1st NOVEMBER 1879 

Involving  Engine Driver George Burton

 and his Fireman George Wynter

Depot not known

Extracted and adapted from the Board of Trade report 


A slight collision which occurred on the 1st instant at London Bridge station, on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway. In this case, as the 8.30 a.m. passenger train (consisting of engine and tender, and nine vehicles, of which one was a break-van with a guard) was running into No. 1 platform line, east section, at London Bridge station, it came into slight collision with two trucks which were standing against the buffer-stops at the end of the line.

One passenger had up to this date complained of injury, viz., a cut lip.

The only damage to rolling-stock consisted in the next carriage but one to the engine having had its head-stock and one buffer-casting damaged, the repairs to which will cost about 40 shillings.

The buffer-stops were not damaged.


No. 1 platform line, east section, London Bridge station, is one of the short lines running only about half the length of some of the long platform lines. The arrival signal for admitting trains into it is situated about 150 yards from the buffer-stops, and below it there is a signal-arm for indicating whether or not the line is already partially occupied. The rails are level till within about 10 yards of the buffer-stops, after which they fall towards the stops.

1. George Fullez, signalman 16 years, and in the north cabin, London Bridge, since it was opened about a year since.-I came on duty at 6 a.m. on the 1st November for an eight hours shift. The 8.30 a.m. up Hastings train was duly signalled from the south cabin at about 10.56, and I was able to take off the proper signals to admit it to No. 1 road, east section, its usual arrival platform. The signals thot I lowered were No. 123, the top signal at the end of the platform; No. 16, the signal on the girder; No. 2, showing the letter D at A.B., south-eastern box; and No. 3 controlling the signal at the South cabin. There was no change made in these signals till after the train had passed them. I did not lower signal No. 124, the signal indicating that No. 1 road has already anything standing in it, for this road being a short one it has been considered expedient never to take this signal off. There is frequently something standing at the end of this road. I noticed the train pass the cabin. I believe the steam was off, and the~ was nothing unusual in its speed to lead me to think the driver would over- run. I did not see the collision occur, nor did I hear any crash. The time was about 11.2.

2. Jabez Partridge, inspector at London Bridge 15 years.-I was on duty at the platform waiting for the arrival of the Hastings trian due at 10.50, which always comes in on No. 1 road. There were two trucks standing close up to the stops, loading stone. I was standing about half-way along the platform when the engine passed me. Neither before it passed me, nor as it passed me,.waa I uneasy about the speed, and I thought the dnver would have stopped some distance from the trucks. The speed was only a slow

walking speed as the engine passed me, and I did not observe it increase ; and as the train stopped I was opposite the last carriage but one, just opening the door, when I saw the train rebound. I then went forward to the guard's van, which was the fourth vehicle from the end of the train, and I found the breaks tight on. I then attended to the passengers and found only one, near the front of the train, injured with a cut lip. The driver said he could hardly account for the collision, and thought his engine could not have struck the trucks. He did not impute any neglect to the guard. In about 20 minutes the empty carriages were as usual removed to No. 2 line, and attached to some Brighton empty carriages to go to New Cross to be cleaned. There were no wheels off the rails. The was no one on the engine but the driver and fireman. There was no shouting to draw the driver's attention, there having appeared to be no necessity for it.

3. Benjamin Ellis, yard foreman at London Bridge. - I was standing in the 6 foot space next No. 2 road, about half-way down the platform, as the Hastings train was running in. I jumped up on the platform as the train was passing at about a walking pace, and I never noticed the speed quicken, and was surprised when I had found that the driver had run into the trucks. I was at the end of the train when it stopped. It rebounded very little.

4. John Payne, shunter.-I saw the Hastings train pass me, and when it stopped I was opposite the last carriage but one, on No. 3 platform. The speed had never appeared too fast to prevent the driver stopping short of the trucks. I could have walked faater than the train was going when it paseed me.

6. Charles Case, guard 7 1/2 years-1 started from Hastings with the 8.30 a.m. train punctually. From Hastings to Three Bridges the train consisted or seven vehicles, viz., five coaches and two vans. I was in the front break-van next the engine, and there was a guard in the rear van. At Three Bridges we took on five vehicles between the engine and my van. At Croydon the two last carriages and a van were detached for Victoria, and the train to London Bridge then consisted of engine and tender, five vehicles (fitted with continuous breaks), my break-van and three carriages behind it, nine in all. The engine was the same throughout the journey. We did not over-run at any station. We had no stop after leaving Croydon. We had lost seven minutes at Lewes, waiting for the Tunbridge Wells train, one minute at Three Bridges, and five minutes at Redhill signals, after which we picked up a minute. We got the signals all right for running into London Bridge station. I had to put my break after passing Spa Road, the usual place, and I felt no appreciation at any time that we were running in too fast, but thought we could have stopped anywhere within a yard or two, and the collision took me completely by surprise; my break was fully on at the time, and I was not doing anything but standing up, nor knocked against the side of the van. I spoke to the driver and he said he could not account for what had happened. The rails were a little greasy. There appeared very little excitement among the passengers. We arrived at 11.2 a.m., 12 minutes late.

6. George Barton, driver 19 years.-I have been four years with the Brighton Company, during which time I have been constantly running in and out of London Bridge station. I started from Hastings with the 8.30 a.m. train. My engine was No. 371 a four coupled engine and six wheeled tender, with the ordinary tender-breaks. No air-break fittings on the engine. It was my usual engine. All went right up to Croydon, and on leaving that station the train consisted of nine vehicles, the usual size of this train, which I have been in the habit of driving for the last four years. There was one guard in the break van near the tail of the train. On approaching London Bridge I found the signals lowered. I had shut off steam at Blue Anchor to make sure of the signals, and put it on again at Spa Road, after seeing the London Bridge signals right. I shut it off again between No. 4 box and A.B. box, came along gently to the north box, and there put on a little steam to draw into the station, shutting it off at once. My speed was at that time four or five miles an hour. The only signal not off was the lower one below the platform arrival signal, meaning that there was something already standing on No. 1 line. I was coming along prepared to stop at any moment. When about two engine lengths from the trucks I was afraid for the first time that I should not stop, and turned round to the fireman to see if the break was on, and found it was. I then reversed and had time to get steam against the engine, though there was not much pressure, and we struck the trucks at a speed of between three and four miles an hour. I had not come at a much higher speed than that along any part of the platform. The tender-blocks were working properIy, and I believe the guard's break was duly applied. I felt no rebound after the collision. I had had no difficulty at stopping at any previous station. The morning was misty and the rails rather greasy.

7. George Wynter, fireman 2 1/2 years, nearly all the time with driver Barton.-We overran no station on the way up on the let. When about three coaches length from the trucks, the speed being about a walking one, I thought for the first time we should not stop in time. I had put my break on at Blue Anchor where the driver shut off steam, and so eased it off when he put on steam between Spa Road and No. 4 box. I again put my break on when he shut off steam at A.B. box, and again eased it when he put on steam opposite the turntable; and I applied it for the last time when opposite the end of the platform, and bad it full on a good way up the plat- form and never released it. When near the trucks the driver reversed and got steam on. We felt the shock on the engine, but not much. We were not coming in my faster that usuaL The rails were greasy. We saw that there were trucks epinat the bu8'er-lltope from near the platform end.


This slight collision of the 8.30 a.m. passenger train from Hastings to London with two trucks standing against the buffer-stops at the end of the platform line, into which the driver of this train was in the habit of running regularly every morning, was due to a miscalculation on the part of the driver (an experienced man of 19 years' service in that capacity, of which he had passed 4 years with trains running in and out of London Bridge. station) with regard to his power of stopping. There were no unusual circumstances, except perhaps a slight greasiness in the rails along the platform, to explain his mistake, of which he appears to have become conscious only a very few yards short of the trucks; up to this point there seems to have been no apprehension on the part of anyone connected with the train or on the ground that there would have been any collision.

Considering the many thousands of trains that are daily running into terminal stations (there are about 260 into this London Bridge station) and the great caution that is requisite to avoid collision with buffer-stops, and at the same time to draw up as close possible to them, the comparative rareness of such collisions speaks highly for the skill and intelligence with which drivers are in the habit of performing this difficult duty, and it is not to be wondered at that occasionally some mistakes, such as the present one, are made.

Had the engine in this case been fitted with continuous breaks connected with those which were so fitted to the five vehicles next it, this collision would no doubt have been avoided.

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