25th NOVEMBER 1870

extracted and adapted from the report by



A collision that occurred on the 25th November, 1870 at London Bridge station of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway.Eleven passengers are returned us having been slightly cut, bruised, or shaken.

On the day in question, a workman’s train, that consisted of an engine and tender, a third class carriage with a break compartment and guard, another third-class, a second-class, two first, one second-class carriage, a gaurd’s van with a second guard, and a third-class carriage, coupled in the order given, started athe proper time, 5.35 a.m., from London Bridge station.

The train started from the main line arrival platform. It was to proceed by the South London down line of rails to Tulse Hill, the Crystal Palace, Lower Norwood and Sutton lines. By means of these crossings trains can run to any one of the platforms at the station or depart therefrom.

The points and signals of the main lines are worked on the locking principle, and so are the points and signals of the South London lines. The crossing between these two railways have been added from time to time, trains are worked over them by hand signals, and the points are not interlocked with the points and signals of the main lines or of the South London line. Before the driver of the 5.35 train received green light hand signals from the east signal box, is at the east side of the main line, and from the south signal box, which is at the west side of the South London lines.

The signalman in the east signal box moved the facing points all right for the train to to the South London line ; but when it had reached a set of three throw points (about half way across), the signalman in the south box omitted to put the points right and the train turned through one of the crossing roads on to the up main line from which it had started. It run into three engines, which were waiting just outside the station tor the signals to proceed to the trains which they were appointed to work on that morning.

The signalman in the south box had set the points for theses to cross to the South London lines, but as the engines had not arrival before the workman’s train was ready to start he allowed the workman’s train to precede the three engines.

He moved two pairs of points for the workman's train to cross but he forgot that he had previously moved the third pair for the engines to enter the station. The normal position of this third pair of points was right for the workman’s train.

The morning was dark, and the driver of the workman's train did not see that he was proceeding on the wrong road till he was within 50 yards of the three engines. He reversed his engine, and whistled for the guards breaks, and the fireman applied his tender break, but the engine of the workman’s train run into the foremost of the three that were standing on the main up line, at a speed of about. nine miles an hour. 

None of the vehicles left the rails The buffers of the two engines that came in collision were broken, the spring between the engine and tender of the workman’s train was broken, and some of the glass in the carriages of this train was broken. The engine driver and fireman remained on the engine, and were slightly hurt. The guards of the workman’s train were slightly hurt.

The accident was by the signalman in the south hut forgetting to alter one set of points before he gave the signal for the workman’s train to start. This man has been employed as signalman in the south hut ever since the South London lines were opened for traffic. He had been a Signalman in the Company’s service before that time. He bears an excellent character, and he stated that he had not committed a mistake since he had been placed at the station.

It would he very desirable that the points and crossings between the main lines and the South London lines at the entrance to London Bridge station should be altered, and the arrangement be made more simple. There are about 600 trains that enter and leave this station every day, exclusive of single engines, empty trains, and shunting. It is essentially necessary that every line should have its signal, and that all the points and signals should be interlock. It. is impossible that signalmen having 50 to 70 levers to move can work them day after day without committing mistakes, unless the mechanical arrangement is adopted of making them all interlock with each other.

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