12th JULY 1862

Extracted and adapt from a report 

by W. Yolland. Colonel, Royal Engineers

The accident which occurred on the 12th July, 1862, at the Victoria Station of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, respecting which a complaint was made to their Lordships by Mr. H. F. Walker, on the 19th ult., referred to me by your minute of the 30th ult.

It appears that, on the day in question the 2.45 p.m. down-train for London Bridge, consisting of a tank-engine and 11 vehicles, left the Crystal Palace departure platform in obedience to the indications of the signal, at about its proper time, and when it had run between 30 and 40 yards from the platform, and was travelling about 5 miles an hour, the engine and three following vehicles got off the line in passing over a pair of facing points leading by a through end from the up-line by which the departure platform is reached, to the regular downline. As soon as the engine-driver found his engine get off the rails he took the necessary measures for stopping the train, and it was arrested after running about 30 or 40 yards. One lady complained of being hurt at the time, but I understand the Railway Company have not subsequently heard anything respecting the injuries which she received, and they do not know of any oilier person having been injured.

When the facing points were examined after the accident occurred, the two connecting rods were found bent; the fish-joint at the heel of the left point-rail had the nuts broken and the thread of the screw stripped, and the double chair under the permanent rails adjacent to the heel of the left- point-rail was also broken ; the left point-rail was bent and the right one also, but to a less extent. The foreman of the platelayers states that neither of the tongues of the point-rails were struck. The switchman on duty states that the right hand point-rail had been struck, but he did not notice the left-hand point-rail.
and a stone of any size would have prevented the points from being pulled over sufficiently to allow the catch to drop in.

I examined the points on the 4th instant. The left point-rail had received a slight blow at time or other, but whether on the day the accident occurred or not I am unable to say: the right point- rail did not appear to have been struck, and as the line is on a sharp curve of not more than 10 chains radius, bending to the left at thus spot, if the right point-rail had not been quite close to the permanent rail of the up line it would in all probability have been struck by the flange of the right leading wheel of the engine. If the tongues of the points were not closed to either line but wrong for both, as they were found after the accident open to the extent of about two fingers breadth on each side, the flanges of the wheels of the engine would have passed clear of the tongues of the points and have mounted the point-rails as they neared the heel of the points, in the event of the heel-chairs and fish-joints not giving way ; but in this instance, the fished-joint and the heel-chair adjacent to it both gave way, and the engine does not appear, from any marks that could be traced, to have mounted the point-rail, although the driver states that it jumped on passing the points; it seems probable that the engine ran along between the two rails until it reached the next crossing.
This pair of facing points was worked by a switch- man placed at a box about 30 yards from them, by means of levels and rods. These rods at the time of the accifint formed nearly three sides of a rectangle, with a length of about 52 yards of rod. The lever handles were fitted with spring catches, which dropped into notches for the purpose of holding the tongues of the points securely close to one or other of the permanent rails as the lever handles were pulled over, opening the points alternately, to the up line and to the through road. The carriages which formed the 2.45 p.m. train had been taken in and left at the departure platform before the switchman came on duty. I could not ascertain the exact time or by whom or by what road they were so taken, but the switchman 
informed me that nothing passed in to the departure platform after he came on duty at 1.40 except the engine which afterwards took the train away, and which engine came in by the up line from under the wall. He also says that he signalled the engine in, and set the points right for the up line for it to come in, and the lever handle was fixed by the catch dropping in to the notch. He then shifted his points, and set them so as to allow the engine to come out from the departure platform towards the down line, not knowing that it was intended to take out the 2.45p.m. train, and he set the points about 10 minutes before the actual departure of the train.

The signalman stated that these points had been in use for six months and he never had occasion to complain of them. He suggested that a stone might have got in and prevent the tongue of the right point rail from closing to the permanent rail, although it would not interfere with not interfere with the catch dropping into notch; but in that case, the tongue of the right point rail would probably have been marked, and a stone of any size would have prevented the points from being pulled over sufficiently to allow the catch to drop.
The engine which drew the train was a six wheeled tank engine, with four wheels coupled, and carrying the water tank under the boiler. It has 15 inch cylinders, 22 inches stroke, and having leading wheels of 3 ft. 2 ins. diameter, and the driving and trailing wheels of 5ft 7 ins diameter.
The weight on the several wheels when in working order, is:-
On the leading wheels 10 tons 14 Cwt
On the driving wheels 11 tons 6 Cwt
On the trailing wheels 10 tons 18 Cwt

And the distances between the centre of the leading and driving and the driving and trailing wheels being in each case about 6 ft. 8 1/2in. The engine was travelling with the leading wheels in front.
Although there is a preponderance of weight over hanging the trailing wheels, there does not appear to be anything peculiar in the construction of the engine that should render it very likely to mount when travelling with the leading wheels in front, and I am inclined to think that the accident must have been occasioned by the points not being properly set, or, what is still more likely, that they had been previously strained and bent by the passage of an engine or train ill the opposite direction,'so as to prevent the points from properly closing.
I saw a case of this kind ill the same yard when making inquiries into this accident, occasioned by an engine driver running through points before they had been properly set, although it did not appear whether the blame of doing so rested on the driver or switchman.

Make a free website with Yola