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of Professor Barlow on the Accident of the 2nd October, 1841. 

Also, on the falling in of the Patcham Tunnel.

October 15, 1841,

MY LORD,  In compliance with your Lordship's request, contained in the instructions forwarded to me by Mr. Laing. I 

proceeded on Wednesday, the 6th instant, to Brighton, having on my way arranged with Mr. Statham, the superintending 

engineer of the line, to meet him at the Brighton station onThursday morning, to proceed up the line by a special engine 

immediately after the den tch of the 10 h. 45 m. morning train.

This I did accordingly, but as your Lordship has been already informed, on our approaching the south end of Patcham Tunnel 

a signal was made to stop, and on inquiring the cause we were informed of the dangerous condition of the front of that 

structure, which was obviously in a falling state. Of course I did not proceed, but returned to Brighton with the engine, leaving 

Mr. Statham at the tunnel. In a short time afterwards it appears that the front and a great part of the wing walls came down. 

Before I left the tunnel a person was dispatched to end of it to warn the down train not to advance, and my arrival at the 

Brighton Station prevented the dispatch of the 11h. 45m. train. The Patcham Tunnel is about two miles and a half from the 

Brighton terminus. Steps were immediately taken to remove the rubbish, and by the next morning the line was again opened.



2nd OCTOBER 1841

Involving (Leading Engine) Driver Charles Goldsmith & his Fireman Robert Marshall

& (Rear Engine) Driver James Jackson & his Fireman Robert Field



This disaster occurred at Copyhold cutting, where the fatal over throw occurred on the 2nd of October, which involved the 

10.45 a.m. down train from London Bridge to Brighton. The train left London Bridge with nine first class carriages, one 

composite carriage and two private coaches on trucks, holding a total of 97 passengers. The firemen of both engines were 

killed together with two passengers, (servants of a Doctor).

In compliance with your Lordship's request, contained in the instructions forwarded to me by Mr. Laing. I  proceeded on 

Wednesday, the 6th instant, to Brighton, having on my way arranged with Mr. Statham, the superintending engineer of the 

line, to meet him at the Brighton station on Thursday morning, to proceed up the line by a special engine immediately after 

the despatch of the 10 h. 45 m. morning train.

This I did accordingly, but as your Lordship has been already informed, on our approaching the south end of Patcham Tunnel 

a signal was made to stop, and on inquiring the cause we were informed of the dangerous condition of the front of that 

structure, which was obviously in a falling state. Of course I did not proceed, but returned to Brighton with the engine, leaving 

Mr. Statham at the tunnel. In a short time afterwards it appears that the front and a great part of the wing walls came down. 

Before I left the tunnel a person was dispatched to end of it to warn the down train not to advance, and my arrival at the 

Brighton Station prevented the dispatch of the 11h. 45m. train. The Patcham Tunnel is about two miles and a half from the 

Brighton terminus. Steps were immediately taken to remove the rubbish, and by the next morning the line was again opened.

- - - - - - - - - - -

This new disaster prevented my inspection of the Copyhold cutting, where the fatal over throw occurred on the second instant, 

till the next day. I was then supplied with a special engine and carriage and was accompanied by Mr. Rastrick, the engineer-

in-chief of the line, to the Hayward Heath Station; our driver being the man Jackson, who had charge of the second engine 

(Loco No.22) on the day of the accident, and whom I had thus the means of questioning on the spot, as I had also the labourer 

Copley, who had made the signal to indicate the necessity of caution the moment before the first engine was thrown off the 

line. I also saw at a beer shop the guard Hitchens, who was so severely injured, but he was too ill to be able to give me any 

information. I saw this man again the next day; he then appeared better, but could give me no account; all that he knew was 

the accident was momentary. The driver of the first engine (loco No. 17 was to pilot the train to Haywards Heath),  Charles 

Goldsmith, I only saw at the Brighton Station. Although in a weak state he is fast recovering, but his evidence amounts to little 

more than that of Hitchens. He saw the signal given by Copley, but too late to be of any service. He states the awe d to have 

been, on entering the cutting about 30 miles per hour but could a sign no caused for the accident.

On examining the place of the fatal occurrence nothing could be seen, or expected to be seen, after the lapse of six days, to 

indicate its immediate cause, although there was sufficient evidence of the extreme violence of the concussion. Four of the 

rails, weighing 75 lbs. per yard, or 375 lb. each, which had sustained the shock of the engine, were bent and twisted in all 

directions, and one of them had on one side its flange stripped off for about two feet of its length, as if out by the moat 

powerful shears; hut these rails having been replaced by other immediately after the accident, I could form no opinion from 

the appearance of the mad that could lead me to any conclusion, although from other circumstances I feel not the slightest 

doubt on the subject.

The place where the accident occurred is near the 36½ mile post from London, within about a mile of the north end of the 

Hayward Heath Tunnel, which is a little below the Hayward Heath Station. The soil in this cutting, and for some distance 

down the line, is of a very absorbent and treacherous character, becoming in its wet state nearly semi-fluid, mud yet when dry 

or well drained it appears be perfectly sound; and I am bound to state that I stood at this and observed trains passing with 

considerable speed both up and down the line, and that their motion was exceedingly steady, that is, free from rocking, which 

is generally in obvious where a line is defective.

I have watched this effect, and have experimented upon it on several lines, and I am not aware that I ever saw less oscillatory 

motion. But it must be observed that at this time everything that could be done had been hone to car off the water. For a day 

or two before the accident the rain had been very heavy, and I have no doubt, from the nature of the soil, and the evidence of 

Copley, that the road was at the time in what he describes "as a light state," which he afterwards explained by saying-when 

there is much rain the wet pushes up the rails and makes them uneven, but that was not the case on Saturday.

I asked him, "If the road was not in that date on Saturday, and the speed not greater than usual, why he gave the signal;" hut 

all I could learn was they had done so for two or three days.

Weighing these circumstances, viz., the nature of the soil, the great quantities of rain that had fallen, the admission that a 

caution signal was made, and has been made for some days before, I feel no doubt whatever that the unsound bearing of some 

one or more of them sleepers at the time was one cause of the accident.

With respect to the speed of the engine at the time, there are considerable discrepancies in the evidence. Jackson, the driver, 

states that the speed did not exceed 20 or 23 miles per hour, although he admits that he has frequently passed this spot at 32 

and 35 miles per hour.

Copley, the labourer above alluded to, says, that he 

observed the engine at its usual speed. Hinge, the policeman 

on the viaduct, says he gave the signal "stead," because he 

observed the train was going rather faster than usual. Now 

the question is, What has been the usual speed on this part 

of the line. The average speed on the whole line for this train 

is 25 miles per hour, including the time lost at four 

intermediate stopping places, besides the stoppage at Horley 

to attach the assistant engine.

This will require an average speed of at least 28 miles per 

hour when travelling. Now for the first two miles  after 

leaving Horley the line ascends 


Ouse Valley Viaduct  

1in 460 and then for four miles before reaching the Balcombe Tunnel it ascends 1 in 264, and thence descends for nearly six 

miles to the Hayward Station at the same rate, that is 1 in 264. 

From the notes and memoranda made by Sir Frederick Smith and myself in travelling together over some thousand miles of 

railway, and over every variety of gradient. I have no doubt that to preserve an average speed of 28 miles per hour though 

this12 miles would a speed of 32 miles per hour on the descending side.

Now it is admitted that the train was behind its proper time, a strong reason for not going slower than usual. Jackson denies 

having seen the signal “steady" on the viaduct, he seems therefore to have had no good motive for going slower. and he states 

that he has frequently passed this place at 35 miles per hour; and yet he asserts that just on this particular occasion, when 

such a Frightful accident occurred, he was not proceeding at more than 20 or 23 miles per hour. His statement on this head is 

certainly supported by the opinion of John Hardy. Eq.. M.P., who was a passenger, but it is greatly at variance with 

probability, and with other evidence.

It has been seen that the usual speed down this plane is about 32 miles per hour, and Hinge admitted in his evidence before 

the jury that he thought the speed was greater than, usual. It appears also that he made use of expressions soon after the 

accident, which would simply that the speed was much greater than he stated before the coroner.

Since I have been engaged on this inquiry, I have had communication with two of the gentlemen on the jury, who met me 

afterwards by appointment, and whose statement throws great doubt on this man's evidence. I quote the following from their 

two letters.

“I beg to state that, although on the evidence brought before them the jury would come to no other conclusion than that at which they arrived, I felt, and still feel, by no means satisfied at the statement made by John Hinge, the policeman, on the highly important point of the speed with which the train was travelling at, or immediately before. the time of the accident. I was at the Copyhold bridge about two hours after the accident happened, when this police-man addressed m e and said, that when k first saw the train coming towards him he was sure something would happen from the speed at which it was going. He said he held up his hand to signal ‘ steady.' but that his heart was up in his mouth as they passed him; that he ran to a point in the mad where he could watch them farther, and in a very short time the accident occurred. He was heard to state this by other persons also, who have, I believe, informed you of the same thing The man, however, when called as a witness denied having made any such statement. Whether he had really forgotten what he previously said, or in the excitement and alarm occasioned by the accident had stated that which was not the fact, I am unable to say; but it is obvious, that the effects on the minds of the jury would have been very different if the original account of the policeman had been substantiated before them."

The other gentleman states as follows:-" Soon after the accident occurred I went to the spot, and accompanied one of the 

inspectors and a gentleman, who is a stranger to me, to the shed where the bodies of the unfortunate victims had been 

deposited. A policeman was in attendance, who volunteered the following remarks:-He said that he observed the train 

approaching him near the viaduct (where he was on duty) at such a rapid rate that he was much terrified; that he fully 

expected some accident to happened in consequence of the great speed with which they were proceeding, and was only 

surprised it did not occur sooner than it did; that he held up his hand as a signal to slacken speed, but that no notice was 

taken of it. Being one of the jury on the inquest held two days after, I insisted upon this man's evidence being heard. It was not 

until after much delay had taken place, and the coroner more than once called for him, that he made his appearance. On 

questioning him as to his former statement he totally denied having used such expressions as those which I had attributed to 

him, declared that he had not been the least frightened, nor had entertained any apprehension of fatal consequences arising 

from the speed, Which h he then said was not extreme; yet he allowed that he held up his hand as a caution, but could not be 

certain that the signal ad been seen by the driver."

“As a juryman I did not think that I could also act as a witness; and not being aware at the time that the policeman had made 

similar statements to others, who could be called upon to give evidence of the fact, I thought I ought not to allow the 

policeman's previous assertions to influence the verdict, as they were not borne out by the evidence. But as it appears that 

Government has commissioned you to investigate the circumstances which attended the accident, I feel that, being no longer 

fettered by my position as a juryman, I should not be acting fairly towards the public if I withheld this statement from you."

These gentlemen, who have no wish that their names should be unnecessarily brought before the public, are, notwithstanding, 

quite ready, if called upon, to substantiate what they have thus stated.

It is not, perhaps, my place to make any comments in this report on the conduct of the policeman; but it is impossible not to 

conclude from these statements, and other circumstances, that the speed down the plane was excessive, and inconsistent with 

the then state of the road; or, perhaps, with common prudence under any circumstances.

Of course the above statements impugn also Jackson's evidence; and I am sorry that the jury seam to have given too much 

weight, in my opinion, to his explanations as to the probable cause of the accident This man states that he has been a driver 

for four years and a half, three years in the service of the London and Brighton Company, before which he belonged to the 

London and Birmingham Company. He states that he never met with any accident himself from the four wheeled engines on 

the latter line; but had heard of a case of one of those engines getting off the line near Harrow.

Now surely this is very slight ground on which to come to a conclusion that such engines are unsafe, and for attributing to the 

use of them two accidents on two successive days within about a mile of each other.

It appears from a statement I have received from Mr. Bury, the maker of these engines, and who is also the superintendent of 

the locomotive department of the London and Birmingham Railway, that since the opening of that line, in July, 1837, they 

have used no other than four-wheeled engines; that they have travelled more than three million miles, which is nearly 

equivalent to making thirty thousand complete journeys between London and Birmingham; and that they have in no instance 

met with a single accident that can be said to have been occasioned be the particular construction of the engine.

There is, however, as stated by Jackson, some difference between the Birmingham and Brighton four-wheeled engines. They 

have both the same stroke and the same diameter of wheels; but the former has smaller cylinders, viz., some having twelve-

inch cylinders, weighing, full of water, under 10 tons; others of thirteen-inch cylinders, weighing, under like circumstances, 

between 11 and 12 tons

On the Brighton line the four-wheeled engines have all fourteen-inch cylinders, and weigh, when charged with water and fuel, 

between 13 and 14 tons. This increased size of cylinder requires increased dimensions; and, the wheels being of the same 

diameter, necessarily raises the centre of gravity, and thus far they may be said to be more top-heavy, and are, perhaps, more 

liable to rock; but the difference must be very  inconsiderable.

In order to form some comparison of the top-heaviness of the two engines employed on that particular day when the accident 

occurred, Mr. Rastrick obligingly permitted one of his assistants to make me two outlined elevations of them, that is, of a four-

wheeled engine of precisely the same dimensions as that which was destroyed, and the other of the identical six-wheeled 

engine driven by Jackson. I forward with this report these two drawings, by which it will be seen, as nearly as it is possible to 

form an opinion, that there is little or no difference in the place of the centre of gravity in the two engines. The upper part of 

the boiler of the six-wheeled engine is the highest, but its water line is the lowest; as far, therefore, as relates to top heaviness 

on which much stress is laid by Jackson, I am of opinion there is little or no difference.

In making these remarks, I beg it may be distinctly understood that I am not advocating, Or giving a preference to, the four-

wheeled engines. My object in referring to the subject is, that the jury, by giving too much weight to W  at I consider to be an 

erroneous opinion, have lost sight of the main causes of the accident, which I feel the strongest conviction were over driving 

and a road partially injured by the heavy rains that had recently fallen. I think, moreover, that the withdrawing of those 

engines from the line, in compliance with the recommendation  of the jury, has a tendency to give a false confidence to the 

Brighton passengers, while it is calculated to give unfounded alarm to those travelling on the London and Birmingham and 

some other lines.

It now only remains, my Lord, to inform our Lordship of the result of my examination into the circumstances attending the 

falling o the front of the Patcham tunnel This was, I believe, occasioned by the chalk being left at a considerable slope, which 

caused the "backing in," when impregnated with the excessive heavy rains, to slide along the face of the chalk, and thus by its 

pressure overcoming the resistance opposed to it. Mr. Rastrick also apprehends that a pipe. intended for a drain, had become 

by some means choaked, which increased ' the evil. A slight crack, it appears, had been observed early on the Thursday 

morning; but no danger was apprehended till immediately after the passage of the 10h. 45m. morning train.

In the fall of the front of the tunnel, a part of the brick work of the tunnel itself, for about six feet, was fractured. It remained 

shored up the second day, hut was removed during the following night. The remaining part is an extremely fine piece of 

brickwork, and is perfectly safe, only requiring for the present a constant watching, to remove any fragments of chalk that may 

fall upon the line from the present nearly vertical face of the cutting. Steps will be immediately taken to reface the tunnel; and 

it is, I believe, Mr. Rastrick's intention to lengthen the brickwork of it a little towards Brighton.

In the further compliance with your Lordship's instructions, after making this examination I proceeded along the line with the 

special engine and carriage, accompanied by Mr. Rastrick, to Hayward Heath, stopping and examining everything that 

appeared to require it. Mr. Rastrick here left me to return to Brighton, having first appropriated m me the coupe of the 

carriage, in which I proceeded to Croydon ; and if I might venture to give a practical opinion relative to the construction and 

present state of the line, I should say that the engine has done, and well done, everything that could be effected; but he has 

had to deal in some parts with very treacherous materials, and time will be required for them to take up a firm and solid state. 

In other parts, where the soil is better, the line is very perfect. The bridges, the viaducts, and four out of the five tunnels, are, 

in regard of interior brickwork, in perfect condition; but the Hayward Heath Tunnel is much oppressed with water from the 

late excessive rains; but great efforts are being made to carry the water off, and a few d a p of fine weather will enable much 

to be accomplished. Those parts of the line which have suffered most from the rains are two short pieces of the embankment 

south of the Redhill Station ; another considerable portion south of the Balcombe Tunnel, and just beyond the Hayward Heath 

Tunnel southward.

Sir Frederick Smith, in his general approval of this line, has drawn the attention of the engineer to certain portions of it, on 

which he conceived the safety of the public called for specific precautions a d reduced speed. These precautions have been 

rendered more particularly necessary in consequence of the recent heavy rains, which have also produced some other weak 

points; and I conceive that it is most desirable that at present, and during the approaching winter, more time should be 

allowed for the journey, in order that great caution may be observed in those parts where the line has most sufferer.

I have ascertained that both Jackson and Charles Goldsmith were discharged servants of the London and Birmingham 

Company, but Goldsmith had never been a driver.

* On 6th June, 1851 a Driver Jackson died as result of the Newmarket Arch near Falmer derailment. It is wonder if this was the same driver who was involved the above train crash, Driver Jackson died as a result of this accident

Driver Jackson had previously been employed as an engine driver since the early part of 1837, by the London & Birmingham company. After being discharged from this company in c1838, driver Jackson later found employment with the L.B.S.C.R. having been an engine driver for about a year and half.


LETTE from Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Frederic Smith, 

covering Professor's Barlow's Report, on the Accident on the London and Brighton Railway.

Board of Trade, October 15, 1841.


Having carefully considered the accompanying report from Professor Barlow, respecting the late fatal accident on the London 

and Brighton Railway, and, on the present state of the works on that line, I have the honour to acquaint your Lordship that I 

occur with the Professor in attributing that accident partly to the excessive speed used on the occasion in question, and partly 

to the defective state to which the road had been reduced by the long continuance of heavy rain; hut, believing as I do, that 

these two causes mainly contributed to produce this unfortunate catastrophe, yet I am most decidedly of opinion that the 

accident would not have happened but for the improper use of two en mes a-head on a long gradient, of rather severe 

inclination, falling in the direction in which the train was running.

Scarcely any practice can, in my opinion, be more imprudent than running a train with two engines a-head on such a plane at n 

high velocity, even over a road well consolidated by time, and the danger of such a proceeding is obviously most fearfully 

increased when it is permitted on a line which has not acquired that degree of steadiness which is attainable only from long 

use; and, while this practice is dangerous, it is not only altogether unnecessary, but expensive to the Company.

Your Lordship will readily perceive the utter impossibility of two drivers, however dexterous they may be, so regulating the 

speed of their respective engines, on such a plane as that on draw chains" of both uniformly stretched, and it is quite clear that 

when the leading engine sometimes draws the other, and is sometimes pushed by it, an irregular motion must result, having a 

tendency to disturb the balance of the leading engine, and more especially if that engine be the lighter, and carried by only 

four wheels.The risk is much increased on a line where the evenness of the rails has been disturbed by bad weather.

In calling the attention of the London and Brighton Company therefore, to the necessity of a considerable reduction in their 

rate of speed on the falling gradients, and of paying constant and close attention to the state of their road, I would recommend 

that they should be urged to discontinue the use of the assistant engine in the descent of their long inclined planes.

A most important and very safe practice prevails on some of the northern railways, which should be immediately introduced 

on the Brighton line, and ought to be adopted on ail those of recent formation, as it affords an excellent, constant, and almost 

unerring check on the contractors. who are generally held responsible to maintain the road in good order for 12 months after 

the opening:

The practice to which I allude, is that of making each policeman carry a gauge, and walk over his beat, before the arrival of 

every train, trying the gauge of the rails in such a number of points as to ascertain whether the line is throughout in perfect 

order; and it is the policeman's duty to stop a train, or give the signal of caution, according to the degree of risk he may 


I find that the point where it is presumed the engine first became irregular in its motion, just before the accident, in one to 

which I had called the especial attention of the Company, as requiring careful and cautious driving and watching.

Professor Barlow very justly observes, that it will be the rase on the London and Brighton, as it is on all new lines, that for 

some time to come fresh weak points will be produced by unfavourable weather, and I therefore conceive it will be proper not 

only to press upon the Company the necessity of devoting the most vigilant and unremitting care to the state of their works 

generally and of the permanent way in particular, but that it will be indispensably necessary that this line, on which so large a 

traffic may be expected, should have the especial attention of this department, and be occasionally inspected during the winter 

after had weather, in order that such suggestions may from time to time be offered to the Com any as may relieve the Board of 

Trade from alt responsibility as regards the public safety on this railway.

I have, &C.,


Letter sent to the London and Brighton Railway Company, 

with Extracts from Sir F. Smithand Professor Barlow's Reports.

October 19,1841

SIR, Board of Trade, 

With reference to the late accident on the London and Brighton Railway, I am directed, &C., to inform you that their Lordship 

recommend to the Directors of the London and Brighton Railway Company the adoption of the following precautions, which 

have been recommended by Sir F. Smith and Professor Barlow :-

l. That the speed in descending the long inclined places upon the line, and also upon all portions of the line which may appear 

to be not perfectly consolidated, should he reduced, and strict orders issued to prevent such limited rate of speed as is thought 

proper for safety from being ever exceeded.

2. That with a view to this the time-table should be revised, and the average rate of speed along the line, which is stated by 

Professor Barlow to be in some case as high as 25 miles per hour, should be considerably diminished.

3. That the practice of running trains with two engines a-head down long inclined planes, should be discontinued.

Sir F. Smith further suggests, that a practice which prevails on some of the northern railways might with advantage be 

adopted, as affording an excellent check on the contractors, who we responsible for maintaining the road in good order, viz., 

of making each policeman carry a gauge, and walk over his beat before the arrival of train, trying the gauge of the rails in such 

a number of points as to ascertain whether the line is throughout in good order, and making it his duty to stop or caution trains 

according to the degree of risk he may discover . Their Lordships recommend this suggestion for the consideration of the 




Click on Icon to read the full report 





As published in 

the TIMES  Newspaper October 1841

On Monday morning a highly respectable jury was empanelled before Mr. F.H. Gell, Coroner for East Sussex, at the Railway 

Beer Shop, near Haywards Heath station, to investigate the circumstances attending the melancholy loss of four lives, which 

occurred on Saturday last on the railway, owning to one of the engines running of the rails. The jury comprised Mr. T.j. 

Bellamy and Mr. N. Barwell, two of the magistrates for the county of Susses; the Rev. W.H. Scwabe, curate of Cuckfield; the 

Rev. H. Fearson, master of an academy at Cuckfield; and the most respectable inhabitants of Cuckfield and the 


Mr. Faithfull, of Brightonattended to watch the proceedings on the part of the railway company. There were also present, Mr. 

Harman, Mr. Robinson and Mr Heaviside, directors of the company.

The jury having been sworn, proceeded to view the bodies, which had been deposited in a beer shop about a mile to the north 

of the station. The names of the deceased were Robert Marshall and Robert Field (the firemen of the engines which propelled 

the train), and Harry Palmer and Jane Watson (servants of Dr. Carpue, the celebrated anatomist). The bodies had been placed 

in a carpenter’s shed, and presented spectacle.

Having viewed the bodies, the jury proceeded to an adjoining beer shop, where the drive of one of the engine was taken 

immediately after the accident. He appeared to be fast recovering.

The Coroner administered the oath to him, and he proceeded to make the following statement:-
Charles Goldsmith. On Saturday last, on arrival at Horley of the 11 o’clock train from London, propelled by a six wheeled 

engine, a second auxiliary engine was put on to assist the train to Hayward’s Heath. It was a four wheeled engine, and I was 

the driver. The train was a very heavy one, and, I believe, was a little behind time. My engine was put before the other, and we 

proceeded at the rate of about 30 miles an hour. When we reached the Copyhold cutting, I received a different motion in the 

engine, which wavered backwards and forwards. I don’t know what followed, I was stunned and heard nothing more. The 

motion lasted only an instant. When I recovered I found myself n a ditch covered with sand and water under the tender. Some 

persons were removing the tender as I came to myself, and told me that the accident has happened about ten minutes. It was 

my duty to examine the engine before it left Horley; I did examine it, and it appeared to be quite safe. When we got to 

Copyhold, the driver of the first engine let off his steams; and I turned off mine to within half an inch. The other engine was  

doing nothing; mine was doing but little, merely keeping the chain tight. There was no policeman in the cutting. The last 

policeman that I saw was at the Ouse Valley viaduct; and he signalled “all right.” I did not expect to meet another policeman 

till I got to Hayward’s Heath. It is customary to put on a second engine at Horley when the train is heavy or behind time. The 

action of a small and heavy engine is the same; but a heavy engine holds it was longer than a small one. If a driver is not very 

careful the large engine would cause a jerk against the small one when the steam was shut off. Never knew an instance of the 

first engine being thrown off in this way. Two engines of different powers and weights can run together at the same speed. I 

am in 21st year. I have been employed on locomotives for five years; but have been a driver only a month. I was competent 

two years ago. I shut off my steam because I thought I saw a man in the cutting hold up his hand. The other driver had shut off 

the steam previously. I understood the signal to be to slacken the speed. Where the road is not heavy, we are in the habit of 

going at the rate of 30 miles an hour. I felt no bumping when the steam was turned off; I could not, as the hind engine was not 

drawing. I have printed instructions from Mr. Hurst, but they contain no directions against speed except on the Croydon and 

Greenwich lines.   

Examined by Mr. Faithfull. I was to have left the train at Hayward’s Heath. I was three years on the London and Birmingham 

Railway, and never knew any other four wheeled carriages used there. If one of the wheels of the engine had become loose, 

such a motion as I felt would have been consequence. This might have been the cause of the accident.

John Holland, a retired officer in the army, who identified the bodies of Henry Palmer and Jane Watson, the former as the 

footman; the latter as the housemaid, of Mr. Joseph Constantine Carpue, surgeon, of Upper Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, 

whose family he had been in the habit of visiting . Henry Palmer was about 23 years of age and Jane Watson about the same 


James Jackson. I am an engine driver in the employment of the London and Brighton Railway Company. On Saturday last I 

left Horley at 5 minutes after 12 o’clock. Was to proceed from Horley to Brighton. I had brought the engine from Horley n the 

morning and was to return with it. i examined the engine at Horley, and it was in complete working order. A pilot engine was 

attached to the train at Horley, because we had heavy train, and to help us up the hill. We came from Horley to the Copy 

cutting at the average rate of about from 26 to 30 miles an hour. About half a mile before coming to the Copyhold cutting we 

were running at the rate of about 30 miles an hour. On entering the cutting by the bridge we do not exceed 23 miles an hour. I 

believe it to have been 20 or 21. Nothing occurred here to induce me to slacken my pace. I had shut off my steam half a mile 

before I came to the cutting, because my engine was getting slack of steam; as we were going down hill, and other engine was 

going to leave me at Hayward’s Heath. I wished to reserve my steam, that I might keep a good supply with which to get to 

Brighton. I did not observe any signal before entering the cutting. After we entered it, just before the accident took place. I 

observed a man, amongst a number of men, standing with one arm up; that is a signal to slacken speed. The instant we passed 

the man I observed the first engine rocking very much,  and, directly after, she capsized right over to left hand side. I 

immediately leaped behind the fire box, and laid hold of the handle of the regulator, till I was thrown back by my engine 

coming into contact with the end of the engine. if the other engine had rolled a foot further, I think we might have avoided her 

altogether. I did not perceive the slightest movement in my engine till she struck the other. I was thrown back on the carriage 

of the tender, and continued holding the chain till the carriages stopped. It was all over in half a minute. We had no warning 

nor any thoughts of the accident. Directly I got off my engine, I saw one of the guards lying on the ground on his back close 

by my engine. I lifted him up, and then went back, and the next person I saw was Charles Goldsmith, covered with sand and 

mud, and under the frame of the tender in a gutter by the side of the road. We pulled him out of the hole, and the next person I 

saw was Robert Marshall, a stoker to the first engine, lying dead on the ground on his back, he lying lengthwise to the railway, 

with his head towards London. Seeing no other person, I got through the carriages, and then found Field, my stoker, about 

three yards from the carriages, between the out rail and the gutter. He was almost lifeless; the phlegm was gurgling in his 

mouth. I told him to spit it out, and he did so. Directly I left him I proceeded to my engine, and saw a female lying across the 

railway, with a carriage wheel resting on her. She was with her face downwards, quite dead. At this time some men were 

getting Henry Palmer from under some carriages, within a couple of yards of the female. He was quite dead. The earth in the 

cutting is of a greasy nature, and a number of men, who are employed there, are in the habit of walking over the trams with 

their boots, leaving a portion of earth on them; which, in my opinion, was the cause of the accident.

Coroner. How would that affect the engine?

Witness. The engine being four wheels, and sliding about, and being top heavy, the gushing about of the water on the top of 

the fire box would almost force her over. That is my firm opinion. As to the state of the cutting, I have ran 30 and 35 miles an 

hour through it many a time. The earth has nor given way at this part at all. All I saw was the rocking motion, which I 

conjecture was owing to the slippery state of the rails. You do not feel this with a six wheeled engine. I have been over there at 

30 miles an hour and never have had any cause to slacken speed.

Coroner. If there had been no pilot engine would the danger have been less?

Witness. I do not think my engine would have gone off, on account of its weight and having six wheels. Only three carriages, 

those next to the tender, were thrown off the line. The others were not affected. Thee were 11 or 12 carriages in the train. I do 

not know how many passengers; but there seemed to be a considerable number, and a good deal of  luggage.

Mr. Barwell. do you consider the construction of the pilot engines safe or unsafe?

Witness. I consider them unsafe. There is a difference of opinion among engineers; but I don’t like four wheeled ones. This 

was as safe as other four wheeled engines, but I prefer six wheeled ones. I think a four wheeled and six wheeled can act in 

unison together, if the stroke be the same. If a six wheeled and four wheeled were stopped at the same time the six wheeled 

engine would stop sooner than the four wheeled, because there would be less friction. Goldsmith took no notice of me, but 

shut off a part of his steam shortly after me.
Cross examined by the Rev. Mr. Fearon. I don’t think there is more danger in having two engines than one. If we had had two 

four wheeled engines on Saturday the consequence would have been still worse. I am quite sure that my speed between the 

viaduct and the Copyhold cutting, about three quarters of a mile, was not above 30 miles an hour. We were behind time a little 

at Horley, but did not go above our ordinary speed. The pilot engine was put on because we had a heavy train. The accident 

happened about half past 12.

By Mr. Barwell. A foreman is kept at Horley and Brighton to examine the engines. I saw Mr. Hurst go round mine at Horley, 

and believe he looked over both.

By Mr. Allen. I am quite certain, from experience, that the slippery state of the rails would cause, and not prevent, oscillation. 

It is the same in chalk cuttings. I have been a driver four and a half years. Goldsmith was perfectly sober, and I always knew 

him to be so. I can suggest no other cause for the accident but that iI have described.

By the Coroner. The weight of the carriages behind did not cause any movement in the engine; it would make it go steadier. I 

saw a policeman at the viaduct give the signal “all right,” but saw no other. The man who gave the signal was the foreman of 

the works there. I never had signal there before. The engine went off immediately we had passed him. all the engines are new 

ones. The pilot engine was in good working order.

Mr. Barwell. Did you ever state your opinion of four wheeled engines to any of the company?

No; not before yesterday.

Foreman. Have the engines ever run off the line before?

Yes; on Friday last I saw an engine, a four wheeled one, run off the rail at the Hayward’s Heath tunnel. I did not know the 

cause. I have never seen any other case.

By Mr. Faithfull. When I saw the signal I pulled the retard lever, but it could not stop the other engine.

By Mr. Barwell. I never knew a six wheeled engine go off the rail unless there was some obstruction, or the points were 

wrong. The London Birmingham Railway uses four wheeled engines, bu they are not so high as these and therefore require 

less heavy cylinders, and are consequently less top heavy. I know a similar case to this occurring on the London and 

Birmingham. they are made on the same principle, except that our boilers are larger. I should not like to drive a four wheeled 


By the Foreman. Neither of the boilers exploded. That of the pilot was burst from falling over. I observed the state of the rail 

after the accident. It was bent a little, a very little indeed, owing to the carriages running against it. The rail was in the same 

state as that in which I had gone over it at 30 miles an hour, and believed it perfectly safe.

James Copley. I am a labourer employed on the railway. I recollect being Copyhold cutting, about a quarter past 12 o’clock on 

Saturday last. I saw the down train coming at about its usual rate. I made a signal to it to come steady just before they came to 

the bridge. We have done it for the last three or four days on account of the wet, and for fear they should come light. There 

was no reason more than the usual one. I did not see the accident. As soon as the train passed I went away.

Mr. Barwell. Were the rails greasy?

No, sir. In that part soil is sandy. There is some black clay at the top. I had been told to make the signal by a policeman. There 

are veins of black soil running down the cutting. I had not observed in particular the clay from the labourers’ boots on the 


Juryman. What do you mean by the road being light?

Why, the wet pushes the rails up, and makes them uneven, but that was not case with the rails on Saturday.

Mr. Faithfull then called.

Mr. John Hardy. I reside at No.3, Portland Place, and am member for Bradford, in Yorkshire. I was a passenger by the quarter 

before 11 o’clock train, from London, on Saturday. I was in the middle part of the carriage next to the engine, with an open 

coupee on each side. The first thing I experienced was a great shock and dreadful screams. I was in the middle of the carriage, 

with my face to Brighton; and by the shock a lad, who was sitting in the corner opposite to me, was thrown on my knee. There 

was immediately great crashing. I and my son in law, Mr. Wood, spoke to the ladies, when new were suddenly lifted and 

turned around, and, in the course of a few seconds instead of being with my face towards Brighton, my face was towards 

London, and the carriage leaning against a sandbank. Just as we were first struck a quantity of steam and water came into the 

carriage, but there was no escape for it. As soon as we were still Mr. Wood, who was next to the window got out, there being 

room between the window and hill, and assisted me in doing so. I immediately jumped across the ditch, and found the carriage 

had been completely turned round. I went round the engine, which was in the road, and the first thing I saw was the guard, 

very disfigured. I spoke to him, found he was still alive, and called for a surgeon. Mr. Elliott came. A little further on I 

observed the engine lying on the ditch, on the left hand side. A little beyond it was one of the stokers lying, apparently dead. I 

have travelled a great deal by railway. I have been 11 times by this railroad, and, to the best of my judgement, we were 

proceeding at the rate from 20 to 24 miles an hour. just before I had been complaining to my companions of the slowness of 

the speed, and said we should be half an hour behind out time at Hayward’s Heath.

By the Foreman. I thought this was a very long train. I had taken my place in the coupee, but my son in law persuaded me, just 

before starting, to leave it. Had I remained most probably your inquest would have been upon me.

By M.r Faithfull. I cannot give a scientific opinion upon the point, but from experience, I should say the heavier the train the 

steadier the motion.

Mr. John Wood, of Thaddon Grange, Alton Hampshire, corroborated the evidence of Mr Hardy. in going through the cutting, I 

should suppose the speed to be from 20 to 25 miles. I frequently travel on railways.

William Beedham. I am a builder and surveyor residing in North Street, Brighton. At the time of the accident I was near the 

railroad, about half a mile from the place where it occurred. I heard the train coming. I took my watch out, and also the 

railway table to see what train it was. It was just half past 12. According to my judgement it was going about 25 miles an hour. 

I had a full view of it across the viaduct, about half a mile from the accident. I could not say whether it slackened before I lost 

sight of it.

Richard Hodges. I am a labourer on the railway and live at Copyhold. I saw the train, on Saturday, in the cutting. It was 

coming along at the usual rate. I saw the first engine jump up and down as it came along, it might be about half a minute, and 

then I saw it drop right off the rail. I then turned and ran away; either the tender or the engine caught me, and one of the 

stokers fell across me and knocked me into the ditch. When it jumped the fore wheels rose up and down. I did not see any 

oscillating motion.

Matthew Hall, assistant engineer. It is my duty to inspect that portion of the railway on which the accident occurred, and to see 

that it is in a proper state. I had inspected it just previous to the accident. I was a little advance of the train, in the cutting, at 

the time. The road was in a fit state for travelling at 25 miles. it was in as good a state of repair as it has been in since the line 

was opened. I am of opinion that a heavy train is steadier than a light one. I am stationed on the line for 16 miles, to St John’s 

Common, and it is in  a perfectly fit state for travelling. I did not observe anything on the rail to make it slippery. The soil is 


Mr. Elliott of the Brompton Lunatic Asylum, who had been a passenger by the train, and had attended on the wounded engine 

driver and guard, had been subpoenaed, and was present during the investigation; but as he was not able to give any additional 

evidence, he was not called.

The Jury expressed a wish to have  the policeman who was on duty at the Ouse Valley viaduct, a mile north of Copyhold 

cutting, when the train passed, examined as to the speed at that time; and a messenger was despatched to summon him before 

the Coroner.

In the meantime the jury having expressed an opinion that the cause of the accident was the use of four wheeled engines.

Mr. Faithfull said that Mr. Rastrick, the chief engineer, and Mr. Statham, one of the resident engineers were present and ready 

to explain any matters which the evidence might have left in doubt.

The jury, however, did not ask them any questions.

Jackson, the engine driver, re-examined. i think that the water and the top heaviness of the pilot engine, coupled with the 

slippery state of the rails, was the case of the accident. I have known four wheeled engines run off on the Eastern Counties 

line, but I never knew six wheeled engines to do so.

John Hinge examined. I am police constable, No. 37, on the line of the London and Brighton Railway, and reside at Cuckfield. 

On Saturday last, between 12 and 1 o’clock, I was on duty at the Ouse Viaduct. I saw the down train coming towards me, and 

held up my hand to give the “ all right” signal; and as it passed me I gave a signal to go steady, as I observed that it was going 

rather faster than usual. I did not at that time observe any particular motion of the engine or train. Shortly after I heard a great 

noise in the direction of the Copyhold Cutting and as I thought the bursting of a steam boiler. I ran in that direction as hard as I 

could, and some labourers ran also. As soon as I got into the cutting, which is about three quarters of a mile, I observed that an 

accident had happened, and I got up to the spot, and rendered assistance to the sufferers. I do not know how it happened. I had 

no apprehension of an accident occurring when I saw the train pass along the Viaduct. I did not say my heart came into my 

mouth when I saw the train coming along, they were going at such a rate. The road where the accident happened has been out 

of order lately in consequence of the bad state of the weather.

The court was here cleared of strangers, and at half past 6 o’clock the jury returned a verdict of “ Accidental death, with a 

deodand of one shilling on the engines; and the jury are of the opinion that the four wheeled engines used on this line are not 

of a safe construction, and they recommend their discontinuance.”    


Sir, The dreadful accident on the Brighton railway on Saturday, whereby the maidservant and footman belonging to one 

family, the engineer and stoker, were , as I am informed by an eye witness, literally smashed to piesces, besides many others 

dangerously wounded, arose from there being two engines to the train, which ought never, under any circumstances, to be 

allowed, either both in front or one as a propeller. A moment’s thought must convince any one of the danger. If both are in 

front, and second is in the slightest degree quicker than the other, it must naturally and inevitably push the foremost off the 

rails, as was the case on Saturday; and if one be used as a propeller, and the leader be checked in anyway, the carriages must 

be smashed between them. If the train be too heavy for one engine, either divide it, and let each part have an engine, following 

at a reasonable time after; or, what be preferable, let the company have a few engines of extra power to be used as occasion 

may require.

I was a passenger in a train meeting that which had the accident. It will scarcely be credited that our train, and one which had 

arrived afterwards, were joined about to be despatched with two engines: and would have have been so, but that a gentleman 

in the carriage with me fortunately perceived it, and, after remonstrating wit the superintendent who would not alter it, saw 

one of the directors who after our protesting against proceeding with two engines, and telling  him that he would be 

considered responsible if any accident occurred in consequence, had the train divided, with and engine to each.

I write in the hope that through your means the attention of Government, the directors of all railroads, and the public may be 

called to this point, which will tend much to lessen the danger of railroad travelling.

The use of two engines ought to be prohibited by act of Parliament; but until that can be obtained it would be wise if the 

directors of all railroads would assure the public that two engine shall never be used to one train.

I am, Sir, Yours,



Sir, Observing that in the melancholy accident on Saturday last the passengers in the first carriages were the only ones killed, 

which I recollect has generally been the case in all railway accidents occasioned by the engine getting off the line, it has led 

me suggest, either that the luggage of the passengers should be placed on one or two luggage trucks between the engine and 

first carriage, or else to have a break of some elastic material, say pass of wool made almost the length and breadth of one of 

the carriages, so that the first concussion would be on it, and not on the bones and heads of the poor passengers, though of 

course they must feel, but in a less degree, being at a greater distance from the engine than at present.

Hoping this suggestion may tend to the public good, I am, Sir, YOUR CONSTANT READER


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