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17th MARCH 1866

extracted and adapted from the report by 
W. Yolland Colonel R.E.

On the 17th March 1866 a collision between a goods train and a passenger train at the Stewart’s Lane station of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway, on which occasion about five passengers were injured. The Stewart's Lane station is situated adjacent to the locomotive establishment and goods yard of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway at Battersea; and the north end of the down platform is about 200 yards from the junction with the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway at Stewart’s Lane. The Junction signals are in the hands of a servant of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company; and all engines or trains coming out from the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway yard proceed by a single line on to their up main line if they are going forward to Victoria station; whereas if it be a goods train or a passenger train proceeding towards Stewart's Laue station, it is pushed out of the yard to the up main line, and thence by a cross-over road to the down main line when the engine is in the right position for taking the train on. But no train of any length can come out of the yard for this purpose, without fouling the down main line of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, and for that reason nothing is permitted to come out of the yard without the express permission of the Brighton signalman at the Stewart’s Lane Junction.

The instructions to the signalman at Stewart’s Lane junction are as follows:

On and after Sunday, the 5th day of March 1865, the interior semaphore working to, our box from the London, Chatham, and Dover Company’s Stewart's Lane station for traffic from Victoria will stand at  'Stop' until altered for the passage of “ a train. Whilst at 'Stop' you must allow nothing to pass " your signals to go on to the London, Chatham, and " Dover line.

So soon as a train for the Chatham and Dover “ line is signalled to you by telegraph from Battersea Park you must transmit such signal to the “ Chatham and Dover signalman at Stewart's Lane “ station by giving two blows upon the new instrument, when (if the line is clear) he will pull off the  interior semaphore, and you can then let the train proceed on its journey. 

In fact you will work your out Chatham and Dover signal in strict conformity to the interior  semaphore, in precisely the same way as you now work your out Brighton signal in, conformity to the " discs working from Long-hedge Junction to your “ box."         Brighton terminus, SIGNED GEO. HAWKINS March 2nd 1865. 

On the 17th March 1866 the 1.30 p.m. down goods train, consisting of engine and tender and seven vehicles, including two break vans, with two guards, was ready to leave the London, Chatham, and Dover Company's yard at Battersea at its appointed hour, and the driver whistled for the signals at the junction to be taken off, so that he might proceed. He was kept waiting eight or ten minutes until the London, Chatham, and Dover Company's down passenger train, which is appointed to leave Victoria station at 1.32 p.m. had passed the Stewart’s Lane Junction on its way to Stewart's Lane station, and then the Brighton signalman, at 1.38 or 1.40, gave the London, Chatham, and Dover switchman orders to let the goods train out, and he himself shifted the points of the cross-over road for the goods train to be shunted back from the up to the down main line; and when the goods train near the Stewart's Lane Junction signal-box, the Brighton signalman pave a signal for the train to proceed towards Stewart’s Lane station. He states that he told the driver to go steady to the station, as a branch train was standing there; but this is flatly contradicted by the driver, who, according to the evidence, must have been somewhere about 35 yards from the signalman's box. There is no distinct corroboration of the Brighton signalman's statement, but other parties say that he made use of the words "Go steady," or something to that effect.

The Brighton signalman gave his evidence very fairly. He snys, that he signalled to the Stewart's Lane station signalman about 1.43 for the goods train, by two rings of a bell, but that he did not get any reply; and he admits that he sent the goods train on, in opposition to thc instructions of the 2nd March 1865 which I have recited, He had been three years at the same box, and had always carried out the same practice with certain trains (empties in the morning, &c.), and had found it absolutely essential to break the order of the 2nd March in order to carry on the traffic, in other words, to get the London, Brighton, and South Coast line clear for the trains belonging to three companies that run over it from Stewart’s Lane Junction to the entrance to the Victoria station yard. The servants of the London, Chatham, and Railway Company do not generally admit that any such practice had been introduced, but allow that it was done under special circumstances, under the authority of the Battersea Park station-master in two cases; and one or two witnesses allow that it had been done on other occasions; but I did not bear any driver admit that he had been sent on from the Junction to Stewart’s Lane station, and had found a train waiting there when he reached the station.

There is a short piece of level on the London, Chatham, and Dover line adjacent to and south of the Junction, and from thence the line rises on a steep incline of 1 in 96 1/2 to the Stewart’s Lane station, according to the plans furnished to this department prior to this line being opened for traffic, but at that time there was no station at Stewart’s and the driver of an engine coming out of the yard, as this goods train did on the 17th March, could not, when he stopped clear of the points of the cross-over road, see either the north end of the down platform, the carriages of a train standing along, side of it, or the Stewart’s Lane station signal, owing to a curve in the line, and the recent erection of one of the piers for carrying the viaduct for the high level main line of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway from the Victoria Bridge southward. After running about 50 yards towards the station, the driver would come in sight of the signal, and if good look-out had been kept, the driver would still have had time to stop his train before the engine reached the north end of the Stewart’s Lane station platform. But the driver says that he had his cylinder cocks open from the time of leaving the yard, and was thus prevented by the steam from seeing the passenger train that was standing at the Stewart's Lane station down platform. He says that just before his engine struck the other train, his fireman called out" Wo;" and then he reversed his engine, and did all in his power to stop but it was  to effect any reduction of the speed, and the 1. 32 P.M. down passenger train was struck by the goods engine while the latter was travelling at a speed of about eight miles an hour. The passenger train had been detained at Stewart's Lane station until the line was clear up to the next station in advance. There were two extra men on the goods engine that day, who were riding there by permission; and all the company’s servants connected with the train give it as their opinion that it was not, at the time the collision occurred, travelling at too great speed to stop by the time it reached the station signal.

1. With to the causes which have con- tributed to this collillion, I should state that it could have happened in this instance if the instructions issued by the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company had been obeyed by their own signalman, At the same time, I feel certain that the man on duty was only anxious to clear the Brighton line. His proper course long since would have heen to have represented that he was obliged to break through these instructions; and then a stop signal, under his control and worked from the Junction, could have been put up between his box and the pier of the new viaduct, that would allow of London, Chatham, and Dover down trains passing along the down line till clear of the Junction points, but stopped by the signal from proceeding on to Stewart’s Lane station until the signalman at that station had given" line clear" by the interior semaphore when the stop signal could be turned off.

Some arrangement of this kind is still necessary for the future, as the despatching of trains by hand signals and by calling out is constantly leading to collisions.

2. I consider the driver of the goods train was decidedly to blame in not having kept a better look- out, aed I recommflud that the practice of allowing extra drivers and firemen to ride on the engines when not on duty be discontinued, as it is liable to withdraw the attention of the men on duty from their work.

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