on 26th MAY 1879



Extracted & adapted from the report by

C.S. Hutchingson Major General R.E.

A collision which occurred on the 26th ultimo, at Brighton station, on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway. In this case, the 8.30 a.m. passenger train, (consisting of a tank engine, running coal- bunk first, and eight vehicles, of which the first was a break van, and the last a third- class break-carriage) from Hayward's Heath to Brighton, where it was due at 9.20 a.m., came into collision with the buffer stops at Brighton station.

Seventeen complaints of injury have hccn received.

In the engine the head was broken off one of its huffers, and the front of the tool box was damaged. The bodies of four vehicles were shifted on their frames, and a buffer socket was broken.

The buffer stops with which the engine came in collision were broken, and a cast- iron girder, over a cab approach underneath the line of rails on which the train was running, was cracked across the centre.


Brighton station is approached from Preston, the next station towards Hayward's Heath, 1 1/4 miles from Brighton, on a falling gradient of 1 in 264, which terminates 620 yards from the buffer stops, the line being level for these 620 yards. the distance of the different points alluled to in the evidence from the buffer stops are-

Overbridge 1,280 yards

Lover's Walk cabin, 1,060 yards

Montpelier cabin 610 yards

North end of ticket platform 500 yards

The traffic is worked on the absolute block system.

The following rule applies to trains entering terminal stations:-"Drivers and guards in charge of trains must approach all terminal stations with great care, having their trains well under control ; and on reaching the points and crossings of each terminal station, the speed must not exceed five miles per hour. Each train must he brought to a stand short of the stop hufl"crs, or any carriages and vehicles which may he standing on the platform siding. A vigilant look-out must be kept by the drivers and guards on entering the platform sidings, to sec how far such sidings arc clear, and regulate their speed accordingly."

The engine drawing the train weighed 38 tons.


Henry Anscombe, station master five at Brighton.·- I was on the middle platform when my t was directed to the train from Hayward's Heath, the engine of which was then about 100 yard's the engine, the speed of which I think was seven to eight miles an hour when he struck the stops ; 10 or 12 yards before the buffer stops I noticed steam put on. I then ran round at once to the train. The mils along the platform line were dry.

2. George Faulkner, head porter at Brightou three years.-I was on the centre platform when I observed the engine of the Hayward's Heath train passing the up end of the platform. When I first saw it I did not observe the speed as being particularly fast, but, on reaching the London arrival platform, when the engine had just got past me, I thought the speed was too fast, 12 miles at about', It then slightly diminished until the engine struck the buffer stops. By the time I reached the platform at which the train stopped, the last carriage had just passed me, and I observed that the guard's breaks were on and that the guard was in the act of taking an additional turn at the wheel. Some passengers jumped out before the train stopped, but I snw no one tumble down. There was very little rebound after the train stopped. The rails were perfectly dry.

3. Thomas Siryer, seven years passenger guard and 27 years in the service.-Before starting from Hayward's Heath I had made a previous trip from Brighton to Hayward's Heath with the same engine and train. The train consisted of eight vehicles, with a van at one end and break compartment at the other. Nothing went wrong on the journey from Brighton, and we started back punctually at 8.30 a.m. We were a minute late leaving Burgess Hill, and at Preston we arrived at right time, 8.54, and left it nearly a minute before time by the private working time table, viz., 8.58; the station master having said there was no one coming, and the public working time table showing 8.58. We had overrun none of the stations in the least up to this time. I had used my break in making the stops, but whether the driver had used the air break on the engine I cannot say. I am in the habit of travelling with this driver and from my observation I should say he was in the habit of using his air break for ordinary stops, though I could not speak as to this on the morning in question.

We are allowed three minutes for running the 1 1/4 miles from Preston to Brighton. We started as usual from Preston, and there was nothing unusual to attract my attention up to the time steam was shut off at Lover's Walk junction, when I think it was not much more than 11 miles an hour. I stood in readiness to apply my break and I put it on had as the train passed over the points leading to the Hastings arrival line, when I thought the train was running faster than it ought to be, the speed not having diminished since steam was shut off. After this I never released my break, but screwed it tight on and held it till we struck the buffer stops at a speed I do not think less than eight or nine miles an hour. The collision knocked me from the wheel, hut I did not tumble down and was not hurt. I thought there was a slight increase of speed as we passed over the facing points at Montpelier junction. I felt no effect from the driver's reversing. I was alone in the break compartment. I did not hear the driver whistle for the breaks. There was at least 150 passengers in the train. I made the time of the accident 9.1, i.e., three minutes from Preston, though I has previously entered 9.2 in the driver's return, judging from the signals being off that we should have arrived at that time.

4. John Howells, driver 13 years on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Line, and six years on other lines. I was driving tank-engine "Osborne" on the 26th, which I have driven for about 15 months.

The breaks were in good order, and had been on about three weeks ; there was one to each of the six wheels. There is a Westinghouse break on the engine, this was also in working order, but I had not used it at all on the morning of the accident, either on the journey to or from Hayward's Heath, I have no orders not to use it, and I am acquainted with the mode of working it; but the train was a light one, consisting of only eight vehicles, the usual size of the trains between Hayward's Heath and Brighton. Fireman Ford was on the engine with me; he has worked with me regularly for eight or nine months.

Nothing went wrong on the journey from Brighton to Hayward's Heath ; we over ran no platforms. We started back punctually at 8.30, the engine now running bunk first. We kept time at the different stations up to Preston, and overran no platform. Wstarted from Preston about right time, three minutes being allowed for the run, which is rather over a mile. I shut off steam a short distance north of the new bridge near Lover's Walk, about the usual place the signals were off for running in. My speed was not more than 18 to 20 miles an hour, the highest speed I had attained. I saw the fireman apply his break a short distance past the Lover's Walk signal cabin, the usual place ; the speed then appearing to diminish, he eased off the break (after passing through the points) at the ticket platform, and then the speed appearing to increase be again put it on at the end of the ticket platform, still without my telling him. I had no idea we were going too fast till we were more than half-way up the platform, but then the speed seemed to increase, although the break was tight on, and I accordingly reversed and put on steam against the engine. I did not whistle for the guard's breaks, having hardly time; notwithstanding these efforts to reduce the speed, we struck the buffer stops at a speed of four miles an hour. Neither I nor the firPman jumped off, and we did not feel anything of the blow. I could not say whether the guard's breaks were properly applied. The rails were dry, except at the end of the shed, where they were a little damp. I have never run into the stops before, though I have run into the station some hundreds of times, and I cannot account for the present accident.

5. Clifford Ford, fireman five years.-I have worked about six months with Howells. Nothing went wrong on the journey out from Brighton to Hayward's Heath.

I used my hand break for stopping the train, and on the return journey I did the same, the Westinghouse break not having been employed. Nothing at all went wrong from Hayward's Heath to Preston. Steam was shut off just the other side of the new bridge, when the speed was as usual, I cannot say what rate. I put my break on soon and passing Lover's Walk box, the same place as usual, and the speed decreased. I then eased the break on passing through the point! at Montpelier box, and applied it again 30 or 40 yards from the north end of the platform, still not considering the speed was too high. Forty or 50 yards from the buffer stops I thought the speed was too fast, and my mate then reversed and put on steam.

We struck the buffers at less than a walking pace. We neither of us jumped off, and we were not knocked down or hurt. I cannot account for the break not taking more effect ; the blocks were in good order.


This serious collision of a passenger train with buffer stops at Brighton station was caused by the experienced driver of the train (a man of 19 years service in that capacity, and of previously good character) having entered the station at too high s speed, and not having taken in time the necessary means to reduce it. The compressed air break was applied to the engine (though not to the train), and it was perfectly within his discretion to have had it in action or not, as he thought fit. He informed me that neither on the journey to or from Hayward's Heath had he put it in action on the morning of the collision, as the train was light, and he considered the hand-break sufficient. It is, however, to be regretted that he had not made use of it, for had he done so the control of tho speed of the engine would have been entirely in his own hands; whereas it is highly probable that the action of the fireman in releasing the hand-break at Montpelier cabin, 610 yards from the buffer stops. allowed the train to continue at the speed, which the driver, depending upon tha fireman, too late observed to be higher than he could control. The guard of the train appears to have acted properly.

The evidence of the driver and guard of the train affords a curious illustration of the ideas of speed entertained (or professed to be entertained) by so many railway servants. The distance from Preston to Brighton being 1 1/4 miles, and the time allowed for running it (not certainly exceeded, but rather the contrary on the present occasion) being three minutes, there must have been allowing for starting and stopping a maximum of 35 miles an hour attained during a considerable part of the distance ; yet the driver says that the maximum speed attained was 18 to 20 miles an hour, and the guard 11 miles an hour !

Make a free website with Yola