4th OCTOBER 1877


Extracted and adapted from the Board of Trade report 

by  C.S. Hutchinson, Major General, R.E

I have inquired into the circumstances connected with the two accidents which occurred on the 23rd October 1876, and 4th October 1877, to the firemen of two down passenger trains belonging to the London, Brighton, and South Coast. Railway Company, from their heads coming into contact with the pillars supporting rhe roof of Red Hill station, which belongs to the South-Eastern Railway Company.

No officer of the South-Eastern Company, except the Red Hill station master, was present nt the inquiry.

There are four lines of rails through Red Hill station, an up and down through line, and an up and down platform line. In the space between each through line and each platform line, which space is about 7 feet 2 inches wide, there is a row of iron pillars supporting the station roof. Between the two down lines at the up-end of the station, the nearest surfaces of these pillars are closer to the platform line than to the through line, the distances being 3 feet, and 3 feet 6 inches, respectively to the nearest rails.

Both accidents occurred under almost precisely similar circumstances, except that on the first occasion it was daylight and that on the second it was dark. In each case a down train was entering the station on the platform line, at rather a higher rate of speed than customary, and in consequence each fireman, to get a better purchase at the break-handle, had stepped outside the footplate of the engine, and while thus applying the break, with the body thrown back, the back of the bend came in cont.act with one of the first pillars. The fireman was in each case stunned and fell to the ground severely injured, more so in the recent accident than in the earlier one.

Both men had been aware of the dangerous closeness of the pillars, but had forgotten about it. The drivers had not noticed that their firemen were endangering themselves.

There is no doubt that these accidents were cause to the dangerous proximity of the roof pillars to the off rail of the down platform line at Red Hill; this distance being only 3 feet instead of from 3 l/2 feet to 4 feet, as would now be insisted on in the of new lines.

It must at the same time be remarked, that both firemen were occupying a needlessly dangerous position at the time they were injured, and that the mode in which they were applying their breaks would equally expose them to injury from an accidentally open off-door in any train passing on the opposite line in any ordinary railway.

The Red Hill station master informed me that the only other accident he remembered during the whole time the station had been in use (about 20 years) was that of a guard getting his hand jammed between the edge of an off door (which he had wrongly opened) and one of the pillars.

To prevent a recurrence of similar accidents the best remedy of all would be to alter the construction of the roof, so as to allow of the pillars. bring done away with: but failing this, it would I think be useful to have a standing note in the working timetables of both companies, calling attention to the nearness of these roof pillars to the platform lines, and warning firemen of the danger in all cases of going outside their engines to apply their breaks.

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