1863

KENSINGTON


11th OCTOBER 1863


extracted & adapted from the report by

W. Yolland Colonel R.E.

The collision that occurred between two passenger trains on Sunday the 11th October 1863, close to the Kensington station on the West London Railway, when 20 passengers received bruises or were shaken, and the fireman and guard of the Brighton train were slightly hurt.

Kensington station is situated not far from the south extremity of the West London Railway, and at the present time it must be considered to be in an incomplete state. Thus, although there are two main line platforms constructed for up and down trains, with four lines of rails between them, the whole of the through traffic is worked from the platform on the east side of these four line of rails, while the local traffic from Willesden to Kensington over the West London Railway and from Victoria Station and Clapham Junction to Kensington over the West London Extension Railway, is worked from two bays lying east of the main line, one situated to the north of the station building and the other south of them. The lines of rails in these two bays are not connected together. Each bay contains three lines of rails with a platform adjacent to the outside lines, the length of the platform of the south bay being somewhat more than 380 feet.

The local trains from the south that work into the south bay belong partly to the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company and partly to the London and South Western Railway Company in the proportion of about two of the former to one of the latter ; and the east line in this bay is mostly allotted to the London and South-Western trains, and the west line to the London, Brighton, and South Coast trains.

The main lines of the West London Railway pass, under the centre span of the over-bridge carrying the Hammersmith road across the railway, and the up and down lines of rails in the south bay are connected with the up and down main lines by a single line of railway, altogether about 187 yards in length, passing under the east span of the said bridge. The down line from Chelsea to Kensington is reached from the south bay by a cross-over road from the up line, at about 500 yards from the north end of the south bay, and the up line is entered upon about 345 yards from the same point; and close to this junction, there ore points and a double line, leaving the main lines lending into the coal yard,· situated cost of the main line.

The station yard on the south side of Kensington is protected by a signal box with two double semaphore signals in it, one used for the main line through trains and the other for coal trains entering or departing from the coal yard, and by stop signals for the up and down lines leading to the south bay, one placed opposite to the south end of the cross-over road to which I have already referred, and the other north of but close to the Hammersmith road over-bridge, where there are facing points for turning incoming trains to the east or west lines in the south bay. A man is place at the south end of the cross over road to shift and hold the facing points for incoming train, and also to work a distant signal 480 yards further to the south, in accordance with the indications of the stop signal as given by the signalman from the signal box at the junction leading into the coal yard.

Another man is placed at the stop signal north of the Hammersmith road bridge whose duty it is to shift and hold the facing points, and the mechanical arrangements for the working of these stop signal is such that the facing points for turning an in coming train from the down main line through the crossover road to the up line, and hence by the single line to the south bay, cannot be shifted until the down stop signal for the cross-over road has been lowered to caution, when the signal works properly; but the locking apparatus in this instance is situated at the facing points, which are about 150 yards from the junction signal box, and its proper working is altogether dependent on the wires that act on the arms of the signal, moving freely along the pullies by which they are supported an guided.

I should add that the traffic is worked with the assistance of the telegraph, on the block system.

It appears from the statement of the signalman who was on duty at the junction signal box on the evening of the 11th October, that he kept the Brighton down train, coming from Clapham junction and due at Kensington station at 7·5 p.m., south of the stop signal at the south end of the cross over road until the 7.0 p.m.South Western up train had left the south bay at Kensington station, and was clear of the cross over road. That he then took off the stop signal for the Brighton train to proceed into the station (south bay), and when it got past his signal box he put the stop signal back to danger again by putting the lever back which worked all right into the notch, and he telegraphed back to Chelsea station "line clear," and then received a telegraphic message from Chelsea of a down South-Western train being “on" the line. He also stated that be kept the down stop signal against the South-Western train, to give the the the line. He also stated that be kept the down stop signal against the South-Western train, to give the preference to the Brighton 7.15 p.m. up train, which was then five minutes late in leaving Kensington station, and when the engine of this Brighton train, standing in the south bay, whistled for permission to come out, he took the up stop signal off, for the train to proceed to Chelsea, and then he telegraphed ion to Chelsea, and when it come under tho Hammersmith Rond Bridge he put the stop signal again on at danger after this Brighton train had passed this up stop signal, he turned round to look after· the South-Western train, and was surprised to see coming across the cross over road. That he looked at the cross-over road signal (the down stop signal) and saw it was off. That he then looked at the lever handles, and saw that they were in tho position indicating that the stop signal was "on at danger." Thats he then instantly exhibited a red light towards the Brighton train which was then coming out of the station and had passed through the bridge, and in about half o. minute, the two trains proceeding in opposite directions come into collision. 

It is stated by the servants of the two companies with the respective trains, that the London and South-Western down train, which had been almost brought to a stand still, in consequence of the distant signal being found on at danger, and which resumed its course as soon as the stop signal was found to be "off," was not travelling more than 4 miles an hour,
while tho Brighton up train was proceeding on its way lo Chelsea at a speed estimated by the driver at 15 miles an hour. The breaks were applied to the South-Western train, which consisted of engine and tender and 4 carriages, running from Clapham Junction with the tender foremost, in consequence of there being no engine turn table at that Junction ; but the driver of the Brighton train, which consisted of engine and tender and 5 carriages, states that he had not time to whistle after hearing two or three successive whistles from the South Western train, and seeing white lights on the engine, but that he pulled the reversing lever back, and was then thrown by the shock of the collision into the corner between tho fire-box and the hand-rail, while his fireman was knocked off the engine.

Only the lending wheels of the tender of the South-Western engine were thrown off the rails; no other vehicle was displaced from the rails, and not very much damage was done to the rolling stock. The tender suffered more than any other vehicle. The most remarkable fact connected with this collision was that the injuries received by the passenger areas slight as they are represented. Two trains proceeding in opposite directions, one travelling at the rate of 4 and the other at 15 miles an hour, meet, and the injuries received are confined are to confined to concussions and shakes!

As soon as the collision had taken place, the signalman at the junction box, unaccompanied the superintendent of the West London Railway (Mr. Grew) to examine the condition of the down stop signal placed opposite the south end of the cross-over road, and they found that the wire by which the signal is taken off, had caught between one of the pulley wheels on it should rest, and the frame in which it works, and had become jammed, so that the wire would not move and the stop signal remained off from the time of the accident until they examined the wire.

I do not consider that any blame attaches to any of the servants of the respective companies, except to the signalman at the junction box, in having to observe the back light from the down stop signal; had he done so, when he pushed the lever over after the Brighton down train had passed his box on its way into the station, he would have seen that although the lever entered in the proper notch, the signal itself did not turn to danger; and in a less degree to the pointsman on duty at this stop signal, for having failed to notice that the signal was not placed at danger as soon as the Brighton down train had passed into the station.

The collision was the result of a failure of the down stop signal to turn to danger, when the lever handle was shifted in the signal box from one notch to the other, and that failure was clearly due to the want of care traceable in fitting of the mechanical parts of the pulley and its frame, through which the wire passed, and in which it became jammed. But that the public safety should be almost entirely dependent on a locking apparatus 150 yards distant from the spot where the lever are moved, is most objectionable; and the present mode of working 100 trains per diem in and out of the south bay at Kensington station, over a single line of railway 187 yards in length, with a very limited view in each direction, should be discontinued without any delay. I pointed out on the ground to the officers of the various railway companies interested in the working of the West London and West London Extension Railways, that, in my opinion, there should be a double line to the south bay, with a double junction close to the junction with the coal yard lines, so that all incoming trains should pass into the bay by one line of railway and all out going trains should leave it by another; the additional junction signals with the appropriate locking apparatus should be added at the junction box, and the down stop signal be altogether dispensed with, the distant signal with a repeating signal or telegraphic indicator being for the future worked from the junction box. It would probably also be necessary to have signals at the south end of Kensington station platforms to regulate the departure of trains to the south, worked from the same box. In this way the responsibility would be placed in one signalman, instead of being distributed among three.    

I am also of opinion that it is highly desirable that the station should be completed so far as to make use of the main line platform lying west of the main lines, and including the construction of a foot bridge for passengers going to or returning from the west platform.

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