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the Brighton Motive Power Depots

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 If I’m designed yon lording’s slave, Bye nature’s law designed.

Why was an independent wish, ever planted in my mind?

If not, why am I subject to his cruelty, or scorn?

Or why has man the will and the power to make his fellow mourn?

Robbie Burns


THE 1920s


R. COX 1920 - 1921 &

(Footplate Seniority, no date available)

H. BEALL 1922 - 1929

(Footplate Seniority 12.07.1897)





At the stroke of midnight on 31st December 1922, the London Brighton & South Coast Railway ceased to operate as an independent company and become part of the Southern Railway. The Southern Railway incorporated two other railway companies, the South Eastern Railway and the London & South Western Railway. The new Southern Railway operated railway lines in the Southern part of England, from Kent to North East Cornwall.

With Railway Grouping of 1923, it led to the hold up in promotions for many footplatemen at Brighton. This was due to the amalgamation having opened up a much larger catchment area for new drivers and firemen, and each new vacancy was now taken up by the most senior applicant, no matter where come from in the Southern Railway territory. As it happened there was a spate of redundancies on former London & South Western Railway. And to enginemen at Brighton, it soon began to seem as if every chance of promotion was being taken by ‘South Western’ men, who were willing to move house in order to secure or regain their appointment.

Things did not improve much, as it was not very long before the ‘Southern Electric’ system began to spread out in the London area of the South Eastern side of the Southern Railway, which meant the closure of steam sheds such as Slade Green and Orpington being two such depots.

And so, at Brighton, the steady influx persisted. Men from ‘ South Western’ and a few ‘South Eastern’ men continued to take up most of the new appointments; and meanwhile, many of Brighton’s own ‘passed’ men were getting rather old for firing duties, many being in their late thirties or older. In the long run a lot of the Brighton’s own ‘passed’ men had to pull up their roots in order for them to escape from the shovel and moved elsewhere to get their promotion, with some of them never transferring back to Brighton.

An influx of 'South Western' would re-occur again during the mid 1950s.

Adapted from the book

Yesterday Once More

By Fred Rich







It is with deep regret I have to report the death of Bro. F. Wilson, who passed away after a brief illness, at the age of 51. It 

came as a great surprise to the whole of the members of the Branch. He was greatly respected by all. The funeral took place 

on the 2nd of March, 45 members followed him from his residence to the cemetery, and six members acted as bearers from the 

chapel to the grave. He was a member of the Assurance Fund, and the widow wishes to thank Mr. Bromley for the prompt way 

in which the claim was settled.








It is with deep regret I have to record the death of one of our members, Bro. James Charles Turk, who met a fatal accident 

while firing on a motor train between Brighton and Worthing, on Saturday, September 2nd. The funeral of our late Brother 

took place on Thursday, September 7th, when about 80 Drivers and Firemen followed him to his last resting - place, six of 

them acting as bearers; also, about 20 attended from the Traffic Department. The coffin and hearse were covered in wreaths, 

and a cab was engaged to take the remainder, there being 54 in all. It was a very impressive sight, and crowds of people 

showed their sympathy by standing while the cortege passed. Our late Brother joined up in the R.F.A. during the war, and 

some splendid wreaths were sent from the regiments with which he served in Mesopotamia. Our deepest sympathy goes to his 

relatives, also to the young lady to whom he was shortly to have been married.



*James Turk was known to many as Jack, his regular driver at the time of his accident was Harry Thompson



On 30th September, 1922, Brighton Driver John Yeates was moving his engine No. 329, 'Stephenson,' on to the Brighton turn 

table. As often occurs the balance was wrong and before turning could commence, Driver Yeates had to reverse a short 

distance and then run slowly forward across the turn table until the engine's weight was correctly poised. Unfortunately, he 

forgot the superheater had to be taken into account and although the regulator was closed in time, Stephenson rolled 

majestically on and over the turn table, through an 8ft.-high brick wall crashed into New England Road injuring a passer by.



13th NOVEMBER 1922

On the morning of 13th November, 1922, Driver Walter White with his Fireman Peters, had left Coulsdon a few minutes late 

with the 8.42 a.m. to Victoria and had proceeded with caution observing all signals until the Windmill Bridge Junction home 

signal which was at danger. Here fog suddenly thickened and visibility fell to a few yards, and Driver White missed a sighting, 

but on receiving a shout from his fireman on the other side of the footplate, who was nearest the fogman, he opened the 

regulator and increased speed. This proved fatal, since the shout was a warning, and before the misunderstanding could be 

rectified when a 'Gladstone Class', engine No. 172 and the first three carriages came off the track at the diamond crossing to 

the down line. So far, damage and injuries were slight, but Brighton Driver John Scutt and his Fireman Lawes, were working 

their Baltic Class engine No. 330, was approaching at speed with the 8.10 a.m. Pullman Express from Brighton and only 

escaped crashing into the derailment by its driver having a sudden feeling that all was not well and applying the brakes. At 

the inquiry Driver White was critcised for not making sure the road was his, while the signalman at Windmill Bridge Junction 

received adverse comment for having accepted the 8.42 a.m. and set the signals and points accordingly, only to change his 

mind and reset the road for the more important Pullman Express. In foggy weather it was contrary to the Company’s 






 The photo on left, is taken outside Brighton Lovers Walk 

carriage painting shop in approx 1924/5 before 

conversion to an E.M.U.T. Depot in 1932. 

The unit is a 3 SUB for the South Eastern Electrification 

scheme converted from ex L.S.W.R. steam stock the 

painting and trimming of these units took place at 

Lancing Works. The units were steam hauled to Lovers 

Walk where the electrical equipment was installed. Hence 

the third Rail only on one road, it is thought this was for 

testing the units before they were steam hauled over to 

the South Eastern Division of the Southern Railway.




Lover's Walk Paint Shops



1924 Strike




 ASLEF General Secretary Jack Bromley opening comments in the February 1924 Strike edition of the Locomotive Journal


During the strike, there were a number of engine drivers who made themselves available for work, these included (seven*) 

engine drivers belonging to A.S.L.E.F., and a much larger number of drivers from the N.U.R. members, and "Nons." totally 

over 45 drivers

Owing to there being to many Drivers and not enough Firemen, this caused a problem regarding the manning of the 

locomotives, the Southern Railway, reached an agreement with the N.U.R. to allow their drivers to be paired up with each 

other, with one of the drivers acting as a Fireman.

Attempts were also made to get the available drivers to travel to Victoria, as the demand for conveyance to that place was the 

most pressing the drivers were obdurate. Trains arriving at Brighton were immediately dispatched back to the place of their 


* According to the figure recorded in the Newhaven Branch minute book


On the evening of Thursday 24th January, a conference was organised by the Strike Committee of the Brighton Branch of 

A.S.L.E.F., and was held at the Brighton Labour Institutional, in London Road, Brighton, The Branch Secretary, H. Beall 

addressed an audience which included a larger number of the wives of the men on strike. He said, that the strike would not 

have arisen if the finding of the Wages Board had been accepted. 

A resolution had been passed by the Brighton Branch to the effect that they deplored the actions of the N.U.R. drivers and 

firemen who were working other than their own turns, and in some instances, excessive hours.

With a view to keeping the strikers off the streets, concerts were being held during the evenings. The Brighton branch of 

A.S.L.E.F., decided that all the pickets were to be withdrawn, as there was little prospect of trouble between the various 




The 1924 London Central Strike Committee 

 Back Row L-R  W. Reynolds (New Cross), C.C. Thompson (Staff), A. Randall (Nine Elms), 

J. Langridge (Eastbourne).

Middle Row A.J. Taylor (King's Cross), G. Smith (Stratford), S. Worcester (Dorking).

Front Row W.J. Hardy (Paddington), J. Ryder Secretary (Plaistow), W. Courts Chairman (Wilsden), 

J.T. Soundy (Bow).





 A.S.L.E.F.M.&C. 1924 Strike Fob front & rear.

(Motormen & Cleaners)


On Sunday 20th January 1924 a 9 day national strike of A.S.L.E.F. took place over reductions of the wages and working 

conditions of Enginemen and Firemen imposed by the National Wages Board.



Above some 1924 Strike poster and

 below the cover of the February 1924 Strike edition of the Locomotive Journal



Pathe news reel of the 1924 strike long version


Pathe news reel of the 1924 strike short version


As a result of this strike saw the formation of the A.S.L.E.F. Women’s Guild, with many branch being set up around the 

countrty. These Women Guild's were mainly founded in cities and large towns.

On April 26th 1925 saw the opening of the Brighton Branch of the A.S.L.E.F Women’s guild. 

For more details regarding the Brighton's Women's Guild please go to the next page. 


A.S.L.E.F.'s Women's Society Fob


The "Machinery of Negotiation" with a Sectional Council (now known as Company Council) and Local Department 

Committees (L.D.C), came into force in June 1924.

There was on going problems of representation for the Motorman Grade within the 'Society' as there was no recognition special position



28th September 1924

 The General Strike 3rd ~ 12th May 1926

The greatest strike in the history of Great Britain, and possibly the greatest that the world has witness.

Please go to the General Strike page and see how its affects had on Brighton, and the surrounding area.







An argument took place between A.S.L.E.F. and the Southern Railway, regarding which footplate department drivers should work the Sentinal Steam Wagons, Petrol Cars, etc. This was brought about when that men other than loco-men were working on Sentinal Steam Wagons, Petrol Cars, etc. It was agreed in October 1929; that in future that only loco-men were to have this class of work within their depots.

A letter was sent  from Head Office to all Branches in respect of men working on Sentinal Steam Wagons, Petrol Cars etc. It was pointed out that men other than Loco-men were being employed to drive these. But owing to our Head Office negotiations only Loco-men were to have this class of work in future

(NHVN 27.10.29).



Chris Leigh collection

Sentinel steam rail car




JULY 1929



Brighton Branch deeply regret the death of Bro. L. Skinner after along illness. Many late workmates attended the funeral, six 

acting as bearers, and floral tributes were sent from the shed. Sympathy is extended to the widow and relatives in their 




The Evening Argus Archive

extracted & adapted

The Southern Belle celebrates it’s 21st anniversary, on Friday 1st November 1929, 

driven by Brighton Driver W. Coughtry who was fireman on first trip - celebrates her “coming of age”.  

The Southern Belle, was introduced on  the 8th November 1908 and was described as 

“the most luxurious train in the World.

Driver W. Coughtry started on the footplate 4th July 1893, and transferred to Brighton’s Motormen depot in 

1932 when the depot was opened. He joined the Brighton Branch of A.S.L.E.F. in 1909, and died in 1938


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the Brighton Motive Power Depots

Click on the icon above for

the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches



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