IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY

THE HISTORY OF THE

BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.

 

 

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CRYSTAL PALACE 

11th FEBRUARY 1861

extracted and adapted from the report by

W. Holland Colonel R.E.


A fatal accident that occurred on the 11th February at the Crystal Palace Station of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, by which a female passenger, Mrs. Lynch, and a railway porter, Wm. Eager, lost their lives.

The west end of the Crystal Palace Station is situ- ated about 75 yards east of the mouth of the Crystal Palace tunnel, which is somewhere about 800 yards in length, and Gipsy Hill Station, on the West End and Crystal Palace branch line is situated 53 chains east of the Crystal Palace Station. The tunnel is traversed by a double line of railway, and about 35 yards within the tunnel mouth, at its eastern end, a junction is formed between the two main lines which lead to Croydon and Brighton, and which go off to the right, and the Crystal Palace branch lines to London Bridge, which turn away to the left. The up and down main lines run parallel to each other from the mouth of the tunnel, but the up and down branch lines run through the station buildings some short distance apart.

Since the opening of the western extension of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway, last December, there has been considcrable passenger traffic to and from that line to London Bridge, and the passengers so proceeding exchange carriages at the Crystal Palace Station. 

In consequence of the extreme proximity of the' tunnel, and the very limited view which is obtained from the station of all trains arriving from Pimlico and Victoria. Station, much pains have been taken to cover the junction and station by proper signals, and no train from Victoria Station is permitted to leave Gipsy Hill Station for the Crystal Palace until the signalman at the junction, who is stationed in a box about 25 yards outside the mouth of the tunnel, gives the signal that the line is clear; and as soon as a train coming from Victoria Station enters the tunnel, he rings a large hand-bell as a warning to persons on the platforms and to the company’s servants. An up London, Chatham, and Dover train due at the Crystal Palace station at 9.50 a.m. arrived there at the proper time, and the passengers by it (20 to 30), who intended to proceed to London Bridge, got out of the train on to the south or up main line platform, and after giving up their tickets proceeded to take others for London Bridge. Among the number was a female passenger, Mrs. Lynch, who had only taken a ticket from Faversham to Strood, intending to proceed by the North Kent line from Strood to London Bridge; but when she arrived at Strood she told the guard that she would go on to the Crystal Palace Station, and from thence to London Bridge. After she had taken her ticket from the Crystal Palace station to London Bridge, the inspector of tickets had some difficulty in making her understand that there was still as to pay; as the fare from Strood to the Crystal Palace, and some delay in consequence occurred, which was the ultimate cause of her death.

The up main line platform, at which the London, Chatham, and Dover train had stopped, is situated south of the four lines of railway, and the platform from which all passengers going to London Bridge enter the carriages is north of the four lines of rail. way, and there is a distance of 112 feet which must be traversed to get from One to the other, crossing on the level four separate lines of railway. As soon as the London, Chatham, and Dover train had left, the passengcrs going to London Bridge were conducted by two of the Company's servants acrosa the up and down main lines, and a.fterwards across the up and down branch lines, in the same way and with the same precautions. There is a gate between the main and branch lines, wbich is kept locked, and the key was in the possession of one of 'hese two men ; and the inspector of tickets informed me that atter the female passenger, Mrs. Lynch, had paid him the fare from Strood to the Crystal Palace, she crossed the up and down main lines and the down line to Victoria Station; that he saw porter Eager standing with the gate, to which I have referred, in his hand, south of the down line to Victoria Station; that all the other passengers had gone across, except a young gentleman whom he had with him; that he saw an up London Bridge train emerging from the tunnel, and he had before heard the warning-bell rung by the signalman, and he called out to porter Eager to look after the woman; that he was still at the gate when he called to him, and the woman was under the archway between the up and down branch lines, and he (the inspector) wu still on the up main platform when he called out, and he crossed over the three lines of railway with the young gentleman, and waited at the south side of the up London Bridge line till the train had entirely passed ; that the engine and tender and 4 or 5 carriages had passed when he got and there were about 11 carriages altogether ; that the train was going very slow in order to stop at the up London platform; that he saw nothing of the woman or porter Eager after he called out, until the train had passed, and then both were found between the rails about 17 yards farther out than the boarded crossing over which they were passing when caught by the train and run over. They were laying about three yards from each other; that the woman was dead, and the porter Eager died in the course of five minutes. A ticket collector informed me that as the train was running into the station he looked for the No. of the engine, and while doing so he saw the female passenger crossing the up London line and porter Eager was in the act of trying to get her away, and, from what he could see, was endeavouring to pull her back. The engine was then close on them, and immediately ran over them.

The up London Bridge train, which caused the accident, was that appointed to leave the Victoria. Station at 8.40 a.m., and due at the Crystal Palace Station at 9.10. It arrived at 9.13. No blame is, in my opinion, attributable to any of the Company's Servants, and it appears quite certain that porter Eager lost his life in trying to save the female passenger's life.

The engine-driver of the train saw nothing of the occurrence. The place is undoubtedly a very dan- gerous one for crossing the lines on the level, and there was then another mode of passing from the up main line platform to the up branch line platform, without crossing on the line; but that way necessitated the going up of 52 steps to a height of 30 feet above the platform, and descending 63 on the other side, and no passengers ever made use of it.

The company have very properly determined to construct a lower and more direct foot-bridge, and to prohibit altogether the passengers from crossing on the level. That foot bridge is now in course of construction.

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