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the Brighton Motive Power Depots

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the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches


4th MAY 1867

Adapted from the B.o. T. Report

by C.S. Hutchinson Capt. R.E.

On the 4th May, 1867, a passenger train from Littlehampton to Ford ran into a train of empty carriages standing in a siding 

at the Ford Station of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, on which occasion six passengers and the guard of the 

train were injured; no bones were broken, but the injuries consisted of cuts and severe shakes.

Ford is a junction station on the line from Brighton to Portsmouth, the Mid-Sussex line entering it from the north, and the 

Littlehampton line from the south.

There is a signal box at the junction of the three lines; to the westward of this a wooden bridge over the Arun, and then a 

station signal-box close to the east end of the platform. The down or south platform is double-faced, and the siding on its 

southern face is continued to the westward till it rejoins the main line 400 or 500 yards from the platform. The trains from 

Littlehampton to Ford usually draw up to the platform on this siding, and itis customary to use the western portion of the 

siding for empty trains. On the evening in question a six-wheeled engine and tender attached to s train of empty carriages was 

standing on this siding, the engine being at the east end of the train, and about 250 yards from the station signal-box, or 120 

yards from the west end of the platform, which is 130 yards long.

The passenger train from Littlehampton to Ford consisted of a six-wheeled engine (with 5 ft. 6 in. driving wheels) and tender, 

third-clam carriage, second-class carriage, a first-class carriage, and break van, Provided with ordinary break power, 

coupled in the order stated. The guard states that the train left Littlehampton at 6.40 p.m. on the 4th May, and that they 

proceeded at a rather faster rate than usual up to the bridge over the Arun, the signals being all right for them to enter the 

station ; but that the speed from this point, instead of being gradually reduced as is usual, did not slacken till the station box 

was reached, when, after running for about 20 yards at a reduced rate, the train again shot ahead, and maintained its 

increased rate of speed until it ran into the engine of the empty train on the siding.

Before reaching the bridge the guard states that he applied his break, and kept it hard on until the collision occurred; and this 

statement is corroborated by other testimony. He was unable to communicate with the driver, from the absence of any means 

of doing so. The driver of the engine of the train of empty carriages stated that be happened to be standing at the east end of 

the platform when the Littlehampton train passed. From the rate at which the train was going (which he estimated at from 18 

to 20 miles an hour) he felt sure a collision would occur, and followed the train as quickly as possible. On reaching the 

engines he found his own had been knocked back about 40 feet ; and he observed that the break blocks of the tender of the 

engine from Littlehampton were of as f as the screw would admit, giving him the impression that the handle had been turned 

the wrong way. This driver's fireman was standing on the main line opposite to his engine when the collision occurred; he also 

estimated the speed of the Littlehampton train at from 18 to 20 miles an hour, and observed that the break blocks of the tender

were right away from the wheels.

I was unable to examine the driver and fireman of the train from Littlehampton, as the former had absconded, and the latter 

was in gaol, awaiting his trial. From the evidence it appeared that they were both perfectly sober on the evening in question ; 

that they knew the line well, having run over it nearly 50 times since the lst of April ; that the driver had served & such on 

different lines for l9 ½ years and the fireman for two years, though they had joined the Brighton Company's service only on 

the 1st of April ; that the only excuse the driver made was that he could not shut off steam, from his regulator not working; 

which statement was proved to be false by the locomotive foremen at Littlehampton, who found the regulator working 

perfectly, shortly after the collision. Both driver and fireman had a copy of the Company's rules, which state that the speed on 

approaching the bridge over the Arun must not exceed 15 miles an hour.

I think, therefore, there can be no doubt but that the collision was caused by inattention to their duties on the part of the driver 

and fireman, and that on suddenly finding themselves entering the station at too high a speed they lost their presence of mind, 

and neglected to me the ordinary means of reducing speed by reversing theengine and applying the tender break.

It seems very objectionable that any trains should be permitted to leave s station without communication between guard and 

driver and it is quite possible that the present collision might have been avoided had such communication existed in this 


* Enginemen's depot not known

Click on the icon above for

the Brighton Motive Power Depots

Click on the icon above for

the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches


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