1862

LONDON BRIDGE


5th AUGUST 1862


extracted & adapted from the report by

W. Yolland Colonel R.E.

A collision that occurred on the 5th August 1862, at the London Bridge Station of the London, Brighton, and South CoastRailway, between a special lip passenger train from the Crystal Palace, and an engine engaged in shunting a train of empty carriages, by which collision 24 persons were injured. Of this number 2 received slight concussions of the brain, 1 had a bone in the face fractured, and the remainder were contused or bruised, but it is hoped none of them were seriously hurt.

It appears that a special train of 10 carriages, drawn by an engine running with the tender in front, and having two guards and two break vans, left the Crystal Palace at 7.52 p.m., and arrived at the entrance to the London Bridge Station at about 8.16. The driver found all the signals lowered for his train to pass into the station, but about 30 yards before he passed under the high semaphore signal staging, where the up signal is placed that governs the entrance to the station yard, he saw a pilot engine and train of empty carriages in front of him, and as far as he could see, he thought it stood clear of the line on which he was travelling, but it had not stopped and was running towards his train. He says he was running about 7 or 8 miles an hour at the time, and before he passed under the signals, he saw that the pilot engine had run foul of the up main line. His steam was shut off at the time, and when he saw that the pilot engine was foul of the main line he reversed his engine, turned on the steam, whistled for the guard's breaks, and told the fireman to put on the tender break, and did all he could to stop; but was unable to do so until his engine lied come into contact with the pilot engine, when both were slightly damaged by the collision, but neither of the engines nor any carriage was thrown off the line. The collision does not appear to have been a severe one.

The pilot engine was engaged in bringing out a train of empty carriages from what is termed the viaduct siding, lying west of the Brighton and Croydon arrival platform, a line which is constantly used for the shunting of carriages when other trains are in the act of passing into the station; the drivers requiring to be careful not to run too far on this line towards the high semaphore signals, so as to get foul of the up main line.

There is conflicting evidence whether the driver was ever told by the first switchman stationed at no.1 signal box that it was all right for him to come out. The driver and firemen assert that such words were uttered by the switchman, but the latter denies it. However, whether he was told that he might come out or not is not very material. The fireman allows that a green light was shown from No. 2 signal box, 64 yards in advance of No. 1, and he told the driver, and put the break on ; and while he was putting it on he saw a green light from the 3rd signal box, 40 yards still further a-head, which was immediately changed to red. Both driver and fireman assert that they did all they could to stop, but as the rails were rather slippery, and they had 14 carriages behind them travelling down a slight incline, they were unable to do so, until they had run about 15 yards beyond No. 3 signal box, and had thus got foul of carriages running on the up main line, Ss that the left buffer of the tender of the special train engine struck the left buffer of the pilot engine. The pilot engine had run altogether, from the spot at which it started, not more than 180 yards, and from that spot the driver could have seen, if he had looked for it, the arm of the high semaphore signal down for an up train to pass into the station ; and thus I consider the collision was entirely caused by his carelessness in not stopping short of No.3signal box, where the red light was exhibited, or at all events short of and clear of the up main line.

The London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company are so cramped for room at their London Bridge Station that there is not sufficient at this part to put in a pair of facing points, with a short siding into which a train similar to that with the pilot engine might have been turned, so as to prevent it from running foul of the main line, directly in front of any in coming up train, when the driver found that he could not pull up his train ; but I understand they have obtained powers to enlarge their station, and there cannot be a second opinion as to the necessity of altering it with the least possible delay.

The 5th August was a very busy day with the Company at the Crystal Palace, and the reason as signed for the special engine running with the tender first was, that there was not time to turn it.

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