on 24th SEPTEMBER 1880

Involving Driver John Buckland & His Fireman F. Day

Extracted & adapted from the report by


An accident that occurred on the 24th September last,. from the failure of one of the wheels of a third-class 4-wheeled carriage, near Ford junction station, on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway.

No persons are returned as having been hurt on this occasion.

Fortunately there was but little damage done to this third-class carriage beyond the actual damage to the wheel itself; but the accident might readily have been attended with very serious results.


The approach to the Ford junction station from the west is on an easy curve to the right and on a practically level portion of line.

The trailing-points of a cross-over road joins the up line about 50 yards west of the west end of the up platform, and the hailing-points of a connection between a siding off the up line, and the up line itself, are situated opposite to the west end of the up platform.


Benjamin Hewitt, station-master at Ford junction, between 14 and 1.5 years a station-master, states.-I was on the up platform on the 24th September last, when the 4.40 p.m. fast train from Portsmouth to Victoria, which is not appointed to stop at that station, passed. There was nothing unusual, as far as I know, as the train approached the station; but I was not looking in the direction from which it was coming. The signals were off' for the train to run through, and so were the signals at the Ford junction. There was no whistle from the engine before the train reached me. I saw the engine driver quite plainly, and I caught a glimpse of the fireman on the other side. The driver was looking ahead, and the steam was on as the engine passed me. I did not notice any break on the tender. 1 could not say that there was a break on. On looking westwards I saw that the train had become divided into two parts. I did not see that until the front part of the train had passed me; and seeing that it had separated into two parts, I looked back and saw the after part of the train. The front part of it was 60 or 70 yards back, but still approaching where I was standing. The front vehicle did not run so far alongside of the platform as the spot. where I was standing. I walked towards it. The front wheels of that vehicle were off the rails, the hinder wheels were still on the rails. A wheel, the near wheel, was still on the axle, but not fixed in its proper place, when it stopped. The broken wheel and the wheel which was not broken were both in in the 4-foot. It was a 4-wheeled carriage, 3rd class. The front end of the carriage  had dropped down considerably, so that we could not open the doors on the platform side. The coupling and two side chains  were both broken. This occurred about 5.48 or 5.50 p.m. As soon as I saw that the train had become divided into two parts I looked towards the front part of the train again, and saw that the steam had been shut off, and that the signals at Ford junction were on at "danger" against the train. The engine might then have got 200 or 300 yards past me when I saw this. I did not hear any whistle from the engine. I do not know whether it stopped before it got to the junction or not. 

John Nash, platelayer, states-I was on the line, walking from Ford Junction station towards Yapton crossing, when the 4.40 p.m. up train passed me, about the 20 3/4 miles from Brighton. I was walking on the north side of the line. As the train passed me I heard an unusual rattle, and as this carriage came up to me I could see that the boss of the wheel was all on a work. That wheel was still on the rails at that time. The boss of the wheel appeared to be working up and down on the axle. I did not see any one in the train to signal to them that there was something wrong with the wheel. I intended to have gone to the Yapton signal box, and to have told the signalman there; but as I stood on the bank I thought the train had stopped. I did not then go to the signal box.

James Hearne, ganger of platelayars for the length between Ford junction and Yapton, or about l 1/2 miles, states.- I live near Ford junction station, and as the train passed I heard an unusual noise, and came out of my house after the train had come to a standstill. The front part was standing up by the junction, and the after part alongside of the station platform. I went back to see if there was anything the matter with the road as far as I could trace a carriage off the rail. I then noticed the chairs which I have pointed out today as having been broken, and also the remarks on a large number of chairs which were not broken. l traced these all the way from the station backwards. The first mark was on a chair under the off or right rail of the up road, which was the 89th 21-foot rail back from the spot opposite Ford junction station platform, where the vehicle which had broken down had stopped. There was nothing in the state of the road to account for the breaking of the wheel.

George Cross, guard 15 or 16 years, states.-1 was riding in a break-van at the rear end of the train on the 24th September. I believe there were eight vehicles in the train beside the engine and tender. There was an electric communication from my van to the van at the front part of the train, and from thence, by a cord to the engine driver, to a bell on the engine. The electric bell was tried at Portsmouth on that occasion, as usual, before starting the train; but we do not start the trains by the electric communication. I do not know at what time we left Portsmouth. I had no occasion to make use of the electric communication before approaching Ford junction. After leaving Farnham junction I looked over the parcels and luggage which I had received there, and placed them in my van, and then I went and sat down on the off side; and I had not sat there above half a minute, and was looking out on the off side of the train when I observed ballast thrown out from the 4 foot space. We were travelling about 35 miles an hour. That was the first intimation that I had that anything was wrong. I immediately jumped up off my seat and gave my mate two rings of the electric bell for him to stop the train immediately, and I applied my hand break. The van was fitted with The Westinghouse break, but the engine was not fitted with it; so that I could not apply it. The electric bell in my van kept tingling, but the ringing was not like what an electric signal should have been from the front guard. As near as I can say I gave the two rings on the electric bell about 20th mile post. I know that the wheels of my break van skidded as soon as I got the break in my van on. I do not know how it was that the Westinghouse apparatus was not fitted on the engine used for that train. It occasionally happens with certain trains, as all the engines are not yet fitted up with with that apparatus. I am not aware that there was any whistle from the engine for me to apply my break at any time. If my mate had rung the electric bell communication while the tingling in my van was going on, I should not have been enabled to distinguish for a certainty that he had sent me a message. I do not know what time this occurred. I do not keep the time of the trains, I saw the fireman putting on his breaks as he was passing the east end of the station.

Alfred Miller, head guard about 14 years~states - ­I was in charge of the train, and role in the front van. The train consisted of engine and tender, six carriages, and two vans, one at each end of the train. The carriage which broke down was a third-class carriage, No.. 646, which was the seventh vehicle from the tender. We left Portsmouth Harbour at 4.45, Portsmouth Town 4.51, Havant 5.7, Emsworth 5.13, Chichester 5.27, Barnham junction .5.40, and stopped at. Ford junction at 5.4.5 p.m. I first became aware that something was wrong with the train by my electric bell being rung. I got one very short signal; one means all right. I looked out on the off side on account of the curve, and I saw that something was the matter with the train by observing the ballast flying, and I then pulled the rope connection to the bell on the engine. think got the very short signal when about l00 yards west of the west end of the platform; it might be a little more. There was nothing but that. "very short signal;" many of the electric bells will ring like that in a break-van from the vibration I did not reply to this very short signal, but went to the other side of my van and looked outside. Beside ringing to the engine, I applied my own break. I rang to the driver first and then put on my break. I rang to the driver as I got to the west end of the platform. I think we were running 30 or 35 miles an hour when I got the very short signal. There were people riding in the third-class  carriage which broke down ; none complained  of having  been hurt. think the steam was shut off before I  got the very short signal from my mate, but I cannot be quite sure. The engine stopped near the Ford junction signal-box.

James Andrews, carriage· inspector at Potumouth Harbour, states.-I examined the 4.40 p.m. train from Portsmouth to Victoria on the 24th September. If there had been anything particular respecting any carriage I should have noticed it. I examined the train generally, but I cannot speak to any particular carriage. The train was all right, as far as I could see. had plenty of time to make the examination, and I examined it thoroughly. I have been 17 years carriage inspector and wheelwright. and wagon maker in the shops.

John Bucklaml, engine driver 18 years, and 28 years in the service of the Company, states.--l was driving engine No. 188 on the 24th September; the train consisted of 9 carriages including two vans. I left Portsmouth about one minute late; and got to Barnham junction about two minutes late, and as far as I know the train was all right when we left that junction. I first became aware that something was wrong by hearing an electric bell rang in the front van next to the tender. I was running at the time at 30 or 35 miles an hour, and we were running through the station at that time, and had not quite got through it. I did not hear any bell rung on my engine from the front van. There was a bell fitted on my engine which was intended to be rung from the front van. I do not know whether the electrical communication throughout the train was tried before leaving Portsmouth. It is usual to have that cord communication from the front van to the bell on my engine. it was on in running down to Portsmouth; but I do not know why it was not on for the return journey. The guard riding to the front van usually puts it on. I admit that I ought to have seen that it was fixed for the return journey. When I heard the electric bell ring in the guard's van I looked back along my train, and at first I did not see anything to attract my attention, and when I made out that something was wrong I noticed that after part of the train had broken away; and by that time I had got through the station. The station signal and junction signals were off; but before I got to the platform I had shut off the steam to run through the junction, in accordance with usual practice. I had shut off the steam before I heard the ringing of the electric bell, and I took no steps towards the stopping of my train before I saw that it had separated into two parts. I did not whistle for the breaks. There was no break on the engine, and only a hand break on the tender. My mate put on the tender break, and the engine stopped just before it reached the junction signal box. My mate was on the right side of the engine, and he first saw that the train had separated into two parts. The train of carriages was fitted with the Westinghouse break, but the engine was not so fitted, and the break on the carriage could not, therefore, be applied. We stopped about 5.45 p.m. the after part of the train had stopped at the station. I did not go back to look at it.

F. Day, fireman to John Buckland on the 24th September, four years a fireman next March, states - I cannot say whether the electrical communication on the train was tried before the train left Portsmouth Harbour or Portsmouth Town. The cord communication between  the front van and the bell on the engine was attached before we left Portsmouth Town station island platform. I first became aware that something was wrong just as we were passing the eastern end of Ford junction station platform by hearing the guard pull the communication cord and ringing the bell on our engine. I had not previously heard the electrical bell ring in the front van. There were two rings on the bell on the engine, and that meant "stop." The guard in the front van was looking out of the window. I think the speed at that time was about 32 to 34 miles an hour. The signals were all right to go through the station and junction, but the steam was off. It was shut off before we got into the station. As soon as I heard the bell ring I put the tender bark hard on. The driver did not whistle for the breaks, but he reversed his engine. I then looked back, and saw that the train had separated into two parts; two carriages and a van had become detached. The front vehicle of these three was just at the west end of the platform when I looked back and first saw them. The front guard's break van put on about the same time as I put the tender break on. The front van was one of the new 4 wheeled vans. I did not put on the cord communication between the front van and the bell on the engine; I think the guard did it.


From the preceding statements, and from an examination of the locality and the damaged wheel, it appears that the 4.40 p.m. up passenger train from Portsmouth to Victoria, on the 24th September last, consisted of an engine and tender, seven carriages, and two break-vans, one at each end of the train, with a guard riding in each van,

The carriages in this train were fitted up with the Westinghouse break, but the engine was not so fitted, and there was no break on the engine, and only an ordinary hand- break on the tender and in each of the break-vans. The train of carriages was also fitted with the electric means of communication between passengers and the servants of the Company, from van to van, sanctioned by the Board of Trade, and there was also a cord communication between the front van and a bell on the engine. This communication is said to have been tested before the train left Portsmouth town station, about one minute late.

The train travelled all right up to Barnham junction, 23 1/4 miles from Portsmouth harbour, and left the junction in the same state, as far- as is known, and, as it was approaching Ford junction station, travelling at the rate of from 30 to 35 miles an hour, the guard riding in the rear van, and sitting on the off side of the van, next the 6-foot space, and looking out on that side, observed ballast thrown out from the 4-foot space into the 6-foot space, and lie states that he immediately jumped up off his seat, and gave his mate (riding in the front van) two rings of the electric bell for him to stop the train immediately, and he put on his hand-break, and the wheels of his van skidded as soon as he got his break on. He thinks that he gave the two rings of the electric bell when his van was about the 20th mile post from Brighton, as near as he could say. The electric signal was heard in the front van by the guard as a short single ring, and he transmitted the signal to the engine, and it was heard by the fireman, but not by the engine-driver, who says that he heard the electric bell ringing in the guard's van. ·

However, when the signal was heard, the front guard put on his break, the fireman put on the tender-break, and the driver reversed his engine, and on looking back saw that the train had separated into two parts, and two carriages and the break-van behind them stopped alongside of Ford junction station, with the front wheels of the leading vehicle, a third-class carriage, No. 646, off the rails, and running in the 4-feet space.

The engine and the front part of the train stopped before Ford junction was reached, distant about 370 yards from the spot where the leading carriage was stopped.

A platelayer was walking along the line from the Ford junction station towards Yapton crossing, when the 4.40 p.m. up passenger train from Portsmouth passed him, about the 20 3/4 mile post from Brighton. This would he about three-quarters of a mile further west, than the spot where the guard riding in the rear van discovered that the ballast was being thrown out into the 6-foot space. The platelayer heard, as the train approached him, an unusual rattle, and as this carriage came up he could see that the boss of the wheel was all in a work, the wheel being still on the rails, and the boss of the wheel appeared to be working up and down on the axle, but he did not see anyone in the train to signal to that there was something wrong with this wheel, and he meant to have gone to the Yapton signal-box, and to have told the signalman there about it; but as he stood on the bank he thought the train had stopped.

On examination it was ascertained that the woodwork of the leading off wheel of the third-class 4-wheeled carriage (a Mansell wooden wheel) had broken awayentirely from the boss of the wheel, and the leading pair of wheels had dropped off the rails,and had been running for a considerable distance in the 4-feet space.

This carriage, No. 646, was in the 11.45 a.m. down train from Victoria to Portsmouth on the same day, and it is stated to have been examined in the usual manner, and nothing peculiar in the state of the wheel was observed. It was fitted with the Westinghouse break, but as this break was not used on this occasion, the strain on the wheels produced by the application of the breaks, could have had nothing to do with the actual breaking up of this wheel.

The train had stopped at Barnhum junction, 2 3/4 miles from Ford junction, and although the carriage wheels were not examined at Barnham junction, nothing was known of anything being wrong with this wheel when the train left.

When the line was afterwards examined, the first trace of anything being found wrong was a mark on a chair under the right or off rail of the up line, about 623 yards west of the spot at which the third-class carriage was stopped (40 yards west of the eastern end of the up platform at Ford junction station), or about 95 yards west of the 20-mile post from Brighton. Other marks were found on the inner sides of the chairs under the right rail at 16 and 20 yards from the first mark, and then a number of chairs, amounting to nearly 40, under the same rail were found broken at intervals, and others we're found not broken, but marked.

The check rail of a crossing of a cross-over road was found marked rather more than 400 yards from the first mark, and a short distance beyond, the left or near wheel appeared to have got outside the left rail, and three chairs were broken under the left rail near the trailing points of a connection with a siding off t.he up line. The left wheel appeared to have again got into the 4-foot space about the west end of the up platform at the Ford junction station. 

No blame attaches to any of the Company's servants in their endeavours to pull up the train, and the accident affords an instance of the advantage of having and being enabled to use, a connection between the servants of the Company with a passenger train. 

The coupling and side chains between the damaged third-class carriage, No. 646, and the carriage in front of it, appeared to have broken, near the west end of the station platform, and fortunately the leading-wheels of this carriage continued to run in the 4-foot space, while the trailing-wheels still kept on the rails, until the vehicles at the after part of the train were stopped.

This wheel was, I am informed, made in the year 1874, by the Leeds Wheel and Axle Company, according to the designs then sanctioned by the inventor (Mr. Mansell): the mileage which it had run up to the time of the accident is not known.

The central portion connecting the tyre of the wheel with the boss of the wheel is entirely of teak wood, about 3 1/2 inches in thickness, the tyre being fastened to the wood by two circular plates or rings of wrought-iron 3 inches wide by 7/16 inch thick, one on each side, by 16 wrought-iron bolts 5/8ths of an inch in diameter, with nuts: and the central part of the woodwork is secured to a circular cast-iron plate, about 20 inches in diameter and 1 1/8 inch thick, forming part of the inside of the boss of the wheel, by means of eight wrought-iron bolts 7/8ths of an inch in diameter, passing through this cast-iron plate, through the wood, and through a circular plate or ring of wrought-iron 5 1/2 inches in width, and 3/4ths of an inch thick, on the opposite or outside of the boss of the wheel, the bolts being fastened by nuts on the inner side.

This teak wood had broken away or been ripped away, throughout the whole circumference from the boss of the wheel, and was left never less than 1 inch, and in some parts nearly 3 inches, from the boss of the wheel ; the wood was perfectly sound and hard. The bolts passing through the cast-iron and wrought-iron plates did not indicate that they had been damaged or cut by the sides of the holes in the two plates. The other wheel on the same axle was taken to pieces in the shop when I was present, and the only indication of any action or movement in the teak wood having taken place, that could be traced, was that the circular holes in the teak wood, through which the bolts had passed, when the wheel had been put together and tightened up, were no longer quite circular but had been slightly elongated.

The circular cast-iron plate, 20 inches in diameter, forming part of the boss of the broken wheel on the inner side, had been broken away in nine pieces, and these pieces were all picked up on the line as the train approached Ford junction station, the fractures all taking place through the bolt holes. The corresponding wrought. iron plate or ring on the outside of the boss of the wheel, although of sensibly less thickness than the cast-iron plate (3/4ths of an inch compared with 1 1/8 inch of thickness) was not broken, and the bolts were mostly in the bolt holes.

No explanation is forthcoming as to the probable cause of the destruction of this wheel, but it is likely that the woodwork must have been gradually getting loose round the bolts that passed through the cast-iron plate of the boss of the wheel, then through the wood itself, and then through the wrought-iron plate; and the application of continuous breaks would certainly have a great tendency to increase this looseness, and to produce the final ripping up of the wood, from the torsion which would be exercised on the wheels.

A somewhat similar failure occurred on the Cheshire Lines Railway, near Otterspool station, on the 11th October last, which was inquired into by Major Marindin; and this shows the necessity that exists for some improvement in the construction of these Mansell wooden wheels, particularly when they are likely to have continuous breaks fitted on them. Mr. Stroudley, locomotive superintendent of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company, has introduced what he considers will be a great improvement on the present mode of constructing these wheels, by causing the eight connecting bolts to pass through circular cast-iron tubes forming part of the cast-iron plate of the boss of the wheel, thus making the bearing surface so much larger as to render it unlikely that these tubes will cut away the teak wood and destroy the wood centre, which the bolts have apparently done in both these cases. .

Mr. Stroudley states that these altered bosses have been running under express trains fitted with continuous breaks for a period of more than two years daily, with the most remarkable success.

Mr. Cleminson has introduced a patent composite wheel, by which the boss of the wheels is directly connected with the wrought-iron circular plates or rings, used for fastening the tyres to the Mansell wooden wheels, and also for preventing tlu~ tyres from slipping round the wooden centres, by the a0tion of the breaks when applied.

This subject is a very important one as regards the safe travelling of the public, which is my excuse for entering on it at such length. It will be satisfactory to find that no failures do take place in wheels constructed on Mr. Stroudley's design, but I think it possible that it may be found absolutely necessary to firmly connect the boss with the outer circumference of the wheel in the manner proposed by Mr. Cleminson, or in some similar method.

I should not omit to point out, that when the electrical means of communication for the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, was submitted to the Board of Trade for its sanction, the Inspecting Officer, Sir Henry (then Captain) Tyler, recommended that it should be carried direct to the engine, and not stop at the front van, (with a cord communication to a bell on the engine,) and also that all trains should be started by it from all stations, so as to insure its being always kept in order; but these recommendations have not yet been complied with.

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