A train was nearly destroyed in Teddington after an arson attack by suffragettes campaigning for women’s right to vote 100 years ago.
April 26 marks the 100th anniversary of the historic fire, which burnt out three compartments of the 9.15pm train from London Waterloo to Teddington in 1913.
London and South Western Railway’s staff magazine the South Western Gazette said: “It seemed at first as if the whole train was doomed to destruction as a strong wind was blowing which carried the flames from one compartment to another.
“In less than a quarter of an hour the entire compartment of a second-class coach had been burnt out from the floor to the roof.”
A policeman who spotted the flames at about 3am raised the alarm and firefighters put out the blaze before the whole train was destroyed.
Partially burnt candles, four cans of petroleum, three of which were empty, a basket containing cotton wool and suffragette literature were discovered onboard.
Women’s footprints were found in Fairfax Road, where the suffragettes managed to remove a 6ft fence to enter the siding between Hampton Wick and Teddington where the train was parked.
An edition of this newspaper published on May 3, 1913, said suffragette literature and postcards addressed to “dishonourable MPs” were also found near the carriage.
It was thought the suffragettes slipped past railway workers and waited until they were tucking into a meal to launch their attack.
No one was ever charged for the incident but suspicion fell on to German-born actress Kitty Marion, who was convicted for starting a fire at Hurst Park racecourse near Hampton Court on June 8, 1913.