26th DECEMBER 1883




Extracted and adapted from 

the Ministry of Department Report by F.H. RICH COLONEL, R.E

A collision, that occurred on the 26th Decemberat Portsmouth Harbour station, on the London and South-Western and LondonBrightonand South Coast Companies’ Joint Railway.
The LondonBrightonand South Coast Railway Company s train which was due to arrive there at 6.40 p.m. ran into a London and South-Western Companys train which was to leave the Harbour station at 7 p.m.
The engine-driver of the LondonBrightonand South Coast Company’s train was the only person that was hurt. He was shakenand one of his ribs was injured.
In order to meet the requirements of the Christmas traffic, the London and SouthWestern Company’s trainwhich is timed to leave the Harbour station at 6.55 p.m., was divided into two parts. The first portion had leftand the second portion, which consisted of an engine and tender and seven vehicleswas standing on No. 2 line, at the arrival platformwaiting to be put across to No. 4 line, which is the Dockyard road, from whence it was to start for Waterloo, when it was run into by the London, Brighton, and South Coast Company’s train from London.
This train consisted of an engine and tender and 12 vehicles, the first and last being break-vans, with a guard in each. The engine, tender, and all the vehicles were fitted with the Westinghousc continuous air-pressure break, which was controlled by the engine-driver.
The train was stopped at the Portsmouth Harbour station homersignal, which is about 270 yards from the end of the platformand after being kept there about five minutes this signal, as well as the platform signal, which is 160 yards nearer to the station, was lowered for the train to run into the station.
As the engine-driver arrived near the signal-cabin, about 50 yards from the platform, he observed the head lights of the engine of a train which was standing at the platform on No. 2 lineon which he was running. He stated that his train was running at a speed of about five miles an hour at the time ; that he applied the Westinghouse break at once, and reduced the speed of his train to about two miles an hour, before his engine struck the engine of the London and South-Western Company s train, which was standing about 50 yards from the London end of the platform.
The buffer heads of the LondonBrighton, and South Coast Company s engine were broken, and the framing of this engine was cracked. The buffer-plank and angle-irons of the London and South-Western Companys engine were broken, and the draw-bar of the break-vanwhich was next to the tender, was broken, but no other damage was done to either train, and no vehicle left the rails. The railway falls on a gradient of l in 80 as it approaches Portsmouth Harbour station. The station is well signalled the signals are interlocked with the points, and are worked from a raised cabin, which is situated about 50 yards from the London end of the Harbour Station platform.
The view along the line is limited by the curve of the railway a»d the town buildings at the side of it, but this in no way contributed to the collision, except in preventing the driver of the London, Brighton, and South Coast train from seeingthe London and South-Western train sooner.

The evidence is as follows :

MrHenry Sparshott, station inspector at Portsmouth Harbour joint station on the 26th Decemberstated London and South-Western train arrived at the Harbour station platform about 6.45 p.m. The passengers had got outand the train had been standing at the platform six or seven minutes, when it was run into by the LondonBrightonand South Coast Company's train from London which is due at the Harbour station at 6.40 p.m. As it was Christmas time there were two relief trains that occupied the the platform lines, and I had to get rid of one of these trains before I could move the London and South-Western train, which was due to start for Waterloo at 7 0 p.m. I intended to start the London and South-Western 7.0 p.m. from the Dockyard Road, which is at the north side of the station. I think the London, Brightonand South Coast train was running about10 miles an hour when the driver saw the London and South-Western train about 30 or 40 yards in front of him. He applied the Westinghouse break, and the speed was reduced to about five miles an hour, possibly lesswhen it struck the London and South-Western train, which was standing on No.2 road. I have been 24 years in the railway service, and four years station-inspector at Portsmouth Harbour station. The London and South-Western engine was attached to its trainand the two engines come in contact. No vehicle was thrown off the railsand no passengers complained of being hurt. 1 was on the platform at the north side at the timewas close to the signal-cabin when the LondonBrightonand South Coast train pulled up at the stop-signalheard the driver whistlebut said to the signalman Let him whistlehe cannot get in until get the 6.55 train awaythen went and shut the doors of the 6.55and tried to hurry the driver of the train to get awayWhile was doing this the LondonLondonBrightonand South Coast traincould Brightonand South Coast train came in

Alfred Griffin stated : I was engine-driver of the South Coast engine was only about half dozen yards 4.0 p.mtrain from London Bridge on the 26th from my engine at the timejumped on to theDecemberMy train consisted of an engine and tender and 12 coaches; the first and last were break vans, with a guard in each. All the vehicles of my train are fitted with the Westinghouse continuous air pressure break. I had been standing about five minutes at Portsmouth Harbour station stop signal when it was lowered, and I moved my train on. I was moving at a speed of about five miles an hour, and had got to about the end of the platform when I heard the inspector call out, Train standing there. I had seen the train on my road. I had applied the Westinghouse break just before the station inspector shouted. The train was about 50 yards from me. I think my speed was reduced to about two miles an hour when my engine struck the engine of the London and South-Western train which was standing at the platformbroke the buffer-heads and cracked the framing of my engine no other damage was done to my train,and no vehicle left the railshave been 19 years in the LondonBrightonand South Coast Company s serviceand five years a driverfound that my continuous break took effect the moment applied ithad about 60 lbspressure on the train pipes and 75 lbsin the reservoirsThis is the pressure always work atIf had not had the Westinghouse break the collision must have been much more seriousand my fireman remained oa the enginewas shaken and one of my ribs was injuredwas off duty seven daysMy fireman was not hurt.

Charles Hewittengine-driver of the London and South-Western engine that was standing at No.2 platform at Portsmouth Harbour station on the 26th Decemberstatedwas eating some bread and butter when heard a porter calling out Whoa! so looked up and saw the white light of the engine of the framing of the engine oiling the lubricatorsand he jumped off just before the collisionNeither of us were hurtMy engine was knocked back about three yards.The buffer-plank and angle-irons were brokenThere were seven vehicles attached to my engineThe draw-bar of the break-van next to my tender was brokenNo vehicle left the railshave been nearly 20 years in the Company s serviceand nearly 12 years a driver

William Cullensignalmanstated : I was on duty in charge of the Harbour station signal-box on the 26th Decfrom 3.0 p.muntil the station was closedabout 8.20p.mOwing to the 7.0p.mup London and South Western and to the 7.10 p.mup LondonBrightonand South Coast trains each running in two partsthe second part of the London and South-Western train had to be placed in No2 arrival road to take in its passengersThe departure road and the Dockyard line were occupied with the other three trainsThe London and South-Western train due to arrive at 6.27 arrived at 6.44 p.m.and was to form the second portion of the 7.0 o clock train to Waterloo. It was admitted into No2 arrival roadand it remained there until it had taken in its passengers for the return journeyIt was followed from the Town station by two LondonBrightonand South Coast and one London and South-Western engines coupled togetherand they arrived at 6.47turned the London and SouthWestern engine on to the train on No2 arrival roadand the two South Coast engines into No.1At 6.49 received in section for the LondonBrightonand South Coast train due at 6.40and brought it to a stand at my stop signal, as I had no road vacant for its admission. before these three engines had arrived, the London and South Western engine, which had to take out he first portion of the 7.0 p.m. train, had arrived. I had turned it into No.1 arrival road; consequently, after the two South Coast engines ran into the same road, I had to let them out, to get the South Western engine from behind them and let it go on to its train, which stood on the Dockyard line. When had done this, I let the two South Coast engines back into No.1, and at this time (6.55) I forgot for the moment the London and South Western train in No.2. The wind carried the steam from the South Coast engines in No.1 road across No.2 road, and blocked my view of the South Western engine, which was attached to the London and South Western train, and I lowered my signal for the London Brighton and South Coast train to run in No.2 road. It did not occur to me until the London, Brighton and South Coast train had passed the box, that the South Western engine and train were on No.2 road. The accident was entirely caused by my forgetting that the London and South Western train was in two parts, and the sight of the engine being blocked by steam as explained. have been five years in the service of the Joint Companiesabout four years a signalmanand six months in the Harbour station cabinbrought the LondonBrightonand South Coast train to a stand at the stop-signalwhich is about 270 yards from my cabinThere are four platform signals about 120 yards from my cabinand have starting signals on every platformThese are all interlocked with the points.


This collision was caused by the signalman on duty in the Portsmouth Harbour station signal-cabin forgetting that the second portion of the London and SouthWestern Company s train was standing on Noplatform line, at the time that he lowered his signals for the LondonBrighton, and South Coast Companys train to run to the same platform.
The engine-driver of the LondonBrightonand South Coast Companys train appears to have promptly applied the Westinghouse breakwith which his train was fitted, and by this means to have reduced the violence of the collision.

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