IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY

 

THE HISTORY OF THE

  BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.


Compiled by Ivan Wilson & Paul Edwards

 

  

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KENSINGTON 

11th OCTOBER 1887

involving Driver Gibbs and his fireman Amos Smith depot unknown 

extracted adapted from the report by C.S. Hutchinson 

On the 11th October 1887, a slight collision with a buffer stop occurred at Kensington station, on the West London Railway. In this case the London, Brighton and South Coast Company 6.12 p.m up passenger train from Clapham junction, due at Kensington at 6.25 p m., came into slight collision with the buffer stop at end of No. bay at Kensington station

Two passengers and a Great Western Company s servant travelling as a passenger were injured

In the train which consisted of a tank engine (running coal-bunk first) and six vehicles, the first and last being third class brake carriages, with a guard in the latter the Westinghouse automatic brake being fitted throughout the train the buffer casting and head stock of the brake carriage next the engine were slightly damaged.

The buffer stop (which consists merely of a wooden beam) was not damaged.

Description.

Up trains arriving at Kensington station and bound for the bays at the east side the station have to cross down line to reach the side of the down platform the crossings take place near the south main cabin, which is 170 yards south of the buffer stop at the end of No.3 bay, the incoming home signals being about 100 yards south of the cabin, or about 270 yards from the buffer stop. There is an overbridge about 70 yards south of the cabin, and the up line after rising as far as this overbridge is level from thence to the buffer stop.

The West London Company’s service time table contains the following rule Engine drivers in charge of trains running to the bays (at Kensington station) are instructed to reduce speed to not exceeding five miles per hour when passing over the points and crossings leading to the bays.

The London Brighton, and South Coast Companys rules as regards trains entering terminal or dead end stations are as follows Engine drivers charge of trains must approach all terminal or dead end stations with great care, having their trains well under control so that they can stop with certainty by means of their ordinary hand-brakesEach train must be brought to a stand four or five yards before reaching the stop buffers or any carriages may be standing on the platform lines a vigilant look out must be kept by drivers on entering platform sidings to see how far such sidings are clear and regulate their speed accordingly

This order applies to all, whether the ordinary hand brakes or the Westinghouse continuous brakes are in use Engine drivers working trains in which the Westinghouse continuous brake is in use must not depend entirely upon the action, working, and great power of brake when entering dead end terminal stations or approaching junctions but they must reduce the speed of the same as if they only had the ordinary hand brakes in use, and so have their trains under such control as to be able to come to a stand by using their hand brakes only.

Evidence.

1. Philip Wilkinson signalman in the service of the West London Railway Company 15 1/2 years in railway service, signalman all the time I have been employed in the Kensington south main cabin where  I came on duty on the 11th at  2 p.m to remain till  10. I accepted the 6.12 p.m train from Clapham Junction about 6.25 p.m. I was unable to lower my signals until coal train had passed towards Earl’s Court, and then set the road and lowered the home signal for No. 3 bay, and then the stop signal.

The train had not quite reached the stop-signal when I lowered it ; and 1 think it passed my cabin at a speed of about five miles an hour. I felt no uneasiness about the speed of the train, which was as usual. I saw no more of it after it passed, as I was engaged with two other trains. I thought I heard a slight noise when the collision must have occurred, but I should have thought nothing of it but for a shunter asking me if I had thought that the driver of the Brighton train had run into the stops. I think the collision occurred at about 6.27 p.m. The evening was fine, but there was a little haze, though not sufficient to prevent my seeing trains standing at the station. The usual speed of trains entering the bays is about five or six miles an hour on passing the cabin. If trains have been checked at the stop signal steam is generally (shut off about the bridge, or a little on the station side of it. As a rule I observe the firemen and guards using their brakes for taking their trains into the bays. In the present case steam was shut off before the engine reached the cabin. I cannot say what brakes were applied.

2. Edward Webb, foreman porter in the service of the West London Railway Company ; 18 years in the service, and 7 1/2 years foreman porter at Kensington station. I was walking along the platform towards the buffer stop when the train from Clapham Junction, due at 6.25 p.m., was running in on the 11th. When it struck the stops I was about opposite the engine. I was not apprehensive that there would be any collision till the engine actunlly hit the stops, when the speed was between three and four miles an hour. Trains run in at that speed till close to the buffers, and then stop without hitting them. There was no rebound in the train after the collision. No vehicles left the rails, and no couplings were broken. I saw the fireman with his hand on the hand-brake just before the collision, and he released it directly it occurred. I do not know whether the air brake was used or not. I do not remember the driver saying anything with regard to the cause of the collision, but the fireman remarked that he had his brake on. The rear guard also said that he had his hand brake applied. The evening was frosty and a little hazy, but the rails were not greasy. There was plenty of light in the neighbourhood of the buffers. I have known the driver Gibbs as running into Addison Road since 1878, and he has not, to my knowledge, run into the buffers before. He was perfectly sober on this occasion, as was also his fireman. They both remained on the engine when the collision occurred. Both the passengers who were injured were in the front brake-carriage. The air brake is generally used by the Brighton Company's drivers for stopping at the buffer-stops. The hand-brake is also generally used both by firemen and guards.

John Hall, guard; eight years in the Loudon, Brighton, and South Coast Company s service, five years guard. On the 11th October I worked from 8 am.a. till 11 a.m., and then from 3.30 p.m. till 11.30 p.m. During this latter period I was exclusively engaged in working with trains between Claphnm junction and Addison Road, and I have been so engaged since April last. On the 11th October driver Gibbs took charge of the train at 5.20 p.m. from Clapham Junction, and ran from it to Addison Road and back, in which two trips no stations were overrun. I started again from Clapham junction with the 6.12 p.m. train , consisting of tank engine Deptford, running coal bunk first, and six vehicles, viz., two third-class brakes, one at each end of the train, two first class, one third and one second class. We started at 6.13 p.m., stopped at Battersea, Chelsea, and West Brompton, at neither of which there was overrunning. On leaving West Brompton there were not more than from 20 to 25 passengers in the train ; we left it about two minutes late at 6.25 p.m. We were checked by signals at Lillie Bridge, and on approaching Addison Rood the signals were on, but were pulled off as we were passing Earl’s Court junction. I cannot say exactly where the driver shut off steam ; the speed on approaching the stop-signal was 10 to 12 miles an hour, and was reduced when passing under the bridge, and at the south end of the platform was about five miles an hour. I felt no alarm about the speed being too great till the train stopped suddenly on striking the buffer stop. As the engine wns reaching the south end of the platform, I, according to my usual practice, commenced applying my hand-brake, and I had finished applying it by the time my brake had reached the south end of the platform. I never released it. I do not know the weight of the brake-carriage. After the collision I noticed the air-brake gauge showed 50 lbs. I had not observed it previously since leaving Clapham Junction, where it also marked 50 lbs. I have no reason to think the air-brake was applied while the train was running along the platform ; the lost time l hud noticed its application was for drawing up at Lillie Bridge signals. I was looking out of the window when the collision occurred, and was not injured by it at all seriously. I was looking out of the window to see if any passengers stepped out before tho train slopped: a few did so, but did not fall down. There was no rebound in the train. The air-brake is sometimes used, and sometimes not for the final stop. During the time I have worked with driver Gibbs I have never bad occasion to complain of his not stopping properly, but the previous evening he had not paid proper attention to uiy starting-signals, and I had did not pay more attention. He did so after my speaking to him, and I had no reason to complain of his conduct on the three trips on the 11th. Immediately after the collision 1 asked Gibbs why lie had not stopped ia the usual way. lie at first said the Westinghouse brake would not workand alter my making some replylie said, To tell the truth, I did not see the stopsand missed my mark. There was a haze about the platform. The red lamp was burningThe driver appeared quite sober, but frightenedThe collision occurred at about 6.28 p.m. 

4. Amos Smith, fireman in the London, Brighton, and South Coast Companys service; 10 1/2years in the service, fireman 8 1/2 years. I commenced work on the 11th October at 4 p.m. with driver Gibbs, with whom 1 have worked about 10 months. During all this rime I have been in the habit of working between Clapham Junction and Kensington, making on an average 71/2 trips there and back every day. Our engine was the Deptford, which we have had continuously since the beginning of March. It is a six-wheel coupled engine, with a brake-block on each wheel, all worked either by tho air-brake or hand-brake. On tho 11lb we made our first trip from Clapham Junction to Kensington and back at 5.20, the train consisting of six vehicles. Everything went right on this trip. At 6.12 p.m. we again started with the same train, the engine running coal- bunk first, for Kensington. I believe we started a little late. We stopped at Battersea, were checked outside Chelsea, stopped at Chelsea, West Brompton, were checked at Lillie Bridge, and the signals were against us at Kensington, but were taken off us we were approaching them ; the Westinghouse brake was used on all these occasions and worked very well, there having been no overrunning. Steam was shut off for running into Kensington at the stop signal, when the speed was about 10 miles an hour, about as usual when not stopped at the signal: when coming under the I applies the hand brake slightly, and gradually put it on harder as we ran in, and I had got it hard on when the engine was about half way down the platform, the speed at the end of the platform having been about did not pay more attention. He did so after my speaking to him, and I had no reason to complain of his conduct on the three trips on the 11th. Immediately after the collision 1 asked Gibbs why lie had not stopped in the usual way. he at first said the Westinghouse brake would not work, and alter my making some reply, lie said, To tell the truth, I did not see the stops, and missed my mark. There was a haze about the platform. The red lamp was burning. The driver appeared quite sober, but frightened. The collision occurred at about 6.28 p.m

4. Amos Smith, fireman in the London, Brighton, and South Coast Companys service; 10 1/2 years in the service, fireman 8 1/4 years. I commenced work on the 11th October at 4 p.m .with driver Gibbs, with whom I have worked about 10 months. During all this rime I have been in the habit of working between Clapham Junction and Kensington, making on an average 7 1/2 trips there and back every day. Our engine was the Deptford, which we have had continuously since the beginning of March. It is a six wheel coupled engine, with a brake-block on each wheel, all worked either by the air-brake or handbrake. On tho 11th we made our first trip from Clapham Junction to Kensington and back at 5.20, the train consisting of six vehicles. Everything went right on this trip. At 6.12 p.m. we again started with the same train, the engine running coal-bunk first, for Kensington. I believe we started a little late. We stopped at Battersea, were checked outside Chelsea, stopped at Chelsea, West Brompton, were checked at Lillie Bridge, and the signals were against us at Kensington, but were taken off us we were approaching them ; the Westinghouse brake was used on all these occasions and worked very well, there having been no overrunning. Steam was shut off for running into Kensington at the stop-signal, when the speed was about 10 miles an hour, about as usual when not stopped at the signal ; when coming under the bridge I applied the hand brake slightly, and gradually put it on harder as we ran in, and I had got it hard on when the engine was about half way down the platform, the speed at the end of the platform having been about five miles an hour. On the engine reaching a set of points, about 30 yards from the buffer-stop, the hand brake did not seem to be reducing the speed sufficiently, so I called to the driver to stop, meaning that he should apply the air-brake, at the same time myself opening the trailing sand-box, which lets the sand run in front of the proper trailing-wheels, there being another sand-box for the engine when running chimney first. Notwithstanding my calling out the driver did not apply the brake, though he was standing with the brake-handle in his hand, looking towards the stops. I called out to him again on finding he did not apply it, but he still failed to do so, and we then struck the stops at a very slow speed. There was no recoil. On our striking the stops the driver put on the air¬ brake. In reply to me ho said he had not put on the brake as he had missed his mark, and then on trying to apply it he had found the brake-handle stiff. The driver did not appear quite well, he certainly had not been drinking. I had heard something pass between him and the guard the previous evening about his not paying attention to the guard's signals. The use of the air-brake for running into the bays is uncertain, but it is almost always used on some part of the run in.

The driver of the train, Gibbs, was ill when I held the inquiry, and he died the day after it. He had been in the Brighton Company's service as a driver nine years. His character was good. On the day of the collision he had commenced work at 4 p.m., after having been off duty about 15 hours. He was well acquainted with the line between Clapham Junction and Kensington station


Conclusion.

This slight collision was caused by disobedience to rules on the part of driver Gibbs (since deceased) when running into No. 3 bay at Kensington Station. At the time of the collision Gibbs had been on duty about hours, after a period of 15 hours off duty. The West London Company s rule is that the speed when passing over the points and crossings leading to the bays at Kensington station is not to exceed five miles an hour, and had this rule been attended to no collision could possibly have occurred, for as it was stated that steam had been shut off some 350 yards from the buffer stop, and had been never re-applied, a speed of five miles an hour at the crossings would, without the application of any brakes, have hardly sufficed to carry the train up to the buffer stop, whereas the hand-brakes were no doubt applied both by the fireman and guard some considerable distance from the buffer stop.

The Brighton Companys rules for trains entering terminal or dead-end stations prescribe that the speed must be such that they may be able to he stopped by using the hand brake only, four or five yards from the buffer stop. This rule was also disobeyed, as, though the hand-brakes appear to have been duly applied, the speed was such that the train, instead of stopping four or five yards from the buffer-stop, struck it at slow rate of speed.

The collision would probably have been prevented had the driver Gibbs attended, when nearing the buffer-stop, to the fireman calling on lum to stop, meaning that he should apply the Westinghouse brake. Though Gibbs was standing looking towards the buffer-stop with the brake-handle in liis hand, he failed to turn it though a second time called on by the fireman to do so till the engine had struck the buffer- stop.

The inattention of the driver to the speed of the train, and to the warnings of his fireman when thus approaching the buffer-stop, was very probably owing to his state of health ; this must have been seriously impaired at the time, as he succumbed to the diseases from which he was suffering only 12 days afterwards. 

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