1863

THREE BRIDGES


18th OCTOBER 1863


extracted & adapted from the report by

F.H. RICH Captain R.E.

An accident on the London, Brighton, and South Const Railway, which occurred on the 18th October 1663, when a Portsmouth excursion train ran through Three Bridges Station and came into collision with the buffers at the end of a blind siding, just beyond the station.

No persons are reported to have been seriously injured, although several complained of slight bruises.

An excursion train, composed of engine and tender, one third-class break carriage occupied by a guard only, three Parliamentary carriages, one second carriage, one composite, nod one third-class break carriage, in which the second guard rode (the carriages being coupled in the order given), left Portsmouth at 6.50 p.m. (or 6.51 p.m.) on the 18th ultimo. It arrived at  Arundel Station about 15 minutes late, and reached Three Bridges Station about eight minutes before the time appointed. The distance between Arundel and Three Bridges is 29 miles, and was run in 47 minutes; which is at the rate of 37 miles per hour.

The approach to Three Bridges station from Arundel, is on a curve of 18 chains radius, and the gradient from the distant signal to the station rises at the rate of 1 in 897 till within eight chains of the station, when it fall, at the rate of 1 in 284 into the station.

The station is protected on the Arundel side with a distant signal, which is about 580 yards from the nearest end of the platform, and can be seen for about a mile, in approaching it. There is an intermediate signal, which only shows" green or red light, and "station signal, called a dummy signal, placed about 36 yards north of the station, which can be seen for
about 300 yards before reaching it. All three of these signals are worked from the junction box to the south of the station. The stop buffers at the end of the siding, or more properly at the end of the line on which the train was travelling (as the up Portsmouth line is taken by o. cross-over rand into the main line between Brighton and London.), arc about 135 yards north of the station. 

The engine driver states that he approached the distant signal, which was at ·• all right," at tho rate of 25 to 30 miles an hour. The other witnesses rate the speed lower, but it is probable that it was nearer the average at which the train had travelled from Arundel. According to the evidence, steam was shut off and all the breaks were put on, before approaching or just after passing the distant signal. When the driver whistled for the breaks on passing the intermediate signal, which was at caution, they were already hard on; the train ran through the station at a speed of eight to ten miles per hour and after passing the dummy or station signal, which was at danger, the driver reversed his engine, and just before striking the stop buffers he put on steam, but could not stop his train, which ran against the stops at of speed of two or three miles per hour. The engine forced back the buffer plank, and the lending wheels mounted the bank. No damage was done to any of the carriages, except to the carriage next to the front break, which had the centre seat broken down. 

It appears that the night was dark and damp, and that the rails were greasy. The engine driver further pleads his partial ignorance of the up line from Portsmouth, inside the Three Bridges station; he went down that morning, and has constantly driven on the main line to Brighton and to Portsmouth via Steyning, and knows the other parts of Three Bridges station; but he says that ir was the first time he had drove on the line at Three Bridges on which the accident occurred, and that he thought that when running through the station, he would pass by the cross-over road to the north of it, into the main line, instead of going as he did straight on to the buffers at its termination. This no excuses much worse consequences might have caused if a train had been passing on the up main line at the moment.

There appears no reason why the speed should have been so great between Arundel and Three Bridges, as to bring in the train eight minutes before the appointed time, and the accident was caused by running up to and passing the distant signal such speed as prevented the train being brought to a stand at the station, even though it was provided with a good proportion of break power. There was a bell communication between the guard and the driver, but the former did not think it necessary to use it, though he noticed from the speed they were going hat they would reach Three Bridges before their time. 

The driver bears a very good character. He has been driving 17 years, 13 1/2 years for the South Western and South Eastern Railway Companies, and 4 1/2 for the London, Brighton, and South Coast Company. He states that this is his first mishap. 

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