on 4th FEBRUARY 1882

Involving Driver George McClary

Driver John Bromley & his Harry W. Dawes 

Depots not known

Extracted & adapted from the report by


A collision occurred during a dense fog, on the 4th February, between a passenger train and a light (goods) engine, about 150 yards from the Bricklayers Arms junction signal-box, on the branch to the Bricklayers Arms yard of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, somewhere about 4.55 p.m.

Three persons have complained of having been injured in this collision.

The two engines and five carriages were damaged in this collision, the particulars of the damages are given in the Appendix.

There are four lines of railway between New Cross and the Bricklayers Arms junction, two down lines, a local and a main line on the eastern side, and two up lines, local and a main line on the western side. the local lines are outside the main lines.

Between the Bricklayers Arms junction and London Bridge there is only one down and two up lines.

The approach to the Bricklayers Arms junction from New Cross is protected by up home or stop-signals, placed over the several lines of railway, about 223 yards from the signal-box, and also by distant-signals, one for each line, 125 yards south or outside of the up home or stop-signals.


George Ashdown, signalman, Bricklayers Arms in the Bricklayers Arms junction-box about four junction, has been in the service of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company 25 years, and about 22 years signalman, 11 years of which in the Bricklayers Arms junction box, states: At 4.12 p.m. I received the warning signal from the New Cross yard signal-box, for an up passenger local train, two rings. I gave the " Line clear " signal back to New Cross for this train to approach at 4.20 p.m., and it was given out as having passed the New Cross yard box at 4.22 p.m. It was kept standing at my stop-signals until 4.41, waiting for the "line clear" signal of the previous train, from the Blue Anchor signal-box. At 4.43 p.m. a light engine was warned out on the up main line, from New Cross yard-box, with four rings, for Willow Walk yard, and this instrument was cleared to the yard-box, New Cross, at 4.44, the engine was then given on as having passed the yard-box at 4.45, and it passed my box at 4.49, and was given on to the West Kent junction at the same time. At 4.23 I received the warning signal from New Cross yard box for a passenger train on the up local line, but the up local line was blocked at that time, and I could not then give the clear signal. I gave the clear signal for this train to approach at 4.45, and it was signalled out as having left the New Cross yard-box at 4.47, and it ran by my signals and passed on to the Bricklayers Arms branch at 4.51 p.m. My signals being all. at danger and the points set for the Bricklayers Arms branch leading to the goods yard. This train and the light engine which passed my box at 4.49 came into collision at the north end of the loop on the branch line. I did not hear the collision, and did not know it had occurred until I was informed of it by a plate layer. I am positive all my up local and main signals were at danger at the time. the light engine, I think was going at the rate of four miles an hour, but I could not see it on account of the fog; and the passenger train might have been running five or six miles an hour. I did not hear the collision take place.

Arthur Mann, train-signal clerk, Bricklayers Arms junction, states: I have been in the service 11 months, and am l6 years of age; during these 11 months I have done duty as train-signal clerk in the New Cross station-box and New Cross yard-box, and I have been in the Bricklayers Arms junction box about four weeks. I make the entries in the train signal book. I have heard signalman Ashdown's statement, and can corroborate what he has said. 

George Rees, carriage cleaner, New Cross, but performs fog-signalling duty when required, states: I have done fog-signalman's duty at canal junction for the up stop-signals, also for the up distant· signals, working towards South -Eastern Company's New Cross station, for a short time, relieving the other men. I understand fog signalling, and that two fog-signals must be placed on the rails, and kept on while the signal is at danger. The station-master instructed me in this duty first, and the platelayer explained it to me afterwards. On Saturday the 4th February I took charge of the up stop-signal post at the Bricklayers Arms junction, the fog-signalman fully explained to me beforehand. I commenced between 4 and 5 p.m. I do not know the exact time, but I think we left New Cross with the station-master about 3.30 p.m., and he went round with other men to relieve the fogmen. When I took charge at the up stop-signal post the signals were all on at danger for the local and main up lines, and fog-signals were on the rails, two in each case. The fog was so dense that I could not see the overhead signal lights, but I was guided by the working of the wires. This was also explained to me by the platelayers. There are three wires on the post on the right-hand side or the line which apply to the local line, namely, one for the up local signal to London Bridge, one for the signal for the spur line, and one for the Bricklayers Arms branch. There also three similar wires working for the up line main lines, these wires are fixed to a post on the down side of the line. A man was placed there art that post to call out to me the working of these signals, whether they were off for the main, spur line, or Bricklayers Arms branch. I stood on the western side of those lines. The first thing that passed up the main line after I took charge was a light engine. I think it was about a quarter of an hour after I commenced duty, and as the signal had been pulled off before the engine arrived I had taken off the fog signals on the up main line. The engine was coming very slow. 1 asked the driver where he was going, and he replied, "Bricklayers Arms yard." I asked the man on the opposite side if the signal was off for Bricklayers Arms yard, and he said yes, I then told the driver to go on. After the light engine had gone by on the up main line I put some more fog-signals down on the up main. I then walked to the post and looked at the wires, all the signals were then blocked or at danger, after which I looked to my fire, and came back again when I saw the up local line signal was pulled off and 1 then took off fog-signals off the up local. I do not think I made a mistake, and a very few minutes afterwards a passenger train on the up local line came up. I called out to the driver and said, ''Right away." That train was travelling on the up local line. After I had been told by the ganger to stop all up trains I went back and put seven fog-signals on the local line for the train that was signalled, the train then came up and went over the fog-signals, and although the signal was off the train stopped there until the station-master came and took it away.

John Brown, ganger of platelayers, has been in the service about 21 years, and ganger on that length a little over six years, states : I was on duty on Saturday afternoon, 4th February. I was stationed at the north end of the parapet of the bridge opposite the signal-box at the Bricklayers Arms junction on the up side of the line. I was putting down fog-signals. Several empty trains had come into the Bricklayers Arms branch, but 1did not know that they had got clear into the yard. I heard something go by on the up main line which I afterwards found to be an engine. I could not see it on account of the fog; I was not aware it was going into the Bricklayers Arms branch. I had a fog-signal on the rails leading to the branch. Nearly at the same time an up train passed me on the up local line. ShortIy after the light engine passed me on the up main line, it ran over a fog-signal, by that I knew it was going into the branch, and immediately after the up train passed me, that also run over a fog-signal which I had put down which indicated it was also going into the branch. I then at once became aware that something was wrong, and about a minute afterwards I heard the collision. I ran up to the spot, and then went back to the signal-box, and told the signalman that a collision had occurred by the train running on to the branch, and he replied "Then she has run by the signal." Four carriages of the passenger train were thrown off the rails to the left, as the train was running. They were still coupled together. The passenger train engine was still on the rails, and it stood on the bridge over the East London Railway, and about three carriage lengths ahead of the light engine. The light engine (a tender engine) running with the tender in front had the tender thrown off the rails altogether to the right, and the trailing wheels of the engine were also off the rails.

George McClary, engine-driver, has been in the service about 20 years, four of which as a driver, states: On Saturday, 4th February, I left New Cross yard about 4.30 p.m. with goods engine No. 394 for the Bricklayers Arms yard. After having been delayed by signals at New Cross I received the signal to proceed from New Cross to Bricklayers Arms junction. Arriving at the stop-signals, worked from the Bricklayers Arms junction signal-box; I was told by the fog-signalman that it was "All right" for the Bricklayers Arms branch, and as I was passing the Junction signal-box the signalman called out "Right in," which I understood to mean the line was clear to the North Kent. junction. After he said that I passed over a fogsignal. I kept on moving at about five miles per hour. I had said to my mate, "We will go in steady, in case there might be anything wrong"and as we neared the north end of the loop I observed a white light about half the length of my engine on the near side. I called out to my mate "Look up." I then put the steam on the reverse way.

having been in collision with the tender of my engine. I was running with the tender in front. The passenger train engine knocked off part of the buffer-plank of my tender, as I was running tender· first ; also four carriages of the passenger train were thrown off the road. The fog was very dense at the time. I could not see the fixed signals. There is always a fog signal put down there in foggy weather, and we do not stop at it.

John Bromley, engine-driver, has been in the service 27 years, 16 years engine-driver, states: I was driver of the 3 p.m. train from Epsom to London Bridge on Saturday last, February 4th. The train left Epsom at 3.21 p.m. The weather was very foggy, and from Norwood junction upwards we could not see the fixed signals. We were very much delayed in consequence. I think we were stopped about 20 minutes at New Cross station, when I received the signal to start. I passed over some fog-signals at. the Bricklayers Arms junction distant-signal. I drew up cautiously to the stop-signal, and the fog-signalman there told me it was "All right" to proceed on the local line to London Bridge. I could not see the signals, but proceeded still cautiously, and shortly after passing the Bricklayers Arms junction signal- box I heard a fog-signal explode, but I could not understand the meaning of it. I did not stop my engine, and soon after I came into collision with the goods engine, knocking the tender of this engine off the road, also knocking the steps off my engine and causing the tank to leak. None of the wheels of my engine left the rails, but four of the passenger carriages next my engine left the road. The sides of the carriages were damaged. I had 10 vehicles on; including break-vans. The train was fitted throughout with the Westinghouse break, and they were in good working order. The steam was on as I passed the Bricklayers Arms junction, and I was travelling at five-or six miles an hour; When I ran over the fog-signals my mate and I had a short consultation together, as we had not been accustomed to run over fog-signals at that spot, and we came to the conclusion that the fog-signal was placed there for the guidance of the signalman in the box, to tell him that we had passed a certain point; and the next moment the goods engine came into contact with my train, and I had not done anything to my engine before the collision occurred.

Henry W. Dawes, fireman to driver Bromley corroborated the driver's statements. '

Phillip Burke, guard, has been in the service three years, about 18 months a guard, states: I was in charge of the 3 p.m. passenger train from Epsom to London on Saturday the 4th instant. We left Epsom 21 minutes late, in consequence of the fog on the down journey. We were also delayed on the up journey. We were detained at New Cross about 25 minutes, leaving there about 4.50 p.m. We passed over two fog signals at Bricklayers Arms junction distant signal. We almost stopped dead at the stop signal. The Forman then held up his hand and said "Right." We then proceeded a short distance further, and came into collision with a goods engine. Just before coming into collision we ran over a fog signal. the engine of my train was not thrown off rails. I rode in the front van. None of the passengers complained of injury at the time. I think we were funning about four miles per hour at the time when the collision took place. I did not put on my break when I heard the fog signal explode. If I had had only a hand break in my van I should have put it on when I heard the fog signal explode.


From the preceding statements it appears that on the afternoon of the 4th February the fog was so dense in the vicinity of New Cross and the Bricklayers Arms junction, that the drivers on the engines could not sec the signals, and the fogmen on the ground could not see the signal lights, and they had to watch the working of the signal wires before they could decide whether the signals were on or off, and determine upon the necessity of putting fog-signals on the rails, or of telling the engine-drivers when the signals were on or off.

The Company's fog-signalling regulation, contained in the Appendix to the SERVICE TIME TABLE BOOK, which applied to the fog-signalling performed on this occasion, and which had reference to this collision, is as follows : -

1. The fog-signals must be placed on the rail (label upwards) by bending the leaden clips round the upper flange of the rails. When the engine passes over one or more of these fog-signals they will each explode with a loud report, and on one  or more of these fog signals exploding, the engine-driver must instantly shut off steam, whistle for the guard's breaks, and bring his engine and train to a stand, and, if at a distant-signal, proceed cautiously at a slow rate of speed as far as he can see the line is clear, or until he reaches the home-signal, at which he must again stop until he receives an 'All right' signal to proceed.

As consequence of the density of the fog, the trains were not enabled to run at the appointed times.

About 4.44 a light (goods) engine, running with the tender in front, left New Cross station on the up main line for Willow Walk and the Bricklayers Arms branch, and at 4.19 p.m it was turned by means of a pair of facing-points on the up  main line, worked from the Bricklayers Arms junction signal-box, on to the branch leading into the Bricklayers Arms yard, the signalman at the Bricklayers Arms junction signal- box calling out to the engine driver, "Right in," which the driver understood to mean that the line was clear to the North Kent junction; shortly after that, the engine ran over and exploded a fog-signal, but the driver did not stop but kept moving on at the rate of about five miles an hour, until they neared the north end of the loop line, when he observed a white light  on the near side about half the length of his engine from him, and he then turned on the steam the reverse way, but the engine was overtaken and run past by passenger train engine; travelling on the up local line, and the tender of his engine was thrown off the rails, while the leading break-van and three carriages in the passenger train were also thrown off the rails, but fortunately remained coupled together, as the train was running at the time on high embankment close to the bridge that carries the branch line over the East London Railway. 

The train which had overtaken and run into the light engine was the 3 p.m. up passenger train front Epsom, which was running very late in consequence of the fog. It consisted of engine and 10 vehicles, including break-vans with two guards. It was fitted throughout with the Westinghouse break. This train left New Cross on the up local line about 4.47 p.m., and the driver states that they passed over some fog signals at the Bricklayers Arms junction distant-signal, and he drew up cautiously to the stop-signals, when the man who was acting as fog·signalman told him that it was all right to proceed on the local line to London.

It may here be mentioned  that the fog-signalman made a mistake in saying that it was "All right" on the up local line for a train to proceed, as the facing-points on tho up main line were then open for the light engine travelling on the up main line to pass from it on to the branch line leading into the Bricklayers Arms yard, and in consequence of the interlocking of the points and signals it was impossible for the up local line signal to be off when the passenger train engine reached the Bricklayers Arms up home or stop-signal. This mistake of the fog signalman justified the engine driver of the up passenger  train running forward to the Bricklayers Arms junction, and the driver says that hcould not see the signals, but still proceeded cautiously, and shortly after passing the Bricklayers Arms junction signal-box, he heard a fog- signal explode, but could not understand tho meaning of it, and he did not stop his engine, and soon after he came into collision With the goods engine knocking the tender of that engine off the load, and breaking the steps off his own engine and causing the tank to leak. But this engine did not leave the rails. The sides of the carriages were damaged. 

The fog-signal on the Bricklayers Arms branch was exploded about 25 yards from the facing-points at the Bricklayers Arms junction, and the collision took place about 116 yards beyond it, so that there was plenty of space for a train fitted with the Westinghouse break to have been brought to a standstill before the collision took place.

This collision was the direct result of the disobedience of the order, which I have quoted, on the part of the driver of the passenger train, that directs that when a fog signal explodes the engine-driver must "instantly shut oft steam, whistle for the guard's breaks and bring his engine and train to a stand." It will also be noticed that the engine-driver of the light engine also disobeyed the order respecting the fog signals, and I may remark that safe running during such dense fogs cannot be reckoned on unless engine-drivers are made to observe the Company's rules and regulations with respect to fog-signals.

To prevent similar mistakes in future on the part of the fog-signalman stationed at the up stop-signals, it would be desirable to attach a board to the wire which actuates the signal with the name of the line for which it is the signal printed on the board.

Make a free website with Yola