IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY

THE HISTORY OF THE

 BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.

  

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REDHILL JUNCTION

19th MARCH 1889

extracted and adapted from the report by

C. S. HUTCHINSON,

Major General, B.E


A accident occurred on the 19th March at Redhill Junction station on the South-Eastern Railway. In this case, as the London, Brighton, and South Coast Company's 9.25 a.m. up express passenger train from Brighton for London was passing through Redhill Junction station, where it was not timed to stop, at 10.7 a.m., a carriage lifter named, Jesse Tyler, riding on the front platform of a Pullman car (which he was accompanying to watch if its axles ran hot), while looking back and in cautiously leaning the gate on the left-hand side of the of the car to enable him to get a view of one of the axles, struck his head against one or more of the cast-iron columns which support the platform roof on the up side of the station.

The rear guard of the train, who witnessed the accident, immediately rang the electric bell communication, whereupon the train promptly stopped Tyler was found  all in a heap on the platform close to and inside the gate on the left side of it, quite unconscious, in which condition he remained till he died; about 2 1/2 hours after the accident. 

The train consisted of an engine and tender, saloon carriage; first class, Pullman bogie carriage, and brake carriage, five vehicles in all, coupled in the gIven, there being a guard in the front and rear brake compartments. The train was fitted throughout with the Westinghouse brake with electric bell communication.


DESCRIPTION 

There are four lines of between the platforms at the two centre ones being used for up and down trains not stopping at Redhill. The platforms are covered by roofs carried by supports on the platforms at one side and on the other side by cast-iron columns in space between the through lines and  platform lines. The distance between the sides of the columns and the sides of the widest carriages (8 ft. 4ins. wide) in use on the South-Eastern Railway, both on the through and platform lines, is about 1 ft. 8 ins. at the level of the sill of the carriage windows. As the Pullman cars 8 ft. 10 ins. wide, this clearance is thus reduced in case to 1ft. 5 ins. The top of the gate over which the deceased leaning is about the same height as the sill of a carriage window, and is 6 inches inside the side of the car or about 1 ft. 11 ins. from the sides of the columns with which his head came in contact.

In consequence of two serious accidents which occurred many years since to firemen (when applying their brakes) from coming into collision with these columns, a notice was inserted at the time, and continues to be inserted, in the service books of the South-Eastern and Brighton Railway Companies cautioning drivers, firemen, guards, and others to keep clear of these columns. It does not, however, appear that the deceased had seen this notice. ·· · ·

EVIDENCE

1. Henry German, guard; 20 1/2 years’ in the service of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Company, 17 years guard. I was head guard of the 9 25 a.m. up express train Brighton for London on 19th March. The train consisted of a saloon brake next the engine, a first class, a Pullman car, a bogie, and a first-class brake, five, vehicles in all. I was riding in the front brake compartment next the engine. We left Brighton punctually at 9.25 a.m., not having to stop between Brighton and London Bridge. We had a clear run as for a Redhill South ,Junction, where the signals were on, but when about two hundred yards south of the home-signals my signal was dropped, and the train went on and ran through the station at a speed of about twenty-five miles an hour. I was looking back on going through the station from the near side of the train, and I saw the deceased hanging over from the front end of the Pullman car with his head dropping down as if he had been struck by something. I was still under the station roof when I saw this. I at once went to the electric-bell communication, but I found that my mate was ringing it at the same time that I began to do so. My driver was on the alert, as I had spoken to him before leaving Brighton about my perhaps having to ring to him in case of the Pullman car getting a hot axle, as had occurred on the previous day, and immediately after· the bell, and while it was ringing, I felt the brakes go on, and the train was stopped with the Pullman car very near the water column, the driver thinking he had been stopped for the hot axle. I then went back to the car and was the first person there, and found the deceased on the platform in a heap on the near side, and inside the gate, which was shut and I have the firm impression that it could not have been opened and again shut after accident, the position of the body making this impossible. The deceased's head appeared to have been knocked in two or three places. There was no hat with him. He was quite unconscious and gave a low moan. I knew the man by sight and I knew it was his duty to the axle-boxes of the Pullman car: The accident occurred at 10.7 a.m., the time we were due to run through Redhill. It was a fine clear morning. We got away at 10.15 a.m. From my observatory, which projects about three inrhes beyond the sides of the Pullman car, I could see along the side of the car. On page 92 of the appendix to the working time-table there is a notice with regard to the of the pillars at Redhill Junction station. I do not know whether the deceased had a copy of this appendix.

2. Thomas Ferrier, guard; 15 years in the London, Brighton, and South Coast Company’s service, 10 years guard. I was under guard of the 9.25 a.m. express train from Brighton for London Bridge on he 19th March. I was travelling in the rearmost brake compartment. The train was slacked at the South Junction signals, and was passing. through Redhill station at a speed of about 25 miles an hour. I was sitting on the near side of the compartment, and was looking forward out of the observatory window when I saw the deceased looking out backwards from the front end of the Pullman car, apparently leaning over the gate, and not out on the step. My impression was that his head struck the first column, when he appeared to right himself and then fall forward again and strike the second or third column again with his head. I immediately went to the electric-bell communication and rang it,·and I found.the train at once pulling up, and it stopped with my brake beyond the up end the platform, and with the Pullman car about its own length beyond the water column. I got out, and was going towards the deceased when I met my mate who sent me back for a stretcher, and I did not see deceased till his body had been moved from its first position so as to liberate the He had a hat on when his head was first struck, but I did not see it afterwards. He was quite unconscious so long as I was present, the train starting again very shortly. I had never seen deceased travelling on a Pullman car before. The gate is not flush with the side of the Pullman car,  but inside it. 

'8'. William Kennaway, Pullman car conductor. I been three months in the service of the Pullman Car Company and a conductor all the time, running with the Brighton and London cars. On the 19th March I was conductor of Pullman car “Maude" with the 9.25 a.m. express train from Brighton for London Bridge. I had made up trip and one down with the same car the previous day, and on the down journey in the afternoon the front axle of the rear bogie had heated, and was cooled at Redhill where the down train is timed to stop. There was  no one specially looking after it on this down journey; the up journey on the of the 19th the deceased Jesse Tyler was appointed to travel with the car to look after this axle. I had not seen him before this. He stationed himself on the front platform and rode there all the way from Brighton,  and I occasionally noticed him looking along the side of the leaning over the gate, which never to opened my knowledge. I spoke to him at Three Bridges and asked him how he was getting on and how the axle was, and he replied he thought it was all right, but nothing then passed about the columns at Redhill. I then went to the rear end of the car, and I never saw him again before the accident, when I went to the front of the car as the train was pulling up. I got to him before the guard came up. I found him kneeling on the platform, with his left arm over the gate, the only part of his body outside the gate. The was latched, I certain from the position of the body that it could not have been opened. His hat which I think was a soft felt one, was gone, and I noticed that he was injured by a blow on the right side of the back of the head coming round to the forehead there was a good deal of blood exuding from the wound. He was perfectly unconscious. He was then removed from the car, and the train shortly went on. I was aware of the caution rule relating to Redhill station before the accident. I have travelled on four other cars, and so far as l have observed the gates they are all in much the same position as regards their distance inwards from the sides of the car. 

4. George Privett, station master at Redhill; 27 years in the South-Eastern Company’s service, 3 1/2 years, years, station master at Redhill. I was standing on the down through line at the south end of the station on the 19th March when the accident occurred. The train had been slacked at the South Junction signals by the 8.57 a.m. train from Brighton not being clear at Merstham and in consequence the 9.25 a.m. train was not running through the station at a speed exceeding 20 miles an hour, as the up advance signal was still against it. On looking round I found the train had stopped with the tail end of it about to the train to find out why it had stopped and met guard. Ferrier coming towards me, and before he reached me he called for a stretcher which I at once ordered to he brought up. I then went to the front end of the Pullman car and found the driver and front guard on the line at the near side of the car, and the conductor on the car platform, and I saw the deceased crouched down all of a heap inside the gate and bleeding profusely from a wound to his head. I at once had him removed out of the same gate over which he had been leaning, but before doing this it was necessary to move his body along the platform of the car to liberate the gate which it was impossible could have been opened previously to the accident. He was quite unconscious and was taken to the Cottage Hospital, where he died about 12.30 p.m., never having spoken. I then made an inspection of the columns to see where his head had struck, and found no mark on any column before the fourth, on which there was a little blood in the position I indicated just now. His cap was picked up in the 4-ft. space of the up fast line between the third and fourth columns, but rather nearer the fourth than the third. In the down train on the previous evening the axle-box which the deceased was sent to look after was found hot when the train arrived at 6.32 p.m., and I had it cooled and the axle-box filled with grease.

5. Evan Cameron, superintendent of the carriage department at Brighton:- At-half.past seven on this morning of 19th March I instructed the deceased to see to the bearings of the Pullman car, and go to London on the car. He had been up several times since last December. The appendix: to the time-table is not supplied to men in the carriage department. It would. be necessary for him to bend right over the wicket gate to look at the axle. I had cautioned deceased several times about the pillars at Redhill station. Deceased had been travelling up and down for some 15 years. I did not consider it dangerous work, and have done it myself. When new carriage are put on they are likely to run hot, and have to be watched is impossible to open a car window far enough for passengers to put their heads out.


CONCLUSION

This very sad accident was caused by the deceased Jesse Tyler having incautiously leaned out (with his face to the rear) over the gate at the left side of the front platform of a Pullman car, the third vehicle from the engine of the 9.25 a.m. up express train from Brighton, as it was approaching and passing through Redhill station at a speed of from 20 to 25 miles an hour, and from the back of his head having while in that position come into collision with one or more of the southern columns supporting the roof over the platform. Tyler was a carriage lifter, who had been 15 1/2 years in the Brighton Company’s service; and had specially instructed to travel in this car to watch the journal at the left end of the trailing axle of the front bogie, which axle had been running hot on the down journey the previous afternoon. Tyler had been no doubt leaning out over the gate to get a sight of the axle box this journal he met with his unfortunate end. It appears that he had travelled sixteen times from Brighton to London on similar duty within the three months prior to the accident and though he had not supplied with the notice in the service book containing the caution about the closeness of the columns at Redhill station, he had been cautioned several times about them. Both guards of the train saw the accident occur, and one of them at once rang the electric communication with the engine, whereupon the train was promptly stopped. Tyler was then found crouched down all in a heap against the inside of the platform gate, which was latched, and died in the Redhill Cottage Hospital about 2 1/2 hours after the accident.

Redhill station has existed in its present form since the year 1857, and no doubt at that time, when narrower carriages than those now in use were employed, there was sufficient clearance between the columns supporting the platform roofs and the sides of the carriages. The requirement of the Board of Trade now is that there should be a space of not less than 2 feet 4 inches between any standing work and sides of the widest carriage in use on the line. With the exception of Pullman cars, which are 8 feet 10 inches wide (but which have no side doors, and out of the windows of which passengers cannot look), the widest carriage now running through Redhill station may be taken to be 8 feet 4 inches wide, and the sides of the columns at Redhill station are therefore about  8 inches closer to the rails than they should be according to modern requirements. Had these additional 8 inches existed it is highly probable that Tyler's life would have been saved on the present occasion, as he could hardly have leant over the platform gate, which was 6 inches back from the side of the car, so as to cause his head to project more than 2 feet 7 inches. 

It is most desirable that no unnecessary time should be lost in making such aiterations at Redhill station as will enable the columns supporting the platform roofs to be dispensed with, and I was glad to see that it was stated at the inquest that the South-Eastern directors had met since the accident and had decided to take some steps to prevent a recurrence of a similar one.  

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