IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY


THE HISTORY OF THE


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

 

 

 

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EAST CROYDON

9th SEPTEMBER 1884 


INVOLVING DRIVER EDWARD ELLIOT

& HIS FIREMAN ALFRED BABER

extracted &adapted from the report by

C.S. HUTCHINSON MAJOR-GENERAL 

On the 9th September a collision occurred, at East Croydon station, on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway.

In this case, a tank engine, which was setting back chimney first along the up main line to join the carriages forming the Victoria 

portion of the 5.5 p.m. up passenger from Hastings and take them to Victoria, was allowed by its driver to strike the train with 

considerable force.

Eight passengers are returned as having been shaken or bruised.

In the train, which consisted of seven vehicles fitted with the Westinghouse break, the buffer-castings and head-stock of a 

third-class; next the engine (which was also fitted with the same break) were damaged.

The collision occurred at about 7.10 p.m.

Description.

At East Croydon station the London Bridge and Victoria portions of most of the Company's up main line trains are divided 

before proceeding to their respective destinations. After one of the portions has departed, the engine for the other portion runs 

out of a siding near the up end of the platform, and then sets back along the up main line to the front of the carriages, a distance 

of about 200 yards, more or less. The up main line falls slightly towards London.


Evidence.

I. Joseph King, 27 years in the service, guard 15 years.-1 was guard of the 5.5 p.m. train from Hastings on the 9th September. 

I was in the last vehicle of the Victoria portion of the train, which consisted of

seven coaches. viz., three composites, two third-class carriages, one third-class break, and a break-van, the third-class break 

being in front und the break-van behind. We arrived at East Croydon at 7.5 p.m., three minutes late. I put no breaks on my part 

of the train, but the shunter who separates the two portions of the train usually applies the Westinghouse break after dividing the 

train. The London Bridge portion got away about 7.8 p.m., and as soon as it had cleared the station the engine come back on to 

the Victoria portion, while was standing opposite the front of the front vehicle. When the engine was about 20 or 30 yards; off 

its speed attracted my notice as being too great, perhaps six or seven miles an hour. Steam was not on at that time that noticed. 

saw the fireman, who was on the platform side, looking towards the train, but not doing anything. He was in the position be 

would have occupied to apply the hand-break. did not see the driver, or what he was doing. I went forward and shouted, and I 

also called the attention of Inspector Bone, who was standing beside we, and he also shouted. Our shouts did not seem to 

produce any effect, and the engine then struck the front of the train, at a speed of six or seven miles an hours, driving back the 

break carriage and composite next it as far as the buffer castings would allow. The collision occurred about 7.10 p.m. It was just 

getting dusk. My hand-lamp was shining on the front of the last carriage. I do not. know whether the shunters lamp was on the 

front of the carriage, as it usually is. I am not aware that the rails were greasy. The shunter had put on the Westinghouse break as 

usual before I left my van. Neither the driver nor fireman jumped off before the collision. I did not ask the driver why he had 

come back so fast, nor did he say why be had done so. I should say there was no break at all on the engine wheels up lo the time 

of collision. i knew the driver, who had often driven the train before, but the engine was not the usual one. The driver appears 

perfectly sober after the collision. We took the train on to Victoria as it was at 7.21 p.m. Any passengers who were hurt were in 

the rear compartment of the first vehicle. The I went towards the driver I took my lamp with me, but I did not show a red light, 

as there was hardly any time.


2. William bone, 26 years in the service and nine years inspector at East Croydon. i was on duty on the up platform when the 5.5 

p.m. train from Hastings arrived. The London Bridge portion was in front, and went away at 7.10 p.m. Porter Beach uncoupled 

the two portions of the train, and I saw him apply the air break when the engine was coming back and about passing the north 

box. his lamp was at the head of the train on the platform, showing a red light to the driver. I was looking towards the engine as 

it approached, but I did not see when the driver shut off steam. It was not until the engine got within abut its length of the train 

that I thought it was coming too fast. I then ran forward two or three steps, and shouted “stop!” the guard doing the same, the 

speed being five or six miles an hour. The speed remained about at the rate on the collision occurring. At the time I ran forward 

I saw the fireman, and noticed that he was applying his hand break as hard as he could. I was nearly opposite the front of the 

break carriage when the collision took place. I could not see what the driver was doing. i did not ask the driver why he had run 

in so fast. i had no opportunity of asking him at the time. He appeared perfectly sober, so far as I saw. Next day Inspector 

Robinson told me he had spoken to the driver, but he did not tell me what he said, nor did i ask him. The rear of the train was 

not moved back by the blow, only the buffers were forced back. Beach, the coupler, jumped out into the 6 foot when I shouted, 

and was not hurt.  

3. Edward Elliott, 40 years in railway service, and 25 years driver with Brighton Company.-I have been in the habit of driving 

trains between Croydon and Victoria 16 or 17 years, and I have been constantly in the habit of joining a train, as I was doing on 

this occasion. I was driving, on the evening of the 9th, No. 276, a tank-engine with four coupled wheels, and the trailing-wheels 

free. I had charge of this engine only during the 9th, as my regular  engine, a tender-engine, was in the shops. I had frequently 

driven tank-engines of this description before. The engine was fitted with the Westinghouse break, applying to all the wheels. I 

do not know the exact air-pressure, but the donkey-engine had been working for some time, and the air-pressure must have been 

considerable. I had been standing in a siding, and soon after the London Bridge portion of the train had gone, the signalman let 

me out of the siding and back along the main up line, to join the Victoria portion of the 5.5 p.m. train. I was running back along 

the up line chimney in front, and I was standing on the 6-ft. side of the engine, which had a reversing wheel and not a lever, my 

usual engine having a lever. I shut off steam between the signal-cabin and the water crane, and I never put it on again. The speed 

was then 10 or He applied the Westinghouse break when about 12 miles an hour, and I had intended to take the engine to the 

train with the hand-break. When we had approached to within about the engine's length from the train I noticed that the speed 

was too fast, about five miles an hour. I had before this been looking out to see if the train WRS moving towards me, as 

sometimes happens. On observing that the speed was too fast, i applied the Westinghouse break, but it seemed to have no effect, 

as I think the metals must have been greasy. I looked round to see if the fireman was applying the break when I was about an 

engine’s length off, and he was doing so. I do not when he had begun to apply it. I never thought of reversing. No sand was 

applied, and I had not thought of using it, not thinking the rails were greasy. My regular fireman was sick, and I had Baber with 

me only two or three days.  

4. Alfred Baber, eight years in the service, 3 1/2 years fireman. i had been a day or two with Elliott on the day of the accident. I 

was standing on the platform side of the engine as it went along the up line to join the Victoria portion of the 5.5 p.m. train. 

steam was shut off by the signal cabin, and was not again applied. The speed was rather faster than usual at the signal cabin, and 

I began applying my break when steam was shut off, and got it hard on about 4 yards from the train. Before this I had not 

thought it necessary to apply it hard, not thinking the speeding too high. The driver never spoke to me. He applied the 

Westinghouse break when about 4 yards from the train. I saw no lamp near the head of the train. It was just getting dusk. I heard 

somebody shout, but at this time the break was hard on. I opened the sand box after the break had been applied hard.


Conclusion.

This collision, between a tank-engine and the carriages of the train to which it was about to be attached, was due to want of 

caution on the part of the driver of the engine. This man had been in the Companys service as driver for the past 25 years, and 

for the last 16 or 17 years had been in the habit of setting back to join trains at East Croydon station, as he was doing on the 

present occasion, when he was driving for the day a tank-engine fitted with a reversing wheel, his usual engine (a tender- 

engine) fitted with a reversing lever, being in the shops for repair. He had, however, frequently driven tank-engines of similar 

description before. The fireman had been with him only two or three days, his regular fireman being absent from sickness. The 

engine was fitted with the Westinghouse break, to the use owhich the driver was well accustomed.

The speed of the engine does not appear to have alarmed either the platform inspector or guard of the train (who were both 

standing opposite the front of the first vehicle) until it was within 20 or 30 yards (according to the guard), or about its own 

length (according to the inspector) of the front vehicle, the speed-being then estimated by them at from five to seven miles an 

hour, and not being as they thought diminished before the collision took place. On seeing what was likely to occur they both 

shouted to the driver; and the inspector, as he ran forward, saw the fireman, who was next the platform, working hard at his 

break-handle, but he could not see what the driver was doing.

The driver states that after leaving the siding and setting back along the up main line, he shut off steam near the up end of the 

platform, when the speed was between 10 and 12 miles an hour, and never put it on again; that he was depending upon the 

hand-break to steady the engine on to the front of the train, and did not observed till he was within an engine's length of the 

train, that the speed was too fast, viz., about five miles an hour ; that he then applied the Westinghouse break, which, however, 

did not appear to have any effect.

The fireman declares that he commenced using his hand-break when the driver shut off steam near the signal-cabin, and got it 

hard on when within about four yards of the train, not having thought the speed so high as to require its complete application 

previously. Just at the same time he saw the driver apply the Westinghouse break, and directly afterwards heard a shout.

The driver and fireman must, I think, have been mutually depending upon each other for controlling the speed of the engine, but 

the driver ought to have used more vigilance, and have observed, before it was too late even to stop the engine with the air 

break, that the speed was not being sufficiently reduced by the hand-break.

There is no reason to suppose that the driver was otherwise than sober. He had been on duty 11 hours when the collision 

occurred.  

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