Railway accidents on British Railways

Southern Region 

Central Division

Merstham Tunnel 29th January 1989 
Involving Victoria Driver P. Rood & Driver St leonards? D. Davis  

Purley 4th March 1989 
Involving Littlehampton Driver Bob Morgan 



Branch Chairman opened the meeting by introducing the two speakers, Bro A. Stanton, 

District Organiser, and Bro. J. Davis, E.C. Member of A.S.L.E. &F.

Bro. A. Stanton was given the floor as owing to the weekend rail accident at Purley he need 

to get away to oversee events. He began by explaining the purpose of the meeting, having 

been called and the two issues being discussed, the machinery of negotiation and the labour 

supply South East Area. He gave a breakdown of the present machinery system and then on 

the proposed new system, and went on to the fact that B.R. Board was about to be broken up 

into new sections also the ending of L.D.C.s and Sectional Council’s as we know them and 

ending up with possibility of only one area representative. One example of the new 

machinery, was that if failing to reach an agreement, management would implement their 

decision after 14 days, he went on to explain the importance of L.D.C.s and Sectional 

Councils, and that some senior management have said there was a need for L.D.C.s but still 

they are going ahead with their plans, he continued by asking members to talk to others 

and that we were never so strong as we are today, a call for one week rest day and overtime 

ban area by area, but within national and local rostering agreements. This campaign is a 

national federation campaign and meetings were taking place up and down the country to 

advise members of the situation. Thanking us for our time, he allowed time for questions 

before having to leave.

Then Bro. J. Davis stood and began by firstly talking on the meeting that took place between t

he unions and B.R., the various levels of discussion and A.S.L.E & F. reply’s, it was noted 

that Bro. Davis is on record as being opposed to any agreements, 

and the lack of leadership, he urged us to lobby the E.C. into doing something more positive.

He then went on to the Labour Supply problem, here in the South and how management seam 

prepared to have deals done in secret with individual depots in particular minder drivers, and 

that deals like these will become the norm in the future, and depots would be against other 

depots because of the earning powers they have. Bro. Davis urged members to go away and 

seriously consider the long term effects of the B.R. proposals. He then answered questions. 

Having answered many questions the meeting was closed.

8th March 1989


The Brighton to London Bridge American Express train worked by Brighton driver Dave Knight (MLV No. 9004). On approaching the M25 over bridge at Merstham on the up Quarry line where the train was held up and its contents robbed.

Left - Right: Bedford Phil Cherry & Brighton  Dave Knight in Bedford Messroom

11th April 1989

The 07.25 Tattenham Corner to London Bridge, on arriving at London Bridge collides with the buffer stops.

Eastbourne Driver Malcolm Court waiting to depart from Seaford 





Phil Plaine at the Brighton 2011 reunion

At the August Branch meeting held on the 3rd August 1989, the Brighton Branch made a 

special presentation to recently retired branch member Phil Plaine who had taken early 

retirement a few months earlier. 

All through Phil's footplate career was spent at one of the Brighton Motive power Depots. 

Phil had entered the footplate grades as a engine cleaner at Brighton on 11.10.1943. Phil 

gained his be promotion through the footplate grades at Brighton to Engine driver. Phil later 

decided to opt to go into the "Dual Link" at Brighton, which would see him later transferring 

to Brighton Motorman's depot (E.M.U.T.) in 1962.

During Phil’s time at Brighton E.M.U.T. Phil served Brighton No.2 Branch Secretary 1965 ~ 

1972 and Brighton No. 2 Chairman. During the 1970s and up until 1988 was the L.D.C. 

Secretary, H&S Rep 1971 ~ 1988 and Chairman of the A.S.L.E.F. Southern Region District 

Council No.1. With the amalgamation of the two depots Phil was re-elected back on to the 

L.D.C. and to the position of H&S rep. up until his retirement in the same year.

It was also claimed by a number of Brighton drivers, that Phil could "walk on water" because 

he won almost all of his cases when representing fellow ASLEF members. Phil was also 

known by some members as "Petrocelli" (a popular American lawyer on the television of that 

time, Petrocelli too won all of his cases).

During Phil's period of time on the Brighton E.M.U.T., L.D.C. was to become known as the 

P.L.O., being named after the terrorist organisation the Palestine Liberation Organization. 

(the L.D.C. was formed of Phil Plaine, Norman Light, Freddie Locke & Laurie Osman)..

When Phil retired, he was to be the last member of his family to work on the railway within 

the Brighton area. This ending a long family connection to the railway industry which can 

traced back to the 1860s when the Plaine family had moved into the town.

At the 2011 Brighton & Sussex A.S.L.E.F. reunion, I asked Phil, if the claim that he could 

walk on water was true or not? Phil just smiled and and started to chuckle to himself, and 

there was no answer forth coming to my question. This claim will just become another a myth 

of Brighton Branch of A.S.L.E.F.

Retirement & Long Service Awards 1989

Back row left to right John Osborne*, Bill MacKenzie*, Tony Luff (Horsham), 

Mike Donnelly (Area Opperation Manager), 

Bob Morgan (Littlehampton), Mick Gillam* (Littlehampton), Stewart Fuller* (Seaford).

Front; Stan Walters, George Hever, Charlie Evans, Phil Plaine*, Harry Vincent, 

John MacNeil* (Littlehampton), & Bob Trann (Non Clerical Timekeeper).

* Served as L.D.C. reps




Left ~ Right: Ron Lifford (Battersea, Sectional Council Secretary) & Bernie Noakes 

(Sectional Council, Brighton (No.2) Branch).

Ron Lifford is presenting Bernie Noakes with a plaque on his retirement in 

October/November 1989 at his last Full Council meeting on 15th November 1989. Bernie 

was a driver West Worthing E.M.U.T. for many years of his driving career. Bernie 

had previously been at depots in the London area (Norwood/New Cross Gate?) and 

transferred to West Worthing 1958



The West Worthing A.S.L.E.F. members remained apart of the Brighton branch after the 

amalgamation. In August 1989 West Worthing A.S.L.E.F. members decided that it would be 

more beneficial for them to amalgamate with another branch. This was due to the on going 

problems that the Brighton Branch was facing with the newly amalgamated Brighton depot. 

This move was to end West Worthing's association with the Brighton Branches of the past fifty 


The West Worthing A.S.L.E.F. members then became part of the Littlehampton Branch of 

A.S.L.E.F. in October 1989, where they remained members of until the Littlehampton Branch 

due to the closure of both West Worthing and Littlehampton depots in 1995 when the depots

 moved to the new depot at Barnham.

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