30th JANUARY 1875




Extracted and adapt from a report 

by H.W. Tyler

On the 30th of January, at the Victoria station, on the London-Brighton-and-South-Coast Railway, the .5.10 p.m. London-and-North-Western passenger train from Willesden for the Victoria station came into collision, in entering that station, with an engine of the London-Brighton-and-South-Coast Company, which was leaving the turntable-siding. Thirteen passengers have complained of injuries, and the fireman of the Brighton Company's engine and the guard of the passenger-train were also injured.


There are on the up-main-line, which is need as an incoming-line for all purposes, a pair of points, marked A. in the accompanying diagram, 182 yards outside the immediate entrance to the Victoria station. These points are worked from a signal-cabin 20 yards on the north or station side of them, called the Victoria-junction-cabin; and 21 yards on the south of these points is a signal worked from the same cabin anti interlocked with the points. This signal is attached to the roof above the incoming-line in question. About 100 yards on the north of the cabin, and near the west boundary-wall, there is a ground-signal, worked from the stone cabin, for engines leaving the turn-table-siding, and thus fouling the incoming- main-line. At 570 yards on the south of the same cabin there is a semaphore-post, carrying two arms, known amongst the men as " the signal-on-the-bank," or " the draw-ahead-signal,” or the”  stop-signal." The upper-arm on this post is worked from the Victoria-junction- cabin as well as from the Grosvenor-Road-cabin, 310 yards on the south of it. The signalmen in the two cabins can combine to lower this upper-arm, but neither signalman can lower it independently of the other.

There are other cabins, signals, and points at the entrance to the Victoria station, but the above will require to be specially referred to in the present report, namely, the Victoria-junction-cabin, with the facing- points marked A., the roof-signal south of them, the disc-signal for the turn-table-siding north of them, and the signal-post intermediately between that cabin and the Grosvenor-Road-cabin. When the ground-disc- signal is turned off to allow an engine to pass out of the turn-table-siding, the two other signals are locked, so that the levers fur working them in the locking- frame in the Victoria-junction-cabin cannot be pulled over to lower them for the admission of an incoming- train ; but the points marked A. may still be moved, inasmuch as the lever for working them in the locking-frame is free when the lever for working the disc- signal is pulled over. The normal position of the points marked A. is for the turn-table-siding and the westernmost passenger-platform-line, there being apair of facing-points beyond those marked A. between the turn-table-siding and that passenger-line.
There are, further, roof-signals applying to all incoming-lines, 44 yards on the north of the Victoria- junction-cabin, and 57 yards south of the ground-disc- signal above referred to ; and the point of collision in the present instance was 27 yards on the north of these last-mentioned roof-signals. The upper-arm on the semaphore-signal-post referred to, between the Victoria-junction-cabin and the Grosvenor-Road-cabin, is worked by one of the three levers in the junction-cabin ; and before any one of these levers can be pulled over the road must be prepared as repasts the points and signals for a train to inn through in one of three ways into the Victoria station. 


The passenger-train in question left Willesden at 5.10 p.m. punctually, consisting of a tank-engine, five carriages, of which two were break-carriages, and a horse-box.

The engine-driver, Clement Heath states that he passed through the Grosvenor-Road station at walking-speed, of say three or four miles an hour. He found the stop-signal 310 yards north of the  Grosvenor-Road station at danger, the upper-arm haviug been in horizontal position. When he had gone half-way towards that signal, he saw the upper arm drop to the position of caution, with a slight piece of red on the glass. He did not consider it a doubtful signal, because be had very often seen it in that position before. It was slight portion red, and the other part green," but the arm was lowered not quite as it should be, though he observed it down as ho passed the post. When he reached the arcade he noticed that the roof-signal was at danger, which is a thing he has never noticed before for the three years he has been running into the station. Whenever the signal has been lowered on the bank, he has always found the roof-signal also turned off and the line clear to run into the station and he has always been given to understand when once the signal-on-the-haul; has been lowered, there would be a clear read into the station. On finding the roof-signal at danger, he opened his whistle, not for the guard to apply his break, but to alarm the signalman, as he thought he had made mistake in turning that signal to danger. He did not reverse his engine, because he did not know what road he was about to run into, but, on going a little further, he saw an engine about seven yards ahead of him. He remained on his engine until it came into collision with the other engine, which was moving towards him very slowly. His engine remained on the rails, but was somewhat damaged, and had its buffer-plank broken. He took the same train back on the return-trip after the accident. He did not see the signalman on passing the Victoria- junction-cabin. He was not injured so as In he obliged to leave his work. signalman called "Dick” came up to him immediately after the collision, and said "Clem, that signal has worked, you know, very• 'dickey on the bank for some time ;" meaning to convey that the signal bad not been working as it ought to have done.

The signalman in question, Richard Nixon, denies having said this to the engine-driver, and states that hsaid Clem, can you take your train out ?" and that he replied Yes." He then left him, and went to the Eccleston Bridge cabin, where he was on duty as signalman at the time. He did not speak in any way about the accident, except to ascertain whether the engine-driver could take his train out again or not.

The engine-driver Heath further states that on the day following the accident (Sunday), a signalman on duty, whom ho now knows to be John Graves, met him accidentally in the road near his house, in St. George's Road, Battersea Park. between 10 and 11 o'clock in the morning. He does not know which spoke first. They conversed in regard to the collision. The signalman did not appear to know that he was the engine-driver concerned, and enquired how the man was getting on, and he (the engine-driver) replied All right, as far as he knew." The signalman then informed him that after the train hind run hrthe signal-on-the-bank he saw green light on the post. That was all that passed between them.

The signalman in question, John Graves, admits having met the engine-driver, as he states, and having some conversation of the sort with him. He at recollect precisely what passed, but he knows he told him he saw a small portion of green light on the post.

Heath adds that on returning the same night with train the 9.10 p.m. from Willesden-junction, he saw the signal on-the-bank working properly, and completely off for him to pass into the station, and the following Monday morning he saw two men work at that signal.

Graves, the signalman, states, in continuation, that was on duty in the Grosvenor Road cabin. He pulled his lever over to allow the London-and-North-Western train to pass the signal-on-the-bank, on receiving line-clear from the Victoria junction-cabin the admission of that train. He did not see either the signal worked in answer to his lever, account of the steam and smoke from a passing in, but after the train had passed, he saw that it showed a small portion of green, but mostly a red light.

An engine-driver in the London-and-North-Western Company's service, Stephen Harrison, states that some early this week the does not know which) when standing on the Grosvenor-Road bridge, the same Signalman, J. Graves, came and got on the footplate his engine, and said "his own people were down to him for saying what he had said; that he had seen a green light after the train had passed,—but he had only spoken the truth.”

Graves admits having got on the foot-plate of the engine, but he only said to the engine-driver “ his people would not hardly believe that the signal had failed," and added, " there was a small portion of green after the train had passed." The remark  that he made was in consequence of the station- master at Grosvenor Road, Mr. Mead, having stated him that he did not believe the signal had failed.”

The fireman of the London-and-North-Western train William Churchman, states that the train nearly me to a stand in passing through the Grosvenor Road stationHe saw the signal-on-the-bank when got half-way towards it from that station; it showed green light from the upper-lamp, and the arm was the position of caution, and was fully down to tt position. He only caught sight of the roof-signal under the arcade when he was close to it, and, seeing at "danger," he put on his break. Immediately towards they came into collision with an engine. remained on his own engine, but was not hurt. He could see the arm and the green light of the lamp the same time, when half-way between the Grosvenor-Road station and the signal-on-the-bank. The weather was clear, but he could not see his signal under the arcade in coming in, on account of the steam and smoke, until he was near it.

David Taylor, the guard of the London-and-North-Western train, was riding in a break-carriage at the tail of the passenger-carriages and in front of the horse-box. The train came nearly, but not quite, to a stand in passing through the Grosvenor-Road station. The Grosvenor Road signal was lowered for them to pass over the bridge. They travelled along the bank at a speed not exceeding two or three miles an hour. The signal-on-the-bank was at anger when they left the bridge. When the train had got half-way towards it, he felt the driver  applying the steam. He looked at the signal and noticed it at caution, except a small shade of red on the left-hand side of the lamp, next the post. The train then went forward to the station, but he could not see the roof-signal under the arcade until he was close upon it, say a little over a train's length from it, say six vehicles. He has heard from inspector Fraser, of York Road station, that the signal-on-the-bank has failed twice since the accident, and that the same  two signalmen were on duty in the cabin as on the  day of the accident. The inspector told him  whilst riding in his break-van with him from Kensington to Victoria on Saturday last, 14 the 12.11 p.m train from Willesden junction. The inspector himself commenced the conversation by asking how he was,  (as he knew he (Taylor) had been hurt in the accident), and by referring to the man who was watching the signal, and added that the signal had been reported to fail on two or three occasions since the accident.

James Every, engine-driver in the London-Brighton- and-South-Coast Company's service, has been driver for 10 years. After turning his engine on the turn- table he made the usual signal for going out. The ground-disc was turned to green, and the bell rang near it at the same time, to allow him to go out on the main line ; and he was proceeding to do so, when he saw the head-lamp of an engine of a London-and-North-Western train approaching. He did not at first think it was coming towards him, but when he saw that it was doing so, and the train was within 40 or 50 yards of him, he applied his break. His engine was almost at a stand when the London-and- North-Western engine struck it. His buffer-beam and buffer-castings were broken, but his engine remained on the rails. He was not injured. He is quite sure that the ground-disc-signal showed a green light at the time when the collision occurred, and the signal remained afterwards as it had been before. He had received an independent signal to come from the turn-table before starting, and when he came in sight of the ground-disc it was off for him to go out of the siding.

Thomas Stephens, fireman with the previous witness, said that after turning the engine on the turn-table, the usual signal near the turn-table was given, the ground-disc was turned off, and the engine then came out. He did not see the London-and-North-Western train until be felt the shock of the collision. He was hurt in the chest.

Mr. John Behr, the station-master at Willesden-junction, went with Mr. J. Richardson, the district superintendent of the Brighton Company, and Mr. Reece, the Victoria station-master, into the Grosvenor Road cabin, at nine o'clock on the evening of the accident. He met Mr. Williams on coming out of the cabin. The signalman, J. Graves, admitted to them that evening that the signal-on-the-bank showed green as he was pulling the lever over, and said that he noticed it as he did so. He (the station-master) does not know that it ought to show green.

Mr. J. Richardson, the district-superintendent referred  to, went into the cabin at half-past eight o'clock on the evening iu question with Mr. Reece. When he got into the cabin he asked the signalman on duty whether he noticed the state of the signal when he pulled his lever over, and the signalman replied that he did not notice it when he pulled his lever over for that particular train ; but he stated further, that, hearing the London-and-North-Western train going away, as he thought, at an excessive speed, he looked round and said "he thought he saw a slight patch of green on the signal-on-the-bank.

Mr. Reece, the superintendent of the Victoria station  above referred to, said he went with the last two  witnesses to the Grosvenor-Road cabin, after the the collision, about a quarter to 9 o'clock. Mr. Richardson asked the signalman what was the state of the signal-on-the-bank when the London-and-North-Western train passed it, and the signalman in reply said, “He thought he saw a slight patch of green on the “signal." 

Mr. Henry Mead, the station-master at the Grosvenor-Road station, went into the cabin about 7 p.m., after hearing of the collision, and asked signalman Graves, who was on duty, whether he heard anything of the collision, and Graves replied that the signalman at Victoria had called on the speaking-instrument, "Why did you let the N. W. down, as it ran engine ?" He (the station-master) then asked Graves, " When he released his lever for that train, how was this the signal ?" Graves said, " He really could not say, " for he did not see it; there was so much steam rejoined, "I wish you bad seen it, the signal is connected here for you to see that it works properly in cage it does fail." Graves replied again to the same effect, "There was so much steam about that he " did not see it (the signal) at all ; he heard the engine-driver put on steam and go down the bank " very sharp, and he remarked to the telegraph boy," The train is off very quick. About a quarter of an hour afterwards he (Graves) altered his statement, saying, "He bad seen a small piece of green in the signal-lamp on the bank." Mead then asked him the reason he did not tell him so in the first place, and  Graves said, He did not like to get any one into trouble; be did not like to say that he did not see it (the signal).

Graves, on being recalled, states that when first questioned by the station-master, after the accident, he was a little bit confused, and did not know whether he himself was going to be brought into trouble ; and that he told Mr. Mead, before he left the cabin, exactly what he did see. He feared that it might be asserted that he had let the North Western train leave Grosvenor Road before he had got clear on the telegraph instrument.

The signalman (J. Graves), at the Grosvenor Road station to collect tickets at 5.40  o'clock. He pulled his lever over, to lower the signal on-the-bank for that train, which passed away in the usual course. He saw that the signal was lowered for it to pass, because he noticed a green light in the lamp of the signal before it passed the signal post. It was a complete green light. When the South-London train had passed, he pushed his lever over, and the signal went over to all red. The signal worked in answer to his lever only when he pulled it off and return it to danger for this train. Some repairs were effected at this signal six weeks ago Sunday. He had never previously made complaints about it. He never found any defect in working it, and does not know why the new “slotch”was put in, but he knows the balance weights were altered. About two minutes after the South London train had passed his cabin he received line clear from the Victoria-junction-cabin, and he pulled his lever over  and lowered the semaphore-signal, and also over  pulled his lever applying to the signal-on-the-bank,  and allowed the North-Western train to follow he South-London train. He did not see the signal on the bank when he pulled his lever over. The North-Western train at that moment was just start ing from the bridge. After the North-Western train had gone a little past the signal-on-the-bank, he  looked at it. He got hold of his lever to push it over, and, looking at the signal, saw a small portion of green light, but it was mostly red, and he said to the telegraph boy in his cabin “That is a bad signal for the driver to take.” Previously to the accident he had  driver to take." Previously to this accident ho had been working on what he called the "clear-system,” but since the accident he had been working on the "block-system." The telegraph-instruments in his cabin stand now at "blocked," whereas they stood previously, as a rule, at "clear." Previously to the accident, according to the practice of working, he might receive line clear on his block instrument from the Victoria-junction, at the same time as the signal-on-the-bank was kept at danger from the junction- cabin. Since the accident they had reverted to the "block-system," as he calls it; that is to say, the signalman at the Victoria-junction-cabin would not   give him line-clear to send a train forward until he was prepared to admit a train into the station. It was the Tuesday morning before the accident, at 4 o'clock, that the " block-system" was changed to the " clear-system?'

John White, the signalman on duty in the Victoria- junction-cabin, has been employed in that cabin ever since it was opened, seven years ago, and as a signalman in the Brighton Company's service for 12 years. At 5.42 the South-London train was given on to him from Grosvenor-Road, and, after going through the usual process, he allowed it to run to the station,  and cleared the line back. At 5.44 a North-Western train was given on to him from Grosvenor-Road. He was not ready for that train, because he had previously received intimation from Eccleston Bridge Cabin, on the north of an engine from the turn-table section to go up into the sidings to fetch a train of main-line-empties. He therefore pulled off the lever for the ground-disc-signal, to allow the engine to come out. The engine came out and passed the  cabin a minute or minute and u half alter the South. London train had got into the station. immediately afterwards Eceleston-Bridge-cabin asked him for a second engine to pass out. Hhad returned the ground-disc-signal to " danger," but he pulled it off again to allow the second engine to come out. He  did not move any of the other levers in his cabin  between this time of putting the ground-disc to danger and pulling it off agnin. As the second engine was coming out, he saw the head-light of  approaching train, which he took at first to be a Chatham-and-Dover train, but which, as it approached nearer to him, he found to be a North-Western train, and which then came immediately afterwards into collision with the engine. He asserts positively that of his signals were at danger against the North-Western train, including the signal-on-the-bank, which has a repeater working. in his cabin. He returned that signal to danger after the South-London train had passed his cabin, and necessarily before he pulled off his disc-signal for the first engine to come out, as he could not have pulled off that disc-signal before returning the signal-on-the-bank to "danger." After he had put up his signals for the passage of the South-London train, and as it passed his cabin, he saw the tail-light of it, and gave "line-clear to the Grosvenor Road cabin, and then he received notice of the North Western train from that cabin. He did not think it was a North Western train when he saw the light of an approaching train, because he thought it would have stopped outside the bank signal, which it ought to have done. After the accident he told his telegraph boy to say on the instrument to Grosvenor Road cabin. “What did you let that N.W. down for?” He did not know why he did it; he knew was not ready for it; he knew he was not clear for it; he had not cleared his signal for the train. The question was a “mere whim.” He cannot in any way account for the green light on the post as the London and North Western train approached it. He has never reported this signal for not working properly. He had never heard of its failing before, but he has heard of it’d failing since the accident. His mate has twice told him of its failure since the accident, but he has not found it fail himself. He has an electrical repeater in his cabin from this signal, and has never known the repeater to fail. 

Burnard Whitmee, telegraph-boy on duty with signalman White, produces the record book in which he entered 5.44 as the time at which at Grosvenor Road cabin on the North Western train on the telegraph instrument. At 5.41 a South London train was given to him from Grosvenor Road and the signals were pulled off for it at 5.42 and it passed his cabin, and he cleared his instrument to Grosvenor Road, at 5.44. It was at the same moment when he cleared the instrument that he received notice of the North-Western train from Grosvenor-Road. No entries are made of the engines coming our from the turn-table siding, but he saw the signalman pull of the ground disc signal for two engines, with the second of which the North-Western train came into collision. He cannot say for certain how the ground-disc-signal was worked for these two engines, nor how soon the one followed after the other. He worked the telegraph-instruments himself for the South-London and North-Western trains, and entered the times of them in the book himself. He is certain the signals were right for the engines to come out, and not for the North-Western train to come in. There are three levers, Nos. 3, 4, and .5, for working the bank-signal. None of these levers  were pulled off for the London-and-North-Western train. No. was pulled off for the South-London train, and was pushed back again as soon as the train was inside the junction-cabin-signal. He " cleared “ the instrument to the Grosvenor-Road-cabin after one South-London train mussed into the Victoria station at 5.44. The signalman said to him after the accident, Who sent for him ?" (meaning the North-Western train), because that train had come unexpectedly; and he (the telegraph-boy) then telegraphed to Grosvenor Road cabin of his own accord, and asked, What made him let the N. W. come ?" He cannot so why he asked this question. The Grosvenor Roasignalman said on his instrument, in reply, You (meaning the Victoria-junction-cabin) worked he signal." They did not deny on the telegraph instrument having worked the signal, though they tad not worked it, for the North-Western train.

Henry Briner, telegraph-boy in the Grosvenor- lead cabin, was working with Graves, the signalman. le was working the telegraph-instruments, and made he entries in the record-book produced. Hgave the South-London train on to Victoria station at 5.40 and received line-clear for that train at 5.43. He gave on the North-Western train at 5.43. He cannot say to a minute, but about 5.46 he received a message on the instrument, " What did you let the S.W. down for?” He asked in reply, What do you mean ?" and the Victoria-junction-cabin replied again, "It has run into un engine." He (Briner) replied again,”You work that signal. He did not notice the signal-on-the-bank at the time the North-Western train passed his cabin, nor until the signal-man was going to put it up again after the passage of that train. He then heard the signalman say, “That as a run signal for the driver to take ;" and upon looking at it himself he saw that it was " three parts red and the rest green.” 

William Frazer, inspector at the York-Road station if the London-Brighton-and-South-Coast Railway. He remembers riding from Kensington to Battersea with in London-and-North-Western guard who was concerned in the accident in question. He asked him now he was getting on, and whether he was better, he replied "Yes." He (the guard) was saying ley were watching the signal-on-the-bank, and also tin trains, and Inc thought it very unfair. He does not remember anything else that passed between them on the subject. He did not say to him that the signal had failed, and had failed twice since the accident, and with the same two men that were on I duty at the time of the accident. 

Engine-driver Heath, recalled, states that guard Taylor told him on some day, but he cannot say which, that he had heard from the inspector at the York-Road station on the night of the accident that the signal had failed three different times since the collision occurred. He thinks lie did not say anything else. Heath adds that although he saw a red streak in the lamp of the signal-on-the-bank, he did not take it to be "doubtful signal," because it had been like that before ; and if he was to consider that "doubtful signal," he should have to consider clod many others doubtful also, a great number; for stance, the distant-signal on the Grosvenor Road bridge, the lower arm ; the stop-signal on Battersea Park Bridge, both ways; the main-line-signal at Longhedge and the main-signal at Brompton.

James Keywood has been a signal-fitter in the service of the Brighton Company for two years. About 8 p.m. on Saturday the 30th January he heard of the accident, but he did not go to the spot. He heard of it from his mate, William Dummer, at York Road Dummer told him that he had been to the spot, and put all right, and he therefore did not go to the spot the himselfHe heard from Dummer that he had adjusted No. 25 points. Dummer told him that the signal-on-the-bank was quite right, and showed a good green. He did not go that night to either the points or the signal. On the following   Monday morning, at 8 o'clock, he went, first to No. 25 points, and then walked to the signal on the bank; examined the signal, and saw it worked, and found it was working quite correctly. He and Dummer went together to the signal, and Dummer oiled the slotting- gear. Hummer oiled it because it was usual to oil signals when he went to them, and not because it wanted oil. The only thing that has been done to it, as far as he is aware, since the accident, is a better fixing for the leading-wheel by which the signal is worked from the Grosvenor-Road-cabin. The post at that point was rather decayed, and the wood showed a little crack, and in order to strengthen it an iron-plate was put on, in which the leading-wheel might work more firmly. The repair which lie made did not affect or improve the working of the red-glass or the semaphore-arm. He had seen the signal and inspected its working on the Friday, a week and a day before the accident; it was then in perfect working order. He had not had his attention in any way called to it between that Friday and the Saturday on which the accident happened. His foreman, .James Annett, told him to go and watch the signal on Saturday, February 6th, and see if it was working right, and he made notes (of which he hands in a copy) as to the working of that signal on the 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 16th, and 18th February. On one occasion, at 8.10 p.m. on the 6th of February, When the signalman at Grosvenor Road cabin pulled off the signal, it showed a green light Grosvenor Road returned the signal to “danger” three times after pulling it off three times. It worked perfectly well the whole time. He was standing within four yards of the signal the greater part of the time. He sometimes 25 yards off it. He believes he would get the same view when standing four yards under it, and be able to tell whether the engine driver got a perfect green light or a red light a greater distance from it. On Tuesday February 2nd, be received from Mr. Mead, station master, York Road, the following letter:-

“York Road station.
" Sir, February 

2nd, 1875.,

It is reported that the draw-ahead-signal failed last night, showing a conflicting signal. " Please come and see to this at once.

Yours truly. 


“ To Mr. Keywood."

He received this letter between 9 and 10 a.m. on the same day (Tuesday). He went at once to the draw ahead-signal, examined it, and found that there was nothing the matter. It was working correctly, and here turned to Victoria. He went to York-Road, to see Mr. Mead, between 12 and 1. Mr. Mead asked whether he hail found anything amiss with the signal, and he replied "No." he was then told by Mr. Mead that the signal had been reported as failing on the previous evening, and he replied that he had examined it and found it right. He heard nothing whatever about it from the signalman. He cannot. account in any way for its not having worked properly, as stated by some of the witnesses. He heard from his mate, on the evening of the accident, that n train had run by the signal. He thinks he has heard of a streak of red light showing, but he does not know from whom. He thinks he heard from Mr. Mead that the signal showing conflicting light. Mr. Mead told hint, on the night of the accident, that the accident was supposed to have been caused by a conflicting light ; this was at York Road.

William Dummer is a carpenter in the employment of the Brighton Railway Company, and has been so for 11 years. He lives near the Clapham-junction station, and works principally at Battersea and Victoria. About 6.301).111. on the evening of the 30th of .January he came to the Victoria station and learnt that a pair of points was out of order. He went down the yard and found that No. 25 points had a rod bent. He straightened the rod and had the points tried, and made them work properly. He went to the junction cabin and asked if all was right, and the signalman said "Yes." He saw the North-Western engine standing on the turn-table, but did not see the engine- driver, fireman, guard, or any servant of the company connected with the train. He heard that the North-Western train had run by the signal-on-the-bank. The signalman at the junction-cabin told him this. He did not hear anything in regard to the signal-on-the-bank, either that it had been a conflicting-signal, or that there had been a streak of red light showing at it. About three-quarters of an hour after the accident he passed that signal on his way to Norwood. He was riding in a train, but be did not know exactly at what time. He looked at the signal in passing, and saw first that it was showing a full green light, and afterwards a full red one, when it was turned to danger. It was so thrown to danger when he was about 20 yards from it, on the south of it, near the Thames. A new slot was put on to that signal-post a month last Sunday by Mr. Annett. He had not altered the signal or its connections in any way since that time before the accident. He has done nothing since the accident to the signal or its connections except to clean and oil it, but it did not appear to want the oil in order to make it work freely. He has since heard on several different occasions, but he cannot say when, statements as to the signal not working properly. Mr. Annett gave him orders to watch the signal in consequence. He watched it on the evenings of February 9th, 11th, 13th, 15th, and 17th, and has marked on which occasions during the passage of trains the Victoria-cabin-signalman first  moved it off or on, and on which occasions the Grosvenor-Road.signalman did so. The signal worked perfectly correctly, as far as he saw, on all those evenings between the hours of 6 p.m., and from 12.13 to 1.3 a.m. He has no idea how it could have failed to work properly when complained of, because it seemed to work so freely. He does not know of anybody who could have altered the adjusting-screw at the bottom of the signal except him or his mate. The signal was once reported as showing a conflicting light since the new slot was put on the 2nd February. The North-Western driver groaned at him ou the night when he was on duty, and the guard on one occasion. 

Mr. Mead, recalled acknowledged the letter dated the 2nd February (already put in) as being in his handwriting. On the evening of February 2nd, after the signals were lit with gas, signalman Caplin, on duty in the Grosvenor Road cabin, complained to him that the signal showed a conflicting light. He said it showed part green and part red; it was a signal that showed neither one thing nor the other; it showed as much stop as all right. He wrote the letter produced at once to Keywood, and sent it tot his house in Gladstone Street, near the York Road station. He went to look at the signal, and reported to him the next morning that he had examined it, and could find nothing the matter with it. On a subsequent occasion it was reported by the same signalman (Caplin), perhaps three or four days after the 2nd of February, and he (Mead) sent one of the men (he does not remember whom) to Keywood, who again examined the signal, and reported nothing the matter with it. He watched the remainder of the evening, and found it to work all right. He is not aware of anybody having made any alteration in the signal or its connections since the accident. On recollection himself. Mr. Mead states that the signal was reported on the first occasion by Caplin as failing on the morning of the 2nd February. Caplin mentioned that it had failed to work properly on one occasion on the previous evening, but that after that it had worked all right for all trains. On the second occasion, when Caplin complained of it, he reported it in writing to Mr. Williams.

Keywood (recalled), said he was at Grosvenor- Road on the evening of the 4th. A messenger came to his house, and said he was required at the signal-on- the-bank at once, because it was supposed to have failed. He went and explained it, and watched it for an hour and a half, saw it working well, and did not touch it.

John Teasdale is a locomotive foreman in the employment of the London and North Western Railway company ay Willesden junction. On Monday morning, 1st February, after the accident of the previous Saturday evening, he came to the Victoria station with the engine driver and fireman implicated in the accident, to meet the superintendent of his district (General Vaughn( and Mr. Entwistle. There went with Mr. Reece, the Brighton Company’s station master at Victoria junction cabin, and then on to the signal on the bank. He observed, with regard to that signal post, that the adjusting screw at the bottom of it appeared to have been moved very recently. The screw itself was quite clean on the lower side. He called the attention of guard Taylor to it. Taylor was with them, but this was after General Vaughn, Mr. Entwhistle, and Mr. Reece had left. He went up to the top of the signal post, but did not find anything out of order, or that anything appeared to have been recently moved, except the adjusting screw at the bottom. An inch and a half of the adjusting screw appeared to be clean. In consequence of what was said by the engine driver at the first day of my inquiry on Friday the 19th February, he made (in accordance with my request) an inspection on that day of the signal then referred to, and he put in the subjoined report to Mr. Neele on the subject.

London & North Western Ry

Loco Dept., Willesden

Feby 20th 1875


According to instructions, I went with inspector Hotson to examine the signal complained of by engineman C. Heath, between Victoria and Willesden junction. We left Victoria by the 7.25 p.m., February 19, and we found that the home repeating signal for Battersea Pier junction exhibited both red and green lights. Longhedge junction signal cannot be seen a sufficient distance, owing to a feeble light placed very high. The home signal at West Brompton exhibited both red and green lights. It was just possible to discern red on the Hammersmith junction signal north pf Kensington, the rest being a clear green, and the distant signal approaching Willesden junction exhibited a small portion of red on the green signal. We returned by the 9.10 p.m. from Willesden and at Chelsea the signal on the south end of the station showed about one fourth red, the rest being green.

It will be observed that of the four signals c complained of by engineman Heath, three were in the condition described by him, and the fourth (that on Battersea Park bank) was all right; but as this has recently been reported, it may have been corrected. Those mentioned by Heath are underlined.”

John Teasdale

G.P. Neele Esq

John Hotson, traffic inspector in the northern district of the Brighton line, made (also at my request) an inspection of the signals at the same time with Mr. Teasdale, and put in the following report:-

London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway

Inspector’s Report

East Croydon Station Feby. 22nd 1875

Working of signals between Victoria and Willesden junction, 19th instant.

To Willesden junction, - Battersea Pier junction signals off; repeating signal on Thames bridge showed a small portion of red light. West Brompton rear signal off; showed about one third of red light. Hammersmith junction signals off; part of a red light shown. Willesden junction signals off; part of a red light visible. 

From Willesden junction.—Chelsea starting-signal showed about one-third of a red light when off. Number of signals between Victoria and Longhedge junction, about 11. Number or signals between Longhedge junction and Kensington, about 17. Number of signals between Kensington and Willesden  junction, about nine.  

Working of signals between Victoria and Willesden " junction, 20th instant.

To Willesden junction.—Beaufoy's crossing-signals off; small portion of red light visible. West Brompton rear and starting-signals showed about one-third red light when off. Hammersmith junction semaphore-signal showed nearly half of red light when off.
"From Willesden Junction.—Chelsea starting-signal showed about one third red when off. 


James Annett, the foreman in the signal-department on the Brighton Railway, states that the signal-on-the bank so much referred to had been complained of as not working very accurately, and in consequence, on the 17th of January, it was altered, and a slotting arrangement was then added to replace the endless chain by which it had been previously worked. From that time to the 30th January he did not hear of any complaint having been made in regard to the working of the that signal, nor had he heard since the the accident of the signal not working properly, or of its giving a conflicting light, or of a red streak showing when it was turned off. One of the inspectors came to him last Saturday week, desiring him, from Mr. Williams, to put one of his men on to watch the signal, and see if it did fail. He observed, in reply, “that an independent man ought to have been placed there, and not one of the men charged with the repair of  the signals.” The inspector (Page) said, “No; go to Keywood, as Mr. Williams desires.” He would not go to Victoria, because he did not wish them to know what they were doing. They waited at York Road for Keywood to return from his dinner, and then told him “to go and watch the signals from dusk to the last train, and be sure and look which men threw the signal off first, and which threw it on first, and to see which it was that did not work it accurately, because we must know which works accurately, and make a report about it at once.” Page told him on Saturday, 6th February, that something had been said that the signal would not work. He did not ask the signalman whether it had been working properly, nor the station master. He asked Keywood and Dummer whether the signal was working all right, and they told him they could not find any fault with it. He personally inspected the signal, tried the weights up and down, and tested it, and found it work well. He has tested it himself during the 13 days about half a dozen times, because it was a new thing which he had got out himself, and he was careful to see that it did not work. It is a less expensive means of slotting than Saxby and Farmer’s and works more freely. This now slotting arrangement has been put up at three or four other places, and has never been reported to fail at those places. He cannot in any way account for the failure said to have occurred on the 2nd and 4th February. The new slot referred to has been in use about six months at the Selhurst, Norwood Fork, and Gloucester Road signals.

Charles Caplin, has been in the Brighton Company’s service for ten and a half years; signalman for five years; and has worked for 11 months in the Grosvenor Road cabin. He remembers the alteration  being made, he believes month ago last Tuesday, in the signal on the bank, when the new “slotch” was put on it. It worked perfectly, as far as he was aware, until the time of the present accident. On the Thursday night after the accident, he notice in pulled over his lever that the signal came off to a part red and part green light. He asked on his instrument to the Victoria junction cabin whether the signal had been lowered from that cabin, and the reply was “No.” He therefore kept the train waiting until he got a further message from Victoria junction cabin, authorising him to allow the train to run forward. On one night afterwards it failed again, but he does not remember on what night. He again asked the same question to Victoria, and found in reply that the signal had not been lowered from that cabin. In the case of the first report, Keywood, was sent to see to the signal on the following morning, but he was not himself on duty; he only learnt this from the station master. On the second occasion, as he told Keywood himself, the signal came off part red and part green the n he worked his levers. Keywood borrowed a lamp from the cabin, and went down to see to the signal, and returned and said he could find anything the matter with it. On the first of these occasions he worked his lever about five times, and on the second, six or seven times, and the signals continues to behave in the same manner, showing half green and half red each time. He has not been by the signal post until today since it was altered about three weeks ago. He was on duty on the night of Saturday 6th February, from 6 to 10 p.m. He was not aware that Keywood was watching the signal. He does remember pulling off and putting on his signals three times as reported by Keywood, at 8.10 p.m. on the 6th February. He told J. Grave and Jas. Hill, his mates in the same cabin, of these instances of failure, and they said they did not find the signal themselves. He did not hear till a day or two afterwards at all about the conflicting signal from Graves, and he had not heard of it when he first made the report himself as to a conflicting signal.

Mr. W.J. Williams, the traffic superintendent on the Brighton Railway, puy in papers marked ‘A’ as the printed instructions which were in force for working the traffic between the Grosvenor Road and Victoria Junction cabins, from June 1873 to 26th January 1875, and points out that the paragraph headed “attention signal,” was cancelled by a “special traffic notice” number 49, for the week ending 13th December 1873. Certain irregularities having been found to occur in the working, under the paragraph headed “special instructions for signalling in trains between Grosvenor Road and Victoria junction,” in consequence of the trains standing at the advanced signal having been forgotten, and in consequence of the signalman at the Victoria junction, who under these instruction kept his needle always at line blocked, having forgotten whether it was on account of the train waiting or not, it was decided, upon the reports of the traffic inspector and the district superintendent, to make an alteration in the mode of working. He (witness), therefore having received permission from the general manager, consulted with Mr. Annett, the foreman of the signalling department, to know whether the signal on the bank was a perfectly reliable signal; and Mr. Annett thereupon made an alteration in the signal, in substituting the new slotting arrangement on the 17th January. That having been done, the new regulations for working were issued, the only alterations from the old ones having been the omission of the paragraph headed “special instructions,” above referred to. On receiving a report from Mr. Mead of the failure to work the signal on the bank, he consulted again with the general manager; and they then determined to revert to the old regulations, and to endeavour to obtain a special instrument for working the traffic between the two cabins. Under the system of regulations in force at the time of the accident it was not incumbent upon the Victoria Junction signalman, in allowing an engine to leave the turn table siding, to block back to the Grosvenor Road cabin on his telegraph instruments; but he depended upon the stop signal on the bank, which is over 500 yards from the point of collision. No.9 of the printed rules directs that, “In case of any obstruction happening upon the line, or any shunting operation for which it may be necessary to block the next station, or before any train which has been shunted in a siding is allowed to leave the  siding, the stop all' or 'block' signal must be " given by putting the electric arm or needle to " 'train-on-line ' or blocked,' accompanied by five " distinct beats upon the bell or gong;" but he does not think this regulation could be carried out between the Victoria junction and Grosvenor-Road cabins, on account of the great quantity of traffic between those cabins. There is a rule in the " service-book " of the Brighton Company as follows :—

Speed of trains entering or leaving Victoria Station

Engine driver must so reduce the speed of their trains, on entering or leaving Victoria station, as to pass the junction cabin box at a speed not exceeding five miles per hour. The signalmen will report every case of trains passing at a greater speed.

This rule has been in force for many years, and he had occasion to write to the superintendent of the North Western Railway, on 8th April 1874, a letter acknowledged by him on 18th April 1874, complaining of the speed at which the North Western trains entered the Victoria station. He has had no report since as regards the London and North Western trains entering the station at too high a speed. If the train had been coming in at five miles per hour, the driver would have had no difficulty in pulling up clear of the engine, although he neglected to the stop signal.


I have, as it will be seen, found it necessary in this case to examine a considerable number of witnesses with regard to various questions, and have spared no pains in endeavouring to ascertain what is the whole truth of the matter. There are two companies concerned, the London and North Western Company and the Brighton Company. The passenger train belonged to the North Western Company; the engine with which it came into collision, the signal cabins, and the whole of the arrangements on the approach to the Victoria station appertained to the Brighton Company. As regards the passenger train, I can come to no other conclusion that the engine driver, after leaving the Grosvenor Road station, found the signal, which is sometimes called a draw ahead signal, sometimes a stop signal, and sometimes the signal on the bank, showing a green light with a partial amount of red, which he took to be a signal of permission to enter the Victoria station; and he was evidently aware of the arrangement under which this and other signals on the approach to the station are worked, namely, that the points and signals must necessarily be set for the entrance of a passenger train into one of the platform lines at the station before the signal on the bank could be lowered for a train to proceed towards the station. He, therefore, no doubt, on finding this signal apparently lowered, excepted to find everything to be clear for him to enter the station, but he cannot be excused, considering that he was required by the regulations of the Brighton company to enter the station at no higher speed than five miles an hour. and also that he did not observe the further signals which he was bound to obey, and which he admits whereat “danger,” near the Victoria junction cabin, for coming into collision with the Brighton Company’s engine at a distance of 12 yards beyond the roof signal on the south of the signal cabin. He admits that the signal on the bank was an imperfect signal, and that he saw a portion of red light at it; but he excuses himself for not treating it as a doubtful signal, by instancing other signals as being also imperfect between Willesden and the Victoria station; and it must be admitted that his statement in this respect is confirmed by the reports of the officers of the two Companies on inspection of those signals. They evidently require attention. Allowing, therefore, that he was deceived by the appearance of the signal on the bank, it must be observed that he would still have been able to stop his train without striking the Brighton engine, if he had approached the station, as he ought to have done, more cautiously.

As regards the arrangements of the Brighton Company, it would appear, according to the evidence, that the signal on the bank did not work properly on this occasion, and that it failed to work properly on other occasions. When I visited the spot on the 19th February, and again on the 22nd of February, there did not appear to be any reason why the signal should not work properly; and it is to be remembered that the signalman in the Victoria junction cabin states that repeater in his cabin connected with it was at danger; but, looking to the evidence, not only of the London and North Western engine driver, but also of the signalmen and others in the service of the Brighton Company, it would certainly appear that there must have been some want of adjustment to cause it to work imperfectly on these occasions, and that its imperfect working was a material cause of the accident. With respect to the regulations, which, as will be seen by the evidence, were altered on the 26th January, or four days before the accident, and which have been since reverted to, it is to be observed that it was not desirable when the permanent block was, in consequence of the change in the regulations, abandoned, that “line clear” should be given on the telegraph instruments to the Grosvenor Road cabin, and that such an indication should be allowed to remain in that cabin, whilst an engine was allowed, in leaving the turn table siding, to obstruct a line on which passenger trains might approach the station from that cabin. The approach to this station is of a complicated description, and the traffic in and out of it is constant. Too much care cannot therefore be taken with regard to limiting the speed of trains, ad enforcing the regulations which have been issued in regard to reduce speed, as well as in keeping the signals in thorough working order, and maintaining the safest possible regulations carried out under a system of the strictest discipline.    

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