4th OCTOBER 1873

Extracted and adapt from a report 

by W. Yolland Colonel

A collision between a passenger train and an engine that occurred at Clapham Junction, on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, on the 4th October. It is stated that about 12 persons have complained of being injured on this occasion, but the injuries received are not believed to be serious ones.

The Kensington up and down lines at Clapham Junction are situated between platforms eight and nine, while the Company's main lines to Victoria station, &c., three in number, and consisting of one main and one local up and one down line, are on the western side of No. 8 platform. There is a carriage siding off the up Kensington line, entered by a pair of facing points, a short distance to the north of the north end of No. 8 platform ; and there is also a cross-over road from the up to the down Kensington line, where the trailing points on the up line ore situated, a few yards to the south of the facing points.

When the day's work is over, it has been usual to place the carriages of a Kensington passenger train in this carriage siding north of No. 8 platform, and then the engine leaves the siding, with the permission of the signalman at the north signal-box, travels back on the wrong road to the south end of the platform, and there waits for a hand-signal from the signalman in the south signal-box, situated at the north side of the Wandsworth Road over-bridge, about 330 yards from the entrance to the siding, for permission to cross to the second or local up line, in order that it might from thence travel to the Battersea station yard. Permission to cross the main down line and to join the up local line for this purpose is not given by a specific signal for the purpose, but by the signalman's hand lamp.

On the night in question, the driver of No. 130 tank engine, who had been working the Kensington passenger train, placed the carriages in the carriage siding off the up line, and then moved up towards the signal-post at the south end of the platform, travelling backwards on the wrong line of rails, whistling for the hand-signal front the south signal box, and had nearly brought his engine to a stand, when the down or out- signal was lowered for a goods train to depart on the down or out Kensington line, and the driver informed me that for the moment lie forgot himself, and thought this signal was intended for him, and in
consequence he turned on the steam to pass out to the up local line, and that immediately he had done so he saw the two green lights of the engine of the 10h. 45m. p.m. passenger train from West Croydon approaching the station, and he had only time to reverse the lever of the engine, and to call out to the fireman to jump off, and to do the same himself, when the collision took place, at 11h. 18m. p.m.

No vehicle left the rails, but both engines were somewhat damaged, and the draw-bar hook of the carriage next the engine of the West Croydon train was broken, and the shock of the collision put No. 130 engine into forward motion along the up Kensington line, and it ran down the incline towards Kensington, nearly as far as Latchmere Junction, 52 chains, and stopped. The shunter was sent after and first reached this engine, and he put the break on; and he was immediately followed by the driver and fireman, who brought the engine back to Clapham Junction.

The West Croydon train consisted of an engine and tender and seven vehicles, with one guard, and it was travelling at about 10 or 11 miles an hour, the signals being at all right for entering the station, when the fireman called out to the driver “Look out mate there is an engine standing here,” when he was not more than 10 yards from the spot where there collision took place. The view in passing under the Wandsworth Road bridge is very limited. The passenger train was only detained about seven minutes altogether. No person is to blame except the driver of No. 130 engine and he fully admitted that it was his fault.

It is, of course, quite impossible to prevent men from occasionally making mistakes of this kind. The driver is described as being a very good man, who had been driving for 26 years, and it was far more creditable to him to admit at once his mistake and fault than to make false statements, that he was only obeying the signals which it might be difficult to meet by rebutting testimony. I don't think, however, that the practice of continuing to run back on the wrong line for tt distance of 300 yards or more (in obedience to hand signals) should be continued is a busy place like Clapham Junction ; but that a new cross over road between the up local and down main lines should be put in at the south side of the Wandsworth Road over-bridge, and be worked from the south signal- box an alteration of the levels would be required to effect this and then the engine, after passing out of the carriage siding would proceed by the cross-over road north of No. 8 platform, before alluded to, to the down Kensington and main line, and thence by the proposed cross-over road to the up local line and to Battersea yard.

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