23rd DECEMBER 1876

Involving driver George Preston and his Fireman C. Wright

driver John Taylor and his Fireman James Cogan

Depots unknown

Extracted and adapted from the Board of Trade report 

by  H.W. Tyler

A collision that occurred on the 23rd December last at the Victoria station on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway. In this case, the 5.33 p.m. passenger-train from London Bridge via the Crystal-Pa1ace for the Victoria station came into collision, in entering No. 2 platform line at the Victoria. station, with an engine which was standing at the starting-signal of that platform-line, waiting to proceed to tho locomotive-sheds at Battersea. The buffer beams of both engines were broken, and the buffers were displaced, but no other damage was done to the rolling stock, nor was any vehicle thrown off the rails.

Three passengers have complained of injury.


The entrance to and exit from the Victoria station are controlled by two signalmen in a signal-cabin called the Eccleston Bridge signal cabin. There are seven platforms lines and three spare lines in the station, and there are starting signals at the ends of the platforms applying to the various platforms lines. The starting signal applying to No.2 platform line, to which it is necessary in this report particularly to refer, is about 30 yards from the signal cabin. An engine driver in entering a platform line expects to find that line clear for him unless he has received from the Eccleston Bridge cabin, or from the Victoria junction cabin, about 150 yards in advance of it a caution signal to indicate to him that there is something standing on the platform line.

The 5.33 p.m. passenger-train from London Bridge was composed on the any in question of a tank-engine and 10 carriages, of which two, one at each end of the train, were break-carriages. 


The engine driver, George Preston, left London Bridge at 5.36 p.m., three minutes late, and, after being somewhat delayed on the journey, approached the Eccleston-Bridge signal-cabin at the Victoria station at about 6.42, 13 minutes late. He stood for a minute after passing Grosvenor-Bridge, on the bank, until the stop-signal was lowered. He then proceeded forward towards the station, and the signals from the Eccleston-Bridge cabin were lowered for him to pass into the station as well as the signal of Victoria-junction cabin. He saw by the index-light exhibited that he was to run into No. platform. The entrance to the station was so full of steam that he could see nothing as lie passed the Eccleston Bridge cabin. He was looking for a caution-light from the signal-cabin, and at the same moment he saw an engine standing at the starting-signal of No. platform-line. He told his mate to stop, and reversed the engine, and then cane into collision with the standing engine at a speed of about three miles an hour. He could not reach his whistle, but he halloed to the driver of the standing engine to move out of the way. He applied the steam break of his engine. He looked. for a caution-signal from the cabin, because the night was so very bad, and the entrance to the station was so much filled with steam and he thought that there might be another train standing on the platform-line to which he was going.

The fireman with the last witness, C. Wright, confirms the statement of his engine-driver in every particular, and has nothing to add to it.

The guard, James Thorne, was riding in the front break-carriage next behind the engine. He had applied his break in coming down the bank, and it was still on in passing the Victoria junction cabin and the Eccleston Bridge cabin. He saw that the signals were lowered for them to pass the Victoria  junction, but he could not, sec them from Eccleston Bridge for steam which rendered the atmosphere so thick. He saw the engine standing at the starting-signal of No. 2 platform line just as they passed the arch of the Eccleston Bridge. His break was already applied, and he had time to give it half a turn more before the collision.

The engine-driver of the light-engine with which the passenger-train thus came into collision, John Taylorstates that he arrived at the Victoria station about a quarter of an hour before the collision, with the 5.15 p.m. train from London Bridge, due at Victoria at 6.8. He ran into No. 2 platform line in due course in front of his train. As soon as the train had been emptied and reloaded it. started away again with a fresh engine at what time. The starting signal having been turned to danger as the train went out, he remained standing at it, waiting for it to be lowered for his engine to pass out to go to Battersea. He believes he saw standing there seven or eight minutes before he saw a. train coming on the same line. He could see it for about 10 yards before the engine struck his engine. He stepped off his engine on to the platform and thus avoided the shock. his mate had taken off the break, and his engine was driven back 10 or 15 yards. He followed close down behind the passenger train to the starting signal, but he did not give any further notice of his presence to the signalman. It is not his practice to whistle for signals under such circumstances.

James Cogan, fireman to the last witness, states that the evidence of his engine driver is quite correct. Halso stepped off the engine on to the platform, when his mate halloed out to him that there would be a collision. ·

The signalman on duty at the Eccleston-Bridge cabin, Jacob Jackson, saw the 5.15 p.m. train from London-Bridge enter the station at 6.25 or 6.26 p.m., and he let it out again at 6.32, but there was too much steam and smoke about his cabin to enable him to see the engine following that train out or the No. platform-line. He knew that the engine would have to follow the train out, but was unable to see it, and he had no intimation by whistle or otherwise or its being there. It was not foggy at the time. It was only the atmosphere being thick with steam and smoke, and very dump, so that the steam hung about and was not dissipated. The traffic was very irregular and very constant on that evening, which was the Saturday evening before Christmas Day. He received at 6.38 notice of the approach of the 5.33 p.m. passenger-train from London-Bridge, and it was two minutes before he cleared for it. He could not do it sooner because there was shunting going on. Hgave clear for it about 6.40. He lowered his signal and exhibited No. on the platform-line indicator, and turned the train into No. 2 line, forgetting entirely that there would be an engine waiting at the starting-signal of that line to go to Battersea. He had not seen that engine waiting at the starting signal, and he does not. think the atmosphere was clear enough during the time it stood there to admit of his seeing it. There were a great many trains at that time, viz., between 6 und 7 p.m. It was worse as regards traffic than any other time of the night.


This collision has been caused by the forgetfulness of the signalman in the Eccleston-Bridge cabin, who, after letting out one train from No. 2 platform-line at 6.32, forgot that the engine which had brought it into the station would, in following it out on its way to Battersea, be waiting at the starting-signal, and allowed a second train to enter the same platform-line, and to come info collision, about 10 minutes later, with the engine so waiting at the starting signal,

There is some excuse for this man both in the condition of the atmosphere and in the disorganisation of the traffic on tho Saturday before Christmas Day. The mistake was not an unlikely one for a man in his position to make, and it is difficult in the present condition of the station to devise any remedy by which such a mistake could be prevented. It is clearly a disadvantageous mode of working, to have, not only engines and trains going in and out one after another on the same line, but also detached engines following the trains out at uncertain intervals, such detached engines being frequently detained for considerable periods in doing so at the starting-signals, in consequence of the paucity of lines at the entrance to the station. For various reasons it will be desirable, as have mentioned in previous reports, that some enlargement should be effected, and extra accommodation be provided at the Victoria station, and when improvements of this sort are carried out, it will then no doubt be possible to provide a third road for engines between Nos. l and 2, athere is between other platform-lines. There are many disadvantages of working which would be obviated by the enlargement of the station and its approaches, which would, however, involve a heavy outlay, and is 1t difficult question to deal with.

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