IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY



1876

NORWOOD


10th DECEMBER 1876

Involving driver David Miles and Fireman Edward Power

Depot unknown

Extracted and adapted from the Board of Trade report 

by  W. Yolland, Colonel, R.E

A accident occurred on the 10th December last, at Norwood junction, on the London, Brighton, and South Const Railway, from a shunting engine while off the rails breaking down the two cast iron girders of an under bridge, and falling into the road below. The driver of the engine had his arm fractured. ·

A short distance to the north of the passenger· platform at Norwood junction seven lines of railway have been carried over the Portland Road by under bridges constructed of cast-iron girders.

These lines of railway have been laid down for an large number of years, probably nearly amounting to 20: but about four years since, in consequence of alterations at the junction station, the line of rails, across the second of these bridges reckoned from tho west, was taken up, but the two cast-iron girders which supported the transverse bearers on which the chairs for the rails were fixed find the wooden planking between them, were allowed to remain.

The rails at the south side of this bridge were also removed for a distance of about 20 feet southwards from the bridge, and the line from the station which is straight thus constituted a species of blind siding, without having any buffer stops or the end of the rails turned up, to prevent any engine from running off the rails, along the ballast, and on to the platform
between the cast-iron girders of the under bridge, in the event of an engine driver making any mistake and
 continuing to ran on this siding. · 

About 49 yards north of the north end of the main line platform there are a set of three throw facing points, with one pair and a line to the left leading to the local up line, a. second pair for the ·straight line to the blind siding before referred to, and a third pair with a line to the right lending out on to the main up line ; and working with the facing-points at the ends of the lines to the left and right there arground disc signals, to indicate to a driver when those points have been set right for a train to proceed on either of those lines: but no signal is attached to the points for the straight road leading to the blind siding as no engine or train was intended to travel on that line

The evidence or the company's servants who were concerned in this accident is as follows :

David Miles, engine driver three years and 9 1/2 years fireman in the service of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, states: That he was in charge of the shunting engine on the morning of the day on which the accident occurred, and had nearly completed his work : that he had passed  from the goods yard siding on to the local up line, and then reversed his engine to go back to the Pimlico siding on which there were between 20 and 30 trucks standing, and he had to hook on about 17 trucks to draw them ahead, and to take them on to the local up line; that his engine stood level with the north end of the main line platform, on his right hand : that as soon us he had had the engine hooked on to the trucks he received a hand­ signal from the foreman over the shunters, which he thought at the time was intended for him, and he then put steam on the engine with the intention of pulling the trucks out : that as he expected to receive another signal from the same man he kept his attention fixed on him longer than he should have, done, and thus omitted to see that the disc signals at the three throw points. stood at danger against him : that after had passed the dummies (disc-signals) he found that he was running on the wrong road, leading to tho blind siding, and he shut off the steam, reversed the engine, and had the break applied so as to bring the engine to a stand still as. soon as he could: that he might have been running at three or four miles an hour when he got on to the bridge after running over the sleepers at the end of the rails on which his engine had been running: that as he got on to the bridge he found the girders of tho bridge give way, and the engine fall into the road below, and he and his  mate went down with it: that his arm was fractured but his mate escaped without any injury: that this happened about 10 or 12 minutes before 8 o'clock in the morning.

Edward Power, fireman to David Miles fireman for two years, confirmed the driver's statement and said : " That at the time he was occupied in putting coal on the fire of the engine.

W. G. Reid, goods foreman, between eight and nine years in the service of the company, states : That the shunting engine No. 228 was in the goods yard siding and thence went into the Pimlico up siding, and after the shunting engine got into the siding, he informed the signalman in the north signal-box that he was to allow the portion of tho goods train on the main up line to go away on the local up line: that a South-eastern goods train was waiting behind on the same line of rails, and in the meantime he went and told the driver of the Portsmouth up goods, which was standing on the up main line, that he was to go forward on the up local line, and after this he went to the luggage box of the same train, und after the luggage work was done he gave the signal right away: that he thinks the engine of  the Portsmouth train stood rather ahead of the shunting engine: that the signal he gave to the driver of the Portsmouth engine was by holding out his arm horizontally: that he thinks both drivers started together, but the driver of the Portsmouth engine stopped when he saw what had happened to the shunting engine. He did not see both engines start.

From the preceding statements it will be seen that the driver of the shunting engine mistook the signal given by a foreman of the goods department intended for a train standing on the up main line, for one intended for himself, and had omitted to look to the disc signals opposite to the facing-points, which should have governed his movements; and, as the company had omitted to put up any stop blocks at the end of the blind siding to prevent any engine from running off the rails, the driver was unable to stop his engine after running a few yards on the ballast, passing over some old sleepers which had been laid transversely across the ends of the rails and thence on to the platform of the under bridge, and breaking down both girders and falling with them into the road below.

Fortunately no person was in the road where the engine fell.

The shunting engine No. 228, which broke down the girders, was a six-wheeled coupled tank engine, having a wheel base of 14 1/3 feet, and for which the weights are returned· as follows:-

On the leading wheels  =13 tons 9 Cwts

On the driving wheels  = 15 tons 2 Cwts

On the trailing wheels  = 11 tons

                          Total   = 39 tons 11 Cwts

The span of this bridge is 26 feet 9 inches. I enclose a plan showing the details of the girders, which the company's engineer, M. Banister, has been good enough to prepare at my request. The transverse rail bearers were not broken.

One of the two girders was broken at the centre only, the other was fractured in two places.

I enclose Mr. Banister's calculation of the strength of the girders that broke, and also that of the rolling load on the two girders. Both slightly differ from my calculation.

The requirements of the Board of Trade as to the strength of cast-iron girders for bridges is that the breaking weight at the centre should be not less than three times the permanent load due to the weight of the super-structure, added to six times the greatest moving load that can be brought upon it, and the following are the results, when applied to the girders of this under bridge, with the weights supplied by the shunting engine No. 228.

According to my calculation-

Thus, permanent load 3 x 4.4 tons     = 13.2 tons

Thus, rolling load       6 x 13.22 tons = 79.32 tons

                                    Total  load      = 92.52 tons 

While I make the the calculated breaking weight 65.6 tons. 

                                                            Deficiency 26.92 tons

According to Mr. Banister's calculation-

Thus, permanent load 3 x 4.4 tons     = 13.2 tons

Thus, rolling load       6 x 12.8 tons = 76.8 tons

                                    Total  load      = 90.0 tons 

While I make the the calculated breaking weight 70.0 tons. 

                                                            Deficiency 20.0 tons


So that it is apparent that the girders are not sufficiently strong for this class of engine, and I call attention to the fact; as Mr. Banister states that the same construction of girder prevails throughout.

It is quite possible that the girders were both broken by the impact caused by the wheels running over nu uneven surface of cross beams and rail bearers, but in my opinion it will be desirable to substitute stronger girders for these now laid down, or to make use of lighter engines for doing the shunting.

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