28th JULY 1877

Extracted and adapted from the Board of Trade report 

by  F. H. RICH, Colonel, R.E

A collision occurred on the 28th July at Norwood junction station of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway.

An officer and 13 soldiers are reported to have been shaken and bruised.

On the day in question, two carriages laden with troops arrived at Norwood Junction by the 2.55 p.m. train from New Croydon. The train was due at Norwood Junction at 3 p.m. The troops were proceeding to Chat, and the coaches in which they were travelling had to be transferred from the Croydon train which arrived at the north side of the yard, to the Beckenham train, which was waiting at the south side of the yard. The station master gave the necessary instructions to the yard foreman. The two carriages with troops which were at the tail of the Croydon train were detached from it, and a pilot engine was hooked on behind them to take them across to the Beckenham train. The foreman of the yard, assisted by the yard shunter, took charge of the pilot engine and two carriages, and the station master, after seeing them away from the north platform, went across to the Beckenham platform, at the south side of the line, where the two carriages of troops were to be attached to the Beckenham train.

The foreman of the yard gave the pilot engine driver the signal to start from the up platform, and the carriages were drawn down over the crossover road from the up on to the down line to Croydon. The signalman in the south junction box was informed of what was intended to be done with these carriages, and he altered the points on the down line for them to be shunted from the down line into the sidings at the south side of the railway, which are connected with the line to Beckenham.

All the points at the south west end of the yard, which are connected with the passenger lines, are worked from the south signal cabin, and are interlocked with the signals; but there are two pairs of points in the goods sidings at the south side of the yard which are worked by hand, and it was necessary for the carriages with the troops to pass through these two pairs of points in order to get to the Beckenham line, which terminates at Norwood junction station.

When the two coaches with troops were drawn on to the down-line, the yard foreman gave the head shunter instructions to uncouple them from the pilot engine, so that they might be fly-shunted back on to the Beckenham line, and the foreman stated that he asked the shunter at the some time whether the points were right for this fly shunt which was intended to be made?

The London, Brighton, and South Coast Company have bought a large piece of land at the south side of Norwood junction, for the purpose of increasing their goods accommodation, and the points in the goods sidings have been altered lately, so as to accommodate the lines which are proposed to be laid on this new piece of land. One of the points in question, through which the coaches with troops had to be shunted, had been altered, so that the normal position in which they are now loaded to lie, has been reversed. The head shunter, before he replied to the foreman that the points were "all right,” ought to have gone to the points to reverse them, and to hold them while the carriages with troops were passed through them; but be forgot that they had been altered, and instead of going to the points, he returned on to the engine, after detaching it from the coaches.

The yard foreman gave the signal to the engine- driver, who had been informed what was intended to be done, and the coaches were pushed back, so as to run on to the Beckenham platform, which was about 700 yards distant ; but instead of doing so, they ran into a dead end, and came into collision with two waggons loaded with rails which were standing there. The pilot engine driver, after giving these coaches a push, which he thought sufficient to carry them to the Beckenham platform, stopped his engine short on the cross over road.

The yard foreman is responsible for gross negligence and having caused this accident. The fly shunting of coaches laden with passengers is strictly forbidden at South Norwood junction station, and the station master stated, that he was not in the least aware that the foreman proposed to fly shunt the two coaches. The foreman not only disobeyed the Company’s rules about fly shunting, but he also neglected his duty in not seeing that the points were properly held by the shunter before he gave the engine driver the signal to push the coaches back. The engine should have remained attached to the coaches till it had pushed them back, and the had been cooled to the Beckenham train.

Neither of tho coaches were thrown off the rails, but the bodies were shifted on the frames by the shock of the collision. They are reported to have struck the goods waggons at a speed of from five to seven miles an hour.

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