ON THE 5th MARCH 1964


"Dead men tell no tales" 

 the phrase comes from the play 

The Spanish Friar’ 

by John Dryden, 1681


Over the many years there have been numerous accidents, throughout the South Central Division. But one accident in particular stands out from all others for the A.S.L.E.F. Brighton Branches. The Itchingfied Junction accident just outside Christ Hospital Station where the Shoreham to Horsham line joined the mid Sussex line to Arundel Junction was the hardest of all. Two members of the Brighton No.1 Branch Engineman Mick Guppy, and his Fireman John Myles perishing at the scene. The loss of two of its members was devastating news for all concerned.
For many years afterwards, footplate men across the division, could not understand why such an accident could have happened and once again the phrase

“Dead men tell no tales”

become a harsh reality to what really happened on that dreadful night.


Itchingfield Junction Signal Box 

Extracted & adopted from the Ministry of Transport report by J.R.H. Robertson

Itchingfield is the junction at which the Brighton Branch, which connects Brighton and Horsham via Steyning joins the ex Mid Sussex Main line of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway between Pulborough and Horsham. On the day of the accident as on the two previous days, the 02.00 hrs.
Class 7 Brighton to Three Bridges unfitted Up goods train, which comprised 34 wagons and was hauled by a diesel engine had been re-timed to start at 0150 hrs. and had been diverted via the Up Brighton Branch because of permanent way works on the Main line. On a clear but dark and windy night it was driven past the Itchingfield Junction Up Brighton Home signal at Danger and, despite emergency efforts by the signalman to stop it short of the junction, it ran on at some 20 m.p.h. into facing sidelong collision with the 0230 hrs. Class 6 Three Bridges to Chichester Down 52-wagon goods train which was running through the Junction on the Down Main line under clear signals at some 35 m.p.h. 
The Down train had also been diverted because of permanent way works: it was diesel hauled and its driver, who had seen the Up train and that a collision was inevitable was braking it at the moment of impact.
The 19th wagon in the Down train was the one first struck but it and the wagon behind it received only glancing blows and, the coupling at their rear having parted the leading part of the train ran on with these two wagons derailed, for some 200 yards. The 30th wagon was a 50-ton bogie rail wagon loaded with paired wheels on axles and the Up trainengine, after ploughing through and demolishing the intervening wagons in the Down train was swung round at right angles to the track and overturned when it hit this very solid obstacle, its leading cab being destroyed. I regret to report that the driver and the second man on the Up train's engine were killed when its cab was stove in. The guards of both trains fortunately escaped injury.
The debris of the collision, which included what was left of eight wagons that can only be described as having been totally destroyed and that of some 14 others that were damaged to varying extents, was piled high in a tangled mass across the junction blocking all lines. The emergency services were summoned promptly and a detachment of the Horsham Fire Brigade and an ambulance reached the site within half an hour of the collision. The debris and the damage to the leading end of the Up train's engine however were such that the bodies of the driver and second man could not be extricated from the cab until 1140 h and 1240 hrs. respectively.
Damage to the permanent way was considerable and there was some damage to signalling and telecommunication equipment. Such vehicles as could still m were drawn dear of the site as soon as possible and the remainder including the engine of the Up train, were then moved clear of the track by three breakdown cranes, one working from each direction, 
with the result that the Up Main line was re-opened, with current restored, at 06.45 hrs on 6th March and normal working was resumed in all directions by 09.00 hrs the same day, though initially with a speed restriction of 20 m.p.h. on the Down line and both Branch lines: the restriction on the Branch lines was lifted at 15.00 hrs the same day and that on 
the Down Main at 06.00 hrs on 14th March.

Layout and Signals

The above plan shows the layout at 1tchingfield Junction, the Up Brighton and Down Main line signals controlling themovements of the two trains, the point of impact, and the positions in which the two trains came to a stand.
The Brighton Branch is a 2-track non-electrified line over which normally only passenger trains m. After leaving the coastal line at Shoreham-by-sea  it serves stations at Bramber, Steyning, Henfield, Partridge Green, West Grinstead and Southwater before joining the Main line at Itchingfield Junction.
It is a typical rural branch line with numerous changes of gradient and curvature. The signal boxes at Henfield. 
Partridge Green, and West Grinstead, have recently been abolished and the signal arms removed but the white signal posts have been left in position Southwater box is opened only in emergency.
The line is usually closed at night, the boxes at Old Shoreham Bridge (a level crossing), Steyning, and Itchingfield Junction, being switched out at 2340 hrs. On the night of the accident, as on the two previous nights. Steyning box was closed as usual but Old Shoreham Bridge and Itchingfield Junction signal boxes were kept open for the movement of diverted trains over the Brighton Branch. The signals are all upper quadrant semaphores with oil-lit lamps. 
After an Up train on the Brighton Branch at night has passed the starting signal at Steyning, some 12 1/4 miles short of Itchingfield Junction. the next signal to be seen, after the train has run for over 10 1/2  miles past only an occasional line side light is the Southwater Up Distant signal which is normally green, th e box being switched out, and which comes into view at a range of 29O yards. 891 yards beyond it is the Southwater Home signal, which comes into view at a range of 450 yards, and 569 yards further on is the Southwater Starting signal. first seen at 500 yards and then coming into continuous view at 440 yards; both these signals are also green when the signal box is switched out of circuit as is usually the case. As the train runs up to the Starting signal the Itchingfield Junction Up Brighton Distant signal was into view straight ahead at a range of just over 1.000 yards: by night the yellow aspect in the Itchingfield Junction Up Distant signal is clearly visible from the Southwater Up Starting signal a d it remains so as the train runs towards it along straight track. At the Distant signal the line starts to curve right handed on a radius of 58 chains and the Home signal, 1,050 yards beyond the Distant first coma into view, with the Christ's Hospital Distant signal below it, at a range of 450 yards: it is then obscured by t m for a short time but is continuously visible for the last 320 yards of the train's approach. 
The Up Starting signal comes into view shortly before the Home signal is passed . A diesel engine driver's view of the Itchingfield Junction Up Brighton Home signal is a good one despite the curvature.
The distance from the Up Brighton Home signal to Itchingfield Junction box is 460 yards and from the box to the fouling point of the junction is a further 60 yards. Because of the curvature the Up Brighton Home signal cannot be sen from the box: the signalman's view back along the Brighton Branch is only about 300 yards.
The driver of a Down train approaching Itchingfield Junction on the Main line first sees the repeater of the Itchingfield Junction Down Distant signal at a range of about 900 yards.
Approaching Southwater the gradient of the Up Brighton Line is 1 in 180 rising, which steepens to 1 in 100 at Southwater Station. This gradient continues to a point 308 yards short of the Itchingfield Junction Up Brighton Distant signal where it levels off and continues level to a point 176 yards past the signal, whence it is again rising at 1 in 293 to a point 165 yards beyond the Home signal, whence it falls at 1 in 130 to the junction. The gradient of the Down Maim line closely approaching and through the junction is rising at 1 in 130. 



Absolute Block Working is in force in all directions at Itchingfield Junction, Tyer's one wire, two position, block instruments being used. The junction is however one of many in Southern Region when the single Home signal for each of the converging Lines is located more than 440 yards in rear of the junction fouling point and simultaneous acceptance 
is permitted, the Home signals being regarded as Outer Home signals for acceptance purposes because of their positions, and block Regulation 4 (f)  thus being regarded as inapplicable: the signal box instructions for Itchingfield Junction lay down that in clear weather the clearing point for the Up line from Southwater is the signal box. This arrangement, though not strictly in accordance with Absolute Block Regulations, is permissible under British Railways Standard Signalling Principles. At the time of the accident Itchingfield Junction signal box was working over the Brighton Branch with Old Shoreham Bridge signal box some 16 1/2 miles away and over the Main line with Billingshurst (Down direction) and Horsham (Up direction).
The arms but not the lights of the Itchingfield Junction Up Brighton Distant and Home signal both of which are proved in the block, are repeated in the signal box. There are no track circuits but when a train depresses Treadle B (250 yards short of the Up Brighton Home signal) the face that it is approaching that signal is made known to the signalman by an indicator going to 'Train Waiting": Treadle C (in the. Up Main line just clear of the junction) clears the back lock of the Up Brighton Home signal and restores the 'Train Waiting" indicator and Treadle D (100 yards beyond the Up Starting signal) clears the back lock on the Up Starting signal and releases it after use. Unsealed key releases are provided for these treadles. There is no block control on the Up Starting signal. There are no detonator placers.
The interlocking is such that conflicting routes over the junction cannot be set up or signalled. The Up Brighton Home signal No. 20 requires the trailing turnout No. 18 reversed which locks the facing turnout No. 15 normal. i.e. Down line set for the Brighton Branch, and the Down Main lie Home signal No. 7 requires No. 15 reversed.


The Trains
The Up Goods win was hauled by Type 3 diesel electric engine No. D 6502 which had a Bo-Bo wheel arrangement and weighed 73 tons. Its overall length was 846 feet and its tare weight without the engine was 319 tons. The brake efficiency of the engine, which was equipped with a Davies and Metcalfe (Oerlikon) straight air and combined air-vacuum brake system. was 81% of its weight with the combined brake in use but none of the wagons in the train was braked. The 33 wagons in the train all had steel frames and 14 were of all steel construction: together with the brake van they were equivalent to 44 loaded goods wagons, this total load being well within the engine's capacity over this route.
The controls in the cab of engine No. D 6502 which was being driven from No. 1 end at the time of the accident, were all duplicated so that it could be driven from either side of the cab. As is normal with Davies and Metcalfe system the two combined air-vacuum brake handles were physically linked through a teleflex cable, any movement of the left-hand (driver's) handle being followed by the handle on the second man's side. Similarly the two controller handles was linked, but by screw gear. The two straight air brake handles were not physically linked and the movement of one was not duplicated by that of the other. The driver's safety device (deadman's pedal) was of the wide front-hinged a d e type that 
is standard on Southern Region Type 3 diesel engines. It also was duplicated on the second man's side.
There were four electric heaters, each of 500 watt capacity, in each cab of the engine. Two were on the driver's side of the cab and two on the second man's side, each pair being controlled by a separate switch. The cab was fitted with two airstream ventilators, without fans or other moving parts, but there was no system for the controlled admission of fresh 


The Down goods train was also hauled by a Type 3 diesel electric engine but had a small "braked head". Its overall length was 1286 feet and its tare weight without the engine was 460 tons Apart from its seventh wagon, which was of all-wood construction, all its 51 wagons and brake van had steel frames, 22 of them being of all-steel construction. Its 19th 
wagon, the first to be struck, was a covered goods wagon on a steel frame and between it and the 30th wagon, which was a 50-ton bogie rail wagon of all-steel instruction and with a tare weight of over 27 tons and a load of wheeled axles; there were only three all-steel wagons, all hopper wagons. Immediately behind the heavy, and heavily loaded rail wagon 
were grampus (20-ton) and 1 mineral (16-ton) wagons of all-steel instruction.

The 19th wagon in the Down train, which was the first to be struck, and the one behind it received only glancing blows and although derailed were little damaged and remained attached to the wagons ahead though the coupling in rear of them parted. 
The next 9 wagons ahead of the heavy rail wagons were ploughed through and, except for the three hopper wagons, were destroyed: it is some measure of the force of the collision that the three all-steel hopper wagons were concertinaed. The rail wagon itself, however, and the solid weight behind it, formed a block against which the engine of the Up train was brought suddenly to a stand: its front was stove in and it was swung round at right angles to the track and overturned. There was also some destruction among the leading vehicles of the Up train though less than in the Down train, all except three of the first 12 vehicles in the Up train being of all-steel instruction.
As they ran forward derailed the 19th and 20th wagons of the Down train did much damage to the Down Main line. The track in the area of the junction was virtually destroyed.



Porter Signalman R. A. Hollingsbee, on duty in Old Shoreham Bridge signal box, said that the Up train passed at about 02.18 hrs under clear signals. Its headlights and headcode were correctly lit, its speed was normal, and its driver waved to him through the open window of his cab as it passed: he did not see the second man.
Relief Signalman H. W. Read on duty in Itchingfield Junction signal box as he had been on the two previous nights, described his method of regulating trains when two were due to arrive at much the same time from Steyning and from Horsham for Billingshurst. This was to wait with the points set for the Main line until the relevant positions of the two 
trains became apparent and then to decide which to take first. Sometimes he could hear the approach of the Brighton train from some distance but at others his first intimation of its arrival was the 'Train Waiting" indication given by Treadle B's being depressed. His practice was to seek acceptance for a Brighton train from the box ahead about 10 minutes before his estimate of the time of its arrival at Itchingfield and his working of the signals depended on how the, traffic was running. His evidence showed that his regulation of the trains had differed on the two nights previous to that of the accident, the crew of the Up train on all three nights having been the same: on the first night the train had clear 
signals through Itchingfield Junction but on the second night, although he pulled off the Distant signal for the train. it is probable that it was still showing a Caution aspect when it first came into the driver's view, and cleared as he approached it.


On the night of the accident Signalman Read received the "Train Entering Section" signal for the Down train at 02.54 hrs. After waiting for some two minutes for the Up train to announce its arrival by working the 'Train Waiting" treadle (he had received “Train Entering Section" for it at 02.15 hrs. and said that the time for such a train through this long section varied between 30 and 40 minutes according to the circumstances). he decided to take the Down train first and pulled off all the Down Main line signals for it, the points being already set for the Main line. As the Down train was approaching he saw the indicator for the Up line go to 'Train Waiting" and hew that the Up train was closely 
approaching the Up Brighton Home signal which was at Danger. Then, as he looked back along the Brighton line, he saw the headlights of the train. Realising that the train must have passed the Home signal at Danger, he waved a red hand lamp at it and shouted a warning to its driver as its engine passed the box at about 20 m.p.h., but with no apparent 
effect: he neither saw nor heard any signs of braking and the train did not seem to be slowing down. He did not notice whether the cab window was open or shut. He had checked the repeaters of the Home and Distant signals before the train's arrival and checked them again after the accident: both were "on". He said also that after the accident the guard of the Up train came to the box and confirmed that the Distant had been at Caution and the Home at Danger when the train passed them. The last train on the Up Main line had passed some time before the accident and the up Main Starter, which is also the Up Brighton Starter, was at Danger when the Up train was approaching.
Shortly after the accident, when checking the interlocking in Itchingfield Junction signal box. I had carried out some experiments, with Signalman Read's assistance. and had established that it would have been just possible physically for him to have set the junction for the Up Brighton train and to have pulled off all his signals for it, for the driver of the Up train to have got a glimpse of the Distant signal showing a green aspect, and for Read then to have changed his mind and reversed the signals and junction, using his release keys irregularly in doing so, and to have pulled off his Down Main line signals in time for the driver of the Down train to have found the Distant green when he first saw it. I asked Read whether he had in fact done this but he satisfied me that he had not done so.


Technician in Charge W. Jupp, of the chief Signal and Telecommunications Engineer's Department: said that he reached the box between 04.30 and 050.0 hrs and found all the Up Brighton line signal levers normal in the frame, the Down Main signals having been put back to Danger after the accident, and No. 15 lever reversed. The repeaters of the Up 
Brighton Distant and Home signals were showing "on". He did not himself check that the signal lamps were burning properly but later learnt from his Inspector that all was in order. I had asked for a check of the Home signal's focus to be made and Mr. Jupp told me that this test had shown that the lamp was correctly focused to a point on the line some 300 yards short of it.
Relief Area Inspector B. Hill said that he also reached the box between 04.30 and 05.00 hrs and that he walked back along the Brighton Branch and checked the arms and lamps of the Home and Distant signals, The arms were in the Danger and Caution positions respectively and the lamps were alight. 



Driver A. R. (Bob) Hickman (Three Bridges)of the Down train, said that the repeater of the Down Distant signal was "off when he first saw it at a range of some 800-900 yards. As he ran towards the junction at 35 mph he then realised that something was amiss when he saw the head axle of a train on the Up Brighton Branch where it should not have been and he dropped his nearside window to improve his view of it (he had been running with both windows shut and all the heaters on). Viewing it head-on he could not tell whether the train was moving or at a stand but as his angle of sight to it widened he quickly realised that it was running into collision with his train. Judging that he could not clear the junction in time he at once shut off power and braked to collect his train and to reduce the speed of collision sounding his horn as he did so. He said that as he passed the signal box he saw the signalman waving a red hand lamp towards the Up train but with no apparent effect: he saw no signs that the Up train was being braked

Fireman W. J. (William/Spike) Jones (Three Bridges), Second man in the cab of the Down train's engine, said that he also saw the signalman waving a red hand lamp at the Up train.

Driver P. (Peter) Luckhurst, the driver of a diesel light engine that had run through Itchingfield Junction on the Up Brighton line under clear signals just before 02.00 hrs. said that both the Distant and the Home signals were showing clear and steady lights, which stood out in the darkness. He has a good deal of experience of driving along the 
Up Brighton line in darkness and said that despite the lack of signals and line side feature between Steyning and Southwater, the frequent changes of gradient and curvature are such that a driver should always find it easy to know where he is and would have plenty to occupy his mind. He was driving with one window half open and said that unless he did this, with the heaters on, the cab became too hot and dry-"like sitting in front of the fire at home, too comfortable
He thought it unlikely that, on such a dark night, the driver of an engine on the Up Brighton line approaching the junction would see a goods train his path.

Driver A. W. (Arthur) Morris said that, as the driver of a diesel light engine running over the Down Brighton line that night, he passed the Up train rather less than half way towards Partridge Green and West Grinstead (i.e. when the Up train was some 51/2 miles short of Itchingfield Junction). He blinked his lights once at the approaching Up train 
which blinked twice in return but he did not see the Up train engine's crew and did not notice whether its windows were open or shut. He himself was driving with his windows shut and his heaters on. He noticed nothing at all unusual about the Up train.



Goods Guard G. F. A. Brindley, guard of the Up train, said that he had been in charge of this train on the two previous nights and with the same, enginemen as on the night of the accident (Driver M. Guppy and Fireman J. Myles). On both the previous nights the train had had a clear run through Itchingfield Junction: he had seen the Distant signal "off' on each occasion. On the night of the accident Guard Brindley did not speak to nor see Driver Guppy before leaving Brighton but gave the details of the train to Fireman Myles, who was his usual self. The train left 3 minutes early and was 8 minutes early leaving Preston Park, and went on gaining time thereafter (signal box records showed that it was some 13 minutes early past Old Shoreham Bridge). Despite the fact that the train was loose-coupled his ride to Southwater was very comfortable and wholly without incident: he said that the speed through Southwater was the same as on the previous two nights. Getting up in preparation for applying his hand brake for the falling gradient into the junction he observed the Distant signal at Caution and then, at close range, the Home signal at Danger, when he at once screwed his hand brake hard down but with no apparent effect. He did not feel any reduction in speed before the collision or buffering up before it occurred.
Each of the drivers who gave evidence, when questioned about his braking practice, said that he would handle an unbraked train, hauled by a Type 3 diesel engine, with the straight air brake: Driver Hickman, who had a small vacuum-braked braking head on his train handled it with the straight air brake also. Remarkably, however all were agreed that, in emergency and with a need to stop the train quickly, they would reach instinctively for the air-vacuum brake handle.

Mr. H. P. Lelew, Shedmaster. Motive Power Depot, Brighton, said that he had known Driver Guppy and Fireman Myles for about 3 years: he regarded them both as good men, Guppy being conscientious and most unlikely to take a chance and Myles being a very keen railwayman. They did not normally work together, being on rosters of unequal length, and might not have worked together for some time before these three nights. Guppy was a married man aged 32 with two children and Myles a bachelor aged 21 and living with his parents, was due to be married shortly. Both were home-loving men. They would probably meet occasionally in the staff mess room but they would not know each other at all well from contacts at work: he did not know whether they had any social contact. Mr. Lelew said that he had heard no complaints from enginemen about the signalling of the Brighton line.



 Particulars and Movements of Enginemen. 


Driver Guppy had been a driver for just under 3 years and was passed for Type 3 diesel engines in September 1963, since when he had driven both steam and diesel engines. Prior to this week he had last worked over the Up Brighton Line on a steam passenger servicein December 1963, when the last train of the day approaches Itchingfield Junction in darkness. He was last medically examined in April 1961 when he was found to be fully fit and with goad eyesight, his colour vision test including both the Ishihara and the Edridge Green lantern tests. He had checked off duty at 09.55 hrs, on the morning before the accident and had gone home at once: he had a good sleep and did not leave his home until he went to book on duty at 00.05 hrs. He then walked to Brighton Top Yard and was engaged on shunting duties until shortly before 01.00 hrs when he took over his main duty. He was in No. 2 cab of the engine for the 30 minutes preceding 01.20 hrs and in No. 1 cab from that time onwards. Fireman Myles had been a fireman since July 1961. Prior to this week he had last worked over the Up Brighton line, on a steam engine, in November 1963. He was medically examined in October 1962 and again, after an eye abscess, in July. 1963 when he was found to be fully fit and with good eyesight and normal colour vision. He reached home at about 11.30 hrs after his previous duty which had ended at 09.45 hrs and went to bed about 12.00 hrs asking his mother to call him at 19.00 hrs. After getting up he prepared for work and left home at about 20.30 hrs to see his fiancee, before taking duty at 00.25 hrs. as was his usual practice.
Technical Evidence regarding the position of the controls etc. in No. 1 cab at the moment of impact was mostly negative, so much of the cab having been destroyed. It seems probable however that all four heaters were on and the ventilators open, it is possible that the cab windows were shut after the train passed Old Shoreham Bridge (there was evidence that the driver's window was probably shut but the second man's window was not found) and nothing was found to rebut the evidence of Signalman Read and Driver Hickman that the brakes were not applied. There were no flats on the wheels or other evidence of skidding, and all except two of the brake cylinders were in the release position: of these two, one had been wrenched out and the other was stuck about the initial application position. The driver's air-vacuum brake handle was found locked in the full release position with the teleflex cable sheared and jammed: the position of the straight air brake handle could not be established. The exhauster had been switched on. The brakes had undergone a normal test on 3rd March when everything was found to be in order and there were no complaints (other than about a loss of power which would not have affected the braking system and which was unfounded) when the engine was used after these tests and before its final run.



The controller was found in the half-open position but could have been moved into it when the cab was destroyed: the reversing handle had clearly been so moved from the "forward" to the "engine only" position and in the former position at impact had been forced against and had broken the desk top. Such positive evidence of generator excitation as might have been afforded by the position of the load regulator, the rotating arm of which was standing at "0” contact after the accident, was nullified by the combined pump sets' having switched themselves on during clearance work and before the load regulator could be examined. There was nothing to suggest that the driver's safety device had not been in full working order.
The positions of the bodies of the driver and secondman suggested that they were sitting normally in their seats at the moment of impact.
Examination of the diesel engine after the accident did not disclose any evidence of exhaust leaks or leakage of other fumes. In a run by a similar engine over the route from Preston Park to Horsham, with the windows and roof ventilators closed in the driving cab and the heaters on, the carbon dioxide and oxygen concentrations remained unchanged and the temperature and relative humidity remained at what was described as a "comfortable" level: the temperature rose from 60F to 72F and the relative humidity fell from 45% to 38%. There were no traces of exhaust gases in the engine room.




The cause of this accident was that the Up train was driven past the Itchingfield Junction Up Brighton Home signal at Danger. Clearly the enginemen did not observe that signal and I do not think that they observed the Down train crossing their path either. I think that the Up train was running free at the moment of impact.
I am satisfied that Signalman Read did not change the route at the last moment, that the Up Brighton Distant and Home signals were properly at Caution and Danger respectively and were displaying those aspects clearly during the Up train's approach that Signalman Read did all that was possible to prevent the collision, and that Driver Hickman acted correctly in his attempt to mitigate its effects. The two signals were satisfactorily sited and are not difficult to observe. 
Goods Guard Brindley was properly on the alert and observed the signals but at the rear of a long unfitted train, he was in no position to stop it. The engine was in good order.
The fireman of a steam engine is almost fully occupied in maintaining steam and the help that he can give his driver in observing signals is necessarily intermittent and largely confirmed to giving him advance warning about those that first come into view from the fireman's side of the footplate. The secondman on a diesel or electric engine is nothing like so fully occupied and it seems to me that his responsibility under Rule 128, i.e. when not necessarily otherwise engaged to observe and obey all signals" is a very real one. Responsibility for this accident must rest mainly with Driver Guppy but some of it must rest with Fireman Myles.



I experimented at some length with the driver's safety device of a Type 3 diesel engine similar to that driven by Driver Guppy. Allowing for the differences in our height and build I do not think that Driver Guppy would have had to make any effort to keep it applied. In some positions I had to make an effort to make it apply the brakes. The provision of a safety device in no way relieves a driver of his responsibility for staying awake but I think that in this case Driver Guppydevice did not give him much help and that he could have drowsed off without the brakes being applied.
What it was that led to both enginemen losing attention and not seeing the junction signals must be a matter for speculation but a likely contributory factor was that they had had a clear run on one or possibly on both of the previous two nights, probably knew that there was little traffic about, and expected a clear run on this night also. Apart from this 
none of the more usual causes of loss of attention seems to have been present neither of them had left his seat as if to remedy some fault, it was night so that they would not be distracted by line side events, they were properly rested, they did not seem to have had any private worries, and although the signals were few and far between the route was not monotonous. Nevertheless they clearly lost attention, and I think it was to the extent that they drowsed off.
There have been several previous cases of drivers having apparently drowsed off whilst driving diesel engines, and one recent case in which the driver and second man subsequently admitted to having been asleep in such circumstances. The collision at Stanton Gate on 6th December 1963 was one of the former and all its circumstances were very similar to those of the Itchingfield Junction collision.


In his Remarks on the verdict at the Inquest on Driver Guppy and Fireman Myles, the Coroner for Horsham District. Mr. Francis F. Haddock. T.D. pointed out that the guard had noticed that the Home signal was at Danger, and he suggested that if the guard had had some means of shutting off power and applying the brakes, or of communicating with the driver by telephone or flashing light. The accident might have been avoided. Also, that the provision of co-acting detonators at the Home signal might have prevented it. These are suggestions that merit careful consideration but I would add that the provision of AWS equipment at the Distant signal would by itself almost certainly have prevented this accident since if the AWS warning horn at the Distant would not have brought Driver Guppy to his senses, an automatic application of the brakes would have followed it and would have brought the win to a stand.
As regards AWS, the present position is, I understand, that the line from Streatham Junction to Arundel Junction, which includes the Main line through Itchingfield Junction, has been proposed for AWS equipment in the British Railways Board's second five year plan but on a low priority. The quipping of this line would, of course, include the protecting Distant signals on all lies joining with it, e.g. the Itchingfield Junction Up Brighton Distant signal. I do not consider that the circumstances of this collision and of the Brighton Branch warrant the Main line's being given any higher priority for AWS.
As regards co-acting detonators, I take the view that their provision here at the Up Brighton Home signal would be impracticable because of that signal's distance from the signal box, a distance that cannot be reduced because the latter is the signal's clearing point. Free movement of the signal would be impeded and, since a magazine placer working with the signal would be impracticable and the signal is beyond the range for the satisfactory operation by rod of a separately worked magazine placer. The inspection and replacement of the detonators would become an embarrassment. In principle also the desirability of co-acting detonators at Outer. or acceptance. Home signals, is doubtful I cannot recommend the use of co-acting detonators here.
As regards the suggestion that the guard of an unfitted goods train should be given some means of communicating with the driver. I consider that the only practicable means would be by radio. As recently as March 1964 the whole field of the use of radio for railway purposes was the subject of discussion between the British Railways Board and the six Regions of British Railways and a firm conclusion was reached that the use of it for communication between driver and guard would yield few advantages and could not be justified financially. In this connection it must be remembered that the proportion of goods trains that are unfitted is diminishing and that the improved driver's safety device referred to above should render unnecessary the intervention of the guard in circumstances such as obtained at Itchingfield Junction and Stanton Gate


 Locomotive D6502 was withdrawn from service on May 17th, 1964, and broken up on site during July, this being the  first "Modernisation Plan" locomotive to be withdrawn from service.

Memories from Christ’s Hospital pupil


Roger Nash a former pupil of Christ’s Hospital school recalls the early hours of the morning of Thursday 5th, March, 1964. 
I was a pupil at Christ’s Hospital. We were of course fast asleep in our dormitory, but were awakened by the enormous bang and noises of the collision. I and my fellow pupils were in Peele A house, the nearest to the railway (and the furthest west in the line of houses that make up the school buildings) so we were used to hearing trains at night. This was something we had never heard before. I was aged 17 at the time. At the end of the dormitory facing the site was the “lav end” where the very old fashioned bathroom was located so we could climb on the basins or baths to peer out of the windows.
Naturally, we all rushed to the lav end windows where lights and noises could be heard, but we were unable to appreciate the enormity of the event in the dark, and in those days, discipline was such that  I do not think anyone thought about going outside to investigate. In the morning as went to breakfast (believe it or not we marched to breakfast!) the crash was plain to see. We soon learnt of the deaths of the driver and fireman. The crash has remained a memory, not forgotten. Apart from anything else, our sports pitches were also the nearest to the line, and we frequently crossed the line there on cross-country runs and walks to Sharpenhurst Hill. 
The location was part and parcel of school life. We also used the steam trains to Horsham, and I have fond memories of the steam trains to Horsham, and I have fond memories of the 
original station at Christ’s Hospital.
One of my teachers, now deceased, was Mr Ron Lorimer who gave me a couple of colour slides of the railway, one of the crash that morning and one taken on another occasion when a passenger up train was passing some of us doing physical training on the grass. I thought you might like copies of these, especially as all the photos on the website are black and white. Incidentally, I have noted a Christ’s Hospital boy on one of them nonchalantly leaning on the wreckage.
Sadly, the crossing at the junction is surprisingly dangerous, and I have read with horror of two deaths there in more recent years. One was a tragic suicide of a Christ’s Hospital pupil and the other was a relative of a member of school staff whose dog drew him onto the line in the path of an oncoming train. I do not know what school rules state today, but we had carte blanche permission to cross the line, electric rail notwithstanding, in the 1960s. We were always aware of the watching signalman in his box.  






PAGE 157

Unfamiliarity with diesel cab environment and surroundings, with the resultant misjudgement of speed, was reasonable defence in the early stages of dieselisation, but if after consideration diesel experience incidents continue to arise, consideration must be given to whether or not enginemen’s reactions and judgement are affected by percolating of fumes into the cab, particularly under circumstances where the direction and speed of the wind coincides with the direction and reduced speed of the train.      


The rear end of the D6502


The following sections tries to explains the dedication of the Brighton Branch Secretaries Bros. Peter Bradford, Ron Rabbets(Acting Branch Secretary ) and Alan Hardiman along with the support of the membership of the Brighton Branch No.1 Branch in their fight to try and clear the names of Bros. Mick Guppy and John Myles and the setting up of a National Appeal to support the dependants of Bro. Mick Guppy.

All the comments in the following sections are the views of those people who were involved in the aftermath of this tragic accident.

All the correspondence have been re-typed owning to the poor quality of print that was used at the time 



Correspondence from Don Pullen, Organising Secretary, 

to Peter Bradford, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary, 

5th March 1964 

Dear Bro. Bradford,
I have no doubt that you were badly shocked to learn of the collision at Itchingfield Junction early today.
Bros. Guppy and Myles were, of course, members of your Branch and we all very much regret the accident which cost them their lives. Doubtless you will be contacting the relatives to enquire if we can be of assistance at this time.
Please let me know as soon as possible any details you may learn regarding the Inquest and M.O.T. Inquiry.
If you feel that there would be any purpose in me coming to Brighton to see you, please let me know. I could arrange this on Saturday morning if you think it necessary. Normally in cases of this description there is little to be done immediately, but you will know of local circumstances and I should be grateful for your views.
Any further information you may hear regarding the incident will be appreciated. ihave naturally made the necessary immediate inquiries, though it is difficult to obtain reliable information at this stage.
I shall be pleased to hear from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours fraternally 

D.K. Pullen

Organising Secretary

Correspondence from Don Pullen, Organising Secretary, 

to Peter Bradford, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary, 

5th March 1964 

Dear Bro. Bradford,
I have no doubt that you were badly shocked to learn of the collision at Itchingfield Junction early today.
Bros. Guppy and Myles were, of course, members of your Branch and we all very much regret the accident which cost them their lives. Doubtless you will be contacting the relatives to enquire if we can be of assistance at this time.
Please let me know as soon as possible any details you may learn regarding the Inquest and M.O.T. Inquiry.
If you feel that there would be any purpose in me coming to Brighton to see you, please let me know. I could arrange this on Saturday morning if you think it necessary. Normally in cases of this description there is little to be done immediately, but you will know of local circumstances and I should be grateful for your views.
Any further information you may hear regarding the incident will be appreciated. I have naturally made the necessary immediate inquiries, though it is difficult to obtain reliable information at this stage.
I shall be pleased to hear from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours fraternally 
D.K. Pullen

Organising Secretary 


APRIL 1964 



M.O.T. Inquiry Report.

To........ The General Secretary................................                                                                         

Inquiry into accident at ...Itchingfield Junction..........                                                                

on.... 8th April 1964.....

British Railways ................ Southern.......................Region.......

Members Involved                                 

Driver A.R. Hickman                       Three Bridges

Fireman W. Jones                             Three Bridges

Driver P. Luckhurst                          Brighton

Driver A.W. Morris                          Brighton 

Col. J.R.H. Robertson                                                        Mr. G. A . Weedon (Line Manager)

       M.O.T. Officer                                                                                  Operating Inspector



On the morning of 5th March, 1964, a collision between two freight trains occurred at Itchingfield Junction. The Driver and Second-man of one of the diesel locomotives involve, both members of our Brighton (1) Branch, Bros. M. Guppy and J. Myles, 
received fatal injuries.
I attach hereto a copy of the official statements of various witnesses who were summoned to give evidence. Also appended you will find a list of persons who attended the Inquiry. These are Heads of Railway Departments, some of who were called upon by Col. Robertson to answer certain technical questions in connection with the collision.
The details of the incident are contained in the statements submitted. Of these are more important are: (1) The statement of signalman H.W. Read; (2) Driver A.R. Hickman, (3) Guard G.F.A. Brindley; (4) Driver P. Luckhurst. Additionally, Driver A.W. Morris (Brighton) presented evidence to the effect that he had been driving a light engine on the down line and had passed the Up Brighton train between West Grinstead and Partridge Green only a few minutes before the accident. He flicked his headlights on and off as he passed Driver Guppy and the signal was acknowledged.
Signalman Read was asked if he had, in fact, set the road for the 1.50 a.m. freight train Ex Brighton, and changed his mind and reversed the signals. (It had been proved in a test conducted by the M.O.T. Officer that there would have just been sufficient time for this to be done). The reply was most emphatic that the signals for Driver Guppy’s train had never been lowered. I asked Read if he had given any signal from his cabin to the preceding train or if any light could have been showing from the cabin which might have misled the Driver of an oncoming train. It was his view  that no such light would have been visible to a Driver. In reply to my query regarding the time-interval between the depressing of his “Train-Waiting” treadle (by the oncoming train) and the arrival of the train at his home signal, it was established that some 35 seconds would elapse. (It will be noted that 
Read had been “looking toward the Steyning line”, at the time when the Chichester train was passing his cabin on the main line. 
He thus had time to take his lamp and wave it as a warning to Driver Guppy at the moment when Driver Hickman’s engine passed the Signal box).
The basis of Col. Robertson’s questioning concerned the heating and ventilation of the driving cabs of the Type 3 Diesels. All three Drivers were closely questioned on this aspect. I attempted to established from the witnesses whether any complaint or reports had been made re escaping diesels fumes on these engines, but nothing concrete could be proved. In this connection, our Branch Secretary at Brighton (1) had informed me that a defect on Diesel Loco. D6502 has been reported prior to the incident; the engine failed to develop more than 500 amps. Nothing had been mentioned of this by the technicians who gave evidence when the M.O.T. Officer was about to close the public session, and I though it proper to raise the matter. It was eventually explained by C.M. & E.E. representative that the locomotive had indeed been reported, but that an examination by fitters subsequently had revealed no fault. I asked if the reported failure could possibly have been in connection with the omission of excessive exhaust fumes. It ws claimed that there was no evidence to support the idea hat the two men were affected by fumes, though Col. Robertson gave me an assurance that this matter would be thoroughly investigated.
Another line of thought running through the Officer’s questioning concerned the use of the straight-air brake by Drivers when operating on non-fitted trains. All three Drivers were questioned as to their handling of this brake and all agreed that the straight-air brake was more effective on loose-coupled trains. They were also unanimous in expressing a preference for the auto brake if an emergency stop proved necessary. This appeared to satisfy Col. Robertson.
I questioned Area Inspector B. Hill on several aspects of the signalling apparatus and practice at Itchingfield and asked if he thought, in view of the length of the section from Shoreham (when Steyning Box is cut out at night), that the installation of a co-acting detonator machine at Itchingfield Home Signal would be an advantage, having in mind that a Signalman could decide to accept a train on the main line some long time after accepting a train from Shoreham. Mr. Hill said he was of the opinion that this would be a decided improvement. (In a letter to me dated 13th March, our Branch Secretary of Brighton (1) indicated that date when it was agreed that a detonator machine or catch points should be provided on the Up Brighton road at Itchingfield as an essential safety measure.) This suggestion was fully ventilated at the Inquiry and Col. Robertson indicated that due note had been taken of the point raised.
Guard Brindley explained that the train had been running “smoothly and normally” and he had no idea that Home Signal was being passed at danger until he actually sighted the signal - by which time the engine was almost into the side of the Chichester train. He had begun to apply his brake at Southwater in order to take the weight of the couplings. I asked if he made a heavy application of his hand-brake and was told that he done. I put the view that if it was suggested that the two men on the locomotive were asleep or inattentive, the fact the Guard’s brake had been applied should have caused a “snatch” at the front end, and would have reminded Driver Guppy of his position.
Col Robertson referred to the manner in which Driver Hickman and his mate acted following the collision and paid tribute to both men. He also gave the opinion that Signalman Read had done all that he could be expected of him in most unfortunate circumstances.
Earlier Mr. Weeden (Line Manager) had read from a prepared statement details of the incident end of arrangements made subsequently with regard to medical attention, provision of brake down equipment, etc.. Col. Robertson said he had been given full deals when he made his on-the-spot inquiries and had examined the position fully.




Inquest Report Form.

To........ The General Secretary........................................10th April 1964.....                                                                

Inquest held at Horsham Coroner’s Court...............on.... 8th April 1964......                                                                

Deceased persons...........M. Guppy....and J. Myles........................................

(a) If a railway employee indicate grade..........Driver and Fireman........
(b) If a member of Society state Branch...............Brighton..(1)...............
Incident took place....Itchingfield Junction...(Christ’s Hospital, Sussex)..

Members Involved                           Grade                      Branch           
A. Hickman                                      Driver                     Three Bridges
W. Jones                                           Fireman                   Three Bridges



The Inquest was called into the circumstance leading to the death of two of our Brighton Branch (No.1) members who were involved in a collision between two freight trains at Itchingfield Jct., on 5th March 1964. For details of these circumstance, please se my report of M.O.T. proceedings dated 20th March.
Brief statements were given by Mrs. Guppy, widow of our later member, and the Father of our late Bro. Myles. It was explained in both cases that the deceased were in good health and spirits on leaving home on the evening of 5th March. Neither man had any domestic worries.
Following the Pathologist’s report (Dr. J.H. Shaw of the Worthing Group of Hospitals), evidence was given by a Mr. G. Webb, a Railway servant, who had identified the bodies of the deceased; by a Police Officer and Photographer.
Other witnesses included Bro. Hickman and his Fireman, the Guards of both trains a Signalling Technician, the Shed Master, Brighton MPD., and Relief Signalman H.W. Read of Itchingfield Cabin.
The Coroner conducted the inquest in much the same manner as the M.O.T. Inquiry and the questions and answers were precisely the same as reported on that occasion.
Bros. Hickman and Jones explained what they had seen at Itchingfield immediately prior to the collision, and gave details of their action subsequently. In his summing-up, the Coroner remarked upon the efficient manner in which the staff concerned had acted during their ordeal.
The Jury retired for a short while, and returned with a verdict of “Accidental Death.” The Foreman of the Jury remarked that they did not intend to add a rider to the verdict, though they were concerned with certain aspects of rail-safety at the site of the accident.
The Coroner expressed that no system of communication between the Guard and Driver was in operation on the freight services; the question of the provision of co-acting detonators at Itchingfield was raised, but no action was taken.

The verdict of “Accidental Death” was duly recorded.

Correspondence from Ray Buckton, Assistant General Secretary, 

to Peter Bradford, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary, 

3rd December 1965

Dear Sir, 

Bro. J. Myles (dec’d) – accident 5.3.64

Referring to your letter of the 27th November I am returning the birth certificates of our late member and his father as requested.

With regard to this claim and also that Bro. Guppy I have to advise that when I recently discussed the claims with a representative of the British Railways Board a denial of liability was maintained.

In order that the maximum assistance could be rendered to the relatives my files of correspondence were placed before our solicitors who in turn have passed them to Counsel who is now giving his consideration to the matter.

When there is any further news I will write again.

Yours fraternally

R. W. Buckton

Assistance General Secretary

Correspondence from Ray Buckton, Assistant General Secretary, 

to Peter Bradford, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary, 

3rd January 1966

Dear Sir,

Bro. J. Myles (dec’d) – accident 5.3.64

Referring to previous correspondence I have advise I have now had an oppurtunity of discussing this claim with a senoir representative of the British Railways Board and while he stated he was still of the view that no liability with them he was prepared to make a payment of £250 subject to the refund of £150 already paid to Mr. Myles (Snr.) to dispose of the matter.

I am not quite happy about the amont offered but I am duty bound to place it before Mr. Myles for his consideration.

Will you, therefore, inform him of the offer made and ask if he is prepared to let me have his letter of authorisation to conclude this claim for the amount in question when I will then arrange for  cheque for £100 to be forthcoming.

Will you, there, ask Mr. Myles if letters of Administration have been taken out, if not will you contact the Organising Secretary and ask him to assist in the matter.

Your fraternally

R.W. Buckton

Correspondence from Mrs. K. Guppy 

to Peter Bradford Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary 

5th January 1966.


Dear Mr. Bradford,

Would you thank all the men for their kindness to us in sending me their Christmas Box money. I hardly know how to thank you all, so I wish you all the very best for this New Year.

Your sincerely

Mrs. K. Guppy

Correspondence from Ray Buckton, Assistant General Secretary, 

to Peter Bradford, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary, 

24th January, 1966

Dear Sir,

Bros.  M.J. Guppy (dec'd) and J. Myles (dec’d) – accident 5.3.64

Our solicitors have asked us to ensure if, following the accident, the British Railways Board held a private or local inquiry into the cause. I shall be obliged therefore if you will make enquiries at the depot as to whether, a part from the M.O.T. Inquirt, the management held a private or local inquiry. You could also ask any of the witnesses if an inquiry was hels and if they were called to give evidence and make statements, and whether they told that the purpose of the inquiry was to find out the cause of the accident and not for the purpose of establishing who was to blame. If such an inquiry was held, will you please ask the witnesses if they would obtain from the management copies of any statements they made.

With best wishes

Yours franternally 

R. W. Buckton

Assistant General Secretary

* The railway held a private inquiry into the accident, at the Goods Office at Horsham on the following day of the accident.

Correspondence from Don Pullen, Organising Secretary, 

to Peter Bradford, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary, 

1st March 1966 

Dear Sir,

Collision at Itchingfield Jct. 5.3.1964

Concerning the matter which you raised with me at the District Council No.4 yesterday, I have now checked my records and find that copies to Head Office together of the statements of the witness concerned were forwarded to Head Office together with my 
report of the  M.O.T. Inquiry dated 20th March, 1964.

In your reply to the letter from Head Office perhaps you will refer to the M.O.T. Report, and indicate that they already have copies of the written statements of the witnesses in the case.
On the subject of whether the private Railway inquiry dealt with matters of fact, or tried to apportion responsibility, I cannot say. All that can be said is that the Management usually issue disciplinary charges following such inquiries if it is established that some ember of the staff was at fault. To that extent it can be said that the private inquiry in the Itchingfield case was held to establish who was at fault.

I will be having a word with Bro. Buckton of this matter but you will no doubt reply to his correspondence in the usual manner.

Best wishes

Yours fraternally

D.K. Pullen

Organising Secretary

 Correspondence from Ray Buckton, Assistant General Secretary, 

to Peter Bradford, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary, 

14th September 1966

Dear Sir,

Bro. M.J. Guppy (Dec’d) and Bro. J. Miles (Dec’d) - accident - 5th March 1964

Referring to previous correspondence, I have to advise that notwithstanding our solicitors and Counsel exploring every avenue to find grounds upon which to established a claim on behalf of Mrs Guppy and her children. I am sorry to say that Counsel has come to the view that a claim could not be established.

I am indeed sorry to advise that after all the work which has been put in in an endeavour to find some grounds upon which a claim could be based it has not been for the want of trying.
Will you please inform Mrs. Guppy accordingly.

With regard to the claim of the parents of the late Bro. Myles originally, in order that any possible claim on behalf of Mrs. Guppy would not be prejudiced, this was put in based on the failure to provide a safety system of working but as we are not able to establish this it has been suggested by Counsel that we now submit a further claim based on the negligence and it is now my intention to do so and I will keep you informed of developments.

Yours fraternally

R. W. Buckton

Assistance General Secretary


further letter from Ray Buckton, Assistant General Secretary, 

on the 13th October 1966

Dear Sir

Bro. M.J. Guppy deceased Accident 5th March 1964

With reference to your letter of the 7th October. I am returning the under mention documents as requested, which please hand to Mrs. Guppy and acknowledge safe receipt of same in due course.

Birth Certificates (5), Marriage Certificate, Death Certificate, Letter of Administration & Funeral Account.

With regards to the final paragraph of your letter, I have to say that if the Branch are dissatisfied with the decision as conveyed in my communication of the 14th September, in accordance with rule they can appeal against such decision to the Executive Committee if they so wish.

With best wishes

Yours fraternally

R. W. Buckton

Assistance General Secretary

Correspondence from Mrs K. Guppy, 

to Peter Bradford, Brighton No.1  Branch Secretary, 

8th October 1966.


Dear Mr. Bradford.

Thank you very much for your letter I did write back to you on September 22nd, but my letter was returned by the Post Office.

I am of course disapointed at the result of A.S.L.E. & F. being unable to establish a claim on my behalf but I know you have done all you can for me, I should be glad if you will please return the birth certificates etc, as I may need them in the future.

Thanking you for all you have done.
I am yours sincerely 
Mrs. Guppy


*Coroner’s Reported a verdict of death, caused by shock and haemorrhage due to multiple injuries when the diesel freight train of which he was the driver collided with another train that he died as a result of an accident.

The Executive Committee Minutes of their December session 1966


ACCIDENT 5th MARCH, 1964; 



1337. Proposed Saville, seconded Walker

“That the correspondence be noted and the Branch advise that, in the light of Counsel’s opinion we regret that it would not be possible to successfully pursue the claim.”

Correspondence from Mr. W. Myles, 

to Peter Bradford, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary,

 11th January 1967 

Dear Mr. Bradford

Thank you for the letter dated 5.1.1967. Would it be possible for you to arrange a meeting between Mr Buckton* and myself. I am at home every evening except Friday and shall be at home all day next Thursday.

I note the contents of your letter. I must say I feel very sorry indeed for Mrs Guppy with three young children to rear.

I’ve had my share of troubles even since John as gone, the loss of my wife, the blast year a man died at the wheel of his car and crashed into my car. I did not receive any compensation for the damage to my car.

I would like to say how much I appreciate all that you have tried to do to help me, it has been most appreciated and I am grateful.

I have letter of administration if you should need them

Your sincerely 

W. Myles

*D.K. Pullen

Correspondence from Don Pullen, Organising Secretary, 

to Peter Bradford, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary, 

14th January 1967

Dear Peter,

Thank you for your letter of 13th January.

I shall be writing Mr Myles today, and will make the necessary arrangements to visit him as soon as possible - probably on Thursday afternoon next.

You will appreciate that I have had no contact with this unfortunate case since the M.O.T. Inquiry but I will, of course, see Bro. Ray Buckton on the matter before meeting Mr. Myles.
Regarding your reference to resignation as Brach Secretary, this come as a complete surprise and I am wondering why you have taken this decision. If you feel there is any purpose in discussing matters with me before taking a step, I would be pleased to arrange accordingly. We can ill-afford to lose your valued services at this time and I hope it is not too late for you to reconsider your position.

Yours fraternally 

Don Pullen

 Correspondence from Ray Buckton Assistant General Secretary 
to Peter Bradford Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary, 
24th January 1967. 

Dear Sir

Bros. M.J. Guppy & J. Myles (Dec’d) Accident 5.3.64

I have your letter of the 18th January and not your Branch have passed the following resolution:-

“That an appeal on behalf of the relatives and dependants of the late M. Guppy and 
J. Myles killed at Itchingfield Junction on 5.3.1964 be made”

It is presumed that the appeal is against the E.C. decision as contained in their resolution 1377/276 of which I advised you in my letter of the 9th January.

However, if you will refer your communication of the 17th October 1966 you will see that the resolution passed by your Branch members at the meeting on 16.10.66 referred to the case of Bro. Guppy.

There can, therefore, be no appeal to the A.A.D. on behalf of the relatives of Bro. Myles as there is nothing to appeal against appreciating that any appeal to an A.A.D. must be against an E.C. resolution.

In this case there has been no decision of the E.C. as they have not been asked to decide on any dispute as between a member and/or Branch and a decision of this office.

The appeal therefore can only be in respect of the E.C. resolution as applicable to the relatives of the late Bro. Guppy.

On the 3rd January I advised of an offer of £250 made by the British Railways Board subject to the refund of £150 made in settlement of the claim on behalf of the Father of the late Bro. Myles which I informed you I was not very happy about.

If therefore, Mr. Myles is not prepared to accept this offer if he will let have his formal letter of rejection I will go back to the Board in an endeavour to obtain an increase. As this accident occurred nearly three years ago and will become statute barred under the Law Reform (Limitations of Action &c.) Act 1954, unless Writs have been taken out or unless a settlement is agreed before 5.3.67. in the case of Myles’ I shall require one of the enclosed forms to be completed by Mrs. Guppy and the other by Mr. Myles as the legal representative of the Estate of his late son to enable our solicitors to act on their behalf relative to taking out Writs.

Since dictating the above I have received a telephone call from someone acting for Mr. myles who would like an interview with me and I have arranged to see Mr. mils at this office at 11 a.m. on Friday 27th instant.

Yours fraternally

R.W. Buckton

Assistant General Secretary.

A copy of letter from Brighton Driver Harry Woolacott, 

regarding the fault with locomotive D6502

 A.S.L.E.& F.’s 




BRIGHTON (1) appeals against E.C. decision re Driver M. Guppy – Accident

(E.C. Resolution No.1377/276.)

BRIGHTON (2) (Bernie Noakes) moved, FELTHAM (Ron Mitchell) seconded

“That the appeal of Brighton (1) be allowed.”


Brighton (2) (Bernie Noakes): This is an Appeal again an E.C. decision not to progress a claim in the Courts at Common Law to compensate this Driver. It arises from a collision at Itchingfield Junction, just outside Horsham, on 5th March, 1964, when the 1.50 a.m. freight driving to Three Bridges ran past the signals signals at danger and collided with the 2.50 a.m. Three Bridges to Chichester at approximately 20 miles an hour. It has been established that this train did pass the signals. There is no question about that in my mind. Arising from the Inquiry into this action, the M.O.T. – I believe it was Colonel Robertson – assumed, or he thought, that the man, Driver M.Guppy, and Fireman Miles, must have drowsed off. What we are concerned about is why they drowsed off. You can read in the report that Guppy’s and Mile’s parents said that they went to work fully rested and fit.

This engine had previously worked the 2240 London Bridge to Brighton down train, and the Driver working that down train thought there was something wrong with the engine. It was not developing sufficient revs. So at Haywards Heath he phoned forward for a fitter to meet to meet him at Brighton. This was done and a fitter met this engine at Brighton. He looked round her, and said he could not find anything wrong. The engine then continued for approximately 90 minutes shunting at Brighton before working the 1.50 freight. I had a word with the Driver who reported this defect, and he assured me that there was a fault, and there was also smell of fumes in the cab, although he will admit that this time in 1964 this form of traction was new to the men at Brighton and the fumes were more noticeable than they are now. What we are concerned about is why these men drowsed off, if they did. One can see no other reason for their running past the signals.

Prior to their running past the signals approximately 5 ½ miles away from the junction, that is at West Grinstead, a down freight Driver flashed their headlights to Driver Guppy who replied by flashing his headlights. So that in a matter of ten minutes the two men drowsed off to such an extent that they knew nothing about what was happening, and the train just went on willy-nilly as if no one was at the controls.

The question also arises of the safety device or the dead man’s device. Why did this not operate? Surely the same position would arise if a man had died instead of drowsed off or gone to sleep. The train would just carry on. This must cause concern to Drivers and it should cause some concern to this Society. We think that they should investigate that matter.

What we are seeking here is to get some sort of compensation for a widow and three children. The Driver is dead; he can claim nothing. It will not do him any good. It has been mentioned to me that we should remove a stigma from his name, i.e., that he was asleep on the job; but my own thought on this are that I am more concerned with the dependants that are left, a widow and three children. They must be in dire straits, because the widow is of such an age that she cannot receive a widow’s pension I would ask Conference to give some thought as to whether this engine was faulty and the fumes did cause these men to drowse 
off. If so, I think it is a valid point, and one which could be submitted to a Court of Common Law.

FELTHAM (Ron Mitchell): in rising to support this appeal, I should like to say, being conversant with the type of traction, certain questions were raised in my mind. Some of them have been mentioned by the proposer, and I hope you will forgive me for repeating them. The first thing that comes to mind is, was this engine one of those which had revolutions raised for train-heating purpose? If it was, then it poses certain questions. I can produce a report from the Driver at Feltham who complained of the physical effect of increased resolutions in diesels for train-heating purposes. This was taken up by the Medical Officer 
with London Bridge and some of these engines had their revs decreased again. Therefore you will appreciate, if it was one of these engines that had increased revolutions, it is important.

The next matter is that whilst allowing the impact moved the bodies, or may have done so, the fact that the Second Man’s body was removed one hour after the Driver’s body could indicate – and this is pure theory – that the Second Man’s feet were trapped on the dead man’s treadle. I would point out, as I said, that I am conversant with this form of traction, and to sit in a Second Man’s seat with your feet on the dead man’s treadle is not the most relaxing position to sleep in, if that is your intention. This is a question which could be gone into more fully, I think. It is possible that if this Second Man’s feet were on the dead man’s 
treadle as well as the Driver’s, these men could have been overcome by fumes or some such similar thing.

The electrical heaters plus inefficient ventilation could bring on drowsiness or could bring on headaches. It could be said if that was so that the B.R.B. are liable because they have got this inefficient form of heating and ventilation. The point could also be raised that the Agreement on single manning takes into account that the dead man’s safety device should work if a Driver becomes unconscious.

In this case it did not stop the accident. It said in the Ministry of Transport’s report that the dead man’s device did not give Driver Guppy much help. The design fault could be argued especially in connection with item 39 in “Remarks and Recommendations” on failure of D/M Device. In item 41 mention is made in the report about another incident where a Driver and a Fireman admitted they dozed off. I am going to put it to you, fellow delegates, that this is not relevant because, as I understand it, it was a different type of traction, and because one set of men doze off it does not indicate that everyone will doze off in an accident of this kind.

In view of item 43 stating that the A.W.S. could have avoided the accident it could also be argued that this Society should protect its membership by taking legal action against the B.R.B. in any case where there was no A.W.S. fitted and where a Ministry of Transport Inquiry brings out that if it had been fitted there would have been no accident. Item 35 of the Ministry of Transport report is irrelevant because it relates to a test which took place with another engine of a similar type. This is like motor-cars. 

Most of have motor-cars. You get two motor-cars off the same assembly line, but they are not the same. The mechanical, electrical and other components are all different. Therefore to carry out a test on another engine is not relevant.

Item 26 of this report says that Driver Luckhurst, as the proposer has said, flicked his headlights, or his head-code lights, to Driver Guppy. We have heard that Driver Guppy was well rested and fit, and it is unlikely that he would go sleep because, as Driver Luckhurst has pointed out, the nature of the road was such that it was interesting. There were gradients. This was not a road where the man had nothing to do and dozed off on a road such as you get on the Great Western. This man had something to contend with, a goods train. According to this report it was estimated that the train went by the signal at danger at 20 miles an hour. We will take it that the average was 20 miles an hour. It would take roughly a quarter of an hour, or probably less than a quarter of an hour – it has been put at 10 minutes in fact – between the time that the lights were flicked at Driver Guppy and he acknowledged them, and his going unconscious and running by the signals at danger. This, to me, is very suspicious, and I think it should be suspicious to all practical men.

I am going to put it to you that this man must have been alert when he passed the original engine and acknowledged the lights, because this type of traction has four identical switches on the Driver’s side, and a Second Man would hardly flick the light in time; it must have been the Driver, Driver Guppy. Driver Guppy in the dark picked out the right switch from the four that are there. This man was not dozing off then, he was alert; he must have been. I know this fact from personal experience. The four switches, by the way, control the tail-lights, the route indicator, the demister, and the cab panel lights. Had this man not been alert he could have put on the tail light; he could have put on the demister, or he could have put on the cab panel lights. We have been told that he put on the head-code lights, as I understand it. Therefore I am putting to you that he must have become unconscious within ten minutes, having previously been quite alert.

Lastly, I would draw your attention to an open letter. It is entitles: “An Important Open Letter to all Members from Albert Griffiths, General Secretary.” I am going to read out certain extracts from this letter. First of all, on legal assistance. It says:

“Legal assistance is provided for any member requiring it in connection with his duties; in obtaining compensation for accidents sustained by a member (in the case of road accidents members’ dependants are also covered); and otherwise as provided under the Rule.”

The next extract I should like to read is under the heading “For the Record,” and it says:

“The A.S.L.E.& F. receives the whole hearted support of the overwhelming majority of Locomen throughout the Railways. Why? The answer is simple; because the A.S.L.E.& F. delivers the goods.

Well I think it is up to this A.A.D. to make sure that the A.S.L.E.& F. delivers the goods in this instance. The paragraph continues,

“it doesn’t deal in gimmicks; it confidently offers and provides specialised, efficient representation to its members grades, at all times” – I repeat that – “at all times, both to individuals and to our craft as a whole. It maintains for Footplatemen’s  a standard of service which no conglomerate organisation from its very nature could ever hope or try to provide.”
I think because there has been a drop-down of delegates from normal A.A.D.s we could refer to ourselves as a “streamlined” A.A.D. It could be said that the streamlining of the A.A.D. indicates a change of policy; a sterner policy on behalf of this Society. I am going to put it to delegates that they ought to make sure that this Society does deliver the goods as it promises to at all times, especially when there is a widow and three children involved. I am going to say to you, fellow delegates, that I sit down confident that you will support this Appeal and carry it through.


We have heard a lot about the work of this Society. We always get sympathy when one of our members has been killed, but as an E.C. we do not take cognizance of things which are not relevant to the matter. On this issue there is no disputing the fact either by the mover or the seconder that this man ran by a signal at danger, and in doing so was in collision with another train. There was a Ministry of Transport Inquiry, and the report was quite clear that the cause of the accident was that this Driver passed the signal at danger. Clearly a feature in that report was the fact that he did not observe the signal. The Inspecting Officer laid emphasis on the fact that the Signalman did not alter the train route at the last minute. Therefore the Inspecting Officer said that Driver Guppy and, to some extent, the Second Man, was responsible for this accident. We took up this claim on three possibilities:

(1) fumes in the diesel cab overcoming the crew;

(2) failure to provide a safe system of working by providing A.W.S.; and

(3)  failure of the dead man’s safety device.

We sought legal opinion on whether it was possible to prosecute a claim under any of these heads. The reply from our Solicitors was: “There is no claim  It is not possible to pursue a claim under any of these heads, because there is no evidence that there were diesel fumes in the cab.” Even if there were fumes in the cab as the mover and seconder have assumed, there was no evidence to prove such a statement.

Not being satisfies with the preliminary report, we took Counsel’s opinion. Attending  Counsel we had an E.C. Member, Johnny Walker, who is also a diesel instructor. With all the efforts which were made and with all the information that we gave, Counsel’s opinion – these are the people who have got to prosecute the claim – was to the effect that there was no possibility of establishing a claim at common law for this member.

We have done everything in our power, and when the E.C. considered this matter, giving  full weight to that report from Counsel, they decided that thee was no purpose in further pursuing the claim. I know that in an Appeal like this a lot of sympathy must be felt, and I have stood on this platform and I have lost Appeals of this nature before. However, you do not get Counsel’s opinion and then ignore it. There have been cases, as you know, in which I have given the same advice from this platform having regard to Counsel’s opinion, and Conference has taken the case forward and we have lost it; so, therefore, if this Conference derides that our Counsel’s opinion and our legal advisers (to whom we pay a lot of money for their expert advice) are wrong, and that in spite of what I have said, and in spite of the fact that we have been told that there is no case, Conference still wishes to go forward, that is a matter which this Conference will have to decide. We, as a society, have done everything possible for this member. We have sought the best legal advice in the country, and the conclusion, as I have said, in relation to this is that even if you could establish diesel fumes in the cab it is very, very doubtful whether you would succeed in the establishing a claim in 
Court. Of course, there is no evidence of being in the cab at all. We do not know the reason for this accident. It has been said that the Driver drowses off. He may have done so, we do not know; nobody knows. It is said that he was awake and flashed his lights ten minutes before, but something happened and we could never establish as a Society what it was. Our Solicitors and Counsel have advised us that in the light of all that has been taken place there is no case at all to take forward. The mover of the Appeal has asked why we have not prosecuted a claim. The reason why we have not prosecuted the claim is because we have 
not got one to prosecute in the opinion of the legal brains of this country.
What I would like delegates to do, and what I am asking them to do, is to turn down this Appeal. There is no disputing the fact that this that this Driver ran past a signal at danger, as has been stated by the mover and seconder. The reason are unknown. 

When we come, as you surely must come, to the question of not only one legal opinion but two legal opinions that you have no case with which to go forward (and Counsel’s legal opinion is far higher than an ordinary opinion), it makes it difficult. There is not much point spending money on legal opinions if you are going to ignore such advice. These are the people you are going to send into court on your case, the people who have come down definitely and have said you have not got a case to prosecute.

This is Society money, you know. Let us face it: had any of you obtained this advice as an individual, you would not spend your money by going to court. This has happened before and will happen again. Conference has gone against legal advice. We have gone to court and lost the day. That will happen here, if you take this one to court in spite of Counsel’s opinion; you will lose the day. These legal opinions are not often wrong, when it comes to prosecuting cases of this description. That has been proved time and time again. There have been cases on the Agenda in the last two years when I have given the delegates the legal opinion, and the delegates have ignored the legal opinion. We have gone to court and lost the cases at considerable expense to this Society. That is what what happen to this one.
Before you support this Appeal, consider the expense involved and the fact that on this opinion you have no chance of prosecuting this case successfully.

FELTHAM (Ron Mitchell): A point of order; I can state definitely I have known the opinions of two Counsel on one set circumstance which did clash. Therefore, one Counsel’s opinion is not necessarily correct.

THE CHAIRMAN OF CONFERENCE: You have spoken once on this, Feltham. Brighton (2) has the right to reply. If it is wished to make these points, Brighton (2) should make them.
Questions by York, Birmingham (2), Aberdeen (2), Edinburgh (2), Tyne Yard, Carlisle (1), King’s Cross, Kentish Town, Hasland – answered by PRSIDENT.

BRIGHTON (2) (Bernie Noakes): there have ben a good many points of view expressed, and questions asked, on this Appeal. 

Firstly, let me say with regard to fumes; the E.C. President said there was no evidence of fumes in the cab. Of course not. How long after this accident occurred was it before anybody went near that cab, at that time in the morning? By the time anybody got there, fumes would all be gone, if there were any there, and we have reason to believe there were.
Coming on to the dead man’s device, apparently this did not work. There have been several complaints on the dead man’s device and modifications have taken place.

I would mention another collision of the same nature, which is referred to in a report of the Ministry of Transport. This is the accident at Stanton Gate where the men admitted they drowsed off or went to sleep. That report says, “Colonel McNaughton drew attention to importance of good ventilation in diesel engine cabs, so as to maintain a comfortable temperature whilst still enduring an adequate supply of fresh air.” That was in December, 1963, and this accident happened a year later. As far as I know, nothing has been don to increase the ventilation in diesel cabs.

The E.C. President referred to Counsel’s advice. He said they have taken this advice in the past, proceeded with a case on the A.A.D. saying this should be done, and they have lost. He omitted to say whether they have ever gone against Counsel’s opinion, taken the case to court and won. I should like to know whether they have.

He said an individual would not spend the money to pursue this case in court. Of course not. But a member of this Organisation pays in for this: at least, that is my idea of paying into this Organisation  - so that I get legal protection.

Our Brother from King’s Cross raised the question of cost. No doubt this is going to hit you and make you think quite a lot – between £600 and £1,000. If you look in the E.C. Report you will see that was a case before Conference last year. It was an Appeal by Doncaster. A man was knocked off his motor-cycle by a dog. They appealed to the A.A.D., who sanctioned it. It went to court and cost £107, plus the costs of the defendant, which the Society did not know at the time of printing the E.C. report. 

That was far below £600 or £1,000.  I think this should be progressed as a test case to bring about an improvement in working conditions in diesel locomotive cabs.

Also, we must bear in mind the widow and the children. That is who are fighting and we cannot lose sight of them surly. A short time ago I was at a weekend meeting when the Assistant General Secretary gave a talk on human relations. If you are going to start measuring £ s. d. against human relation, you are never going to get anywhere. If this fall down here today, my people at Brighton are going to have bad human relations with this Organisation.

I ask delegates here to go along with me and with Brighton (1) and  say this should be progressed, and the Appeal should be allowed.

The motion of BRIGHTON (2) was lost. Votes in favour, 15; votes against, 23.

Appeal was not allowed.




Correspondence from Ron Mitchell, Feltham Branch, 

to Peter Bradford, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary,

 26th May 1967. 

Dear Sir

Annual Assembly of Delegates (1967) - Brighton Appeal 

As you may by now be aware, i was the Feltham Delegate who supported the above Appeal which was lost on the vote by 15 votes to 23, and I now write to you to ask what your immediate plans are to render constructive financial assistance to the dependants of the late Driver M. Guppy?

I have no doubt that your mind is already made up to move along the lines of National Appeal, and if it isn’t then I would respectfully suggest that it is imperative that to make an Appeal on a National level while the matter is still fresh in the minds of the delegates to the 1967 A.A.D. should be your first consideration. You should obviously gain the immediate support of the 15 Delegates who voted for the Appeal, and possibly the Branches of those who voted against the Appeal would, on reflection, make a donation. I have spoken to Bro. J. Mason, the Feltham (M.T.) Branch Secretary on the subject, and from his remarks I 
would assume that you can rely on his personal practical support to such a venture.
If it is not the intention to launch an appeal along these lines from the Brighton 1 Branch, then I feel sure that the Feltham Branch members would have no hesitation in doing so once the situation is explained to them in detail. Because the time element is a matter of some importance I would appreciate it if you would kindly write to Bro. J. Mason as soon as possible as to your intentions.

Having gathered a sum of money in it is vitally important that it should be used to the best advantage, and with this in mind I would suggest that the services of our Organising Secretary, Don Pullen, or someone similar, should be requested to give advise where necessary, not necessarily in his capacity as a Society Officer, but as a person who is sympathetic  to the case and who has some experience of these matters.

Now I am implicated in the matter, there are my thoughts on the subject and I would stress that they are purely personal opinions at this stage. From here on, I suggest that you communicate direct with the Feltham Branch Secretary as to be advisability or otherwise of circularising all Society Branches on a National basis without delay.

With best wishes

Yours fraternally 

Ron Mitchell

Correspondence between Bro. John Mason, Feltham Branch Secretary, 

to Bro. Ron Rabbetts, Brighton No.1 Acting Branch Secretary,  

1st June, 1967

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your letter of the 30th ulto, we are indeed sorry to hear of your Branch's internal troubles.

Regarding the National Appeal for the late Bro. M. Guppy, circulars are being drawn and will be sent to all Branches in our Society, it is an appeal from the Brighton No.1 Branch, as soon as the proof copy of this circular is ready I will forward to you for approval, I would however point out that circulars such a this usually have the names of the Chairman and Secretary on them. Your name will be append to the circular as will your Chairman or Vice Chairman whether they are acting or otherwise, therefore, would you please advise me as to his name and office holds in your Branch.

As you will have gathered from Bro Mitchell's letter, there is a thought that Mrs. Guppy could, if the appeal was that successful, take the case to court herself, this a decision that only the dear Lady herself can make, the A.G.S. says it would be pouring money down the drain, we do not agree in fact we think there would be a better than 50-50 chance of her winning the case, should she decide on such action there would be no objection from us, between you and I, Don Pullen thinks Mrs Guppy has a good case, I stress that this be kept quiet, no point in getting "Uncle Don" into trouble with Head office.

One point that may hve crossed your mind is the cost of this appeal, it will not cost either your nor ours a single penny "they will pay for it one way and another!

With all best wishes

Yours fraternalyy 

J. Mason


 Correspondence between Bro. John Mason, Feltham Branch Secretary, 

to Bro. Ron Rabbetts, Brighton No.1 Acting Branch Secretary, 

9th June, 1967

Dear Sir,

Re attached circular, I sent a copy to Head Office as in accordance with Society rules for their permission. Today I phoned them for their reply, I was informed that the Executive Committee had discussed the matter but, while they are in sympathy they refused permission for the proposed circular to be sent to Branches. It appears they do not like the wording of the last part of the final paragraph and they also think other branches would follow suit in other cases.

I have informed Bro. Mitchell and Bro. Bro. Bolger our Branch Chairman, all three of us are of the opinion that regardless of what the E.C. say, this circular should be sent out, all the facts are correct and no Society should be affraid of the truth.

Bros. Bolger, Mitchell and myself are qute prepared to accept full responsibility for this Circular, therefore, if I do not hear from you by 3.0 p.m. tomorrow, SUNDAY 11th June, the circulars will be dispatched to all branches throughout our Society.

With all best wishes

Yours fraternally

J. Mason


Correspondence between Bro. John Mason, Feltham Branch Secretary, 

to Bro. Ron Rabbetts, Brighton No.1 Acting Branch Secretary,  

13th July, 1967

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your letter of the 11th June, as you may have guessed, the circulars, re the late Bro. M. Guppy, have been sent to branches, despite the E.C. decision.

It is conceivably possible that the E.C. may take umbrage at our action, still, we will deal with that if and when they do.

I don’t know if you did contact Don Pullen, you remember you said that you were going to ask him to arrange for centralisation of all funds, well if you have not done so, I advices against it at this date, it could put him in an awkward position, perhaps it would be better if you spoke to him in two or three weeks time.

Well, we can only wait for results now, I sincerely hope the appeal is successful, I have good grounds expecting the co-operation of our members at Feltham, our member are “brain washing” the Electric en on this Division, not that they want a lot of that.

All best wishes

Yours fraternally 

J. Mason


Correspondence from John Mason, Feltham Branch Secretary,

to Ron Rabbetts, Brighton No.1 Acting Branch Secretary,

 21st July 1967

Dear Sir,

I have just thus minute come from the Feltham Depot where I was speaking to Bro. Ron Mitchell, he informs me that London Bridge Branch Chairman ruled at their meeting recently that the circular re late Bro. M. Guppy, was illegal, it is alleged that he thought and ruled that unless the names of Brighton 1 Branch Chairman & Secretary were signed at the bottom or the Brighton 1 Branch Stamp used he could not allow a collection to take place written his Branch.

Therefore I enclose further copies, if you will do the necessary and send them to Secretary London Bridge Branch.

Please excuse poor hand writing, am hot tired and bloody well wild that any branch cam become a one man band.

R. Mitchell also informs me that E.C. member “Felton” told him that one of the Birmingham Branches rejected this appeal, E.C. members “Felton”, “Ronskey”,“Thomas”, “Miles”, and “Mclean” are quoted as saying 

“no action to be taken against us for sending these circulars, fifty really, we were hoping they would, then perhaps the system could be altered, our Society boasts, 

“Full Protection To Members,” 


Perhaps a meeting between our Branch Officers could start the ball rolling “Uncle Don” can be relied upon for assistance and support.

Best wishes


J. Mason

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Reply to Feltham Branch, from Alan Hardiman, Brighton no.1 Branch Secretary, 

14th August 1967

Dear Sir & Bro.

Please accept my apology for the delay in answering your correspondence dated 21st July 1967. I have been very tied up with a number of problems to date. I felt it necessary to bring your letter to the attention of the Branch before answering so as to get their views on the matter.

You will be pleased to know that London Bridge have now accepted the appeal forms as I stamped them and had the Branch Chairman endorse them.

The views of the Branch are that it was agreed to leave the decision to you as to why cation to take re your suggestion for a meeting of Branch Officers. We shall back whatever the decision. Bro. R. Rabbetts is in charge of the appeal fund and is still receiving collections.

I await your decision and remarks. We gratefully appreciate your handling of this appeal and are ready to help in any way we can.

Yours fraternally

Branch Secretary

Brighton No.1

PS Please excuse typing this typewriter came from out of the ark.

Correspondence from Bro. John Mason, Feltham Branch, 

to Bro. Alan Hardiman Brighton Branch Secretary,

6th October 1967

Dear Sir

My apologies for the delay in answering your letter, I have been rather busy of late mainly due to the deaths of two of our members, tragic in the circumstances as both leave widows and young children, three and four (children) respectively ranging from 10 monte to 12 years of age.

One of my member's Bro. Derek Godden tells me he met Bro. Rabbetts who told him that your branch's appeal re the late Bro. M. Guppy was nearing the four figure mark; not bad I suppose but it could and should have five times as much, such was the damage done by Bros. Felton, Kirk & Thomas of the Executive Committee, L- -sy B - - - - - - -.

Regarding the get together of members of our branches, as you are aware, there is to be a week-end school at Hastings later this month, 21st and 22nd, Bro Ron Mitchell and myself are attending and as I understand so will members of the majority of branches in the South East, and I would suggest that this is probably  the best time and place. If you did not want to attend the school itself you could com along in the evening of the Saturday, I have found that informal discussion that take place in the evening are usually the most interesting, especially when Ron Mitchell gets stuck in.

With all the best wishes to you and your members

Yours Fraternally 

J. Mason







Correspondence from Bro Don Giles of Bognor Branch of A.S.L.E.F., 

to Ron Rabbetts, Brighton No.1 Acting Branch Secretary,

 in June 1967. 

Dear Bro. Rabbetts

I have studied your letter regarding the death of Driver Guppy and Fireman Myles, and though all proceedings I have seen no mention of the fact that there was blatant disregard for safety regulations on the Company's part though not causing this accident it could so easily have been prevent.

I mean by this that a train on the down main line has an over run, whereas a train on the Steyning up branch does not it is usually accepted that on a main line junction that the train that has the safety margin i.e. over run is the train that must be stopped. Also safety precautions at this main line junction were non existent  no catch points, no warning detonator (AUTO), no electric track circuiting, and only one signal to protect 18 miles of track. These facts alone are to any driver; courting disaster.

Also the Company made a public statement following the Wealdstone disaster that all train would be fitted with A.W.S. system within 5 years.

I point out there are no second safety instruments whatsoever on the Southern Region (Central).

Also the actual findings of the inquiring is based on assumptions; that these two men were drowsy, and that they may have been over come by fumes. May I point that there are many other causes that are well known to other forms of transport and have never been investigated by the Railway Company and until someone forces these facts out into the open accidents - unexplained accidents will continue to happen.

May list some of these for your guidance - fact that I have learned during my life as an Air Force Pilot.

1 Lack of oxygen
Hard to accept? Until one thinks that a diesel cab is sound insulted and if sound insulated they are also air tight, these cabs are provided.

The Symptoms are
A feeling of wellbeing - one felt better before, a feeling of hyper alertness, but ones judgement of time and distance becomes seriously affected or non existent.

Many pilots lost their lives during the war until this effect was realised, the effect caused pilots to ram enemy aircraft instead of using the guns they had whilst this had the desired effector bringing enemy aircraft down the British also lost one pilot and one aircraft.

After this, pilots were instructed on the conditions of lack of oxygen and many were given practical demonstration in a decompression chambers. I myself have had this experience and can witness its effect. Further proof could be obtained from the Air Ministry Medical Research Dept.

2 Rhythmic Sound Hypnosis
It is also a well known fact that a long continuous rhythmic sound can bring on a state of hypnosis, it has been used by Doctors and also in certain Eastern Countries to bring about brain washing. Ask around! and see how many drivers have seemingly had their eyes close on them and been powerless to prevent it - sleep - could be - or the brain turning itself off in the presence of monotonous sound from the wheels and the rail joints which can and does happen. The A.W.S. system could are help in this respect. but because Southern Region drivers are so good? It is not considered necessary.

3 Just recently French scientists have also discovered another sound effect that can actually cause death and illness to human beings brought about by producing it is a rumble at a frequency of seven cycles per second. Little is yet known about this except that it can prove fatat. Research is still going on as this sound could easily be reproduced by the exhaust of a diesel engine at certain critical speeds.

I am not trying to blind with science, these are proven facts, and if the Company can make assumptions to prevent paying compensation. I see no reason why we should not also make assumptions. Because it can happen and will happen again.

These facts may come to late to help driver Guppy but they should be brought to the Company's notice to prevent loss of life in the future.

The company's password has always been safety first, to this a driver ought to be added - Safety First - Providing it doesn't cost too much.

Yours Fraternally 
D. Giles Bognor
Whilst these statements are guesses - the first paragraph is not, there are still many instances where safety is not first.

In this day and age, it could be made virtual impossible for accidental collisions to happen as I say whilst not the cause of this accident. There was nothing to prevent it, therefore it could happen again not at this junction because it is now closed, but in one of many place where out dated signalling systems are still used, the Drayton crash recently was one such place, and practically every year without fail someone suffers injury and loss of life because of fogs etc. When antiquated signals join with nature provide almost impossible conditions.

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On the 25th July 1967, 

Alan Hardiman, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary, wrote to 

the R.A.F. Central Medical Establishment in London. 

This letter contains many points that Bro. Don Giles 

had highlighted in his letter to the Brighton in the previous month

Dear Sir 

I am a Driver on British Railways and Secretary for Brighton No 1 Branch of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Fireman. I am writing to you ask your helping furnishing some information. This could be a matter of life or death not only for the crew of a train but also for the public who entrust their lives in our hands.

On the 5th March 1964 a driver and fireman were killed in a collision between two goods trains at Itchingfield Junction, on the Arundel to Three Bridges line. The locomotive involved in the collision was a Crompton Diesel Electric Type 3 rated at 1,550 h.p. The driver in charge of this locomotive was proved to have passed a distant signal at caution, and a home (STOP) signal at danger, and proceeded for a further approx. 440 yards to foul the down main line and collide with a facing side-long impact with a train travelling in the opposite direction. This Driver was said to have exchanged a greeting with a light engine 
travelling in the opposite direction (by means of flashing his indicator lights) approximately 5 miles from the collision. A matter of 10 minutes prior to this accident. The line on which he was travelling hd frequent changes of gradient and therefore required constant regulation of power to maintain a constant speed. Both men where good railwaymen, conscientious, and most unlikely to take any chances. The collision occurred at 02.59hrs.

From personal experience I have had occasion when I have found it extremely difficult to keep my eyes open and practically impossible to focus them on signals, the effects has been like taking a movie without a without a proper shock absorbing stand and the resulting picture being shaky and full of vibration. I have opened the window and taken deep gulps of fresh air in the attempt to revive myself but it has been a very  difficult battle between the conscious desire to remain alert and the unconscious desire to fall asleep. This needless to say is a very dangerous situation. In the findings of the report on this accident it was stated 
"it is assumed that the Driver and Fireman became drowsy." As far as the railway is concerned this Driver was responsible for the accident. According to the evidence of the collision it cannot be proved otherwise. Now this brings mw to the information I 
would be most grateful if you could furnish me.

A driver from Manchester Depot wrote to me on this subject and stated some possible causes for a man to become drowsy. He was a Spitfire Pilot in the last war and mentioned some of the hazards that were found and overcome in aircraft. I was once in the R.A.F. as an engine mechanic and with that past experience I am confident of the safety precautions that are taken in aircraft and aircrews.

One point that was raised is the effect of lack of oxygen. A feeling of hyper alertness where in fact judgement of speed and distance is in bad cases non existent. Coupled with the infiltration of diesel fumes this could be a cause of drowsiness. The layout of the diesel locomotive is  basically this. The diesel is situated in the centre of the main frame  with the water radiators (two) at one end on each side of the framing. At the other end is an electrical cupboard containing relays and contractors placed across the framing. At the extreme ends of the loco are the driving cabs. The cabs are sealed off from the engine too by a door that opens into the cab. The door is double glazed and I believe packed with fibreglass I would not like to swear to that. 

Along the roof of the engine room are fluted air ducts. The engine draws air from the engine room via a turbo supercharger also there is a traction motor blower of the turbo type supplying cooling air to the traction motors. This air is also taken from the engine room. The door seals to the driving cabs not being all that is desired allows air to be extracted from the cabs also, which is evident from the draught that is created in winter through a badly closing window or an outside door not closing properly. 

Other evidence of air being extracted from the cab is, when travelling at speed if power os shut off or reduced and the engine room door is opened with an outside window open hot air and engine room fumes rush into the cab. It is caused in my opinion by the aerodynamics of the locomotives. It has a flat front and a partial vacuum in the vicinity of the side window. 

This is evident when traveling at speed, if a cigarette end is thrown out or a piece of paper it travels forward to the front of the loco before being caught in the airflow to be thrown a outward away from the loco. Also windscreen wipers over 40 m.p.h. are lifted clean 
away from the window and do not wipe at all.

The second point raised was rhythmic sound hypnosis. If you can bear me out can cause drowsiness and if prolonged and at the right frequency could cause blackouts. Those locomotives have an eight cylinder diesel with an idling speed of 450 rpm and a 
max speed of 750 rpm, The engine is fully variable between these two speeds. At certain speeds of the engine the natural frequency of the panes can be found and they vibrate in sympathy. This rhythmic sound hypnosis I feel if it is a fact could be a lot to do with this feeling of drowsiness that we experience from time to time.

The third point raised was the effect of extremely low frequency in the region of 7-10cps. If a person is subjected to such low frequency with enough intensity the brain could tune into it and the pulse beat slow right down in sympathy which cause a complete blackout and even death. It is brought to my notice that a French scientist recently discovered the effects of this low frequency inhuman beings and if true makes quite a disquieting thought. This low frequency could be reproduced by a harmonic of a critical engine speed on some panel in the driving cab, or by the exhaust beat of the engine itself.

There are facts as we see them can you corroborate them or even enlighten on them? Have you come across any similar effects that could have caused this  Driver to have collapsed? The evidence of time and distance and the type of road he was working over seem to indicate that he did collapse or that he was overcome in some way. We want to know how he could have missed the signal as it was very well sighted and was visible for at least half a mile.

This is an unexplained accident. Are we subjected to some obscure danger that we do not realise? If so we want to investigate all aspect of possible danger and if we can't combat danger at least counteract it by some other means. If we know the danger at least we will be on equal terms.

As you may well realise this is of utmost importance and I personally and I am sure my colleagues would be very grateful for any assistance you can give me in this matter. If we can only get some well established facts of various dangers we should be in better position to avoid any further accidents of this nature. Our watchword on the railway is SAFETY FIRST that is  why I appeal to you for assistance.

Yours faithfully

A.M. Hardiman

Branch Secretary

Brighton No.1 Branch

P.S. If you are not in a position to help on this matter could you possibly pass this on to 

someone who can, or put me in touch with anyone who could help.

*This letter was forwarded to the Medical Adviser at the Trade Union Congress, 

and the Ministry of Defence, Director of Health and Research (R.A.F.)

Delayed correspondence from Alan Hardiman Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary 

to Driver D. Giles, Bognor E.M.U.T.

6th December 1967

Dear Sir & Bro.

I am writing in respect of your letter to Bro R. Rabbetts on the subject of the effects of lack of oxygen etc. I took over from Bro. Rabbetts in July this year and was handed your letter along with other Branch documents. I was very impressed by its contents. 

I served two years M.S. in the R.A.F. and was therefor familar with your theories but not all of the facts. In studying the possibilities of the same effects occurring on locomotives I felt that I must follow it up and possibly prevent a similar occurrence to Itchingfield crash. I feel there is a strong possibility of something of that nature tied up in that crash.

I contacted the Central Medical Research Dept. of the R.A.F. and acquainted them with the relevant facts of the crash and the possible cause being tied up with your contribution. I was thanked for my letter and some while latter was told that owing to the serious nature of the possibilities suggested they handed the letter to the Trade Union Medical Research Dept. 

From then I have heard nothing. I have become aware that some tests are being carried out on drivers at the present moment. Whether this is tied up with my action i would not know.

I was not aware that you had not been thanked for your letter please accept my apology and very great thanks for your interest and contribution. Rest assured we did not think it was cranky.
Thanks Again.

Your fraternally 

Branch Secretary

Brighton No.1




Correspondencce from B. Mason, King's Cross Branch Secretary, 

to Alan Hardiman Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary,

 11th August 1967

Dear Sir & Bro.

I notice in this months Locomotive Journal your address.
I had a appeal from your Branch in June for your late Bro. M. Guppy, this appeal was posted at King's Cross and we now have the sum of somewhere in the region of £30 these lists have now been taken down and I still waiting for one to come from K.X. Goods Yard S.O.P. 
I wrote to your acting Branch secretary R.S. Rabbetts who sent the appeal as to who I was to make cheque payable yo but I have received no reply, so I would be grateful if you could let me know who I can make cheque payable to so as I can send money .

Hoping you can help.

Yours fraternally

B. Mason

Branch Secretary

King's Cross

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Reply to the King's Cross Branch letter 

from Alan Hardiman, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary

on the 14th August 1967

M. Guppy Appeal Fund


Dear Sir & Bro.


Many thanks for your letter of the 11th inst.
We are very grateful to your response to the collection. Bro. R. Rabbetts is in charge of the collection and he is banking the money until the collection is complete. If you could make the cheque to "The M. Guppy Appeal Fund" c/o Mr. Rabbetts it would be appreciated.

Bro. Rabbetts will no doubt write you and tell you himself but he is really buried in correspondence and delay in answering letters is unaviodable. it is at present first come first serve. I am sure you will understand. You may be pleased to know that that the response to the appeal has been overwhelming. collections have been coming in from all over the country. One or two branches in the Midlands have refused but so far it has been completely satisfactory.

Thank you again for your support, best wishes to you and your Branch

Yours fraternally 

A. Hardiman

Branch Secretary

Brighton No.1

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 Correspondence from Mrs. K. Guppy, 

to Alan Hardiman, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary,

 14th September 1967


Thank you very much for the money you sent me, would you thank everyone who was so kind

Yours sincerely 

Mrs. K. Guppy.




On the 13th December, 1967, 

Alan Hardiman, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary, 

wrote to the Medical Adviser, Trades Union Congress

Dear Sir

I wrote to the Central Medical Establishment on 25th July, this year asking for some assistance with regard to certain information that came to my knowledge. At my request I asked  that if they could not help would they pass it on to someone who could. I was informed that it had been passed on to the Medical Adviser of the Trade Union Congress. 

This is a very urgent matter and I and my Branch members are anxious to obtain information.

The subject of the letter I wrote to the R.A.F. was dealing with the effects of lacking oxygen, rhythmic sound hypnosis and the effect of extremely low frequency  on the human brain and body. I quoted an unexplained accident that occurred at 02.59Hrs. on 5th March 1964 at Itchingfield Junction. It involved two good trains travelling in opposite directions. No reasonable explanation could be given for the crash except that it was ASSUMED that the Driver must have become drowsy and fell asleep. Experience  Drivers don't fall asleep when driving a train for no reason. Drivers are fully aware that if anything is in front HE is the first one to cop it also as the man in charge any signals passed is his responsibility and none of us like answering reports. Our pass word is keep out of trouble and safety first. I and my branch members feel that there was something as yet undiscovered that caused that crash and if there is anything in these things I wrote about we want to know. We do not 
want another driver killed in the same way. Next time could involve many more people, and could have far more disastrous results.

As this matter has been passed on to you I would appreciate your comments also information on any discoveries you have made. I should also be interested as to what action you are taking to overcome these effects.

Yours faithfully

A.M. Hardiman

Branch Secretary

Brighton No.1 Branch

A response back from the Medial Adviser, 

Trades Union Congress, 

on the 22nd December 1967,

Dear Mr. Hardiman,

Many thanks for your letter of December 13. I did hear from the Central Medical Establishment earlier this year about the letter you had written to them about the subject of lack of oxygen, rhythmic sounds hypnosis and the effect of extremely low frequency on the human brain, and I was interested in the details you gave about the accident at Itchingfield Junction.

I had a word with some of my colleagues in the railway industry and Dr. Alun Jones of the Southern Region is very interested in this particular problem. As you may know, he is an expert in the branch of applied science called ergonomics, and I don't know if you have an opportunity of talking to him.

He suggest that we might arrange some time to have a word with Mr. Griffiths and I have been hoping to speak to Mr. Griffiths at one of the meeting of the General Council. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, I have not had a chance of having a word with him, but this is something which I will do in the near future. Strictly speaking, I can only deal with problems which are submitted to me by unions, this might by-pass some of the formalities.

Meanwhile, you may be sure that I am very interested in your problem and I appreciate the point raise that it is important to discover the reason for this kind of accident so as to prevent further and more serious ones. When I have spoken to Mr. Griffiths 

I will write to you again.

With best wishes for the New Year
Yours sincerely 
Dr. Robert Murray
Medical Adviser


I spoke to Mr. Griffiths at the General Council on Wednesday. 
I will be seeing him again early in the New Year.

*Mr. Griffiths was ASLEF General Secretary



It would like to be recorded, that much help and support was given by the vast majority of A.S.L.E.F. Branches across the country, even though the 1967 A.A.D., voted against this Appeal, and the Executive Committee was opposed in setting up a National Appeal for their member who perished at the scene of this dreadful accident.

A special mention must be made to Feltham Branch members Bros. John Mason,    R. Bolger, Ron Mitchell & Derek Godden, for their support and the solidarity that was also given by the membership of the Feltham Branch of A.S.L.E.&F., in supporting the Brighton No.1 Branch's fight to set up a National Appeal, to support the family of their fellow member Driver Mick Guppy. 

Jim Rowe (former Sectional Council Representative) Basingstoke Branch, recalls the Feltham A.S.L.E.F. members who put themselves out to support the Brighton No.1 Branch

John Mason was the Branch Secretary and served on the L.D.C. With the closure of Feltham he moved to Waterloo. He lived at Oakley, near Basingstoke and I used to travel up and down with him. always a fine Society man and great to talk too. Sadly, he died soon after retirement.
R. (Tom) Bolger was the Feltham Branch Chairman and with the closure of Feltham he moved to Fratton and lived at Fareham.

Derek Godden was a Branch Committee member and with the closure of he transferred to Basingstoke where he remained until dying early.

Ron Mitchell severed on the Feltham L.D.C. member and was the A.A.D. Delegate. With closure of Feltham he came to Chertsey, and when Chertsey closed, he moved to Victoria (E) and later on to Waterloo. I dealt with his Ill Health Retirement and last saw him in 2002. He had sufferred a severe stroke and was very restricted in his mobility. However, the memory was as sharp as ever. 

In those days, appeals were first business at A.A.D.s and in later years Branch Appeals 

for aid when members had died or been killed, leaving families.




Correspondence from Alan Hardiman Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary 

to the News of the World, 

1st October 1967

Dear Sir,

I am requested by my Branch Members to consult you for legal advice concerning a proposed court action. It is against British Rail from the dependents of a driver killed in a railway accident on the 5th March 1964.

The accident occurred at Itchingfield Junction at 02.59 hrs., between two goods trains. One train travelling from Brighton to Norwood via Steyning (here after termed train A). And the other train from Three Bridges to Chichester via Horsham (here after termed train B).

The driver who was killed was Brighton Driver M. Guppy. He was driving train A. The result of the enquiry following the accident, was that he passed the Home Signal at danger, which resulted in train A running onto the Junction and colliding with train B with a facing sidling impact. This resulted in the engine being derailed and spun round on its side. The wagons of train B then piling on top of it. Both Driver and his Fireman were killed instantly. The point of impact was into the side of train B the engine having passed the fouling point of the Junction. There appear to be no doubt that Driver Guppy did pass the stop signal 
at danger which led to the accident. On this point he was held responsible for causing the death of his Fireman and the Firemen’s dependents received compensation on this account.
There are number of points about this accident that we feel are very strong contributory cause to it’s taking place. In this connection we feel the company are negligent in not providing adequate safety precautions at the Junction. The position is this.

The line from Horsham to Pulborough (the route of train B) is termed a min line. The line from Shoreham to Horsham is or was termed a branch line. This line is now closed and the rails removed. The Steyning line as it was termed joined the Mid Sussex line at Itchingfield Junction with a trailing connection towards Horsham. The section of line under block control on the Steyning line was at this time from Shoreham Bridge to Itchingfield Junction. A distance of approximately 10 miles. All signal boxes in between having been withdrawn. At the Junction the protecting signal were a distant caution signal and a stop home signal. The stop signal being positioned approximately 1/4 mile on the approach side of the Junction. There was an approach track circuit on the home signal that operated when a train reached approximately 100 yards from the signal. When a train operated this 
track it was the first indication of the train’s position the signalman has since the train entering section signal had been received from Shoreham. this means that from the time a train was signalled as entering section at Shoreham the signalman at Itchingfield Junction had no idea of its position until he either heard the train whistling it approach of when it ran on to the track circuit 100 yards from the home signal. He could however estimate its arrival time before expected and the signalman would not know of its progress until the train was on his doorstep. This may seem irrelevant but it has a marked bearing on the following events.

The rule book states that when two are approach a Junction at the same time a collision course must not be set up until one or both trans have been brought to a stand. At this particular Junction the collision course was always there from Steyning to Horsham. The other line from Horsham to Pulborough could be set from Horsham to Steyning. In this way a train signalled from the Steyning line onto the Pulborough Horsham line the conflicting route from Horsham would be set to run towards Steyning, thereby avoiding a collision course. Therefore if two trains are approaching a Junction of this type at the same time 
the train off the Steyning should have preference of pathway over the train coming the opposite way as the other train can be diverted away from the collision course. The finding of the enquiry ruled as to the cause of Driver Guppy passing the signal at Danger, it was assumed that he might have dozed off at the critical time. No definite reason was given. We must remember there were two men on the engine at the time. This means that it can be assumed that both men dozed off. Why? 

Was there some other cause? We maintain this accident should not have been allowed to happen. 

Another question unanswered at the enquiry was why didn’t the driver’s safety device work to stop the train? 

Also with a Junction as open as this were the catch points not placed beyond the signal to derail any train running by? 

One signal to protect a Junction after a section as long as this is definitely not enough. Automatic detonator placing machines should have been installed to warn the signalman of a run-by and also to alert the driver that he had done so. At least one more track circuit in the section was required to allow the signalman to know of the position of the train.

So many things should have been there to prevent this from happening. As it was goods trains were involved. It could have been passenger trains. The results then would have been far more disastrous.

This is not the full story but it is enough for you to get the picture. What are the chances of the dependents  winning a case against British Rail? We would be very obliged for you comments. We have had a national appeal on behalf of the dependents to cover the cost of a court action.

Yours faithfully 

Branch Secretary

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As a rider to the enclosed letter, I would like to clarify one or two points. I stated that all intermediate signal boxes were withdrawn. This is not strictly correct. There was a signalbox at Steyning and Southwater. Both of thee boxes were closed on the night in question, therefore all signals would be showing clear. The signal box at Southwater was equiped with distant, home starting, and advanced starting signals all showing a green light. 

The distance between the advance starting signal and the distant for Itchingfield Junction was approx 1/4 mile. It is possible that the Driver mistook this signal for the distant and somehow miss the other signals but it is very remote.

The section of line from Shoreham to Itchingfiled was an undulating one requiring constant adjustment of power to maintain a constant speed and avoid snatches in the train couplings. At West Grinstead a station approximately 4-5 miles from the Junction Driver Guppy passed a light engine traveling towards Brighton. He exchanged greeting with the other driver by 
flashing his route indicator lights. This was a mere 5 minutes before disaster overtook him. From the point of exchanging greeting the train had to negotiate a down gradient for about 3/4 mile then an up gradient to the Junction distant. On approaching the distant power would have to be shut off to coast and reduce speed for a permanent speed restriction of 20 
m.p.h. over the trailing connection of the Junction. The signalman stated that the train was travelling at about 20 m.p.h. at the moment of impact. If power had been shut off prior to this the train would have come to a stand. 

On the other hand if it had not been shut off then the train would have approached the Junction at a speed more like 40 to 50 m.p.h.

Driver Guppy was a concientious railwaymean and very unlikely to miss any signals. With these facts, and knowledge of the road concerned, plus the fact of experience in working train of this type over the line, we feel that there must have been some other cause not brought to light for Driver Guppy to have apparently ignored the home signal's red light. We do not accept that he could have fallen asleep in so short time from the distant to the home a matter of seconds. Knowing that he was approaching a Junction.

There is a lot unexplained facts in this case. There is also a lot of doubt as to the causes of the accident. To assume a man to be guilty of such disastrous negligence as this when he can not defend himself is not, without overwhelming proof, justice. Especially when his widow and family suffer as a result of it.

25th October, 1967

Dear Mr. Hardiman

Thank you very much for your letter. I admire the concern of your union to do all they can for the unfortunate driver of this train, but quite frankly I am not happy about the legal position at all.

The first thing that struck me was the date he was killed. This was March 1964. So, even if his Personal Representative had a claim, isn’t it likely that this is now statute-barred? I assume no writ has yet been served.

Quite apart from that, though there may be substance and logic in the technical points you touch upon - particularly concerning the possible inadequacy of existing safety precautions at this Junction - I don’t feel satisfied that there is enough evidence to prove that there was legal fault - whether we call it negligence or brach of statutory duty - on the part of British Rail. Doubtless hundreds of trains have safely negotiated this piece of track in the past. The train in charge of Driver Guppy came to grief. The Report from the independent Inquiry seemed to put the blame on your member, That may or may not be so; but even if I had the 
book of rules and the full copy of this report in front of me I feel fairly certain that it would not convince me that the deceased’s executors or administrators have a case worth powder and shot.

There has been a whip round to get together a fund and if I thought there was the chance of making British Rail pay I would be glad to point in the right direction, but I don’t want to see things made worse in an abortive effort to better them. I would rather suggest that the monies you have collected be used for the benefit of the late Mr. Guppy’s dependants rather than the hazard fund on the outcome of would certainly be a very dicey piece of litigation

Yours sincere 

The John Hilton Bureau


 Correspondence from Alan Hardiman Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary 

and the News of the World, 5th November 1967

Dear Sir,

At a meeting of our Branch today, your observations regarding the case I wrote to you about, was brought to their attention. The Branch ask me to thank you for your interest in the case and value your suggestions.

We wish to point out that the collection that was organised, was not the work of this Union as such but was orgnised by our Branch with the assistance of the Feltham Branch. The union Executive Committee ruled that a collection should not take place. 

We have done thi on our own back. The seponse to the appeal has been overwhelming. We are closing the list in December and we would like to know if your paper could print a short item on this support we have received when the money has been added up and presented to our late Driver's widow. We do not want any publicity with regard of the unfortunate accident. Just the fact that our Fraternity stick together in the hour of need. If you could oblige I would be glad to give you details when the collection is complete.

Yours sincerly

Branch Secretary

Brighton No.1 

 9th November.1967

Dear Mr. Hardiman 

Thank you for your kind words.

What I suggest is that, when your collection has been completed and added, you drop a line to the News Editor, giving him the outcome of the situation.
I cannot, of course, guarantee that the will be space in that particular week’s edition. You can never tell, even the day before, but at least there would be nothing to lose.

With best wishes

Yours sincerely 

The John Hilton Burea

Correspondence form Alan Hardiman, Brighton Branch Secretary, 

to Mrs. K. Guppy, 

12th December 1967, 

regarding the presentation of a cheque, 

of the donation that has been collected as part of the National Wide Appeal.

Dear Mrs. Guppy,

On behalf of our Branch member I am writing to inform you that a nation wide collection has been in progress for some months. 

I have been asked to present you with a cheque before Xmas. It has been arranged with one difficulty to allow me to travel to Weymouth for this purpose. Would you there except a visit from me sometime on Sunday 17th Dec. 1967. I would appreciate confirmation that this arrangement will be satisfactory.

I trust that you and your family are well and managing alright.

Best wishes on behalf of the staff at Brighton M.P.D.

Yours faithfully

Branch Secretary

Brighton No.1

Correspondence from Mrs. K. Guppy, 

to Bro. Alan Hardiman, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary, 

which was posted on 

the 18th December 1967, and received on the 22nd December 1967.

Dear Mr. Hardiman,

I am writing to thank you for coming to see me and giving me a cheque for myself and children. This I understand was donated by Railwaymen all over the country. Will you please convey my warmest thanks to everyone who contributed, especially the men at Brighton who have been so good to me since my husband was taken from me nearly four years ago, leaving me with three children under five years of age.

It has been a struggle to bring a family up on my own. The cheque you gave me will be a tremendous help to in the future.

I am so grateful to everyone. I really cannot thank you all enough I am so overcome with gratitude for all you have 
done for me.

Thanking you all once again,

Yours sincerely

Mrs. K. Guppy 




Correspondence from Alan Hardiman, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary,

to Ron Mitchell, Feltham Branch,

8th January 1968

Re M. Guppy Appeal

Dear Sir & Bro. 

I am writing to inform you that the Appeal figure reached just over £890 just before Christmas. I wrote to the News Of The World Legal Advice giving them a detailed account of the accident. I told them we were contemplating legal action against the company and asked for their comments. After careful consideration they advised against such actions time had run out to reopen the case. In addition to this they said that case would be very dodgy on the evidence previously submitted. This was brought up at the Branch Meeting and discussed at great length. It was decided that it would not be fair to Mrs. Guppy to gamble with this money and stand a good chance to loose the lot. In view of this it was decided to present her with major portion of the money before Christmas. A small portion was kept back to keep the account open for any further contributions not yet received. I personally took the cheque to Weymouth and presented it to her on 17th Dec. 1967. She was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of the footplate staff. I explained that the collection was made up of contributions from every corner of the country. Mrs. Guppy wrote a letter of thanks to me. This along with alter from our Branch I sent to the Journal for publication. I am hoping that it will be in the January issue.

May I extend our very great thanks to you and your Branch for the great help and initiative in this appeal. The response has been tremendous. It i gratifying to know that our fraternity answer a call for help so willingly.

Best Wishes for 1968

Yours fraternally

Branch Secretary

Brighton No.1

Correspondence from Bro Ron Mitchell, Feltham Branch, 

to Alan Hardiman, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary,

13th January 1968

Dear Sir,

M. Guppy National Appeal

To acknowledge and thank you for your letter dated 10th January, 1968 regarding the A.A.D. Appeal and subsequent National Appeal to Society members which I note raised in excess of £890. on behalf of the widow and dependants of the late Driver Guppy. I spoke to John Mason, the Feltham Branch secretary about your letter and he  told that this sum has now increased by some £25. which I assume is another single Branch donation? Having cleared the snow from the door, (it’s my Rest Day!), I’ve now settle down by the fire with a quart flagon of sherry with my trusty typewriter, and by the time I’ve finished you will be a bit wiser as to how the National Appeal began and  I shall probably be “half out”…….

THE A.A.D.: You will no doubt have heard some details from your delegate, from whom I assume you got my address, but I would draw your attention to the only SUCCESSFUL Appeal which concerned a chap named Chollerton who was on the list of “runners” for the recent Organising Secretary Election which was won by the E.C. President Kirk. This Chollerton was disqualified from the Parliamentary Panel Elections because Head Office alleged that he was something like one shilling and four pence behind in his Political Fund Contributions. He only wanted his name “cleared” and the Stoke-on-Trent Delegate said that the Branch Secretary had admitted that he made a clerical error and Cholerton was not in arrears, this is a brief outline of an Appeal which is one, one would think “cut and dried”for success, but the point I wish to make is that although a clerical error was admitted by the Branch Secretary EIGHT DELEGATES VOTED AGAINST THIS APPEAL!!!!!!! You will see from this fiasco why the Guppy Appeal stood little chance and did well to fail by such a small margin. The soon to be distrubuted verbatim A.A.D. minutes will show clearly if the Appeal deserved to “win” and will no doubt reveal other anomalies too. One point to remember is that accident occurred on the 5th of March 1964 and the Statutary three years had elapsed by Tuesday by Tuesday 16th of May when the Appeal was heard, however, I chose to ignore this fact personally, because had the Appeal succeeded then legal action against the Society would have been in order, in my personal opinion, for neglect of legal obligation to a member, - especially in the view of the open letter of intent which I mentioned at the Appeal and will be quoted in the verbatim minutes, - is there food for thought there? Also there is the point that, and I am quoting from memory throughout this letter so the facts should be checked, item 34 on page 7 of the Ministry of Transport Report brought out in 1965, (I visualise it as being a one sentence item on the right side page about half-way down the page) says in essence that the bodies indicated that they were in their normal positions at the time of impact. However Bro. Vic Raskin, Sectional Council Member of Stewarts Lane Depot claims he was first into the driving cab. He has told me twice since the A.A.D. that the traction motor blower had to be cut away to release the Second Man’s body and the Driver’s body was hanging out of the Second Man’s side door window. Bearing in mind that a Driver of a “Light Engine” received a reply to his blinking of the headlights only 5-6 miles previous to the accident we could assume that knowing the layout of a Type 3. Then IF RASKIN'S STATEMENT IS ACCURATE possibly the Second Man was going into the engine room as a safety measure with a collision being unavoidable, and Driver Guppy could well have been killed while trying to join him. Bear in mind that thee traction motor blower is just inside the engine room door which IS ON THE SECOND MAN’S SIDE OF THE CAB……………? At an estimate combined collision speed of some 55 m.p.h. and the subsequent damage, I do not accept any firm conclusions can be drawn from the position of the controls etc. Surely if Raskin’s evidence is true and he is prepared to repeat it then why was he not called to the Inquiry and why did the Society not act on his statements? I should add that the National Appeal was launched after the A.A.D. obviously, but before hearing what Raskin had to say. The object, therefore was to provide for the dependants of Driver Guppy, because legal action was even then pretty well out of the question, but I am pleased to note that you did check on the possibility because every avenue should be explored on their behalf. I would agree that those who gave did give generously, but I also feel that those who were in a minority should have been a MAJORITY. This was, no doubt due to E.C. intervention and disapproval for which I hope their consciences are resting easy, but also apathy by some Branch Officials and in one instance according to what I’m told sheer bloody minded “jumped-up” self - opinionated bigotry and stupidity on the part of one Branch Chairman who decided in his infinite wisdom that he would not let his Branch Secretary read the letter out a Branch Meeting because a Branch Stamp was not used on the circular: through John Mason I requested that a suitably stamped circular be sent to this Branch. No wonder this Society is in the state it is in with Branch “leadership” such as this - surely his members are adult enough to make up their minds about such a simple issue? Stratford Loco has an E.C. Member and about 500 men at the Depot. Call it 400 at 2/6 is about £50. minimum possible to the Guppy Fund which could well be depleted or lost entirely because three Driver’s I spoke to from Stratford had not even heard of the Appeal, possibly due to their E.C. member’s influence. Birmingham was another Branch which their E.C. Member told me would not contribute - on his advice. Actually, knowing the difficulties, would be satisfied to raise £1,000. but in excess of £3,000. was easily possible if everyone pulled their weight and the E.C. minded their own business. As it is I regard every shilling as illustrating what the rank and file members think of the Executive Committee and Head Office efficiency which make Guppy Appeals necessary. It may be of interest to know that I chanced to meet some of the E. C. at Hampstead in a “pub” and our views were made known to each other! this was a few months after the A.A.D. 

Quite frankly, I do not think much of the chances of your letter appearing in the Journal, but I wish you well none the less for all my justified pessimism……………


So much for the Guppy Appeal and I guess that from the tone of my reply you can guess that the chief driving force behind it from a personal point of view was sheer disgust that a National Appeal should be necessary. Where do we go now, though? 
Here are a few of my suggestions:-

A) Sell 9 Arkwright Road and buy a more suitable modern office accommodation on the edge of the Greater London Area. Said property should be FREEHOLD and will in turn rise in value as Greater London Area expands. Buy the new accommodation first, and Arkwright Road will rise in value in the interim period to be sold to off-set the cost of the new accommodation.

B) Engage the best Office Staff and pay them the highest wages in their category with fringe benefits commensurate with their ability, said wages to rise in accordance with individual ability, not on a seniority basis.

C) Organising Secretary positions and Assistant and General Secretary positions be subject to re-election or election every three or five years to keep a competitive mood. Each will be allowed to draw from a “pool” of Society owned and maintained cars not more than a year old at the date of purchase. Each car to be a model which has been on production for at least three years and subject to an engineers report at the time of purchase: there should be a maximum of three different makes of cars in the pool to allow for interchangeability for spare etc., and each vehicle, be it new or second hand, not to exceed the value of 45% of the Officer’s Annual Salary, i.e. £810. for and Organising Secretary. Each vehicle will receive a yearly engineers report, and be sold between the third and fourth (lieu) year of total age: there would be two spare cars in the pool but no  payment made in should a car not be used.

D) Any Society Official should not be allowed on television interviews unless trained to present a good Society image. In the event of industrial dispute then a panel of members IN THE AREA fully conversant with the situation and all capable of expressing intelligent opinions should be made available to avoid a “panel” being selected from the “Long Bar” at Waterloo Station for example as happened in the recent past. Said official panel to be elected annually as with Branch Officers.Training should be made available on request by members of this official panel.

E) Selection of A.A.D. Delegates should be by selection according to ability and integrity. Two members of each Branch should attend a selection panel, of, say, the five Branches to be represented. Each potential delegate should be interviewed privately, and a secret ballot by the panel should select the most suitable applicant. The present Rota system is deplorable, and resulting in members attending an A.A.D., not  saying a word throughout thereby wasting a minimum of £50 per “silent” member at each Conference, say £400 - £500 in 1967??!! Natural Selection  should eliminate the eight who voted against the Chollerton Appeal, for example, i.e. natural idiots, and the type of delegate who (quote) 

“listens to the E.C. President and the Platform and votes accordingly as they have the facts”.. (unquote). 

Twits like these can form the coming policy of this Society, - no wonder you get Guppy situations!


So there you are then, -  some food for thought! One Trade Union such as the N.U.R. is not at this time answer, but on the other hand the A.S.L.E. & F. does not give value for money either, as you will note the General Secretary ADMITS when you get the 1967 A.A.D. verbatim minutes. By the way, you will note that John Mason and Don Pullen get copies get copies of all letters I write, -  their comments are sometimes interesting.

Best wishes for 1968, let me know at £1,000!


Ron Mitchel

P.S. with the greater efficient achieved by my “methods” your contributions will no doubt go up DOUBLE….!


In light of the tragic loss of the Two members the Brighton No.1 Branch. The Branch made an extra ordinary request to A.S.L.E.F. Head Office to set up a nation wide appeal to all A.S.L.E.F Branches throughout the country to raise donations for the two young families that had lost members because of the accident .To make such a request was a rare occurrence at this period of time. A.S.L.E.F. Head Office put the wheels and set up a nation wide appeal for donations. 

In the February 1968 edition of the Locomotive Journal (reproduced below) the Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary A.M. Hardiman was to write a letter thanking everybody within the Society for their help and support through this difficult period of time.




The Appeal on behalf of our late Bro. M. Guppy’s dependants has received overwhelming support. 

We of Brighton (1) wish to tender our appreciation of your most generous contributions.

On December 17, I personally present a cheque value £890 to Mrs. Guppy. We are keeping the Appeal open for another month to allow those Branches who we have not yet sent in to do so.

Mrs. Guppy has written to me:

“I write to thank you for coming to see me and giving me a cheque for myself and the children. This, I understand, was donated by Railwaymen from all parts of the country. Please convey my warmest thanks to everyone who contributed. My special thanks also to the men of Brighton who have been so good to me, since my husband was taken away from me, leaving me with three children under five years old. It has been a struggle to bring up a family on my own this past four years. The cheque will be a tremendous help in the future. I am so grateful to everyone. I am so overcome with gratitude for all you have done for me.”

Gentlemen, you can feel proud of having made a very humane and fraternal gesture.

A.M. Hardiman Branch Secretary 

Correspondence from Bro. Ron Mitchell, Feltham Branch, 

to Alan Hardiman, Brighton No.1 Branch,

 regarding the above letter that appeared in 

the Locomotive Journal, February 1968

11th February 1968

Dear Sir

I write to congratulate you on your letter to the Locomotive Journal for February '68 giving details of the Guppy Appeal. The wording was exactly tight in "tone"  i.e. not too effensive, and I am genuinely pleased that my permission (based on past experience!) about the likely hood of a letter of this nature being printed was for once unjustified.

Food for thought: a copy of the letter I sent  to you went to Don Pullen, as you know. He did comment on some of the contents to John Mason (Feltham Branch Secretary) especially on the subject of Organsing Secretaries, so perhaps the "permission" which was really  moral blackmail paid off? The E.C. were vehemently against the wording of the Appeal, as I said previously, so something "worked the Oracle" - but what it was we shall never know. "Morale Blackmail" works quite well with “Uncle Donald" (usually), for instance he recently become a Blood Donor and to get blood from a "stone" is quite something!

I hear that "Our Alby" Griffiths has had a coronary thromosis and may never work again.

There are times when I could “wring his bloody neck" but he is quite a likeable old "so & so" if you meet him socially - I spent some time "studying" him at the A.A.D.  Should he retire it will be interesting to watch the little "struggle for power" which must inevitably follow, - care to make any predictions.

On the "spur of the moment" I enclose a copy of a letter to J. Mason which might interest you - please return same to me in due course, it is my personal copy. I have also challenged the verbation minutes of the A.A.D. as "not being s true record" as it contains two omissions, -this is why I refer to it as a "Fuller Report" i.e. not verbation in my letter date 4.2.68.

Best wishes for 1968


Ron Mitchell

P.S. now you know why I "type" my letters - easier on the eyes.

P.S.S. have we got £1,000 yet? 

Correspondence from Alan Hardiman, Brighton No.1 Branch Secretary, 

to Mrs. Guppy

 13th Nov. 1969


Dear Mrs. Guppy

It has been decided by the Committee to close the appeal on behalf of your husband’s accident. I therefore have the pleasure in enclosing the balance of the fund.

A cheque to the value of £41-7-4d in enclosed.

On behalf of the members of the Branch may I wish you and your family best wishes and the seasons greetings. We all hope you are keeping well and that the result of the fund has helped a little in your difficult circumstance.

With best wishes

Yours faithfully

A.   Hardiman

Branch Secretary

Brighton No. 1

With the withdrawal of steam locomotive taking place across South Central Division of the Southern Region in during 1963 - 64 as part of the British Railway Modernisation Plan. To condemn an entirely fleet of new diesel locomotives from this class and any other similar classes would have caused total chaos to the train service across the region and across the country. It was therefore easier to place the blame on those who were unable to give evidence at inquiry. A inquiry into accident of this nature today, would have been more thorough using the latest scientific test that is now available, which was not available back then. 

I personally feel that both enginemen  had fallen asleep owing to being over come by carbon dioxide poisoning fumes entering into the cab, and these fumes came from a cracked exhaust manifold box. Shortly after this accident the exhaust boxes in No. 2 end were blanked off and the exhaust gas outlets on Class 33s were moved to above the turbo chargers. These modification took place over the following 8 to 10 years, with the last locomotive to be converted was No. 33016 in the early 1970s.





Photos from Alan Cooke, Pat O’Neil & Paul Edwards Collections

Above some photos of the Itchingfield Junction Memorial Afternoon 








Photos from Alan Cook, Rodney Burstow & Pat O’Neil collections





reports on a memorial to the two men who died at Itchingfield

In the early hours of 5 March 1964 at Itchingfield junction, three miles from Horsham, a collision between two goods trains tragically left two ASLEF members, driver Mick Guppy and fireman John Myles, dead. 

Fifty years on, to mark the anniversary, Brighton branch held a remembrance ceremony in honour of their two lost brothers which included the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. Be it Clapham, Cowden or Itchingfield, our industry has an analytical talent for reducing rail accidents to a collection of facts, figures, findings and recommendations. It is worth wondering to what extent, had Mick and John survived and given evidence to the subsequent inquiry, the findings would have differed. A question that gives rise to the quote on the memorial plaque, from The Spanish Friar by John Dryden, ‘Dead men tell no tales.’

The memorial event held at Horsham station on Sunday 26 October was, first and foremost, about the human side of the Itchingfield crash, and while ASLEF branches across the division were represented, including Brighton, Horsham, Barnham, and Three Bridges, most poignant were the contributions from the men’s families who thanked ‘ASLEF for all the moral and financial support given at the time’ which clearly has not been forgotten.

Branch chair Steve Chatfield, N.O. Simon Weller and D.O. Graham Morris invited members of our brothers’ families to formally unveil the plaque in the booking hall at Horsham.

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