The Purley crash in which five passengers were killed and 88 injured - which led to Driver Bob Morgan being sentenced to 18 months (later reduced to four months) for manslaughter and endangering life - would have been prevented by an Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system.

This is the verdict to Deputy Chief Inspection Officer of Railways Alan Cooksey in his official report.

It further vindicates A.S.L.E.F.’s. long standing demands for the rapid installation of safety equipment which has been available to drivers in other countries for many years.

Mr. Cooksey says: “Justification of the capital expenditure involved in the installation of such system cannot be provided on the basis of normal investment criteria.

It is clear, however, that momentary lapses of concentration by train drivers do occur and that the Automatic Warning System (AWS), which is at present in use, can be reset without the driver heeding its warning.

In order to ensure the continuation of the generally high safety standard of railway travel I recommend the installation of an APT system on all ‘high sped’ and on all intensively used lines as quickly as possible.

He agrees that none of the APT systems currently in use can be adopted by British Rail for use with its existing signally and traffic patterns without some development.

But Mr. Cooksey stresses that the provision of ATP should not be delayed by an existing system, which is proven and validated, should be used with the minimum if development.

The report also recommends :

Provision of “black box” incident recorders on all new locomotives and multiple units and that they should be fitted to existing stock where practicable.

Installation of a “banner” repeater signal to assist London bound drivers approaching Purley station. This was provided on 3rd September 1989, six months after the accident.

A better regulated system for reporting and investigating signal irregularities and for immediate action on any remedial work.

Mr Cooksey says: It is equally important that those making the reports are kept as fully informed as possible. I consider the present arrangements for reporting back action taken are not as comprehensive as they should be.

This report concludes that there is corroborating evidence that Signal T170 was showing a proceed aspect (a single yellow) and junction indicator lights for the movement of the Horsham - Victoria train which moved from the up slow line to the up fast line outside Purley station.

The switch blades of the crossover tracks were lying properly secured for such a movement.

It is also clear, says the report, that Signal T168 on the up fast line was showing a red stop aspect to protect the Horsham train. There is no eye-witness evidence as to the aspect being displayed by the two signals approaching T168.

However, from exhaustive technical evidence. Mr. Cooksey concludes they were displaying the correct caution aspect, a double yellow at T182 and a single yellow at T178.

The brake of the Littlehampton - Victoria train, driven by Driver Morgan, were improper working order as was the AWS equipment.

Driver Morgan, who on legal advice gave his evidence in camera, told the inquiry that his train departed Gatwick Airport under green signals and he opened the window and looked back.

The next thing he could recollect was a green signal in the “covered way” (south of Purley) but he had no recollection of the next two signals T182 and T178.

He said that as the train travelling at 60 to 70 mph, approached the end of Purley station platform he noticed Signal T 168 at red and he immediately made a full emergency brake application. He believed that he did not cancel the AWS but that the power was shut off.

He realised the train would not stop at the signal and he just hung on. He told the inspector that “it ran through my mind it should not be that colour”.

He said everything happened so quickly, his train struck the other train a glancing blow, veered off to the left and went down the embankment.

When the coach stopped he slid from a gap in the cab and fell out on to the ground. He said he was mumbling as tried to think how it happened. He still could not explain or understand it.




Littlehampton Branch wishes to thank all Society members for they help and support during the case of our college Bob Morgan. Thanks to Head Office and 1990 A.A.D. for endorsing their support.

THANKS go to Tony Stanton for his sterling work during what was a very working time. We wish him all the best.

THANKS to Robin Thompson and Partners for all the work which they carried out during the case. Without them and A.S.L.E.F., who knows where Bob would be now?

THANKS also to all other trade union members and the individuals for their support. It’s nice to see that there is still unity amongst us.

Purley will probably be one of the biggest unsolved mysteries to us. Many have their views; one thing we can say - “we have learnt a lot from it”.

Once again, thank you all for your help and best wishes for 1991.

Bob Dorkings

Branch Reporter




The Branch meeting  held 23 December, 1990, marked the retirement of Branch Chairman, Bro. R.H. (Dick) Coombes from railway service.

Dick served the branch as chairman, LDC secretary, and District Council representative for many years. He was also a member of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal

His support of trade union principles and his unstinting work for his fellow workers will long be remembered. It is hoped he will have a long and happy retirement.

Stuart Fuller

Branch Secretary   


MARCH 1991


What an inspiring publication the special edition called ‘Legal Briefing’ was. As a Branch 

Secretary, I have always advocated importance of the unrivalled legal assistance which we 

as a trade union have given to our members.

Since members received the supplement, the comments and talks I have had with our 

members has been one of praise and appreciation for the sort of help which Robin 

Thompson & Partners gives ASLEF.

There is one area over which members seem a little confused: that is when their wives might 

not be entitled to legal assistance. If their wives are working, help may not be given as some 

members seem to believe. As always, members should seek advice from their Branch 

Secretary before asking the union to act on their behalf.

C. Newton

Branch Secretary



Brighton Driver Barry Brown, at Gatwick Airport 1991


MARCH 1991


The 1990 Three Bridges AGM, held in December, dealt with a number of matters and was as usual, in relative term, very well attended.

Main matters of interest included DOO passenger. Bro. Luxford, Branch and LDC secretary, gave the meeting an account of a joint meeting held with LDCs and the management on this subject.

The general feeling of the branch seemed to be that the safety aspect of DOO was getting worse due to the continuing break-downs of equipment on stations and trains and it would not be long before somebody is either killed or badly injured. 

A resolution was passed that if we see no improvement in DOO equipment in the very near future this branch will call on EC of A.S.L.E.F. to conduct a ballot of membership of the South Central sector to “black” DOO passenger trains on this sector. 

This would then have to result in a strike ballot if retaliatory action were taken against any member of any branch involved in this action.

It was hoped that these type of resolutions would bring the matter of the sorry state of affairs DOO has reached in this part of the world to a head and that some type of final solution of the problem can finally be found.

On more pleasant matters the branch welcomed Bro. A. Harbinson into A.S.L.E.F. He follows an almost endless line of ex-R.M.T. members who have joined A.S.L.E.F. since becoming drivers.

Then, also on the subject of new drivers, the branch heard of very disturbing complaints from two ex-R.M.T. members of alleged harassment by certain persons in the local A.M.O. at Brighton. The LDC were instructed to investigate the matter on behalf of the branch as these types of double standards of treating new drivers differently from pre 1988 drivers would not be tolerated by this branch.

Finally, after dealing with some nominations and various donations, the 1991 branch elections were held.

R. Luxford

Branch Secretary

Three Bridges Branch 

Graham Penn Collection 

Eastourne Driver Roy Townshend


MARCH 1991


The branch meeting held on 10 February saw in attendance Len Warboys, District Secretary, to make presentations to Bros. R.H. (Dick) Coombes and Peter Dove.

Dick Coombes served as Branch Chairman for many years, and was presented with a pen and pencil set for his loyal and devoted services to A.S.L.E.F.; Peter Dove was presented with a retirement certificate and badge. He was also made an Honorary member of the Branch.

Len Warboys wished Peter a long and happy retirement. Len said he felt honoured to be asked to make the presentation nd that the General Secretary would have liked to have been in attendance, but unfortunately was on Society business at the time.

Len also mentioned an item on B.R. deafness scheme (252/1990) saying that in the future it will be an item on the agenda, and anyone with deafness problem would benefit from this scheme.

We, Eastbourne Branch, wish to thank the District Secretary for his services

S. Fuller

Branch Secretary


APRIL 1991


Len Warboys & Dick Coombes  

Len Warboys & Peter Dove 

District Secretary Len Warboys makes retirement presentation to Peter Dove (above) and Dick Coombes (top) of Eastborne Branch

In February’s issue of the Locomotive Journal, it was stated that Bro. Coombes had retired from railway service.

In fact, this is not true, he has only retired from the Branch Chairman, and he still is in the railway service, but is off on sickness leave.

I wish to apologise for this error, and I hope this puts the record straight.

S.J. Fuller

Branch Secretary


APRIL 1991


I am writing this letter to express my gratitude and to say thank you for allowing me to attend the 1991 Society School in Blackpool from which I received an in-depth knowledge and understanding.

I especially wish to thank Ross Goff who, with this first class teaching and tutorship, made the course so enjoyable and interesting.

So much thought has gone into the course and the handout is excellent. Its content is so valuable when carrying out the duties of Branch Secretary.

I believe that the Society schools are essential, and I hope others will have the opportunity to have this teaching.

Once again I express my thanks.

Stuart Fuller

Branch Secretary

Eastbourne Branch 


MAY 1991



Les Friend, Ron Can & Mrs Friend

A large gathering took place at the Railway Social Club on Friday 1 March, the occasion being the retirement of our colleague Leslie Friend, who has been an A.S.L.E.F. member for 49 years

He started work at Tonbridge in 1942 as a cleaner boy moving to various depots until he eventually settles at Bognor Regis in 1962.

Les has always been a keen union member having held various positions in the Branch all his working life, finishing as Vice Chairman. He was always there to help and advise should the need arise.

The evening as one to remember. It wa nice to see retired colleagues together from Brighton, Fratton, Littlehampton and Worthing.

A presentation was made by Ron Can of a picture together with monies collected. Our District Secretary Len Warboys made the presentation on behalf of the union, touching on Leslie’s loyalty and dedication to the union over the years.

One must say a special thank you yo all those involved in organising the evening. It was a credit to all concerned.

Leslie, we wish you and your dear wife a long, healthy and happy retirement.

Branch Reporter.


West Worthing Driver Lou Churcher’s Last day

L~ R: Lew Churcher, Peter Ward (Guard Brighton), Driver Tim Lavington (W.W) 

Driver & Bob Dorkings (L'ham)



JUNE 1991

I wish to thank Robin Thompson and Partners for al their efforts in bringing my claim to a successful conclusion, and I enclose a donation of £30 to the A.S.L.E.F. Orphans’ Fund

J. Sanders 


Eastbourne Driver Dennis Roberts


On the 27th July 1991, a London Victoria to Brighton high speed run, worked by Victoria Driver Ron Taylor, as part of celebration for the Brighton Line 150th anniversary. Unfortunately an emergency brake application marked the attempt by 319 unit 176 & 184. The existing 39 minutes 14 seconds record (16th April 1988) thus stood unchallenged until the 26th March 1994




Left ~ Right Drivers: Roy Swetman, John Naisby (Train Crew Manager), Cyril Hutchings, 

Gus Wright, Don Hill, Harry Mitchell, Norman Light & John Brookshaw (A.T.C.M.)

Norman Light's retirement due in 1991

Back row Left - Right: Jimmy Edwards, Roger Thomas (W. W.), Laurie Osman 

& Gus Wright.

Front row Billy Kenchington, Gordon Hatcher, George Hilton (Sfd), Norman Light, 

Harry "Zippy" Mitchell, Eddie Forder (W. W.) & Eddie Ricketts.







We almost had another “Purley” at the same signal on 6th June. We had been warning of this since November and two meetings under Clause 12 of the Machinery had not allayed our fears

Sure enough, after the internal inquiry the Operation manager, South Central ordered a type of “DOUBLE BLOCK” system at the crossover, i.e. the preceding signal T178 could not show a proceed aspect until T168showed clear.

I congratulate this final acceptance to the problem, but I ask myself: Is this the only conflict move junction/crossover in the country? “Purley” is emotive - and not accepting that such an accident can happen at other locations convinces me that the move was politically motivated.

We are entitled to work in the safest environment possible. No one should face the possibility of manslaughter charges because the BRB abrogate their responsibility.

A recent discipline charge has brought to light an old “crusade” of mine - the General Appendices of the BR Rule Book. One of the lads was propelling at a location permitted under the Appendix, but on the day in question it started snowing and he was involve in a collision and charged under BR Rule 12.

The details of the case are not the issue. I have always contended that propelling is unsafe. What the Appendix does is to legitimise an unsafe move, because BR cannot provide the walkways etc, at the location. I believe, again, abrogation of responsibility.

The amount of SPADs is very worrying, but I cannot detect a common denominator, for our young and not-so-young drivers have all been involved in about the same ratio. There is, however, one certainty; a system of duplication of the signal aspect must be introduced within any “black box” system devised.

I applaud the Executive Committee’s stand on this (EC resolution 1067/372). The Region has gone over to “Operation for Quality” I am concerned that under the new set up, discipline procedure is being down graded.

I know my fellow officers are also concerned and Head Office we are taking steps to address this.

All is not doom and gloom. Membership is on the increase and along with several colleagues we have been able to get in at the schools and induction courses. 

We are finding no problems getting the membership once we can speak to the new recruits, but it is essential to do so before we are faced with the more difficult task of talking to people already holding a union card.


Eastbourne Driver Cyril Ring


Commemorating the centenary of the Brighton Branch 25th August 1891

the badge was designed by Branch Secretary Chris Newton




July’s meeting of Brighton Branch held at the Staff Club would normally have been held 

during the first week of the month - but with Society business taking much of the limelight, 

the Branch was held over to take account of events.

We were honoured that we had invited Districted Secretary Len Warboys to come and speak 

to the members and we enjoyed a larger than usual number of members attending the 


Minutes were read and accepted, letters and circulars were read our with questions and 

answers to circulars. We heard, via an appeal, to the plight of one of our members from LUL 

and we will be affording our concern in the usual way and extend to his family our thoughts 

and support.

Concern was raised on staff car parking arrangements, our Chairman and L.D.C. leader 

explained the position to members; then our health and safety rep reported on the latest 

round of H&S problems and that he would be attending a visit the updating of cab seals on 

319/1 at Ilford.

At this point our Chairman invited our District Secretary to address the branch. Len thanked 

members for inviting him to the meeting and kicked off by addressing the problem over 

SPADs and signal irregularities referring to Purley.

He explained the way these incidents were being conducted. We’ve heard recently that 

problems within this area were still occurring, putting our members in very uncertain 

positions. Members asked if Bro. Bob Morgan’s case would be reviewed, but no decision has 

been taken.

Len then went on to talk on Restructuring, explaining the working parties and the way the 

talks will lead hopefully to a successful conclusion.

With time being the enemy, we had to call time but a call went out for Len to come again.

C. Newton

Branch Secretary 

Brighton Driver Vic Clarke 

on a EDL 73101 "The Royal Alex" 

(formerly The Brighton Evening Argus)



Don Pullen reports on 150th birthday celebrations of the Brighton Line 

and looks back at Grilled kippers, toasted firemen

Full marks to Divisional Director Chris Jago and hard working team for putting on a truly 
great show marking the 150th anniversary of the first train to run into Brighton station from 

For railway enthusiasts this was a quite remarkable demonstration of the development of 
routes and mileage, all breeds of locomotives, rolling stock, stations, depots and systems and 
how they fitted into the general pattern running through social and political change down 
through the years.

This celebration really began at the beginning of the summer with all sorts of events up and 
down the Division.

The climax came on Saturday and Sunday 21 and 22 September when Brighton station was 
almost completely over taken by a programme of entrainments, education, history and pure 
nostalgia attended by many thousands of railway buffs, friends and relations.

We have to say “almost overtaken” because, somehow, the normal train services, plus a good many extras, managed to find their way around the hundred of exhibitions, demonstrations, bands and dancers, vendors and caterers crowding every available inch of space on platforms and concourse.

I was luck to be there with John Wickes (former Industrial Relations Chief on the Southern 
Region) in charge of Network SouthEast official stall selling items like badges, books T-shirt and all manner of memorabilia.

Our real purpose was to collect a generous percentage of total takings as a donation to that 
oldest-of-all railway charities, the Railway Benevolent Institution. 

We had an absorbing, interesting couple of days, supported throughout by the Secretary of the North Staffordshire Railway Modelling Club who manned the stall next to us and likewise gave a nice commission to the R.B.I.

This was a weekend offering thousands of things to see and do and although our own 
activities were limited by being tied for most of the time to the business in hand, the highlights for me where (1) the opportunity to join the footplate of the Bulleid Pacific Taw Valley and (2) to sample the luxury of riding up to Victoria aboard Brighton Belle (or Orient Express), both of which came from the invitation of Chris Jago.

Brighton Driver Peter Staniford

It happens that I did quite bit of firing on Bulleid locos when stationed at Ashford during the 
war years and afterwards. Those of us who can still remember Bulleid would be forced to 
admit that Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid was not on the list of favourite locomotive engineers among the footplate fraternity of those early days.

In fact, we all quickly found the opinion that here, with the introduction of Utility ‘Q’ Class, 
we had unearthed some sort of idiot for a locomotive engineer. Those ‘Queers’ or ‘Spam 
Cans’ were odd to look at and even odder to work on.Nor, in those early days, were many 
marks given to the Bulleid Pacifics. I recall the chief of the Ashford Works drawing office, 
Joey Palmer, giving a lecture to the Mutual Improvement Class one fine Sunday morning in 
the early war years.

Joe wanted all drivers to understand that the new, revolutionary chain-drive gear on these 
engines had to be handled with great care. To se the reverser to notch back towards mid-gear 
could be fatal to the heavy handed. A snapped chain would fall into a sealed oil sump and the loco would be a complete failure. The message went home.

My mate at the time, Jack Milbury, was one of the lightest, most experienced drivers at the 
depot. I reckon Jack handled an engine so gently that if a coal-saving bonus had been 
available in those days, he would have retired a rich man.Bit from the moment Jack learned 
from Joey Palmer of the danger of snapping the chain, he resolved never to be guilt of 
notching back too far. The result? Whole shovels full of good coal straight out through the 
tubes without touching the firebox - and a fireman with an aching back...!

It is true that after a long period of trial and error and numerous modifications to the 
alignment of the blinkers alongside the smokebox - with other beat and blast refinements - the Merchant Navy and West Country Class locomotives became very good , powerful machines which served the ‘Southern’ very well until the withdrawal of steam.

But Bulleid’s greatest abomination without any shadow of doubt was the infamous  Leader 
Class monstrosity. Built to like a carriage, it had the firebox and mini footplate in the middle 
of the coach with a drivers desk at each end. Result? Happy driver, roasted fireman.All that 
was so long ago as to be almost forgotten and forgiven. Down at Brighton for the 150 years’ 
celebrations we were privileged to witness the naming of a Class 73/128 loco - OVS Bulleid. 

Officiating were two sons of the great man Messts Hav and Michael Bulleid - both retired 
engineers and architects.And, buffered up to the new locomotive, stood the magnificent Taw 
Valley a preserved West Country Class, in steam and positively sparkling.It was my luck to be invited on to the footplate with the Deputy Mayor of Brighton and other civic dignitaries.

There was also an invitation from the fireman to try my hand with the shovel again.

After the absence of something like 45 years and recent major surgery, this was an offer I felt obliged to decline. Yet it was great to be back on the footplate where it all began! Amid all the speech making ad grandeur of many old steam locos; among the new, powerful diesels in the modern fleet, it was good to that members of the staff and long-suffering passengers were recognised.

The (Brighton) guard of the first Brighton Belle train arrive, Peter Hambridge, was called to the rostrum with his wife. Peter worked for 46 years on the Brighton Line, often on the Belle.It was his 65th birthday and this his very last duty before retirement. He received from the Divisional Director a scale model of a Belle coach and nice things were said on both sides.Some “customers” began as mere passengers more than 40 years ago and have shuttled between Brighton and London all that time, clocking up in some cases more than 900,00 miles. And they can still find it within themselves to say kind things about the services and the staff.

In my own case, I ended my active footplate life as a driver at Victoria Central in 1962. 
Several Brighton Belle turns were worked by Victoria men, so I know enough about the Belle stock to be able to report that while that while famous people like Sir Laurence Olivier, Dora Bryan and others were enjoying their special lipped breakfasts, the poor old driver was perched on a piano-type flat, circular stool bolted to the inside of the cab door, having a really rough ride at the front.

That’s why I was delighted to be asked to take a seat on the last Belle trip that day. It was nice to spend the next 58 minutes in the rare luxury of a Pullman car, sampling the splendid 
services of a bygone age.And to crown a pleasant trip, our driver was none other than 
George Knight of Norwood Junction depot, a longtime L.D.C. officer and great A.S.L.E.F 

Yes, the 150 Years of the Brighton Line was a big success. Such events together with railway depot Open Days do so much to improve what are now known as customer/staff relations. 

They also provide an opportunity to advertise the work of railway charities as the R.B.I and 
Woking Homes.

John Wickes and I enjoyed the visit. We are grateful to Mike Edwards, Claire Wickes and all 
those who worked so hard and so long to ensure celebrations befitting the occasion. The Bi-
centenary is still a long way off. But its organisers now have a good pattern from which to 




Many congratulations to Len Warboys on a very enjoyable weekend school at Southsea.

The choice of speakers was excellent. Getting Sir Bob Reid as a speaker was certainly a coup on Len’s part.

The General Secretary gave an informative talk on restricting and was as usual on top form.

Sara Leslie from the union’s solicitors spoke most interestingly on points of law and the latest Trade Union Acts.

It was good to see members of Sectional council among the ranks and their secretary Ron Lifford closed the weekend session.

A good time shared with friends and colleagues. I look forward to the next one, Len.

R. White

L.D.C. Secretary 


Brighton Ian Dove c1991




With great sadness I am writing to say that Driver Derrick Beaumont of Eastbourne depot passed away on 31 October 1991.

Derrick was a strong branch attender and held the position of Vice chairman for many years.

He will be greatly missed by us all and our condolence and sympathy go out to his family.

S.J. Fuller

Branch Secretary 




I wish to express my appreciation of you and the Society in presenting my recent claim for 

loss of hearing caused by my work to the solicitors who successfully resolved the claim with 

much satisfaction in my award.

Furthermore, I have extended the same to Mr. C. Newton, Brighton Branch Secretary.

J. Sayers

Retired, Brighton Branch


These photos have been taken from the video of Brighton Train Crew Social Fund Christmas Party of 1991.

The presentations made by Len Warboys ASLE&F District Secretary No 1 

(left in photos) & John Naisby Brighton Train Crew Manager

 Harry Mitchell

  Cyril Hutchings

Norman Light

Roy Sweetman


 Don Hill

Gus Wright

Vic Harris

Gordon Hatcher

Sandra Fleet Collection 

(Laurie Osman’s daughter)

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