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24th JANUARY 1897



extracted and adapted from the report by

G.W. ADDISON Lieut. - Col., R.E.
A buffer stop collision occurred at 9.40 p.m. on 24th January, 197 at Kensington station on the West London Railway. In this 

case as the passenger train of the L.B.S.C.R., which had left Clapham Junction at 9.27 p.m., was entering No. 1 bay line at 

Kensington, the driver failed to stop at it at the proper place, and the engine collided with buffer stops at the end of the bay.

Three passengers are returned as having been slightly injured.

The train consisted of a four wheels coupled tank engine, running bunker first, and 10 close coupled carriages. it was fitted 

throughout with the Westinghouse automatic brake, and there were hand brakes on the engine and in the brake carriages in front 

and rear of the train; the carriage next to the engine had buffer casting and headstock broken.


No.1 bay is on the east side of Kensington station, and at the back of the south end of the up main line platform. Trains from 

Clapham Junction approach Kensington station on the down main line, and when proceeding to the bays, pass through facing 

points immediately north of the Hammersmith Road over bridge; the line into the bays crossing the up main line nearly opposite 

to Addison Road south main cabin, from which the points and signals at that end of the station are worked.
The following rule is in force for working trains and engines into and through Kensington station, Viz.:- “Engine drivers in 

charge of trains running to the bays are instructed to reduce speed to not exceeding five miles per hour, when passing over the 

points and crossing leading to the bays. 

There are inner and outer down home signals.

The following distances from the buffer stops at the end of No.1 bay line may be noted, Viz:-

To the end of the passenger platform 108 yards

To the station side of Hammersmith Road bridge 238 yards

To the inner home signal (No.71) 280 yards

To the outer home signal (No. 78) 359 yards

The line is practically level from the over bridge up to within 50 feet of the buffer stops of No.1 bay, and it rises towards the 

stops at 1 in 166 for that short distance. The stop consists merely of a wooden beam, which was displaced slightly by the 



Robert Smith states; I have been about 10 years in the West London Company’s service, all the time a signalman; for the last 

two months I have been employed in Kensington, Addison Road, south Main cabin. on the 24th January i came on duty at 6 

p.m. to work until 6 a.m. on the 25th. I take that tour of duty once in three weeks (on Sunday), but my ordinary tour of duty is 

for eight hours. We do not book trains in that cabin. We work absolute block between Earls Court Junction and my cabin, but 

permissive block through the station. When the 9.27 p.m. Brighton Company’s train from Clapham Junction was offered to me 

on the evening in question I accepted it at once, and it was then given me on line at once. I do not quite recollect whether I 

pulled off the signals then, but there was nothing to prevent me from doing so. The signals which I had to lower for the trainer 

Nos. 78 & 71. I saw the train as it came under Hammersmith Road bridge, and the speed appeared to be about the same as 

usual. I did not see anything unusual in running into the platform, but I cannot say when steam was shut off or the brakes 

applied. The train is a 10 coach train on Sunday nights, and is then always run into No.1 bay platform. It had been snowing 

during the afternoon.

Henry Abbott states; I have been between 7 and 8 years in the West London Company’s service, all the time as a porter at 

Addison road station. On Sunday the 24th January I came on duty at 7.30 a.m. and worked until 1 p.m. I came on duty again at 

6 p.m. and booked off at 12 midnight. When the 9.27 train ex Clapham Junction was running into the station, I was about half 

way down the platform (No.1 bay). I saw the engine coming under the road bridge, but then I went away for a moment or two, 

and on my return the portion of the train was just passing me. Steam had been shut off, and I notice the fireman and front guard 

were applying their hand brakes as they passed me. I did not think they were coming above the usual pace, but I could hear 

when the engine hit the stops. I do not think the train rebounded at all. There was snow on the ground, but it was a clear evening 

as far as I remember. The snow was lying on the ground was lying on the ground at the time.

John Wellebelove states; I have been 16 1/2 years in the Brighton Company’s service, 14 years a guard. On the 24th January my 

hours of duty were from 2.15 p.m. to 10.40 p.m. On that date I left clapham Junction at 9.27 to run to Addison Road, 

Kensington. There were the following vehicles on the train, viz.; third class brake, third class, second class composite, three first 

class, second class, third, and third class brake carriages, and I rode in the front brake. Approaching Addison Road both home 

signals were of for the train. The driver shut off steam before we got to the outer home signal, and I applied my hand brake 

slightly as soon as we got under the road bridge. I applied the brake harder when we got to the platform, but we may have been 

half way down the platform before it was fully on. The wheels of my carriage did not skid at all. I saw the automatic brake 

applied by the driver under the bridge, and I should say he then reduced the speed of the train to about five miles an hour. When 

we were within about three yards of the stops I found that he had applied it again. Running along the platform the speed was 

about the same as usual, and I had no reason to think there would be any difficulty in stopping at the proper place. The engine 

usually comes to a stand about three yards clear of the stops; it must come as far as that to get over a bar at the other end of the 

platform. The train is pushed back before the engine runs round. No passenger complained to me of any injury. I was just 

stopping down to pick up my hand lamp before getting out when we hit the stops. I knew we had struck the stops, but that was 

all. No wheels left the rails.

Charles Haybittle states; I have been 6 years in the Brighton Company’s service, 4 years a guard. On the 24th January I came on 

duty at 4.30 p.m. to work until 10.45 p.m. On the evening of that day I was assistant guard of the 9.27 train from Clapham 

Junction to Kensington, and I rode in the rear brake carriage. Approaching Addison Road station I applied my hand brake 

gradually as we ran between the road bridge and the platform; the brake was never quite hard on, but it was about the same as 

usual. I did not realise it until the train had stopped. The speed was no faster than usual, and the train was made up the same as 

usual on Sunday nights. I just felt it, but nothing to speak of, when we touched the buffers. The platform will only take the 

engine and 11 close coupled vehicles.

William Henry Winter states; I have been 5 years in the Brighton Company’s service, 3 years as fireman. On the 24th January I 

came on duty at 4 p.m. to work until 12 midnight, and I was firing for driver Radford. When we left Clapham Junction at 9.27 

we were about to make the sixth trip that afternoon and evening to and from Kensington. We had the same train all the time, and 

we used No.1 bay platform at Addison Road on each occasion. Approaching Kensington with the 9.27 train the driver shut off 

steam before we got tot the outer stop signal and he applied the automatic brake at the road bridge and brought down the speed 

to about five miles an hour. When my mate puts his brake on I put mine on a little, and when he releases his brakes I screw mine 

up a bit tighter. On this occasion I used my brake in just the same way as I have done all the evening, and I released it a bit half 

way down the platform, as we should have stopped if I had not done so. I reapplied it, and then when we were about two or 

three feet from the buffers the driver put on the continuous brake. He had done the same thing on the each previous occasion of 

running into the station (Addison Road).


William Radford states; I have been 17 years in the Company’s service and a driver nearly 3 years. On January 24th I came on 

duty at 4 p.m. to work until about midnight. My engine No.223, is a four wheels coupled tank engine, and when running from 

Clapham Junction to Kensington it would be bunker first. On that evening I left Clapham Junction at 9.27, the train being made 

up exactly the same as for the previous trips. We run into No.1 bay at Kensington every time. Approaching Kensington I shut 

off at steam at the distant signal, which is always at danger when we run into the bays, and I did not open the regulator again. I 

put the Westinghouse brake on passing under the bridge and reduced the speed there to five miles an hour. When I released the 

Westinghouse my fireman put on the hand brake, and we worked into the platform at walking pace. The speed was about the 

same as usual, and I had no doubt but that I should stop all right. When I was very near to the stops, by which time some 

passengers had got out and were passing the engine, I realised that we were not pulling up fast enough, and I put on the 

Westinghouse. Thee are sand boxes both at the front and bunker ends of the engine, but they were not used on this occasion . I 

did not notice that my mate had released his brake at all as we ran along the platform. I do not recollect having used the 

automatic brake to pull the train up at the buffer stops on the previous run into Kensington that evening. The buffer stops merely 

consist of a stop beam without buffers. The beam was lifted up by the collision. Snow came on just as we left Kensington to go 

to Clapham Junction on the previous trip.


Owing to the driver having gone into hospital a day or two after the accident, on account of ill health, in no way attributable to 

this occurrence, I was unable to take his evidence until yesterday, and my report has been necessarily delayed.

The facts are clear and call for few remarks. The train was apparently being brought into the station at a moderate speed, and the 

fireman released his hand brake, to some extent at any rate, when about half way down the platform, thinking that the train 

would stop otherwise stop too soon. The platform will only just hold 11 close coupled vehicles, and there were 10 on the train. 

The driver says he was unaware that the hand brake had been eased off at all, but that when within a few feet of the buffer stop 

he realised it would be necessary to use the Westinghouse brake in order to pull up clear of the stops, and he applied the brakes, 

although not in time to avert the slight collision which ensued. For this error of judgement, i.e. in delaying the application of the 

Westinghouse brake until too late, he is, of course, responsible, but in view of the very small margin which the length of the 

platform leaves him, and the fireman’s action, the mistake is not to be considered very seriously if the train was handled in 

accordance with the rules. I confess to finding it extremely difficult to believe, steam having been shut off 350 yards at least 

from the buffer stops, that it could be possible for a collision to occur if the speed was actually reduced to five miles an hour at 

the points (200 yards from the stops).

It will be noticed that the fireman refers to the application of the automatic brake by the driver, when close up to the buffer 

stops, as an usual practice; and the head guard of the train, when questioned by me after having given his evidence, practically 

confirmed the fireman’s statement. If this be the case the automatic brake is not reserved for an emergency, as the Brighton 

Company’s rules very properly require it to be, when entering terminal stations or bay lines; and, if the driver only applied it on 

occasion under consideration at the same distance from the stops as he had always done before, then any difference in the state 

of the rails, or a very slight variation in the speed at the moment, would suffice to upset his calculations.

Unless, however, the lengths of trains and of platforms are so arranged as to leave a larger margin for over running than in this 

and many other instances, I fear that slight accidents of a similar nature will continue to be very much more frequent than they 

ought to be; and even where ample space is available it is too frequently the case that the trains are only pulled up within a foot 

or two of the inner ends of the platform lines, for the convenience of the passengers, instead of 10 or 20 yards further back as 

they might be.        

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