash is not just the inspiration for a work of fiction but that it is part of Beverley’s life and will always remain so. She told us that she is campaigning to get some kind of ‘marked cross’ at the scene of the disaster.
As it stands, today, anybody hoping to lay flowers or show some respect to the people who lost their lives on that terrible day have to look ‘between the station and the crash site’ for some form of confirmation of their resting place.
I wish Beverley every success in this campaign and future publications.
Mary (Customer Service Library Assistant)
Visitor notice: On Sunday 4 March Cutty Sark and the museum car park will be closed for the Vitality Big Half Marathon. All other museums will be open as normal and DLR and rail links will be running. Find out about road closures