IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY

 

THE HISTORY OF THE

  BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.

 

  

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 The Ford telescope bridge over the river Arun, was the first ever bridge of its kind to be constructed

 

 FORD

ARUN BRIDGE

A MACABRE INCIDENT

27th NOVEMBER 1851

Extracted and adapted from the report by

Simmons R.E., Captain,

 

Ford drawbridge which strides over the river Arun near Ford station, was the scene of macabre incident on the 27th November 1851 when a passenger train hauled by 'Sharp Brothers Singles' loco No. 81, ran into the rear of a cattle train and went over the embankment, dragging its train behind. Two passengers and the fireman of No. 81 were injured, the latter dying of his injuries a few days later. The driver of the cattle train on seeing collision was imminent jumped into the river to save himself, while the other driver on loco No. 81, who had been at fault for disregarding a signal, attempted to commit suicide, first by slit his own throat as recognition of his guilt; he failed, and then he too jumped into the river. He was rescued, presumably none to willing, by one of the guards involved in the incident.

 have the honour to inform you, that in compliance with your instructions, I proceeded to Arundel on the 2d instant, to inquire into the circumstances attending the accident which occurred from a collision between a passenger and a goods train, near the Ford station, on the Brighton and Portsmouth section of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, on the 27th ultimo. The fireman of the passenger-train died on the 30th ultimo from the injuries he had sustained; and a coroner's inquest was held on the 2d instant, at which I attended.

The following are facts which I learned.- The passenger-train, due to leave Brighton at 9.30 p.m., left on the evening of the 27th ultimo at its proper time, and is stated to have reached the Littlehampton station about a minute late; but It appears that on this line the times of departure from and arrival at the terminal stations alone are noted, and that no record is kept of those times at the intermediate stations, After the train had remained a minute there, it proceeded on its way. At 1 mile 54 chains from the Littlehampton station is situated the Ford station, at about 100 yards from which, on the Littlehampton side, is the river Arun, which is crossed by a bridge constructed to be drawn back, so as to leave a clear opening for the passage of vessels. “ .'he line is inclined upwards on each side towards the bridge; a single line of rails only is laid across the river, and on each side at point where a single line runs into double line, is a signal and switch- box. The signals always stand at " danger"; but ten minutes before a train is due, if the line is clear, the signal for that train is placed at “ caution”; if, however, two trains are due about the same time, the signals are kept up at “danger” till the first train appears in sight, a “ caution” signal is then exhibited to it, the signal for the other line remaining at danger” till that train has passed over the bridge. On the day in question the goods train, which leaves Portsmouth for Brighton every day at 7 p.m. arrived at the Ford station at about 20 minutes to 10. The regular goods-traine on this line, of which there are two daily, are stated to start at fixed times from the termini and to work their way to their journey's end as quickly as possible, no record being kept of the time of passing the several stations, This train having taken on some additional wagons (80 that it consisted in all of 42) at the Ford station, was ready to leave that station at about or 10 minutes past 10 o’clock. The passenger-train from Brighton was about two minutes over due, but as it was not signalled at the opposite side of the bridge as being in sight, the goods-train received the green light or cautionary signal, and :proceeded on its way, the red light being exhibited towards the expected passenger-train, as 18 proved by the statement of the engine- driver of the goods-train. By the time the engine of the goods-train had reached the middle of the bridge, the passenger-train appeared in sight, and approached without slackening speed. The engine-driver and fireman had, it appears, occupied themselves about ‘ he-fire after leaving Littlehampton station, and neglected to look for the signal at the bridge, although they came in sight of it within about 300 yards of Littlehampton - station. The guard was in a break-van next to the tender, and he states that in consequence of the steam from the engine obscuring the glass of his look-out window, he could -. not see any thing ahead. The passenger train arrived at the points near the bridge, where the double line of rails is turned into the single line, at the time when the goods-engine and six or seven wagons had passed; the passenger engine struck the side of the eighth waggon, and glancing oft’ it went down the embankment, dragging the train after it. The fireman had his skull fractured, and remained insensible till his death. The engine-driver was not injured by the accident; but immediately afterwards cut his throat-as he did not, however. succeed in killing himself in that way he afterwards threw himself into the river, but was pulled out again by the guard, and has remained in a dangerous state ever since. He states, that after leaving Littlehampton, he had been looking at the fire, and that the glare from that prevented him for the moment from seeing the signals.

This is attributable to the carelessness of the engine-driver, who is without excuse, for having allowed himself and his fireman, on approaching the part of the line in question, to be occupied in any way which could distract their attention from the signalBut as this accident shows that signals may be neglected. and as the consequence would have been infinitely more serious had such neglect taken place with the bridge open for the passage of vessels: I would recommend that the line between Ford and Littlehampton be worked as a single line by means of the electric telegraph, no train being allowed to leave either station till the line has been signalled as clear from the other station, and that the bridge is not open. This arrangement may be adopted without inconvenience to the traffic.: there are eight passenger-trains and one goods-train each wa.y daily; the irregular goods, ballast, and coke trains which pass the stations, rarely exceed two or three daily, and the bridge over the Arun is opened on an average for the passage of vessels eight times per week.

;rn addition to the above recommendation, I would call attention to the fact that no record appears to be kept of the times at which the passenger-trains pass the several stations, and that the goods-trains are worked without fixed time-tables. Under any circumstances, it appears desirable that a record of the times of trains passing the several stations should be kept, to afford a check upon the speed of trains and the punctuality of the engine-drivers, even on lines where the limited traffic does not appear to render such record indispensable” and also to be a means, in cases of accident, of assisting to determine on whom the blame should rest. 


  

* Depot of loco-men not known.

 

 I HA VE the honour to inform you, that in compliance with your instructions, I proceeded to Arundel on the 2d instant, to inquire into the circumstances attending the accident which occurred from a collision between a passenger and a goods train, near the Ford station, on the Brighton and Portsmouth section of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, on the 27th ultimo. The fireman of the passenger-train died on the 30th ultimo from the injuries he had sustained; and a coroner's inquest was held on the 2d instant, at which I attended.

The following are facts which I learned.- The passenger-train, due to leave Brighton at 9.30 p.m., left on the evening of the 27th ultimo at its proper time, and is stated to have reached the Littlehampton station about a minute late; but It appears that on this line the times of departure from and arrival at the terminal stations alone are noted, and that no record is kept of those times at the intermediate stations, After the train had remained a minute there, it proceeded on its way. At 1 mile 54 chains from the Littlehampton station is situated the Ford station, at about 100 yards from which, on the Littlehampton side, is the river Arun, which is crossed by a bridge constructed to be drawn back, so as to leave a clear opening for the passage of vessels. “ .'he line is inclined upwards on each side towards the bridge; a single line of rails only is laid across the river, and on each side at point where a single line runs into double line, is a signal and switch- box. The signals always stand at " danger"; but ten minutes before a train is due, if the line is clear, the signal for that train is placed at “ caution”; if, however, two trains are due about the same time, the signals are kept up at “danger” till the first train appears in sight, a “ caution” signal is then exhibited to it, the signal for the other line remaining at danger” till that train has passed over the bridge. On the day in question the goods train, which leaves Portsmouth for Brighton every day at 7 p.m. arrived at the Ford station at about 20 minutes to 10. The regular goods-traine on this line, of which there are two daily, are stated to start at fixed times from the termini and to work their way to their journey's end as quickly as possible, no record being kept of the time of passing the several stations, This train having taken on some additional wagons (80 that it consisted in all of 42) at the Ford station, was ready to leave that station at about 8 or 10 minutes past 10 o’clock. The passenger-train from Brighton was about two minutes over due, but as it was not signalled at the opposite side of the bridge as being in sight, the goods-train received the green light or cautionary signal, and :proceeded on its way, the red light being exhibited towards the expected passenger-train, as 18 proved by the statement of the engine- driver of the goods-train. By the time the engine of the goods-train had reached the middle of the bridge, the passenger-train appeared in sight, and approached without slackening speed. The engine-driver and fireman had, it appears, occupied themselves about ‘ he-fire after leaving Littlehampton station, and neglected to look for the signal at the bridge, although they came in sight of it within about 300 yards of Littlehampton - station. The guard was in a break-van next to the tender, and he states that in consequence of the steam from the engine obscuring the glass of his look-out window, he could -. not see any thing ahead. The passenger train arrived at the points near the bridge, where the double line of rails is turned into the single line, at the time when the goods-engine and six or seven wagons had passed; the passenger engine struck the side of the eighth waggon, and glancing oft’ it went down the embankment, dragging the train after it. The fireman had his skull fractured, and remained insensible till his death. The engine-driver was not injured by the accident; but immediately afterwards cut his throat-as he did not, however. succeed in killing himself in that way he afterwards threw himself into the river, but was pulled out again by the guard, and has remained in a dangerous state ever since. He states, that after leaving Littlehampton, he had been looking at the fire, and that the glare from that prevented him for the moment from seeing the signals.

This is attributable to the carelessness of the engine-driver, who is without excuse, for having allowed himself and his fireman, on approaching the part of the line in question, to be occupied in any way which could distract their attention from the signal. But as this accident shows that signals may be neglected. and as the consequence would have been infinitely more serious had such neglect taken place with the bridge open for the passage of vessels: I would recommend that the line between Ford and Littlehampton be worked as a single line by means of the electric telegraph, no train being allowed to leave either station till the line has been signalled as clear from the other station, and that the bridge is not open. This arrangement may be adopted without inconvenience to the traffic.: there are eight passenger-trains and one goods-train each wa.y daily; the irregular goods, ballast, and coke trains which pass the stations, rarely exceed two or three daily, and the bridge over the Arun is opened on an average for the passage of vessels eight times per week.

;rn addition to the above recommendation, I would call attention to the fact that no record appears to be kept of the times at which the passenger-trains pass the several stations, and that the goods-trains are worked without fixed time-tables. Under any circumstances, it appears desirable that a record of the times of trains passing the several stations should be kept, to afford a check upon the speed of trains and the punctuality of the engine-drivers, even on lines where the limited traffic does not appear to render such record indispensable” and also to be a means, in cases of accident, of assisting to determine on whom the blame should rest. 

 A SECOND COLLISION AT ARUN BRIDGE

ON THE 30th JANUARY 1861


H. W. TUEB, The Secretary,

Board of Trade,Whitehall. Capt. R.E.


On the 30th January, 1861, near the Ford Station of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway. To the east of that station there is a sliding bridge over the River Arun, carrying only one line of rails; and the points which connect the double lines with the single line of rails at the two ends of that bridge are under the charge of two pointsmen, one to each pair of points.

A double semaphore signal on the east of the bridge is considered as the governing signal, employed for the protection of the bridge and the single line passing over it. There are distant signals, working in each direction; and the station signal is not permitted to be lowered for the passage of a train from the westward, excepting when the signal on the east of the bridge is lowered also. A small wire signal communicates from the station to the west of the bridge.

On the 30th January, the 6 a.m. passenger train from Portsmouth, consisting of an engine and tender, 5 carriages, and 2 break-vans, approached the Ford Station about four minutes late; and the driver found the signals lowered for him to pass the station and bridge in the usual manner. He proceeded over the bridge at 14 or 15 miles an hour, which is the greatest speed permitted at this point by the Company's regulations; and he saw the engine of another train waiting upon the down line of rails, for his train to travel first over the single line. As soon as he had passed the points on the east of the bridge, he became aware that the pointsman had turned him on to the down line, instead of allowing him to proceed along his own line, and that a collision was inevitable. He had just time to reverse his engine, but no time to whistle for his breaks, before he struck the engine of the cattle train. He remained on his engine, and was not much hurt. The fireman, after giving his break handle one or two turns, also tried to jump off; but he only succeeded in getting on the lower step of the engine before the collision occurred; and he was stunned, by being thrown upon the ballast between the two lines, and cut about the face.

The guard who was riding in the leading van, Alfred Moore, remembers having passed the Ford Station, but nothing more. He was found senseless in his break-van after the collision, and was evidently much hurt. There were fortunately only 3 passengers altogether, 2 soldiers and a pensioner, in the passenger train; and they do not appear to have suffered much from the shock. There were some butchers also in the cattle train, who were some of them hurt; so that about 6 persons, besides the above fireman and guard, may be said to have been injured, more or less, from the effects of the collision.

The pointsman, who occasioned this accident, is an old servant of the company, with an excellent character, and he had been at the same post for 12 months. He saw the cattle train approaching from Brighton, about 5 minutes late; and he says that the driver passed the distant signal with his steam on, and he was a little afraid that he would not stop short of the points leading to the single line. He also saw the passenger train approaching from the opposite direction, and he lowered his signals, according to his usual practice, for this latter train, while he kept his signals at danger against the cattle train. He admits his mistake in turning on the points for the up line, and in thus causing the passenger train to run the wrong way through them; and he says that he did so unwittingly, while looking round, with. some anxiety to see whether the cattle train had come to a stand sufficiently far from them to allow the passenger train to pass in safety. He did not perceive his error until after the engine had passed through the points; and he then considered, wisely, that it was better to keep them in the wrong position, rather than to alter them, and throw the passenger train off the line.

The driver of the cattle train denies having run past the distant signal with his steam on, and he is corroborated in his evidence in this respect, by his fireman and his two guards. He states that he brought his train to a stand about 100 yards short of the points, and had been so standing for about 3 minutes before the collision occurred. He and his fireman had time to jump off and get out of the way, after they saw that the passenger train bad been turned the wrong way through the points. His tender wheels, and two or three of his cattle trucks were thrown off the line, in consequence of the road having been burst out on one side.

The first breaksman of the cattle train also had time to jump out of his van, after perceiving that the passenger train bad taken the wrong line; but the guard at the tail of the cattle train had not time to do so, and be received a contusion on the forehead.

It is admitted by the pointsman that this accident was caused by his mistake; and, as it appears that he only altered the points when the passenger train was within about 30 yards of him, it is plain that any indicating signal which might have been attached to them would not, in this instance, have been of much use. At the same time, it is desirable, in cases of this sort, in which points have to be constantly altered for the passage of trains in different directions, either that they should be worked in connection with a main signal near them, according to the system which has of late been carried out so judiciously at the junctions upon this Railway, or else that they should be attached to a small indicating signal, so placed as to inform an approaching driver of the direction in which they are set, and whether it is safe for him to proceed through them.

The best remedy, in this particular case, would be the construction of a new bridge, and the doubling of this portion of the line; a measure which the company are anxious, I believe, to carry out as soon as possible; and it would be a prudent course in the meantime to make some such alteration (by working the points in connection with a signal) as that which I have above referred to.

* Depot of loco-men not known.

 

 

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