on 4th FEBRUARY 1882

Involving Driver Charles Churchill

Driver William Chadwell and his fireman Arthur Hancock

Depots not known

Extracted & adapted from the report by


A slight collision occurred on the 4th February, during a. dense fog, near the Spa Road station, between two passenger trains belonging to the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company. No persons are returned as having been injured, and no damage is said to have been done to the rolling stock by this collision.


John Forward, signalman, 16 years in the service of the South-Eastern Railway Company, states.-I was on duty on the 4th February at No. 4 signal-box, and came on duty at 2 p.m. A London, Brighton, and South Coast train ran past my box about 6.10 p.m., when the signals were on at "danger,'' and it ran over and exploded two fog-signals. As soon as the train had gone by I sent the fogman to see how far the train had gone; and when he came back, and we could get the instrument, I told the lad at 6.17 p.m. to telegraph to Spa Road signal-box that a train had run by my signals. That message was acknowledged. I prevented anything following until we got " line clear, from the Spa Road. Spa Road blocked the down line just after I had telegraphed to him that a train had run by the signals. We got "line clear" from Spa Road at 6.28 p.m. I asked Spa Road about 6.32 p.m. if both train were clear, and the answer was, "Yes."

Entry of message in Spa Road signal book, received from No. 4 signal-box. Down train ran by my signals down main line at 6.10-received at Spa Road box at 6.17 p.m. From No. 4 box .Are both trains clear? reply, 'Yes,' at 6.32 p.m." 

Charles Hearn, platelayer, three years in the Company's service, states.- I was on duty as fogman at No. 4 signal-box on the 4th February. About a quarter past 6 p.m. I was told by signalman Forward to see how far a down train travelling on the down main line had gone. The signals were on at "danger" against that train: and there were two fogsignals on the rails, both of which exploded. It was a Brighton Company's train. It was travelling; as far as I could judge, at 6 or 7 miles an hour. When I went to look for that train I found that it was out of sight. I went to the next fogman at the up stop signal for No. 4 box, and the fogman there told me that it had gone on; and I then returned to No. 4 signal-box, and told the signalman Forward that I could not see the tram. 

Charles Churchill, 20 years in the service, has been as driver eight years, engine No. 287, states.- On Saturday the 4th instant I was driver of the 4.39 p.m. train from London Bridge, which did not. start till 5.41 p.m. in consequence of the fog. I received a stop signal at No. 4 signal-box, and was kept there about 20 minutes; I then got the signal to proceed to Spa Road. I think we stood there about a quarter of an hour, but. I did not look at my watch. After we had been standing at the Spa Road about 12 minutes my breaks were off; and I felt something had touched us behind and put us forward about a carriage length. No damage whatever was done to my train, and no complaints were made. 

George Warner, guard, has been in the service about four years, about three years guard, states.- I was in charge of' the 4.39 p.m. train to South Croydon on Saturday the 4th instant, which left London Bridge at 5.41 p.m., having the passengers of the 4.39 and 5.18 p.m. trains, which served the purpose of both trains. We were stopped by signal at No. 4 signals, and again at the Spa Road. We were kept waiting at No. 1 and Spa Road about 35 minutes, and while waiting at Spa Road I found something had struck us in the rear of the train which drove us forward about two carriage lengths. I got out, and went to the rear of my train, and found another passenger train behind, but I could not find that any damage had been caused, nor did I receive any complaint from the passengers. The train was fitted and worked with the Westinghouse break, but at the time we were struck it was off The train consisted of 11 carriages, being one extra one at the rear.

Henry Barwick, guard, has been in the service between six and seven years, guard two years, states. - I was under guard of the 4.39 and 5.18 joint train on Saturday last, and rode in the last van. We left London Bridge about 5.41 p.m., were stopped by signals for some minutes at No. 4 box, and again at Spa Road, where we remained sometime. After being at. Spa Road about 10 minutes I felt something strike my break. I was standing up in my break, but I lost my balance and was thrown down. I was not hurt, beyond an abrasion of the skin on my knuckles. The collision was not a hard one. The train that ran into us could not have been running at a very great speed. There was one carriage behind my break. Nothing was thrown off the rails. I looked round my break, but could not find that any damage had been caused. I did not receive any complaints from the passengers. The fog was so dense I could not sec the length of the carriage behind my break.

William Chadwell, driver, has been in the service 9 years, and driving on and off for two years but not regularly till July last, states.-I was driver in charge of the 4.50 p.m. train from London Bridge to Victoria, via the Crystal Palace, but in consequence of the fog we dill not start until about 6.10 p.m. I am not posit.h·e as to the time. I received :m ''all right" signal for the distant for No. 4 signals by the fogman giving a white light. 1 did not get any signal at
the No. 4 stop-signals, neither from the fogman, nor did I hear a fog-signal, but I heard fog-signals going off on each side of' me by other trains passing. We proceeded slowly, and we passed over one fog-signal at the Spa Road distant; I went on towards the stop signal at a speed of not more than a walking pace of 4 or 5 miles an hour. I could not see the train ahead of me until a yard or two before I struck it. I had not time to put on the Westinghouse break,
with which our train was fitted and in working order, after seeing the train ahead. I think the train I struck was pushed forward about half a carriage length. There was no damage done either to the train I struck at my own. I looked round both of them. I did not hear any complaint made whatever

Arthur Hancock, fireman to driver Chadwell, has been in the service about two years and ten months, and about six months as fireman.-Corroborates everything his driver has stated. · 


From the preceding statements it appears that the 4.39 p.m. down passenger train
from London Bridge to South Croydon on the day in question consisted of an engine
and 11 carriages, including break-vans, being one more than usual, fitted with the
Westinghouse break. It left London Bridge at 5.41 p.m., and it took on the passengers belonging to the 5.18 p.m. train. It was stopped by the signals from No. 4 signal-box, and was kept standing there about 20 minutes, and then received a signal to proceed on to the Spa Road. No. 4 signal-box is about 876 yards north of the Spa Road signal-box, and the
station at the latter place is protected from the direction of No. 4 signal-box by home or stop signals; placed 50 yards north of the Spa Road signal-box, and by down distant-signals 373 yards north of the down home or stop-signals. 

The 4.30 p.m. down passenger train was stopped by the down home or stop signals worked from the Spa Road signal-box, and the engine  driver states that after it had been standing there about 12 minutes he felt something had touched them behind and pushed them forward about a carriage length, the breaks on his train being off at the time.

This slight collision was caused by the 4.50 p.m. down passenger train, which, in
consequence of the fog, did not leave London Bridge until 6.10 p.m.

The evidence is contradictory as to what happened to this train after it left London Bridge. The driver of the train states that he received an "all right" signal from the fogman at No. 4 down distant-signal, by the fogman showing him a white light; that he did not get any signal at No. 4 signal-box down stop-signals, neither from the fogmen, neither did he hear a fog-signal, but he heard fog-signals going off on each side of him by other trains passing; that they proceeded slowly and passed over one fog-signal at the Spa Road down distant;;.signal, and he went on at a speed of' not more than a walking pace of 4 or 5 miles an hour; that he could not see the train ahead of him until a yard or two before he struck it. He had not time to put on the Westinghouse break, with which the train was fitted, after seeing the train ahead.

On the other hand, the fog-signalman at No. 4 signal-box states that this train ran past the stop-signals, and exploded two fog-signals at his box, at the rate of 6 or 7 miles an hour, and there is the strongest possible proof that this was the case in the fact that the signalman at No. 4 signal-box telegraphed to the Spa Road signal-box that this train had run past his box when the signals were on at "danger" So that, as regards the contradictory evidence, I have no doubt that the engine-driver was in error.

On another point there can be no ·mistake. He admits passing over one fogsignal at the Spa Road down distant-signal, but did not stop in consequence of running over it. the Company's rule is perfectly explicit in directing that 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. 

The driver disobeyed this order in continuing to run forward, and the collision was the direct result of his disobedience of this order.

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