12th APRIL 1858

Extracted and adapted from the report by 

Douglas Galton, Captain

On the the 12 April, 1858 a accident occurred near Three Bridges, at this station, which 29 miles from London, the Horsham and East Grinstead branches join the main line. The Horsham is miles long, and is a single line.

On the 12th April, as a pilot engine which is kept at Three Bridges, but which is regularly employed to take two trains each way daily over the branch, was about to start with the 9.05 a.m. train from Three Bridges to Horsham, it was found that its assistance would be required with the 8 a.m. train from Brighton tp London, which was very heavy. The station master therefore sent the pilot engine away with the main line train, and telegraphed to Horsham for the regular Horsham engine, which would otherwise have waited there until the arrival of the pilot engine with the 9.05 branch train.

When the message reached Horsham, the Fireman of the Horsham engine was absent in the town getting his breakfast, and by the station masters orders, the driver started for Three Bridges without him, taking a porter to supply his place. On nearing the Three Bridges Station, the driver shut of steam, and in preparing to stop in front of the carriages of the 9.05 train, which were standing on the siding allowed to them, he told the porter to apply the tender break. The porter did so; and the driver said that will do,” meaning that he had done enough; but the porter, misunderstanding the expression, and thinking that the driver intended him to take the break off again, turned the handle the reverse way, and caused the engine to run up with some little violence against the carriages, to the injury of two of the passengers who were sitting in them waiting for the train to start.

The porter by whose unfitness for the duties of a fireman this accident was occasioned had been at Horsham for four months, and at Brighton for four years previously. He had been on the engines at Brighton frequently, but had not been in the habit of working the break, and had not travelled farther than 100 yards at a time on an engine before.

I have mentioned above that the pilot engine was about to take a train to Horsham, while the Horsham engine was at Horsham, and that it was only when the pilot engine was despatched with the Brighton train to London that the Horsham engine was telegraphed for to supply its place; and I may add, that this was in accordance with the daily practice pursued in the working of the line; as well as that the two engines are in the habit daily of running upon the single line in the same direction at the same time. but I would point out that this daily practice is in disobedience to Rule No.263 of the Company’s printed regulations, which directs, amongst other things, that “no second engine must be allowed upon the branch unless under circumstances of emergency.”

Rule No.263 of the Company’s printed regulations, which directs, amongst other things, that “no second engine must be allowed upon the branch unless under circumstances of emergency.”

The present accident was caused by the employment of the Horsham porter on a duty for which he was not fitted, and it might have happened equally if a porter from Three Bridges had been ordered to assist the driver shunting the engine from one end of the train to the other, and had made a similar mistake in doing so; so that it cannot fairly be said to have anything to do with the working of the single line; but it becomes my duty not the less to draw attention to circumstance that the printed regulations of the Company and their practice are not in accordance with each other, and to suggest that means should be taken for carrying out that conformity between them which is so necessary to proper discipline amongst the Company’s servants, as well as to the public safety. 

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