HORSHAM residents remembered a 1951 Dimboola Road rail- crossing disaster in a simple roadside ceremony in Horsham yesterday.
More than 56 years after 11 people lost their lives when a tour bus and freight train collided at the former crossing, Horsham Rural City Council acknowledged the incident by unveiling a plaque at the crash site.
Councillors, Horsham residents and school children joined descendants of those who lost their lives, as well as people who saw the horrific accident.
Horsham Mayor Cr Gary Bird, one of the memorial's key proponents, told the crowd that the ceremony was designed to `properly' mark an event which had a profound impact on the Horsham community.
"Some people believe that we are holding the ceremony after the Kerang accident some three or four weeks ago, when 11 people were also killed. That is not the case," he said.
"We want to mark the event which changed legislation that all buses must stop at level crossings, a rule that still exists today. We also want to recognise the memory of those killed on the bus and the citizens of Horsham, who bravely and without any fear were involved in the rescue and transportation of people to the hospital."
Cr Bird paid tribute to several people during the ceremony, including train driver William Roberts, who helped rescuers and Horsham's only ambulance officer at the time Douglas Nicks, who despite a lack of stretchers, was able to ferry the injured and dead to the hospital with the help of a truck driver.
He also mentioned a young police officer, Constable Wright, who was on one of his first assignments in the job, as well as Horsham residents who rushed to the scene to lend a hand.
Cr Bird said Mr Nicks and many others never recovered from the accident.
"Constable Wright's widow at Rainbow rang me to say it was five years until he was able to stop climbing the walls at night and sleep," he said.
"Horsham cricketers were some of the first on the scene, there was a game of cricket to the left at Langlands Park and one over the back at the school.
"Eleven people were killed in the accident, but a lot of people were affected for their lives afterwards and a lot of the family people were here today would remember that.
"We are not out to highlight death or raise emotions, but this is a significant part of Horsham's history and something that we must remember."
Cr Bird unveiled a plaque to signify the location where 11 people were killed. The group fell quiet for a minute's silent tribute to those who died.
In their thoughts were crash victims: Allan Rennie, Campsie, NSW; Agnes Rennie, Campsie, NSW; Maria Little, Iona, Victoria; Joan Stuart, Ferntree Gully, Victoria; Harriet Davis, Bunyip, Victoria; Ethel Lawrence, Sydney, NSW; Maude Sheehy, Surrey Hills, NSW; Esther Crawford, Campsie, NSW; Henrietta Tregenna, Campsie, NSW; Christina Wheeler, Campsie NSW; and Harold Moorhead, Windsor, NSW.