IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY

THE HISTORY OF THE

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

 

  

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KENSINGTON

24th JANUARY 1897

INVOLVING DRIVER WILLIAM RADFORD AND 

HIS FIREMAN WILLIAM HENRY WINTER (DEPOT UNKNOWN)


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.

DESCRIPTION

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 collision.

EVIDENCE

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 stooping 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).

EVIDENCE TAKEN AT ADJOURNED ENQUIRY          

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.

CONCLUSION

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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