IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY


THE HISTORY OF THE


 BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.


  

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EAST CROYDON

22nd NOVEMBER 1885

Involving 

Driver John Smith & his Fireman Edward Marlow

Depot unknown 

EXTRACTED AND ADAPTED FROM THE REPORT BY

C.S. Hutchingson Major General R.E


On the 22nd November, 1885, while the four vehicles forming the Victoria portion of the 5.35 p.m., up Hastings train, 

due to leave East Croydon at 8.7 p.m., were standing on the up main line near the centre of the platform the front vehicle 

was run into by tank-engine No. 228, when in the act of being backed on to the train to which it was to battached as

train engine.

Eighteen passengers have complained of being injured.

The engine (which was running chimney first) sustained no damage, but the front vehicle lmd its buffer castings and 

headstock broken.

No wheels were knocked off the rails.

Description.

The points which lead from the siding where the engine had been standing to the up main line are situated about 184 

yards on the up side of the spot where the collision occurred. The up main line curves to the left, looking in the direction 

the engine was running: and rises slightly towards Brighton. The driver's position was on the 6-ft. side of the engine. 

Before the collision took place the vehicles composing the train had been moved forward towards London about 85 yards 

from the place where they had stood when the London Bridge portion or the train went away, in order to facilitate the 

loading of luggage and milk taken out of the London Bridge portion of the train.


Evidence.

Charles Saunders, shunter ; 17 years in the service,and shunter at East Croydon 10 years. I was on duty when the Hastings 

train arrived at East Croydon on 22nd November. The London Bridge portion went away first. As soon as the London Bridge 

portion had gone the Victoria portion was pushed down until it reached the place where the luggage was that had been taken 

out of the London Bridge van. The distance was, I think, about 80 yards.The train was stopped by the guard in the his van 

applying the Westinghouse break when his van arrived opposite the luggage. I was walking down in the 6-ft. space in front of 

the train. I was about 15 yards in front. When the train stopped I saw the engine coming back towards the train, it was then 

about 50 yards off, and, thinking it was coming too quickly, I held up a red light and shouted out, but not being able to attract 

the notice of those on the engine, I ran across the line in front of the engine, and got on to the platform, and shouted, '' Hold 

hard, or ,you will run into that train." The engine at this time was about 15 yards from the front of the train. I could not see 

what the driver was doing as the engine passed me, but I saw the fireman looking out on the platform side, and, on my 

shouting, he went to the other side of the engine. I think the speed of the engine as it passed me was about 10 miles per hour. 

do not know what was being done to help to stop the engine, but almost directly after it passed me it pitched into the train. The 

train was not driven back in consequence of the breaks being on, and the engine did not rebound. There was a lamp upon the 

front end of the footboard on the 6-ft. side which was showing a red light towards the driver. It is always customary to have 

this light on the front of the train when the engine is running back to join it. There was nothing to prevent the driver seeing 

this red light from the time he begun to set back. There is only this one train on Sunday evening in which the rear portion is 

pushed forwarded, as was done on this occasion. It was a dark evening, but dry. and not hazy. It was from the speed not 

appearing to be slacked that I thought the driver did not observe my red light or hear my shout from the 6-ft. The driver of the 

down Boat Train from Victoria, which was running in at the the time, whistled after I had shouted from the 6-ft. I heard the 

driver tell some passengers there had been no light on the front of the train, and, hearing this, I said, "Yes, there was; there is 

the lamp down in the 6-ft." The lamp had been knocked off, and the light extinguished by the collision. I placed the lamp 

myself on the end of the footboard l before starting to push the train down. The lamp was knocked ‘off' close in front of the 

train into the 6-ft. space.

2. Robert Ellis, porter; five years and nine months in the service, at East Croydon all the time.- I was on duty on the 22nd 

November when the Hastings train arrived. saw the London Bridge portion of the train go away and I assisted to push down 

the Victoria portion until the van and got opposite the milk and luggage, which bad been left by the London Bridge portion, 

There was a lamp put on the front of the footboard at the end of the carriage. Before the train was moved down I had seen 

this red light in passing down the front or the train to go on the 6.ftside to release the break blocks. It was then showing fair 

red light towards London. I do not know whether the light remained on the front end of the footboard until the train came to a 

stand. When the collision occurred I was standing on the platform at the rear of the train helping to put in the luggage. The 

train was pushed back two or three yards by the force of tho collision just before the collision, I had not heard any shouting 

just before the collision.


3. William Bone, station inspector ; 25 years in the service, 12 years inspector at East Croydon. - I was on duty when the 

Hastings train arrived on 22nd November, and was present when the London Bridge portion went away, and it was by my 

orders that the Victoria portion was then afterwards pushed down in order to facilitate the loading of luggage and milk. I was 

walking by the side of the train while it was being pushed along. I saw that the lamp had been placed by shunter Saunders on 

the front end of the footboard, on the 6-ft. side, and the lamp showed a red light towards London. I do not know of my own 

knowledge, or by what I saw, whether the lamp remained on the footboard when the train came to a stand. I was by the rear of 

the train, when I heard somebody shouting, I believe, from the platform, and almost. immediately after this the collision 

occurred. The carriages were very slightly moved back. It was a fine evening, but dark, and there was nothing whatever to 

have prevented the driver seeing the red light at the end of the footboard from the time he entered on to the main line. On 

speaking to the driver after that collision, he said the train was moving towards him when he struck it. I denied that statement, 

and the driver then said there was no lamp on the front or the train. In reply to this I said I had seen one on the train when it 

first started, and the shunter in charge of it. Nothing more-passed between us. The driver appeared to be perfectly sober, and 

no indication of drink about him. The moving forward of the Victoria portion of the train occurs only occasionally, once a 

week, on Sunday evenings. I have never thought it necessary to inform the driver by word of mouth when the position of the 

train had been altered from what it was when it first arrived. The train consisted of a 1st class, 2nd class, and 3rd class 

carriage, and break-van, all fitted with the Westinghouse break.


4. John Smith, driver; 15 years in the service, 10 1/2 years driver. - I have been engaged both as fireman and driver for the last 

13 years in joining trains at Croydon after the front portion has gone away. On the evening of 22nd November I was standing 

in the siding waiting to take the Victoria portion of the Hastings train, due away at 8.7 p.m. My engine was No. 228, tank-

engine, 4-wheel coupled, and it was standing with the coal bunk towards London. The engine was fitted with the 

Westinghouse break, applying to all six wheels, and the break was in good working order. I had about 80 lbs. pressure in the 

gauge when I started out of the siding. My place on the engine was the left-hand side, the fireman being on the right. As I was 

going out of the siding, towards the signal-box, I looked back and saw the front of the Victoria. portion of the train standing 

where it had been left by the London Bridge portion in the position in which I had expected afterwards to find it. I got out on 

the main line :at once, immediately after the London Bridge portion had gone away, and at once set back, after receiving the 

signal to do so, from the box. I never exceeded a walking puce of four or five miles per hour in setting back along the main 

line. As I was setting back I saw no lights at all in front of the train, and it was not until I was close on it that I heard a shout 

from “Saunders” from the 6 -ft side. When 1 heard the shout I was about 15 or 16 yards from the front of the train. I had shut 

off steam athe London end of the platform, and then on hearing the shout I first applied the Westinghouse break, and was

was in the act of reversing when I struck the train; I had also called out to the fireman to apply his brake, but he was already in 

the net of screwing it on. The speed on striking the train was about four miles per hour. It is customary on running back to join 

a train to find a red light on the platform close to the front o£ the train; I did not see the red light on this occasion. I could not 

have seen a red light in such a position from my side without difficulty; I could have seen it better from the fireman’s side but 

I did not go over to the fireman's side to look for it. have never known a lamp to be put on the footboards on the 6-ft. side to 

indicate the front of the train, I am sure that the shout that I heard came from the 6-ft.; and I saw “Saunders” in the 6-ft way. I 

did not see him run between my engine and the train, and jump on to the platform, but I think I passed him on the 6-ft. I may 

have under calculated the speed when I heard the shout. I was doing nothing to take my attention away the from as I was 

running from the signal cabin towards the train. The fireman was on the footplate, and there was nothing to take his attention 

away. I had made the remark to the fireman as we were running towards the signal cabin that there was not much of the train 

left for us, or words to that effect. I have been engaged with this train on Sunday evenings before, but I have never known it 

moved up the platform on any previous occasion. The last time I had to do with this train was on a Sunday evening in 

September when the carriages had not been moved from where they had originally stopped. There were no platform lights that 

lit up the front of the train where I struck it. I again state, as far as my knowledge goes, I have never seen a lump placed on 

the front end of the step on the 6-ft. side, but always on the platform side. I had seen the train from the signal-box standing 

where it had arrived, and not anticipating that it would be moved along the platform line, I did not look for it again until the 

shout attracted my attention. When I struck the train it was in motion, and the moment I struck it the break was put on.


5. Edward James Marlow, fireman; 3 1/2 years in the service, fireman all the time. - I have been with Smith as regular mate 

about two years, and I was with him on the evening of 22nd November. My place is on the right-hand side of the engine. My 

mate remarked on coming out of the siding, " They have " not left many for us, mate, the carriages are back " by Mr. Ruxton

office' I saw the train still in the same position us we were coming out of the siding. This I could see by the gas lights on the 

platform. I was still standing on the right-hand side as the engine was running along the platform. I do not think the speed 

exceeded 7 miles per hour. I did not keep sight of the train as we were running back, as it was taken off by steam beating 

down, and the next time I saw it was just before coming into collision with it when we were not more than a carriage or 

carriage and a half length from it. I had heard no shout before I again saw the train. I did not hear any shouting till after the

collision, nor did the driver hear any shout that I am aware of. I saw nothing of " Saunders" running towards us along the 

platform. I saw no light whatever on the front of the train. I have never noticed a light on the front of the train on the 

footboard on the 6-ft. side, but generally either on the platform, or light shown by the inspector. On seeing the train I turned 

my break, and said, "When, mate," and he applied the Westinghouse break. I think we struck the train at a speed of about 4 

miles per hour. Just before catching sight of the train I was applying my break to check the speed of the engine, knowing we 

were drawing near where I supposed the train had been standing. I was looking ahead. The driver was also looking ahead, and 

not engaged in oiling or any other work. He had shut off steam on passing the signal cabin. I believe the train was just brought 

to a stand as we struck it. Seeing that the steam was shut off on passing the signal box, it could hardly have obscured the sight 

of the train when we were running back.


7. Charles Sherlock, bookstall, Teddington station. - On the arrival of the train at Croydon I alighted from the London Bridge 

portion of the train where I had been riding, and went to the refreshment room. When I came out of the refreshment room the 

Victoria portion of the train in which I intended to travel was moving along the platform, and I assisted to push the carriages 

forward, and when they stopped I was standing about the middle of the 3rd class carriage, which I intended to enter. I 

observed the engine coming towards the train at a speed of about 8 or 10 miles per hour. It was then about 50 yards from the 

carriages. I saw a porter, who was in front of me, running towards the engine shouting and waving a lamp, but I could not say 

what was the colour of the light, as the man’s back was to me. The collision then occurred. The driver afterwards came to me 

in a ver excited state, and asked me if I saw what had occurred, and if I would give my name and address as he (the driver) 

would no doubt get into trouble for it. No mention was made to me about any red lamp on the train, or do I know anything 

respecting it.


Conclusion.

This collision between an unattached tank engine (running chimney in front) and the train to which it was about to be attached 

was caused by want of proper care on the part of the driver and fireman in charge of the engine as it was approaching the front 

of the train.

The train in question had formed the rear or Victoria portion of the 5.35 p.m. up Hastings train, and as soon as the London 

Bridge portion had been despatched, the four vehicles forming the Victoria portion had been moved forwards (towards 

London) about 85 yards in order to facilitate the loading of some luggage which had been removed from the van of the 

London Bridge portion of the train.

According to the weight of the evidence the four vehicles had certainly been stopped, and a lamp showing a red light to the 

front placed on the off side footboard at the leading end of the front carriage some little time before the collision occurred.

These facts were both denied by the driver and fireman, but I think there is no doubt of their accuracy.

The excuse of the driver (an experienced man of 10 1/2 years service as such) for causing the collision was that he had noticed 

the carriages standing, as he supposed, where they had been left when the London Bridge portion of the train had gone away, 

when he was passing the signal-box on his way along the up main line, 150 yards from the point of collision, and not 

anticipating that they would be moved towards London he did not look for them again, until a shout, when he was close to 

them, attracted his attention, but too late to avoid a collision, though he at once applied the Westinghouse break, which applied

to all the engine wheels. 

If there ever is a time when a driver and fireman should keep a. sharp look-out ahead it is surely when taking their engine 

along a platform line to join a loaded train. If either man had done so on the present occasion in the course of the 150 yards 

which intervened between the signal~cabin and the front of the train the collision would have been avoided. Both driver and 

fireman, but especially the driver, are therefore deserving of serious blame.

Seeing that the operation of moving the position of the vehicles to form the Victoria portion of a train (after the London 

Bridge portion has departed) along the up platform nearer to London is one that is very seldom resorted to, it would, I think, 

only have been a prudent precaution in the station inspector to have walked or sent along the platform as the train engine was 

approaching, so as to have warned the driver, when some distance off, that the front of the train was not in the position in 

which it had been left by the London Bridge portion.

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