Submission of a new National Programme and revision of 

Conciliation Scheme postponed owing to war situation


A up train coming of the Bognor Branch at Barnham Junction 1914


extracted from RTCS book on locomotives of the LBSCR

Whilst on shed duties at New Cross on the night of 17th May, 1914, Driver McKay failed to 
notice that his fireman had turned him into the wrong shed road. At the time, new inspection 
pits were being built, and in the darkness his engine "I1 Class" No. 33, crashed through the 
wooden protection barrier into the gaping hole. Much trouble was met re-railing this rather 
large tank engines in the confines of the shed.

The First World War 1914 - 19


In common with other British railways, the LB&SCR was brought under government control during the First World War. Until then it had carried relatively little heavy freight for much of its existence, but this situation changed dramatically at the outbreak of war. The railway was responsible for carrying the bulk of the stores and munitions  delivered to the British troops on the continent, principally through its ports of Newhaven and (to a lesser degree) Littlehampton. This included nearly seven million tons of freight, including 2.7 million tons of explosives. It necessitated an additional 53,376 freight trains over the four years of the war, as well as an additional 27,366 troop trains.

This additional traffic required substantial improvements to the railway infrastructure, 
notably at Newhaven harbour, where electric lighting was installed, but also at Three 
Bridges, where a new freight marshalling yard was established, and at Gatwick and 
Haywards Heath, where passing sidings were constructed so that the frequent passenger 
trains would not be impeded by the slower-moving freight. Some munitions trains were routed to Newhaven via the Steyning Line to Brighton so as to avoid congesting that part of the Brighton main line which had only two tracks.

Prior to the First World War engine cleaners received no holidays. However, engine cleaners 
who had worked as a fireman for at least 9 months out of the previous 12 months were 
awarded 3 days annual holiday; but only approved fireman were able to meet to meet this 
requirement and by the time they could fill 9 months of the year with firing turns they had 
virtually ceased to be cleaners. Moreover, even those footplatemen who were entitled to a few days’ holiday were forbidden from taking it during the summer service.

Therefore some cleaners/fireman belonged to Territorial Army or to the Royal Navy Reserve. 

This was not them being patriotic, but it was a way of getting paid holiday whilst attending 
summer camp each year. But things caught up with them in August 1914 when the Great War broke out.

The Territorials and Reservists were mobilised almost immediately and caught up in the 
patriotic fever which swept through the nation. Many others volunteered for active service.

By the end of August, Brighton had seen the departure of 25 enginemen; 

18 cleaners, 
3 approved firemen 
4 firemen. 
The exodus continued in September with another 16 departures; 
8 cleaners, 
5 approved firemen  
3 firemen. 
Five  more volunteers went in October - November; 
3 cleaners 
2 firemen. 
Thus in a very short time, Brighton had seen a total of 
29 cleaners
8 approved firemen 
9 firemen 
all going off to fight for their country. This was approximately one in ten of the entire 
footplate grade at Brighton. 

Only 2 of the 46 loco-men did not return after the war was over. It is possible that most of 
them served in the Railway Operating Division which had a causality rate much lower than 
in the trenches.

This sudden depletion of loco staff raised concerns within the locomotive department and an
otice was duly issued by Lawson Billinton Locomotive Superintendent, stating that the 
footplate staff could best serve their country by staying put and continuing in their normal 
jobs. A lot of trains were going to be needed to supply the British forces in France and those 
trains couldn’t run without engine crews. Indeed, from thenceforth any enginemen who 
wanted to ‘join up’ for military service would first have to hand in their notice to the L.B.S.C.R.: in other words they would have to resign from their job on the railway. 

Extracted and adapted from the book

Yesterdays Once More

by Fred Rich

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