on 4th FEBRUARY 1882

Involving Drivers Edwin Mitchell & John Packham 

Depots not known

Extracted & adapted from the report by


A collision occurred, during a dense fog on the 4th March, near the Bricklayers' Arms junction, between two down Passengcr trains belonging to the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company.

Eleven persons are stated to have complained of having been injured on this occasion, and the guard of one of the trains had his rib fractured.

One of the passenger trains break-van and the headstock broken, two-buffer rods bent, and two buffer-castings broken, the Westinghouse break pipe damaged, and a composite carriage had one side glass and one door glass broken.

At the Bricklayers' Arms, junctions for an up and down line arc laid in for connecting the South Bermondsey, sometimes called the spur lines, with the up and down main lines, and there are other lines that lead from the down main and up local and main lines into the Bricklayers' Arms yard.

Between London Bridge and the Bricklayers' Arms junction there are a series of signal-boxes, partly belonging to the South-Eastern and. partly to the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company.

Thus the first from London Bridge,
'l'hc A.B. signal box (South-Eastern), is 290 yards north of No. 4 signal-box.

No. 4  signal box is (South Eastern), is 876 yards north of Spa Road signal box.

Spa Road signal box (South Eastern), is 833 yards north of Blue Anchor signal box.

Blue Anchor (Brighton) is 1,149 yards north of Bricklayers Arms Junction signal box 

The Bricklayers' Arms junction is protected by down home or stop signals 155 yards from the signal-box, and also by down distant-signals 14t4 yards outside the down home or stop signals.


George Ashdown, signalman, Bricklayers' Arms fog-signals just before reaching the Bricklayers' Arms junction, has been in the service 25 years, about 22 years signalman, 11 years of which time in the Bricklayers' Arms junction box, states: I was on duty on Saturday, February 4th, when the fog was so dense that I could not See the trains pass but only hear them. All the trains were very much out of time. An empty train had been standing on the Bermondsey spur down line from 2.55 p.m.; and at 4.45, as I had nothing given out on the down main line, I gave these empties on to New Cross at 4.45, and the road was cleared from New Cross at 4.18 p.m. ; but in consequence of the up traffic and the collision occurring on the Bricklayers Arms branch at the time (about 4.17) I was not sure that that collision had not blocked the Bermondsey down road. I did not get the empty train off until 5.34, and when that train passed my box I said to the train signal clerk " Clear down;" but instead of his clearing the line to South Bermondsey he cleared the Blue Anchor instrument on the main line. As soon as I found he had cleared the wrong instrument I sent my assistant signalman with fog-signals to try to stop the train from Blue Anchor, as I knew I already had a train standing at my stop signals on the main down line, which had been given down for the local line; but which turned out, however, to be the 4 p.m. Brighton express train intended to travel on the down main line. My assistant signalman told me when he came back, that before he could get up past the first train the second train had arrived. I did not hear the collision. I am sorry the booking of the trains is very incorrect, and cannot be depended upon, but the first collision which took place on the Bricklayers' Arms branch seemed to have unnerved my clerk, which I think will account for the booking not being done properly. Through the Brighton train having been described wrongly from .A.B. box by the describer, it threw us out in our calculations as to the working of the traffic. The trains had been correctly described down previous to this time'.

Arthur Mann, train signal clerk, on duty at Bricklayers' Arms junction, corroborated signalman Ashdown's statement. as to having cleared the wrong instrument.

Edwin Mitchell, engine-driver, has been in the service 13 years, about six years a driver, states : I was in charge of the 4 p.m. passenger train from London to Brighton, engine 212, on Saturday, 4th February. In consequence of the fog being so dense we did not leave London Bridge until 4.56. We were stopped at the Spa. Road signals about eight or nine minutes, and again at the Blue Anchor signals about eight or 10 minutes, and when let on from Blue Anchor we ran over fog-signals at the distant-signals worked from the Bricklayers' Arms junction. We then proceeded very slowly, and run over some more fog signals just before reaching the Bricklayers Arms junction stop signals; the fog signalman told us to go on a few more yards, and we should find the stop signal and another man there. We had been at the stop signals about 12 or 15 minutes when I felt something had struck us in the rear, and my engine and train was forced forward, but not more than three yards. It was not a sudden blow, but more like a squeezing in. This caused a screw coupling to be lifted off the hook between the fourth and fifth carriages, also causing the train to part, breaking one side chain and the Westinghouse pipe which immediately put the break on. The screw-coupling was again put on, and after the Westinghouse break had been released from the six rear carriages we proceeded to New Cross, where we stopped by order of Mr. Bidser, the station- master. We then left for Brighton, having the Westinghouse break in use on the first four carriages I had 10 carriages; including break-vans, all fitted with the Westinghouse break, which was in good working order. The fog was so dense on leaving London Bridge I could not see any signals ; the first I saw was the Forest Hill down stop-signal.

James Sandham, guard, has been in the service two years, and eight months a guard, states: I was guard in charge of the 4 p.m. Brighton express. I rode in the front van. The train consisted of 10 carriages, including two break-vans fitted with the Westinghouse break, engine No. 212. We left London Bridge at 4.56 p.m. We were delayed by signals at Spa Road and Blue Anchor. I think we were about five minutes running from Blue Anchor to the Bricklayers' Arms. We were detained at the stop-signals at Bricklayers' Arms about 12 or 14 minutes. While we were standing there I found something giving us a hard squeeze up from behind, and we were forced forward from about 2 1/2 to 3 yards. This caused a screw-coupling between two carriages to jump off at one end. We also broke one side chain and the Westinghouse pipe. I went to the rear of the train, and saw one buffer on the off side of the break had been pushed right in and had not drawn out again. I did not see that any damage bad been done. I did not see any windows broken. One roof lamp was put out, and I also saw one of the tail lights was out. No complaint was made by any of the passengers. My mate told me at New Cross when we stopped the train that he felt the shock, and at Brighton he told me he felt a pain in his side, as he had been thrown across his break. Several passengers got out of the train at New Cross, some of them stating they would not go any further on account of the fog, but I advised them to take their seats, and I am not aware there was anyone left behind. No complaint was made by any of the passengers on arriving at Brighton.

John Packham, driver, in charge of 4.5 p.m. train engine, No. 211, 12 years an engine-driver, and 22 years in the Company's service, states: On Saturday, the 4th February, we left London Bridge at 5.1 p.m. We were stopped at No. 4 signals about five or six minutes, when we received  an "All right" signal; proceeded on to Spa Road, and run over fog-signals at the distant and stop signals, and we stopped at the Spa Road stop-signals about five or six minutes. Proceeded on to Blue Anchor, and received two fog-signals at the distant-signal an1l two at the home-signal, where we were stopped about 10 minutes. Received signal from fogman to start; we went on very slowly till we got to Bricklayers' Arms distant-signals, ran over two fog-signals there. I had shut steam off before reaching these signals. I proceeded at a slow walking pace. I was looking out for the stop-.signals at Bricklayers' Arms junction, but before reaching them I just got a. glimpse of the tail lights of the 4 p.m, down Brighton train, and struck the train immediately after. The steam was off at the time. I put the Westinghouse break on to my train at the same time, which stopped me dead. The rear break of the front train was about yard from my engine. Being on a curve I struck one buffer harder than the other, and I noticed it had cracked the buffer  beam. I was coupled on to th~ 4 p.m. train, and we both went together as far as New Cross. The 4 p.m. train then went ahead, and we waited at New Cross until we got the signal to follow. I did not hear any complaint from the passengers. I saw one gentlemen at New Cross who had Just the 4 p.m. train; he stated he was in the hind carriage, and that "he did not mean to have any more of us to-night," and he ran up the steps. I think the collision occurred between 5.35 and 5.40 p.m.

George Clare, guard, has been in the service 21 years, about 18 years guard, states: I was riding in the front break of the 4.5 p.m. train from London to Hastings on Saturday last. We had 13 carriages on, nine for Hastings and Eastbourne, and four for Tunbridge Wells. We left London Bridge at 5.1 p.m., having been detained through the density of the fog. We were stopped at No. 4 signal-box, Spa Road, and Blue Anchor Road signals. We got the signal to   proceed from Blue Anchor signals from the fogmen. I should think we were going at a speed of about 10 miles per hour up to the distant-signal at Bricklayers' Arms junction, when two fog-signals exploded. Steam was shut off, and we reduced, I should think, to about five miles per hour, and before reaching the stop-signal we came into collision with the train ahead. I did not see the train until the collision took place. The collision was very slight; my hand-lamp was st.:u11ling on the bench, and it only shifted it about one foot. I did not feel the slightest inconvenience from it myself. I did not hear any complaint from the passengers until arriving at Eastbourne, when some gentleman stated he had hurt his arm, but he walked away so sharp that I could not get his name and address. I mentioned the fact to Mr. Dean, station-master at Eastbourne.

J. Mathews, head guard, has been 21 years in the service, 20 years guard, states: I have heard the statement made by guard Clare, which I can corroborate. When the collision took place it shook my lamp off the top of the break on to the floor, and put it out. I did not feel any shock to myself. The only complaint I had was on arriving at New Cross, one or two of the passengers stating they had been shaken off their seats.

Francis Corr, guard, five years in the service, has been guard nearly the whole time, states: I can corroborate guard Clare's statement; I was guard or the Tunbridge Wells portion of the 4.5 p.m. train. I was standing up in my break; and when the collision took place I was thrown against the partition, and struck my face on the left-hand side, causing it to feel very tender. I heard no complaint from the passengers. As soon as the collision took place I ran back with my lamp and put down four fog-signals between there and the distant-signal; and told the fog- signalman what had happened. In going back to protect my train, the bridge over the Rotherhithe Road is very narrow, and I was very near falling down.


From the preceding statements it appears that; in consequence of the dense fog that prevailed on this line in the vicinity of London on the day in question, the 4 p.m. down express train from London Bridge to Brighton did not leave London Bridge station until 4.56 p.m.; that it was stopped at the Spa Road signals about eight or nine minutes, again at the Blue Anchor signals about eight or 10 minutes, and when permitted to go on from thence the train ran over fog-signals at the distant; signals worked from the Bricklayers' Arms junction, and then proceeded very slowly and ran over some more fog signals just before reaching the Bricklayers' Arms junction stop- signals, where the fog-signalman told the engine-driver to go on a few yards more, and he would find the stop-signals and another fog-signalman there.

This train consisted of an engine and 10 carriages, including break-vans, all fitted with the Westinghouse break, stated to be in good order. It is said to have stood at these stop-signals about 12 or 15 minutes, when the driver felt that something had struck his train in the rear, and it was forced forwards, but not for more than three yards.

This was brought about in the following manner ~-

The signalman in the Bricklayers' Arms junction signal-box stated that an empty train bad been standing on the BermondseSpur' down line from 2.55 p.m., and that at 4.45 p.m., as he had had nothing given out as coming on the down main line, he signalled this empty train on to New Cross, and the line was cleared from New Cross for it to proceed at 4.48 p.m.; but in consequence of the up traffic and the collision which had occurred on the Bricklayers' Arms branch about 4.47 p.m., which is detailed in my report of the 27th instant, he was not sure that that collision had not blocked the Bermondsey down road, and he did not get the empty train away until 5.34 p.m.; and when that train passed his box he said to the train signal-clerk "Clear down," but instead of his clearing the line to South Bermondsey he cleared the Blue Anchor instrument on the main line.

As soon as he found that the train signal-clerk had "cleared" the wrong instrument. he sent his assistant signalman with fog-signals to try and stop the train from the Blue Anchor, as he knew that he already had a train (the 4 p.m. down Brighton express) standing at his own stop-signals on the main down line, which express train had been given on for the down local line, but which turned out, however, to he the 4 p.m. down Brighton express train, intended to travel on the clown main line and not on the down local line to New Cross from the Bricklayers' Arms junction; that his assistant signalman told him when he came back that before he could get up past the first train the second train had arrived.

A mistake had also been made either in the signalling of the Brighton down express train from the A.B. signal-box or in the receipt of that signal. I think it was probably a mistake on tbc part of the train signal-clerk (a boy 16 years of age), who ·was possibly unnerved by the collision which had a short time before taken place on the Bricklayers' Arms  branch between a light (goods) engine and a passenger train.

The train which ran into the 4 p.m. down Brighton express train which was standing between the down distant and down stop-signals worked from the Bricklayers' Arms junction, with the last vehicle 150 yards north of the down stop signal, was the 4.5 p.m. dowtrain to Hastings and Eastbourne, which consisted of an engine and nine vehicles for Hastings and Eastbourne and four for Tunbridge Wells, fitted with the Westinghouse break. According· to the engine-driver this train left London Bridge at 5.1 p.m. ; it was stopped at No. 4 signals about five or six minutes, when they received an " All right" signal and they proceeded on to the Spa Road, and ran over fog-signals at the " distant " and " stop " signals, and they stopped at the Spa Road stop-signals about five or six minutes and then proceeded on to the Blue Anchor, where they ran over two fog-signals at the distant and two at the home signal.

This train remained 10 minutes at the Blue Anchor home; and then, in consequence of the mistake which the train signal clerk in the Bricklayers' Arms junction signal- box had made in telegraphing " Line clear " to Blue Anchor instead of " Line clear , to South Bermondsey, they received a signal from the fogman to start.

The driver says that they went on very slowly till they got to the Bricklayers' Arms distant-signals and ran over two fog-signals there ; that he had shut off the steam before reaching these signals and proceeded at a slow walking pace, and was looking out for the stop signals at the Bricklayers' Arms junction, but before reaching them he just got a glimpse of the tail lights of the p.m. down Brighton train and struck the train immediately after, the steam being off at the time ; that he put the Westinghouse break on to his train at the same time, which stopped his train dead.

The two trains were then coupled on together and ran on to New Cross, and then the 4 p.m. train was sent·on to Brighton, and the 4.5 p.n1. train to Hastings as soon as the signal was given for it to start. 

The collision is said to have taken place between 5.35 and 5.40 p.m. It appears to have been a slight one, and was caused by the mistake in signalling of the trains on the part of the train signal clerk, combined with the fact that the Company's regulations for the guidance of engine-drivers do not appear to have been observed in this instance by the engine-driver of the Hastings train.

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