4th AUGUST 1909





BY P. G. VON DONOP Lt.-Col., R.E


In this case, as the 6.0 a.m. rail motor-car from Shoreham to Brighton, consisting of an engine and one vehicle, was running into No. 3 platform line, Brighton Station failed to come to a stand at the usual place, and ran into the buffer stops at the end of that line. None of the railway staff employed on the train were injured, but 16 passengers and the have notified the Company of injuries sustained; none of these were however, of a serious nature.
The buffer stops were displaced and considerably damaged ; the damage done to the rolling stock is given in the appendix.

The engine of this train was a six-wheels (terrier tank) coupled tank engine, and at the time of the accident it was running bunker first, and was propelling the one vehicle. It was fit with the Westinghouse automatic brake, working blocks on all six wheels, and with hand brake working the same blocks; the automatic brake could also be applied from engine to the blocks on the wheels of the car.

The only vehicle attached to the engine was an eight-wheeled bogie car; it was fitted with the Westinghouse automatic brake, working blocks on all its wheels.

All the brakes are reported as being in good order.

When, as on this occasion, the car is being propelled by the engine, the driver is stationed in compartment at the front end of the car, and means are provided to enable him from that compartment to both the regulator of the engine and the brakes throughout on the train. The fireman remains on the engine, and he has still the power to apply the Westinghouse brake, through he has not the power to turn it off if it applied by the driver.


There are a number of platform lines in Brighton Station, the general direction of which is north and south, the buffer stop being at the southern ends. No. 3 platform line, on which this accident occurred, is the third one from the west side of the station. The line from Shoreham on which this rail motor-car was running follows an easterly direction, but immediately before entering the station there is a right-hand curve leading to the platform lines described above. Owing to the curve, the driver of a train entering the station does not actually obtain a view of the buffer stop until he is about l50 yards distant from them.

The gradient for trains approaching the station from the west is a slightly rising one, the greatest inclination being 1 in 143, but at a point distant 123 yards from the buffer stops this changes to a slightly falling gradient of 1 in 818.

There is a home, signal for entering No. 3 platform line, situated 317 yards from the buffer stops, and under this home signal is fixed a, distant signal; the arrangement is that, if the line is clear right up to the buffer stops the distant signal is lowered as well as the home signal, while, if there are two or more vehicles standing in No. 3 road, it is only the home signal that can be lowered. These signals are worked from the Brighton West signal-box, which is situated close to them.

The next signal-box in the westerly direction is known as the New England signal-box. and it is situated about 250 yards to the of the West signal-box.

Thomas Knight , signalman, states: I have been 33 years in the service of the Company and I have been a signalman for 31 or 32 years. I am at present employed in the Brighton West signal box and have been employed there for 8 1/2 years. I remember the 6 a.m. rail motor car from Shoreham passing my box on the 4th August. I am not sure exactly at what time it passed my box but it was running punctually. All my signals were lowered for it to run into the station, including the distant signal under the home. I cannot estimate the speed at which the train passed my box but it appeared to me to he the usual speed. I quite thought that the train would stop all right before reaching the buffer stops. I did not know anything about the accident until I was told by a platelayer that it had ran into the buffer stops. was standing at the window of my box actually watching the train as it passed. There was assistant in my box at the time but it was myself who lowered the signals for the train.

Edward Davey Signalman, states : I have been 31 years in the service of the Company, and have been a signalman the whole time. I am now employed in the New England signal box and have been there about 10 or 11 years. On August 4th. I noticed the 6 a.m. rail motor car from Shoreham passing my box. I did not notice anything unusual about the speed of it. This train usually runs fast past my box but it ran about the same speed as usual on this occasion.
G. King, ticket collector, states: I have been in service of the company from 19 to 29 years and have been ticket collector for 15 years. As the 6 a.m. rail motor car from Shoreham was running into Brighton station on the morning of August 4th I was myself standing on the buffer stops at the end of No.3 platform line. The first thing that drew my attention to the car was the fact that I saw a man alight from it about 50 yards from the buffer stops and he fell. I could not see from what part of the train he alighted.

I first looked at the man who jumped, and seeing that he was picking his kit I knew that he was not hurt. The reason being of my being on the buffer stops was that I was proceeding to No.3 platform and owing to the gate being closed I was getting there over the buffer stops. The next thing I saw was that when the car was within six or seven yards of the buffer stops I could see that I could not get on to No.3 platform, so turned and came back again. When I turned to get back again I could see that the car not going to stop. It was not until the car was close up to me that I realised it was not going to stop. When I first saw the car I did 
not judge that its speed was excessive. I estimate its speed at the time it struck the buffer stops at about four five miles an hour. I cannot say whether the brakes were applied or not. I see these rail motor cars running into Brighton station every day. I myself have not known of any previous difficulty in stopping one.

Harry Mitchell, signalman, states: I have been 28 years in the service of the Company, and have been a signalman for eight years. I am at present employed in Brighton West Box and have been there for eight years. I was on duty in the box at 6 a.m. on August 4th. I saw the 6 a.m. rail motor car from Shoreham pass the box. I had not been dealing with the train myself as my mate had done so. I noticed nothing whatever unusual in the speed of the car when it passed my box. It passed my box at the same speed that cars usually do when they enter the station.

Thomas Joslin, Inspector, states: I have been 13 ½ years in the service of the Company and have been an inspector for 2 ½ years. I am now employed at Brighton where I have been for 15 ½ years. On August 4th, when the 6 a.m. rail motor car from Shoreham was entering the station I was standing about half way up No.3 platform. The whole train passed me and I noticed nothing unusual about it. I should estimate the speed of the car when it entered the platform at from five to six miles an hour and when the car passed me, I should say about 4 miles an hour. It did not occur to me at the time the car would collide with the buffer stops. I saw the car strike the buffer stops, and was surprised to see it do so. I should say that when the car struck the buffers the speed was not more than one mile an hour. I asked the driver how he came to collide with the buffers and he said that the wheels picked up. When the car passed me I noticed the driver applying his brake in the usual way. I refer to his application of the hand brake. I feel positive that the wheels were not skidding when the car passed me, but I think that they began to skid before the car reached the buffer stops.

Frederick Joseph Queen, driver states: I have 20 ½ in the service of the company, and was promoted to driver in August, 1907. I came on duty on August 4th at 3.55 a.m. to work till 2.35 p.m. I had come off duty at 2.35 p.m. the previous day. I was the driver of the engine of the 6.0 a.m. rail motor car from Shoreham to Brighton, on August 4th. I had left Brighton at 4.55 a.m. for Shoreham and had returned to Brighton again, arriving at 5.34 a.m. I left Brighton again at 5.39. a.m., arriving at Shoreham at 5.57 a.m. I left Shoreham at 6.0 a.m. for the trip on which the accident occurred. My engine was a six wheels-coupled tank engine, and at the time of the accident it was running bunker first in the rear of the car. My engine was fitted with the Westinghouse automatic brake working blocks on all six wheels, and with a hand brake working the same blocks. My engine could also apply the automatic brake to all wheels of the car. My brakes were in good order. Up to the time that the accident occurred I had not, on that morning, had any trouble at all with my train. I had had no difficulty in controlling it when stopping anywhere. Up till the time of the accident I was perfectly satisfied with the condition of everything. During the last journey from Shoreham to Brighton, I myself was riding in the compartment at the front of the car. From that position I have control of the regulator, and of the Westinghouse brake, and of the hand brake working the blocks on the wheels of the car. My fireman was riding on the footplate of the engine. My last stop before reaching Brighton was Holland Road Halt. I had no difficulty in stopping my train there. On approaching Brighton Station all the signals were off for me and I intended to bring the train to a stand three parts of the way up No. 9 road, by which I mean three-quarters of the way along the platform. I turned off steam just before we reached New England box, and I never turned it on again. I applied the automatic brake just before we reached the west box home signal. I should estimate our speed at from 18 to 20 miles an hour. The automatic brake appeared to act well, but the wheels picked up at once. I then released the automatic brake and I put it on again and it picked up again. I took it off again and put the hand brake on. When I put the hand brake on we were passing the West signal-box. She picked up her wheels again. 

Whilst I was running along the platform, I took the hand brake off and put it on again. I could not do anything more, and we ran into the buffer stops. I estimate our speed at the time we ran into the buffer stops at from five to six miles an hour. I estimate our speed when entering the station at from 10 to 15 miles an hour. I had had no trouble of the description when entering Brighton Station from Shoreham the end of the first journey. The only reason I can give to account for the trouble on the second occasion is the greasy state of the rails. It was not raining at the time. I did not put on the automatic brake again until we were near the 
buffer stops, and this was after I had applied the hand brake. There is a bell communication between me and the fireman. I made use of it on this occasion, when the engine was just by the home signal. I meant this as a signal to my mate to apply the hand brake on the engine. I do not always do this when entering Brighton Station. I did it on this occasion because I found that my wheels were skidding. I have been working on these motor car for just over two years, and have never had any trouble with them before. There was a ganger from Shoreham riding with me in the same compartment. I admit that this is against the rules. 
I did not think it thee was any great harm in it as he was a company’s servant. The conductor was also in the compartment when we was running into the station. We have no means of applying sand from the end of the car of which I was riding, but there is sand on the engine itself. The fireman has charge of that sand when I am at the front of the car. There is no bell code by which I can communicate with fireman and tell him to apply the sand, nor is there any code by which I can tell the fireman to reverse the engine. I think that I might have stopped the train if I had had sand at my end of the car. Company’s servants have dropped in and ridden in the compartment as upon previous occasions. 

Albert Pope, fireman, states: I have been 7 ½ in the company’s service. I passed as fireman in June, 1906, and was promoted to fireman in May of this year. I was employed with driver Queen on the 6 a.m. rail motor car from Shoreham to Brighton on the 4th August. Until this accident occurred there was no trouble that morning with the train at all. I noticed the rails were greasy that morning, but they were not so greasy on the first trip. When we were approaching Brighton station I was riding on the footplate of the engine at the rear of the car, the engine being controlled entirely by the driver from the front of the car. Our last stop before Brighton was at the Holland Road Halt. There had been no difficulty in stopping the train there. I do not know whether the rails were greasy or not. When we were approaching Brighton I consider that we were going at the usual speed. I noticed that steam was turned off near the New England box. It was never turned on again. The automatic brake was first applied at the home signal of the West signal box. It was taken off almost immediately. I did not know why at the time why it was taken off. The first application of it did not make the engine wheels skid. The driver applied the automatic brake a second time soon after he had taken it off. It was taken off again, but I cannot say how long it was left on the second time. My wheels were not skidding when it was taken off the second time. The automatic brake was applied a third time, but I do not know where the train was when it was applied. Whilst we were running along the platform I noticed that we were going unusually fast and I myself opened the emergency valve. The application of the automatic brake by me did not seem to make any difference on the train at all. As we were passing New England box I applied my hand brake slightly. I think I kept it on for a minute or two and then took it off again and put it on again. I then kept it on altogether right up to the time the collision occurred. It is a recognised thing to keep the hand brake on fully when entering Brighton station, and I always do so. I had done precisely the same when entering Brighton on the first occasion. When we were just entering under the roof of the station the driver rang me up on the bell. The driver gave two rings on this occasion, which he and I agreed was to mean that I was to look out. It was on the receipt of this signal from the driver that I applied the automatic brake by the means of the emergency valve. After the driver had rung me up I used my sanding apparatus. This sanded the rails in front of the six wheels of my engine. I estimate our speed when we struck the buffer stops at about four or five miles an hour. I could not see the buffer stops from my cab on the engine. 

Just before the collision occurred I reversed my engine. I did all I could to assist my driver.

E.T. Unsted, Guard, states: I have been 14 years in the service of the Company and have been a guard for four years. I came on duty on August 4th at 4.45 to work till 2.10 p.m. I had booked of at 2.20 p.m. on the previous day. I was guard of the 6 a.m. rail motor car from Shoreham and had been guard of it on the first trip to Shoreham and back that morning. My car was an 8-wheel bogie car. It was fitted with Westinghouse automatic brake working blocks on all the wheels of the car. As far as I am aware I believe the brakes were in good working order. There had been no trouble with them on that morning previous to the accident. 

When entering Brighton Station I was riding in the drivers compartment just before the train entered New England Tunnel. 

There was also a ganger there in addition to the driver. I do not in this particular case consider that it was an infringement of the Company’s Rule to have one of the Company’s servants riding in the driver’s compartment. The ganger who was riding in the compartment had to catch the 6.20 a.m. train out of Brighton, and by riding in the driver’s compartment he had better chance catching that train. I did not notice if the steam was turned off approaching Brighton. The automatic brake was first applied just before reaching the west box home signal. The driver applied his brake and checked the car just before running through the points. I know that he took the brake off, but I do not where. I know it was taken off because I heard him apply it a second time. It was between the West box and the station that the driver applied the brake the second time. I do not know how long the brake was left on this second time. I believe the driver applied the automatic brake a third time, but I am not sure. The first I knew of anything being wrong was seeing the driver release the whole of the air from the Westinghouse brake, and this was when we were about 60 or 70 yards from the buffer stops. After doing this I saw him apply the hand brake also. I did not see the driver communicate at all with the fireman. The driver never said anything to me in the compartment before the collision took place. I do not think there was word spoken in the compartment from the time I got into it at New England until the collision occurred. I am positive that the ganger was not talking either to me, or the driver. I estimate the speed was 10 to 15 miles an hour. I myself did not notice the wheels of the train skidding at all, not even up to the very last. I cannot say whether the wheels were skidding when we passed the West box.

George Gumbrill, assistant ganger, states: On the morning of August 4th I rode in the driver’s compartment of the 6.a.m. from Shoreham to Brighton. I got into the driver's compartment at Shoreham and rode in it the whole way to Brighton. The guard was also in the driver's compartment when we were entering Brighton station. The guard had got into that compartment somewhere between. Holland Road and Brighton. As far as I can remember the driver shut, off steam just after leaving the tunnel. I can give no evidence as to the application of the automatic brake. I never heard the driver speak after leaving Portslade station. There was no conversation going on whilst the train was entering Brighton station. Whilst we were running along the platform I got out on to the step ready to jump off so as to get across to my train. As far as I can remember when we were about 30 or 40 yards from the buffer stops I saw that we were not going to stop so at once jumped off. I cannot say at what speed the train was going, but I could see that we were going to hit the buffer stops. 

The rail motor car concerned in this collision had started from Brighton at 4.55 a.m. for a trip to Shoreham and back, and it had duly arrived back at Brighton at 5.34 am. It then started again for a similar trip at 5.39 a.m., arriving at Shoreham at 5.57 a.m. It finally left Shoreham at 6 am., and it was on its arrival at Brighton at 6.18 a.m. that this accident occurred.

Driver Queen, who was in charge of the engine, states that up to the time that the accident occurred, he had had no difficulty whatever in controlling his train, and that he was perfectly satisfied with the condition of everything connected with it. The last stop before entering Brighton Station was at Holland Road Halt, which is situated just under a mile from the Brighton Station buffer stops ; Queen states that he had no difficulty in stopping his train at that Halt. When approaching Brighton Station, steam was turned off at the New England signal-box, distant 567 yards from the buffer stop, and it was not applied again at all. As 
regards the use of the brakes, driver Queen states that he applied the automatic brake just before reaching the west box home signal, and that he estimates the speed at that time at between 18 and 20 mile, an hour ; the brake appeared to act well, but the wheels picked up at once, so he released the brake, and applied it again ; the wheels again picked up, so he took the automatic brake off, and applied the hand brake. This he states was when they were just passing the West signal-box. The wheels he, states, picked up again, so, whilst running along the platform, he took the hand brake off, and put it on again, but still the speed did not decrease; when near the buffer stops he applied the automatic brake again fully, but the train ran into the buffer stops at a speed which he estimates at from five to six miles an hour. The only explanation which Queen can give of his failure to stop the train is the greasy state of the rails, and the fact that there is no arrangement for him to sand the rails from the front end of the car.

Fireman Pope, who was on the engine, corroborates Queen's evidence as to steam being turned off at the New England box, and as to the automatic brake having been first applied at the home signal. He states that the brake was taken off again almost immediately, and that he did not know at the time why it was taken off, as it had not made his engine wheels skid. The automatic brake was applied a second time, and was taken off again, but he cannot say how long it was left on the second time, but his wheels were not skidding when it was again taken off. The automatic brake was applied the third time, but he does not know where the train was when it was applied. Whilst running along the platform, he noticed that the speed was unusually fast, and at the same time the driver gave two rings, which meant that he was to look out. On receipt of this signal he applied the automatic brake by means of the emergency valve to its fullest extent, and used his sanding apparatus, but it appeared to make no difference to the speed of the train, and he estimates his speed at the time of the collision at from four to five miles an hour.

Guard Unsted was in the driver's compartment whilst the train was approaching and entering Brighton Station. He states that the driver applied the automatic brake before reaching the home signal, and took it off again; he then applied it a second time, but he cannot say how long it was left on either occasion. The first he knew of anything being wrong was seeing the driver release the whole of the air from the Westinghouse brake, and this was when the train was about 60 or 70 yards from the buffer stops. After doing this he saw him apply the hand brake also. He did not notice that any of the wheels of the train were skidding up to the very last.

Signalman Davey, who was on duty in the New England Signal-box, saw the train passing his box, and did not notice anything unusual about the speed of it ; and Signalmen Knight and Mitchell, who were both on duty in the Station West Signal-box, concur in stating that it passed their box at the usual speed of that car.

Inspector Joslin was standing about half may along No. 3 platform when the train passed him; he noticed nothing unusual about the speed of it, and it did not occur to him that it would not stop before colliding with the buffer stops. He states that he feels positive that the wheels were not skidding when the car passed him, but he thinks that they began to skid before the car reached the buffer stops.

The brakes of the train were tested immediately after the accident, and were found to be in excellent condition.

Driver Queen’ statement as to the wheels having skidded each time that he applied the automatic brake is not borne out by the other witnesses, and it is difficult to understand why they should have done so on this occasion seeing that there had been no difficulty in controlling the train when entering Brighton station thee-quarters-of-an-hour previously.
Taking the facts and evidence into consideration I am of opinion that Driver Queen is mistaken as to the wheels having skidded; it appears almost certain that Queen allowed the train to enter the station without it having properly under control of the hand brake, and that he was relying on the automatic brake to stop the train; when only about 60 yards from the buffer he appears to have applied that brake to its full extent, and the sudden application of it, as might have been expected, caused the wheels to skid; it was then too late for him to gain control of it before running into the buffer stops. This appears to have undoubtedly the 
cause of this accident, and it is therefore the failure on \driver Queen’s part to make a judicious use of his brakes when entering the station that this collision must be attributed.
I do not consider that the fact of the driver’s being unable to sand the rails from his end of the train, affected this occurrence to any appreciable extent, but I am of opinion that the provision of a sanding apparatus at the end of the car furthest from the engine is desirable, and the attention of the Company might be drawn to this point.

* Driver Freddie Queen and Fireman Albert Pope, attended the opening of the Newhaven branch of ASLEF, Freddie Queen latter become a Trails driver at Brighton, who tested the locomotive when they came out of Brighton locomotive works.

Make a free website with Yola