Frederick Maskell & James McNabbPrint Page Print this page

Maskell + McNab Memorial
Maskell + McNab Memorial

Photographs supplied by Kent Watson / Lorne Lewis

The monument is a large bluestone base in which is set a drinking fountain topped with a spire and commemorates engine driver and fireman, Frederick William Maskell and James McNabb who were killed in the Windsor rail accident in 1887. The memorial was originally erected in Graham Street. 

In May 1887, six people were killed and 154 people injured after an air brake malfunction. Only the presence of mind of the train driver, Mr Frederick Maskell who pulled on the steam brake of his engine seconds before he was crushed prevented the accident from being much worse. Mr Maskell was driving an express train when it ploughed into the back of an ordinary train which had broken down just before Windsor Station.

At the subsequent inquest it was revealed that an untrained station hand was left in charge of the signaling. There were no danger signals to warn the express. The driver had only time to apply the steam brake before he and his fireman were killed. The express train driver, the fireman Mr James McNabb, and three passengers on the ordinary train were killed.

The ceremony of unveiling the memorial which has been erected in honor of Frederick William Maskell and James M'Nab, the engine-driver and fireman who were killed in the terrible railway collision, near the Windsor railway station, on the 11th of May, 1887, will be performed by the Mayor of Port Melbourne, Cr J. K. B. Plummer, tomorrow afternoon, at 4 o'clock. Nearly all our readers will remember the circumstances surrounding the collision. How the ordinary train to Brighton was delayed on its journey at the turning near the Windsor railway station ; how the Brighton express came along at great speed and turned the curve before the enginedriver was aware that an obstacle stood in the way ; and how, in a few seconds before the collision, Maskell sacrificed himself to duty by turning off steam when he might possibly have saved himself by jumping off the engine. M'Nab shared in the horror of that fearful disaster.

The movement to erect a memorial in their honor, or, more properly speaking, in honor of Maskell, for it was some time after when it was decided to call it the Maskell and M'Nab memorial, was proposed by Cr Tarver during his year of office as Mayor of Port Melbourne, in 1887. A committee consisting of the members of the Council and some of the prominent citizens of the borough was then appointed, and subscriptions were received from various sources in aid of the fund. The result of their labors is the the beautiful memorial which has been erected at the intersection of Graham and Princes streets, Port Melbourne. It consists of an ornamental lamp and drinking fountain, the base of which is composed of polished Malmsbury bluestone. On one side is the inscription —This memorial was erected by public subscription in honor of the late Frederick William Maskell and James M'Nab (the former enginedriver, aged 46 years, and the latter fireman, aged 21 years), who lost their lives through their heroic devotion to duty in the fearful accident on the Victorian Railways, near Windsor, on 11th May, 1887, and on the opposite side is inscribed the following :— "Erected under the patronage of the Mayor and Councillors of the Borough of Port Melbourne, MDCCCX." The memorial was designed by Mr J. P. Grut, and was erected at a cost of about £120. The Town Clerk of Port Melbourne, Mr E. Clarke, has acted as treasurer of the fund. Amongst those who have been invited to attend the ceremony of unveiling are -The widow of Maskell ; the Railway Commissioner ; the hon. F. T. Durham; the member for South Melbourne; and the Councillors of Port Melbourne.
Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954), Tuesday 15 July 1890.


Address:Beach Street, , Port Melbourne, 3207
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.841782
Long: 144.934952
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Fountain
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:11-May-1887
Actual Event End Date:11-May-1887
Designer:J. B. Grut
Artist:J. Thorpe


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 16th July, 1890
Front Inscription

This memorial is erected by public subscription

In honor of the late Frederick William Maskell and James McNabb 

The former engine driver, aged 46 years and the latter fireman, aged 21 Years

Who lost their lives through their heroic devotion to duty in a fearful accident on the Victorian Railways near Windsor on 11th May 1887

Back Inscription

Erected under the patronage of the Mayor and Councillors of the Borough of Port Melbourne


Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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