December 19, 1956: Thick fog causes six deaths and many injuries on Britain's roads

In spite of the recent introduction of the Clean Air Act, a bank of thick, choking fog across England and Wales led to deaths and injuries on the country's roads.

A thick choking fog which spread across most of England and dramatically reduced visibility throughout the country was responsible for the deaths of at least six people and injuries to many more on this day in 1956.

The fog shrouded the country almost completely, south of a line between Blackpool in the west and Newcastle in the east, causing mayhem on the roads and rail network.

Two men were killed in Bedfordshire when the van they were driving ploughed into a lorry in the gloom, while in Birmingham a 16-year-old girl died when she was hit by a bus that had mounted the pavement after colliding with a car.

Forty-one miners were taken to hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorganshire after the double-decker bus they were travelling to work in overturned.

Train travel was disrupted after the fog caused a diesel train from Lichfield to run into the back of a stationary tank engine just outside Birmingham New Street station.  The driver and two passengers were taken to hospital suffering from minor injuries and shock.

[Read more: December 5, 1952 - Thousands suffocate as Great Smog descends]

[October 15, 1987: Britain is hit by Great Storm after weathermen tell us 'not to worry']

[August 10, 2003: Britain basks in record high temperatures]

Air travel was also seriously affected, with customers travelling to Ireland offered the alternative of making their journeys by rail and ferry.

While the day’s fog was not characterised as being as heavy or as toxic as the famous ‘Great Smog’ of 1952, there is no doubt that air pollution continued to play a part in the problem – in spite of the passing of the Clean Air Act earlier in the year.

The new law, which controlled the emission of ‘dark smoke’ from homes, trains and industrial sites, also contained measures to limit the discharge of grit into the atmosphere from chimneys – but it would take some time for its effects to be felt.

[Also on this day: December 19, 1998 - Clinton impeached on perjury and obstruction charges]

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