Compiled by Ivan Wilson & Paul Edwards



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In creating God in his own image, man had “alienated himself from himself.” 

By creating another being in contrast to himself, he had been reduced to a lowly and evil creature dependent upon institutions like government and church to control and guide him.

 Ludwig Feuerbach 1841,



 The history of the railways has been well charted, but what do we know about the men who drove the locomotives on those early lines? For those first primitive railway services were fuelled by the blood, sweat and unremitting hard labour of the men who worked on them; the story of the railways is their story too.

With the rapid spread of the railway network brought prosperity for the railway companies, but only hardship and exploitation for their employees. A footplateman’™s time was considered the property of his employer and he could be summoned for duty at any hour of the day and night. 




By the 1830s Brighton was the most popular seaside resort in Britain, with over 2,000 people a week visiting the town. After the success of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, a group of businessmen decided to build a railway between the town and London.

The London & Brighton Railway Company was set up and Robert Stephenson was asked to advise on the best possible route. Six possible routes were initially proposed but eventually the choice was narrowed down to those of John Rennie and George Bidder. Rennie suggested a direct line between London and Brighton, whereas Bidder favoured a route that avoided steep gradients and tunnels. Stephenson eventually selected George Bidder's route, but the London & Brighton Railway Company decided to ignore this advice and opted for Rennie's much shorter route.

George Rennie's proposals also made more use of existing track and only involved the construction of 39 miles of new railway. However, Rennie's proposals did involve building four long tunnels at Merstham (2,180), Balcombe (800 yards), Haywards Heath (1,450 yards) and Clayton Hill (1,730 yards). This route also required the building of a viaduct across the Ouse valley near Ardingly.

In July 1837, Parliament gave permission for John Rennie's proposed railway. The London & Brighton Railway Company appointed John Rastrick as the lines chief engineer. Rastrick had been working on locomotives since 1814 and had been one of the three judges at the Rainhill Trials. Rastrick had also worked with George Stephenson on several projects, including the Liverpool & Manchester Railway and Grand Junction Railway. However, George, like his son Robert, believed that John Rennie's route was impracticable.

The building of the line started in July 1838. The directors of the London & Brighton Railway realised the importance of linking Brighton with the harbour at Shoreham and a branch railway to it was constructed at the same time as the main line. 

Extracted & adapted from

the Railway Magazine

October 1955




The first locomotives on the London & Brighton Railway commenced in August 1838, when the directors met and decided to hasten up the construction by the use of steam power. The first locomotive was appropriately named 'Brighton (1)’ (2-2-2) which travelled south from the makers over the London & Birmingham Railway and reached Camden on the 8th January 1839. From Camden, horses hauled it by road to Shoreham, where it was employed on the construction of the Brighton to Shoreham railway line. The second locomotive was named 'Shoreham (2)’ (0-4-2), and reached Camden on the 6th April, 1839, and later it travelled by road onto Shoreham, where it too was used to for construction of the line. 

Three more locomotives (2-2-2) built by Sharp, Roberts & Co., were delivered ‘Merstham (3),’ which was delivered on the 11th July, 1839, to Merstham, this was followed by ‘ Coulsdon (4)’ August 1839, these locomotives were used in the construction of the line from London to Brighton. The third locomotive ‘Kingston (5)' was delivered in November 1839, to Worth which is about four miles north of the then uncompleted Balcombe Tunnel and the headquarters of the contractors. 

A further two locomotives were delivered, the first being ‘Eagle (6)’ which was held back for the opening of the line, and the second was 'Vulture (7)’ which was delivered on the 21st May 1840 and worked on the main line north of Brighton. One more locomotive was acquired for ‘train engines' and arrived in July 1840, this locomotive was named 'œVenus (8).’

During 1841 more locomotives were built at the locomotive works of Sharp & Roberts (12), Rennie (1) , Fairbairn (4), Bury (6) and George Forrester (3). These locomotive along with the original eight locomotives made up a total of thirty-four locomotives. The first six locomotives to arrive from the Sharp & Roberts works all carried the names only and were called ‘Jupiter,’ ‘*Mars,’ ‘ Saturn,’ ‘ Mercury,’ 'Orion’ & 'Sirius,’ as their preceding locomotives did. It was not until sometime in mid 1841, that the London & Brighton Railway locomotives were given numbers as well as names, with the first record of numbers to be given was at the inquiry into the Copyhold Cutting accident of  October, 1841 involving a Fairbairns, locomotive No.22 & a Bury locomotive No.17.

The new Rennie locomotive ‘Satellite,' was described in the Railway Magazine of 25th December, 1841: 

The ‘Satellite’ Locomotive: We were on Wednesday invited to a private view of an engine, which has been constructed by Messrs. Rennie for the the Brighton. It is a six-wheeled engine to be worked expansively, and is named 'Satellite,’ for climbing inclines and for starting, it has hoppers, which by a lever can be made to convey dry sand to the driving wheels, thereby giving them more adhesion on the rails. As a piece of workmanship, ‘Satellite’ is the finest locomotive which has ever been turned out of a London workshop.

Between 1837 to 1847, locomotives had a dark green livery, with or without black bands. This was in general use during the London & Brighton Railway days, although some engines ran in other liveries. For instance the Bury goods locomotives entered traffic painted Indian Red. The locomotives on the London & Croydon Railway were painted in a Sea Green with a black lining with the exception of their locomotive “Hercules” which was painted in a Pale Chocolate. In 1846 the L.B.S.C.R. was painting their locomotives a Dark Bottle Green for the passenger locomotives, whilst their goods locomotives were painted black unless they were regularly employed within sight of passenger platforms at Brighton or London Bridge. The driver was responsible for seeing that his locomotive was smartly turned out daily before commencing work. All the bars other metal work must be brightly burnished. Apparently this green varied in hue, it being found acceptable if well applied and tastefully lined out. Some engines carried brass numerals on the chimney fronts, while others had painted figures on the buffer beams. There was a similar lack of uniformly regarding other numerals, in some cases they were painted on the footplate side-sheets and in others on the sides of the boiler barrels.

* Mars exploded in Brighton on the 17th March 1853 



The first record of the depot establishment at Brighton Locomotive shed comes from the L. B. S. C. R. records of employees which show that in 1851, there was 46 Enginemen, Fireman and Cleaners were employed there. These records also show that only 30% were Sussex-born, while over half came from distant parts of the country. 

An Engiineman was a very skilled job and so when a new line was opened during the early years of the railway building era, Enginemen were sometimes enticed from existing companies. 

The L.B.S.C.R. acquired its first drivers in this way, only later training other men to join them. Engine drivers and firemen were required to be reliable and have stamina and aptitude rather than formal education.

The system by the 1850s a chain of recruitment had been established which involved an untrained recruit, usually in his teens, starting as an engine cleaner at pay 10-12s. a week. Then promotion to a fireman on a wage of 3s. 6d. a day (21s. per week, assuming six-day working)After another five years or so, a fireman might be with eventual promotion to driver at 5s. to 8s. per day depending on Seniority (30s. to 48s. per week assuming six-day working).

The London & Brighton Railway acquired a large number of its earliest Enginemen in this way, by offering very good wages for a working-class man at that time,  although the long hours (10 to 12 per day) and heavy responsibilities were a drawback. Senior engine drivers were thus well paid and highly respected employees. 



Two of the earliest Brighton Engine Drivers were Samuel Jackson & Charles Goldsmith. Both Enginemen had previously worked for the London & Birmingham Railway Company in 1837. Both of them had been discharged servants from this company. It was later discovered that Driver Charles Goldsmith had never been an engine driver with his former company, this recorded in the inquiry into the Copyhold Cutting in October 1841.

*Driver Samuel 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 Samuel Jackson later found employment with the L.B.S.C.R., were he was originally employed driving construction trains on the Brighton to Shoreham line and later working the first passenger train out of Brighton on Monday 11th May, 1840, with opening of the line.

According to the 1851 census there appears only one engine driver Jackson who was born in Burnage, Manchester about c1829, and was living in White Cross Street (Cheapside area), Brighton, with wife Lilly, daughter Lilly aged 3, and their son James aged 1. 

It is also thought that Driver Samuel Jackson was the driver that was involved in fatal derailment at Copyhold Cutting on the 2nd October 1841 which also involved Driver Charles Goldsmith, when they were working a double-headed train, Driver Charles Goldsmith was in charge on the leading locomotive (the pilot locomotive) and Driver Samuel Jackon was in charged of  the second locomotive. 

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 worked the first train out of Brighton station on the 11th May, 1840, and was involved the above train crash.

Other pioneering Enginemen were: 

Driver William Cavan who was recorded to be injured in a boiler explosion in December 1842 on the Brighton to Shoreham line. 

Driver, James Jones, come to Brighton  from the Oxford in c1859 and had previously been engine driver for 19 years on the Wolverhampton line.

Driver Robert Whaley and his Fireman John Wright, who were involved in an incident on the 5th November 1844. 



Extracted & adapted from the Railway Magazine October 1955

The London and Brighton Railway opened its first line into Brighton station on Monday 11th May 1840 linking Brighton with Shoreham. The line ran from Brighton station to Shoreham a distance of six miles. The only major engineering works were the New England Tunnel and the cuttings by which it was approached. The only trouble encountered was a strike at the Brighton end, the cause was of which is obscure.  

The building of the line aroused great interest of the inhabitants of Brighton and Shoreham, and a number of the availed themselves of the opportunity of having a free ride on the engine as far as Southwick, then the termination of the permanent track.

There were four engines at work on the line at the time of it’s opening, not three, as usually stated. These were named “Brighton,” “Shoreham,” “Kingston” and “Eagle,” the last having arrived only a few days before the opening from the works of George & John Rennie, together with one first class and one second class carriage and third class carriages and luggage vans had already been delivered in readiness for traffic.


Above the scene at Brighton Station on the opening of the Brighton to Shoreham line, on Monday 11th May, 1840. 

In the background is locomotive “Kingston” departing with the first train to Shoreham, which was driven by Driver Samuel  Jackson. 

In the foreground locomotive “Eagle” who was used to assist the train on it’s journey to Shoreham.


The official opening of the Shoreham line was fixed for three o’clock on Monday 11th May, 1840. An hour or two before that time the station at Brighton began to fill with tickets-holders for whom a thousand tickets had been issued, while large crowds gathered along the side of the cutting and the top of New England Tunnel. Inside the station, the band of the 12th Lancers struggled to make itself heard above the noise of escaping steam and excited people.

Soon afterwards, the first train was made up, and it was headed by a Sharp locomotive “Kingston,” which painted a bright emerald green* with vermilion lining,  and consisted of two open third class carriages each containing about forty passengers mostly directors and local tradesmen, two second class and two first class carriages holding about twenty passengers each, and occupied by the ladies and finally three luggage vans containing temporary benches and accommodating about seventy people, making a total of about 230 passengers. The driver, named Jackson*, had previously been employed working the same engine during the construction of the line. 

*This livery may have been the colour for the other early Sharp, Robert & Co. locomotives that were employed on the London & Brighton Railway.  




At three o’clock precisely the all clear signal was given by the waving of a white flag and to strains of the National Anthem the train moved slowly off. Scarcely had the last carriage cleared the end of the station, however, when the train came to a standstill with the driving wheels of the engine slipping violent. On investigation it was found that the brake of the second carriage was locked on. This was soon set right, and at eleven minutes past three a second start was made, this time with the assistance from behind by the engine “Eagle.” 

At Shoreham several hundred people assembles to see the arrival of the first train, and a fete was held at the famous Swiss Gardens to celebrate the occasion.

A second train, hauled by the engine “Eagle” left Brighton for Shoreham at nine minutes past four with a load of passengers, and two other trips were made during the course of the day, on the last of which the band accompanied the train. Altogether about a thousand passengers were carried during the day. In the evening a dinner was held to celebrate the great at the Old Ship Hotel, Brighton.


On Sunday 17th May, 1840, just a week after the opening of the line, a man named Atherall, while riding on the tailboard of a luggage truck which had been pressed into service for the conveyance of passengers, was thrown off and killed between Shoreham and Southwick. This was the first fatal accident on the London & Brighton Railway.

In March 1841, the Ouse Viaduct was completed and is one of the most elegant examples of early railway architecture, with its 37 tall arches and the four pavilions at each end of the viaduct. There was also an impressive viaduct just outside of Brighton that crosses the London Road.

The three longest tunnels on the line, Merstham, Balcombe and Clayton, were whitewashed and lit by gas. Small gas-works were established by the tunnels for this purpose. The lighting of the tunnels was an attempt to reduce the fears of the passengers travelling on the line.

The coal-burning locomotives made it impossible to keep the whitewashed tunnels clean. The passage of the trains also constantly blew out the gas jets that lit the tunnel. The tunnels were also lined with corrugated-iron sheeting to avoid water falling on open third class carriages.

The line between London and Brighton was completed in September 1841. Over 3,500 men and 570 horses were used to build the railway. It had taken three years to build at a total cost of £2,634,059 (£57,262 per mile).

The first train entered Brighton station on Tuesday 21st September 1841. At first, the railway company concentrated on bringing the rich to the coast in first class carriages. It was not long, however, before the company realised that by offering cheap third class tickets, they could increase the numbers of people using their trains. In 1843 the London and Brighton Railway reduced the price of their third class tickets to 3s. 6d. In the six months that followed this reduction in price, 360,000 people arrived in Brighton by train.

Extracted & adapted from

the Railway Magazine

October 1955


 The opening of the Brighton - London railway in 1841, as seen at Wick viaduct in Brighton

The line between Brighton and Shoreham was extended west in stages to Chichester being completed in November 1845. The line Eastwards to Hastings being completed in June 1846.

London Road Viaduct as seen in the mid 1840s

The London & Brighton Railway merged under an act of  Parliament of 27th July 1846, with the Brighton & Chichester Railway and the Brighton, Lewes & Hastings Railway to become the London Brighton & South Coast Railway. Over the coming years many other lines where built in and around the Sussex and Surrey area, with some lines being started but never being completed.  




Extracted & adapted from the Railway Magazine October 1955

In December, 1842, the boiler of an engine named “Brighton” blew up shortly after passing Hove station with a train from Brighton to Shoreham. The connection rods and other parts were blown a considerable distance by the force of the explosion, and were picked up by the policemen from Hove police station, who arrived on the scene with other helpers attracted to the scene by the report of the explosion. Brighton Driver William Cavan, was severely scalded about the legs and body, but the fireman escaped injury, and so also did one of the railway engineers, named Meredith, who was travelling on the tender at the time.


Extracted & adapted from the Railway Magazine October 1955

An indent occurred in 1844, which reveals the laxity that was then all to prevalent in the Brighton railway working. On the evening in question a special boat train left Kingston station at 9 p.m. with passengers for Brighton and at the same time the usual passenger train left Brighton for Shoreham. By some mismanagement, both trains were sent off on the same line and met head-on between Hove and Southwick. Fortunately the drivers saw each other in time and shut off steam, and at the same time signalled to their guards to apply their brakes, so that a collision was just averted. Both engines were carrying red lamps in front, which seem to have given adequate warning to their approach. 

Danger Signal by means of Gunpowder 1844

The Birth of the Detonator

Major-General Pasley recommending that a Circular Letter should be sent to Railway Companies, suggesting the adoption of a new “Danger Signal” by means of Gunpowder.

Railway  Department 

Board of Trade, Whitehall,

18th April,1844.

My Lords,

Two fatal accidents, which it was my duty to inquire into, having occurred within the space of thirteen months, in both of which one railway train, detained beyond its proper time, was run into by another train, causing the death of a passenger in one case, and of an engine-man in the other, notwithstanding that the usual precaution had been taken of sending a man back from the train that was delayed with a red lantern as a signal of danger, to meet and stop the approaching train, not only by this signal, but also by calling out to the engine-man. In both cases this precaution proved in effectual, as the men sent back were neither heard, nor were their red lanterns seen by the engine men of the approaching trains. In fact, I have myself observed, more than once, that it is impossible for the engine-man or fireman of a railway train in motion to hear a person calling to him, even from a very short distance, especially when the train is passing under a tunnel, which causes a louder rattling noise than in the open air.

I therefore beg leave to bring under your Lordships’ notice a very ingenious arrangement adopted on the London and Birmingham Railway, as a fog or danger signal, at the suggestion of Mr. Cowper, son of the King’s College professor of that name. This consists in sending a man back to place a small flat circular tin box containing a charge of gunpowder, mixed with a little fulminating powder, on the line of rails by which the next train is advancing; which box has two leaden fangs attached to it for clasping the rail, which at other times are doubled flat down upon the box to save room. As soon as the wheel of the locomotive engine of the approaching train passes over this box, it fires the charge, with an explosion sufficiently loud to be heard in the most stormy night, or in going through a tunnel; but not powerful enough to injure the rails or the wheels of the engine. Under the circumstances supposed, this arrangement as a signal of danger or caution, is preferable to a red light by night, or in a tunnel, because no neglect or in attention on the part of the engineman or fireman of the coming train can render it possible for them to pass without being aware of the explosion, which cannot fail to take place, and on hearing which, it would be their duty to stop. The best way of proceeding would be for the man sent back to carry a red light also, and after placing his explosion-signal-box on the rail, to return part of the way from whence he came, and remain there with his red light to meet the train on stopping, and to explain to the engineman whatever may be necessary.

I shall conclude by observing, that I a m fully persuaded that the more perfect system of danger-signal just . if generally adopted on railways, may be the means of saving lives hereafter; and therefore I request, should your Lordships concur in this opinion, that you will be pleased to call the attention of the Directors of Railway Companies to the subject by a circular letter.

I have, &c.,

C. W. Pasley, Major-General, and Inspector General of Railways. 


8th SEPTEMBER 1845



Extracted and adapted from 

the Ministry of Department Report by

C.W. Paisley Major General

and Inspector General of Railways.

On the Monday 8th September a accident occurred  at Clayton Tunnel, as the seven o’clock train from Brighton was approaching the Clayton Tunnel at a slow rate, caused by the slippery state of the rails from the fog, a pilot-engine, proceeding as usual to its station at Horley, having overtaken the train struck the last carriage, a third class one, which was thereby unhooked the train. The passengers in that carriage sustained a severe shock, and many of them jumped out; in  so doing, one passenger hurt his foot, and others sustained some bruises: a female also appeared to suffer from the concussion and alarm.

There was no injury whatever occasioned to the engine or carriage.

The conduct of the driver of the pilot-engine and the order under which he acted, will be strictly investigated, and such steps taken herein as may best tend to prevent the recurrence of a like accident in future

The third class train consisted of 15 carriages, which was overtaken and run into by a pilot-engine, on the morning before mentioned about five miles from Brighton; but the collision must have been moderate, though it broke off the coupling between the last carriage of the train and that in front of it, because on examining that carriage, I found that no other injury had been done to it, and the front part of the frame of the engine that came in contact with it was also uninsured; Henry Fitzgerald, the Chief -Guard of that train, informed me that he himself, sitting on the fifth carriage from the rear, felt no shock, nor did he know that any accident had occurred till he heard the cries of passengers behind him, and saw that several of them jumped out, and he believes that none would have been hurt had they all remained quiet in which opinion I fully concur; though by jumping out they might have saved their lived, had the collision been a violent one.

The first question I put to Mr. Peter Clarke, the manager of the London Brighton Railway, was whether the pilot-engine had been intended to propel the train behind, on reaching an ascending gradient; on which he reminded me of a conversation I had with him, when employed on the North Midland Railway, two or three years ago, in which we agreed in opinion, that propulsion from behind might be dangerous to the public safety and ought not to be allowed; and he assured me that he had not only put an end to this system on the North Midland, but also that, on entering the service of the Brighton Railway Company, he had, by approbation of the directors, given strict orders that it should be discontinued and that assistant engines, when necessary, in future should always be hooked on in front of the train that required them.

In respect to the pilot-engines, they always remained in Brighton at night, but were ordered to proceed from thence to Horley, hooked on in front of the earliest third class train, where they were to remain all day in readiness for such service as might be required of them, an return again to Brighton hooked on i front of the last train from London. Some time after this order was given, he directed that, if coals or other materials were waste at Horley, or any of the intermediate stations from Brighton, the pilot-engines should carry those materials; in which case they were not to be attached in front of the early passenger trains, but to follow them at a sufficient distance in rear to prevent collision. Horley was chosen as the day station for the pilot-engines, partly because it was nearly half way to London, and partly because both the up and down trains of the Brighton Railway Company have to encounter steep ascending gradients on quitting it. After the pilot-engines had orders to take coals &c., on special occasions, the drivers of those engines made this a pretext for disobeying the order of always attaching in front; instead of which, they followed the passenger trains at some distance in rear, unless the enginemen of such trains made a signal for assistance, which they only did when their trains were unusually heavy. According to this practice, and in disobedience of Mr. Clarke’s orders, which crept in unknown to that gentleman, but which appears not to have been general but occasional, James Carter, the pilot enginemen who ought to have hooked on in front of the the third class train on the morning of Monday, the 8th September, having no coals or other materials to carry, followed in rear of it 12 minutes after it had started; and on entering the cutting that leads into Clayton Tunnel, about five miles from Brighton, he met with dense fog, and according to his own account, shut off his steam in in order to stop at the entrance of the tunnel, when he suddenly saw the train before him at the distance of about 20 yards, and reversing his engine, but not without a gentle collision, the train itself moving very slowly at the time in consequence of the state of the state of the rails, which were rather slippery. If the pilot engine had been in front, this accident, which occasioned great alarm and some injury, though not serious, to the passenger in the last carriage, could not have happened, and the train would not have lost five minutes timess it did between Brighton and this spot.

Mr. Henry Weathburn, foreman of the locomotive department and workshops at Brighton, being examined in my presence, declared that, according to Mr. Clarke’s directions, he had given proper orders that the pilot-engines should always be hooked on in front of the early trains, except when required for special duty of carrying coals &c., as aforesaid; and he stated that he did not know that these orders had ever been disobeyed, until the accident in question proved that it had not been attended to that morning, and then he was informed that it had been occasionally disobeyed before, in consequence of the enginemen of the early trains refusing to have the pilot-engine hooked in front of them when their trains were light. Hence this collision was caused, partly by the neglect of Mr. Weatherburn, who contented himself with giving an order to the enginemen, without ascertaining, as he ought to have done, that it was carried into effect, and partly to be disobedience of order thus communicated by James Carter, the pilot-enginemen, under the circumstances before stated, who was the first detected in this improper practice, though probably it may have occurred repeatedly before; for it is to be regretted, that the servants of railway companies have often appeared deficient in that feeling strict implicit obedience to their orders, which is no less necessary on railway than on military service.

The locomotive foreman at Brighton and the driver of the pilot-engine, being the parties by whose neglect and inattention to orders issued by the directors the accident on the 8th September 1845 occurred, have been discharges from the service of the Company.    

Opening of the Brighton to Worthing Railway Line 1845

On Monday, the 24th November 1845 saw the opening of the extension of the Brighton to Shoreham line to Worthing. The first three trains from Brighton to Worthing and the first two trains from Worthing to Brighton operated without problems, but the third returning train from Worthing met with an accident just to the East of Lancing station, at 12.55 p.m. Three horses belonging to a contractor were pulling a train of earth wagons on a temporary line when the lead horse strayed onto the permanent line just when the train was approaching. The tender was in front of the engine and knocked down the horse before capsizing, falling onto the horse and killing one and lamed the other two. The engine also capsized but remained on the line. Luckily the train was still going slow after leaving Lancing station so none of the passengers were injured and they were only detained for about two hours before they were transferred to another train and conveyed to Brighton. Trains were delayed for the rest of the day while the engine and tender were righted but that didn’t stop a celebration dinner being held at the Nelson Hotel, Worthing to celebrate the opening of the line. The driver of the horses was arrested as he hadn’t been holding the bridle of the lead horse and had not had sufficient control over them.

Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Railway line opened on 8th June, 1946 



extracted and adapted from

The Illustrated London News

This landslip took place on Thursday  20th October. The following details have been collected by the artist of the accompanying sketch: - the land adjoining Binham's Woods, near Kemp’s Farm has been for some time giving signs of yielding, and the heavy rain completed the destruction of a natural foundation. At 8 o’clock on Thursday morning. Mr Fletcher one of the contractors for the Permanent Way was in the train from Brighton to London when feeling a jolt in the carriage and looked out and saw that both lines had sunk more than six inches. Guessing that the landslip he desire the engine driver to stop, which he feared to do as an express train was close behind, accordingly he drove on to Three Bridges station. As so as Mr. Fletcher reached Three Bridges station he took the pilot engine back at a rate of 60 m.ph. Two other trains were allowed to prevent the express train crossing, but was too late, the engine driver having seen the slip and passed over the line safely, at the rate of a mile per hour. Two other trains     

were allowed to pass over. Mr. Fletcher and three other men having shored up the lines as best as they could, now to imminent to permit this to continue. Before evening 100 men were on the spot; and, the whole mass of earth continuing to defend, prompt measures were immediately taken to secure one of the lines for traffic, that next Binham’s wood being useless. By means of shoring up the opposite side, and shifting the rails that line is now tolerably secure, the trains passing over it very slowly. The full extent of the slip proved to be a sinking of 70,000   

cubic yards of chalk, along 200 yards of the line, into the valley wherein stands Binham’s Wood. Here it carried some large oak trees in a vertical position, ten yards from where they originally stood, and moving the wood en-masse - earth, trees and underwood - down towards a considerable brook which takes it’s course through Binham’s Wood.This large tract of land moved three or four foot in a day, and ,fearing that it would inevitably stop up the brook, it was deemed advisable to cut a new course, about 200 yards long - a task of considerable  difficulty, on account of the timber, and spreading of the roots. On Thursday evening week 150 trains on either side of the slip were stopped, and the passengers had to cross by means of naphtha lights and fire pans or, as they are technically termed, “ evils” the space was brilliantly lighted up. Great praise is due to Mr. Fletcher for his careful  and admirable arrangements, and his unwearied exertions to secure, not only the safety, but, as far as possible, the convenience and comfort of the passengers. The line had been rendered secure for traffic, some further time most, however, elapse before this one of the most extensive railway land slips on record, will have been fully repaired.





 Map of the L.B.S.C.R which does not include the railway lines on the Isle of Wight

With the ever increasing number of new railway lines, brought the need for more locomotive depots to be built at key locations. 

The L.B.S.C.R. started to build Locomotive depots  through out  Sussex at the following locations; 

Lyminster (1843-1868), St. Leonards (1845), Chichester (1846-c1870), Haywards Heath (1847-1872), Newhaven (N) (1847-1963), Horsham (Hors) 1848, Three Bridges (3-B) 1848, Eastbourne (E) 1849, Lewes (1853-1870), East Grinstead (E-G) (1857-c1896), Uckfield (1858-1868), Hailsham (1858-1880), Petworth (1859-1866), Polegate (c1860-1900), Littlehamptom (Lton)(1863-1995), Bognor (Bog)(1864-1995), Bramley (Surrey) (1865 -1887), Midhurst, (Mid) (1866 -c1955) & Tunbridge Wells West (Kent) (T-W) (1866-1985).

(..) denotes shed codes on the LBSCR 

Other Locomotive Sheds were opened in Sussex by a rival railway companies to the L.B.S.C.R., the London, South Eastern & Chatham Railway opened the following depots in the County. Hastings (1851 - 1929) & Bexhill West (1902 - 1936).

The London & South Western Railway opened its own depot at Midhurst to severe it’s own branch between Midhurst and Petersfield.   






Regulations for the First Appointment of an Engine-man.


1 The candidate must not be under twenty-one years of age, and must produce a certificate of a sound constitution and steady habits.

2 He must be able to read and write, and if possible, understand the rudimental principles of mechanics.

3 It will be a great recommendation if he has served his time to any mechanical art, especially as a Fitter of Locomotive Engines; and, if possible, he should produce testimonials stating his qualifications as such.

4 If the candidate has been a Fitter or a stationary Engine-man, he must, for several months at least, have been a Stoker on a Locomotive Engine, under the direction of a steady and competent Engine-man; and before his appointment, he should produce a testimonial from the Superintendent of Locomotives, or at least from an Engine-man under whom he has served, stating full confidence in his acquaintance with the construction of an Engine and the principles of its management.

5 If the candidate has not been a Fitter or a stationary Engine-man, he must have served as a Stoker for at least two years, and produce the testimonials named in the preceding rules.

6 If require by the Board of Directors, for greater security, the candidate must undergo an examination from their Engineer, Superintendent of Locomotive, or other competent person, as to his knowledge of an Engine and its management, and the general result of this examination must be committed to paper, signed by the examiner, and presented to the board.

7 The Engineer or Superintendent of Locomotives of the Railway to which the candidate is desirous of being appointed, shall sign a certificate stating that he has conversed with him, has seen him drive and has confidence in his steadiness and ability.

8 Before being allowed to take the entire charge of an Engine and train, the candidate must drive for several days under the direction of an experienced Engine-man, who must be on his Engine, and certify to ability.

9  All certificates and testimonials must be deposited with the Secretary of the Company, who will restore them to the owner on his leaving their service.

Framed by the then Mr C. H. Gregory, in his capacity as the Company’s Resident Engineer, and adopted by the Directors of the L&C Rly in 1840.


The London & Croydon Rly &

the London & Brighton Rly

 amalgamated on the

27th July 1846








In June 1844 the London & Brighton Railway starting to introducing gradient boards which order by the Locomotive Committee, which were to be placed on the line side as warnings to drivers when running downhill. These were not, however, appreciated by all loco crews, since the Punishment Register for August, 1844 shows Driver Meyrick and Fireman Taylor of loco no. 58 were fined £2 2s.0d. each as a result of rekindling the fire of their engine with gradient boards and fencing.

* Depot of loco-men not known.





The report below was published in the Sussex Advertiser on Tuesday 5th November 1844.

An inquest was held on Tuesday last, at the Station Inn Hayward’s Heath, by Alfred Gell, Esq., Deputy Coroner, on the body of George Mitchell, a labourer, on the above railway, who met his death on Saturday, the 26th, in the awful manner shown in the following evidence given at the inquest.

Robert Whaley, sworn-I am an engine driver on the London and Brighton Railway, and live at Croydon. I left Brighton on Saturday night at half-past 11 o’clock with the engine No. 70 of the London and Brighton Railway Company, and arrived at the place where the accident occurred a few minutes before 12. We were in the Folly Hill cutting in the parish of Keymer, proceeding at the rate of 15 miles an hour when I felt a sudden jerk of the engine; I said to the fireman that was with me, what is that, he said we had run over a man, I said that can’t be, he said he was sure of it for he saw a man’s hat fly past the engine, by this time we had stopped the engine and we went back about 30 yards but I could see nothing, my mate said here he is, and I then saw the deceased lying in the ditch which carries the water off from the line; we took him out and placed him by the side of the line, and started off to Hayward’s Heath station for assistance; we then took the body back to the Station Inn; this was about quarter past 12; It was a moonlight night and I could see a long distance before me; I am sure the man was not walking on the line or I must have seen him; my opinion is that he was lying down on the line; it was on the left hand side of the line from Brighton; the deceased was quite dead when we took him out of the ditch; we had our usual signals on the engine and the deceased must have heard us coming had he not been asleep.

John Wright sworn: I am a fireman or stoker on the London and Brighton Railway; I was with the last witness at the time of the accident, in Folly Hill cutting; I felt the engine jerk and at the same instant saw a man’s hat fly past the engine; I said we have run over a man and Whaley said, “surely not,” we stopped the engine, took the lamp and found the deceased in the ditch.”-This witness corroborated the evidence of the engine-driver in most particulars.

Thomas Spry Byass sworn: I am a surgeon and reside at Cuckfield; about twenty minutes past one, on Sunday morning, I arrived at Hayward’s Heath Station; deceased was quite dead when I got there; I found a large wound in the abdomen, the intestines protruding, which was quite sufficient to cause sudden death; It appeared as if a heavy weight had pressed upon the body; I have no doubt but that deceased was dead in an instant after the accident happened.”

George Pratt sworn: I am a labourer and I live at St. John’s common; I saw deceased at Ellis’s Beer Shop, at Burgess Hill about nine o clock on Saturday night, and we drank together, he had one pint of beer when he first came in and had one glass with me; we then went to another beer shop, the New Anchor, kept by Agate, also at Burgess Hill; we stopped there till ten o’clock, during which time we had three pints of ale between us; I walked with deceased to Cants Bridge, which crosses the Railway; I asked him if he was going home and he said yes, but he did not want to get home till mid-night as there was a warrant out against him for poaching, and he has been away from home some time. He was working on the Line between Burgess Hill and The Hassocks; the deceased’s wife and family live at Balcombe, and I last saw him walking in that direction, on the Line, about two miles from Folly Cutting. He did not appear to be a bit worse for what he had to drink; I have known him for some years.”-

Verdict: that deceased was accidentally killed by the engine No. 70, of the London and Brighton Railway Company, passing over his body, and that there was no evidence to shew in what position deceased was in at the time the engine came up to him. Fine one shilling on the engine.

Im[med]iately after the inquest, a subscription was entered into by the coroner and Jury on behalf of the widow and six orphan children of the deceased, who are left in a most deplorable state of distress. The subscription list is lying at the Station Inn, and Mr. John Bennett, junior, landlord, will be happy to receive donations on behalf of the bereaved family.




 Sharps Single 


The main line to London and the branches to Shoreham and Lewes were constructed by the London and Brighton Railway Company. Mainly owing to financial considerations, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company was formed under an Act of Parliament of July 1846 by amalgamating the London and Brighton; London and Croydon; Croydon and Epsom; Brighton, Lewes and Hastings; and the Brighton and Chichester railway companies. The London, Brighton and South Coast had 457 miles of track, covering most of Sussex and much of south London and Surrey,





The great snow storm on the evening of Tuesday ----- th ------ 1847 (early 1847), the north eastern counties were visited by a tremendous snow storm for nearly 12 hours’ duration and the traffic on the London & Brighton Railway was stopped for much longer period. During the first few hours of the fall the up and down trains passed through the most with little difficulty, but after that time the line become wholly impossible, especially to this district, where the drifts from the hills into the cuttings were exceedingly great. It was the same with the old coach roads. Most of them blocked up, and the snow for miles around lies two to three feet in depth. So great has the fall been in the locality of the Balcombe parish that at 10.0 p.m. on Tuesday ---- th ----- 1847, the station was found almost buried in snow. The first train from train from London in the evening that was stopped was the 5.0. p.m. express, containing a number of passengers, amongst who were Captain Hotham, Mr. Rowland Hill, and one or two of the Directors of the London & Brighton Railway. On arriving from London, the fall of the snow became so thick as to prevent the engine driver scarcely seeing the length of the train, and shortly it was brought to a standstill. The engine driver, the stoker and the guards got down, and with shovels and implements proceeded to clear the snow off the rails to some distance, thinking the great mass was confined to the cutting they were in. On the engine starting again it was brought to a dead stoppage at the end where the snow had been cleared. The men continued their labours as before, and vigour attempts were made to force the train, but were of trifling avail, as the wheels of the engine and the carriages were completely blocked with ice and snow.

There being no prospect of a passage being made through the snow as the snow was still falling heavily and had partly put out the fire, Mr Rowland Hill made known the unfortunate conditions of the train and passengers; and it being obvious that it so continued far sometime even it could be forward, the chilled passengers alighted from the carriages and returned to the station at Three Bridges, which, with a small inn adjacent is the only habitation for miles around. Here they remained the night, and in the morning returned to London. The exertions during the night to effect a passage that with the same result, one end of Balcombe tunnel being filled up with the drift. At an early hour four powerful engines arrived from town, accompanied by the company’s engineer, Mr. Hood, and these firmly coupled, started at a rapid pace in the hope of hope of cutting through the snow. This proved a failure, for the snow penetrated the fireboxes, the fires were extinguished and the engines rendered useless. As express was then forwarded back to London for the whole staff excavators the company’s employ. In due course of time a large army of “Navies” armed with spades and pick axes, and were immediately put to work. The company not having the benefit of the electric telegraph, and the old coach road, being like the line. Impossible for communications with Brighton and other parts down by the coast was consequently cut off. This continued until 4.0 p.m on Wednesday afternoon, last where the down line was sufficiently cleared to allow the passage of trains, but the up line still remained covered. Near to Brighton the railway is understood to have been in the same conditions, and that all trains on the previous night that left the metropolis were compel to return.



1st MARCH 1850

Extracted and adapt from a report 

by Harness R.E, Capt. Royal Engineers

This accident occurred on Friday 4th March, 1850 at the junction of the Epsom branch at Croydon, I beg to take the liberty of drawing your attention to that spot. I never scarcely pass by that point without hearing an expression of fear that an accident will happen. At a quarter past 5 o'clock daily the express to Brighton, and the quarter before 5 to Epsom, and the 10 minutes before 5 o'clock from Epsom, are within a very few minutes of meeting at this point. Surely this is dangerous! A short time ago, I am told, one of these trains was turned on a wrong line in order to avoid collision. Would it not be possible that the Epsom trains should be part only of the Brighton trains as far as the junction of the two lines at Croydon, and then a fresh engine take the Epsom carriages on, so as only to have Dover and Brighton trains on the line, as is now the case alter passing Croydon? Had any train been passing the other day, and a collision ensued, hundreds of lives might have been lost.

March 8th, I proceeded down the Brighton line to the point where the Croydon and Epsom line diverges from the main line, to inquire into an accident which occurred to the 6.15 p.m. down train to Epsom at that place. The 6.15 p.m.. train consisted of a luggage-van and nine carriages, besides the engine and No. 36. tender: on arriving at the junction, the driver states, that he passed through the points, which are facing ones, left open for the main-line, without feeling anything; but immediately afterwards he felt a jerk, and looking back, he found the luggage-van was off the line. The junction is such a very oblique one, and it being dark, he was not aware that he had passed down the main line instead of on to the Croydon and Epsom line. He had passed through the points without steam, and the engine brought up about 150 yards from the points. On examining the condition of the train, it was found that the engine and tender were on the line; the luggage-van and three succeeding carriages were about one foot off the rails;' the fourth carriage was lying on its side, extending across to the Croydon down line; and the remaining five carriages were all right on the Croydon down-line: none of the couplings of the train were broken, though some of them were necessarily much strained and twisted; there can be no doubt, from this circumstance, that the train was proceeding at a very moderate speed. 

Four carriages were thus drawn off the rails, and one of them, a second-class, containing five passengers, fell over on its side; the passengers only sustained slight bruises, except in one ease, in which Mr. Nalder, a gentleman residing at Croydon, was somewhat severely shaken, and his forehead cut by some broken glass, but from the latest accounts, no danger was apprehended.

The statement of the points-man is, that when the train was about a quarter of a mile distant, he pulled back the switch-handle to close the points. and turn the train on to the Croydon and Epsom line: it being dark, be could not well see what was going on; but just after the engine passed through, the switch-handle was twitched forward, and he field on to draw it back, which he continued doing until, as he imagined. the train had safely passed through. It appears evident that the switch man could not have pulled the handle back home, but must have left the points sufficiently open to admit the wheel of the engine; the twitch forward that he felt was caused by the wheels opening the points wider; by holding on them he partly closed the points so as to cause the following carriage to come in contact with the point of the switch, and so to mount. the rail and to be thrown off; and he probable did Dot succeed in getting the points closed till the five leading carriages had been drawn off; and having then succeeded in closing the points, the remainder of the train went on to the proper line. Had it been light, no doubt the switch man would have at once perceived what had happened, and let go the handle and allowed the whole train to pass down the main-line.

1examined the points, and found, of course, that then they were in good working order; but I have no reason for supposing that they were not so before; the point of the switch was much battered from the blows of the wheels. Had the points been out of order, I conceive that the rear carriages of the train must equally have gone off the line. I think the accident was altogether caused by the carelessness of the points man.

To obviate the recurrence of a similar accident, Mr. Hood, the Engineer of the Company, intends attaching to the switch-handle a catch similar to that on the reversing handle of an engine; this would secure the handle from flying back after being drawn home; but the switch would, in a measure, cease to be a self-acting one, which in my opinion would more than counterbalance the proposed advantage. .

I took the opportunity of my meeting the Chairman of the Brighton Railway Company at the junction, to inquire into the circumstances the, passage and meeting of trains at this point, to which Mr. Alcock, in his letter of the 4th inst., has drawn your attention. Mr. Alcock says, "that the quarter past 5 express to Brighton, and the quarter before 5 to Epsom, and the 10 minutes before 5 from Epsom, are within a very few minutes of meeting at this point;” that is, that there are two following down trains and one up. I find that there is an interval of 10 minutes between the passage of the two following trains through the junction, which is sufficient if adhered to, for all purposes of safety. And from the up Epsom train no danger whatsoever is to be apprehended, as the up line from Epsom is a distinct one.

With regard to this line I would mention that, at the signal-post a meeting point has been introduced, which I think should be removed as the same object could be obtained by another arrangement, and the meeting point avoided.

Mr. Alcock also mentions in his letter, "that one of these trains was turned on a wrong line, a short time ago, to avoid collision." The explanation given me of such an occurrence (though the occasion was not recollected) is, that in the event of a Croydon down train approaching (the line having been signalled clear for it), should a Brighton up-train be seen at the same time approaching the distance-signal 600 yards oft', the slow Croydon train would be allowed by the points man to pass down the main-line to avoid the possibility of a collision; and in so doing I consider he would be exercising a sound discretion. 

The accident was clearly caused by the points not having passed the engine on to the Croydon line, though the cause of this is not easily explained, as the points were in perfect order, and the switchman (who is a most steady servant, who has occupied the same post, without any accident, for the last six years) was at his post, and had tried the points, and found them, as he thought, to act properly before he turned on the signal to allow the train to pass and he states that he was quite unconscious at the time that the points had not turned the engine as usual on to the Croydon line.

No blame whatever attaches to the engine driver, who was proceeding with great caution at a rate not exceeding eight miles an hour, and who displayed great presence of mind in bringing his train to a stand gradually when he perceived the accident. .

The road has been restored to perfect order and another most experienced and trustworthy man placed at the points, and the caution already given to the engine-drivers to pass at a moderate rate of speed has been renewed. 




11th FEBRUARY 1852

Extracted and adapt from a report 

by Geo Wynne, Capt. Royal Engineers

A collision occurred on the 11th February the East Croydon station on the Brighton Railway, caused by a passenger train othe South Eastern Company coming into collision with some trucks belonging to the Brighton Company, which were employed ballasting at the station.

The following are particulars which I have to report.
The Croydon station was formerly what is termed a four-line station, that is, having the 
platforms on sidings off the up and down lines lately Brighton Company have removed, these sidings, and have for some time back, between the intervals of the trains, had trucks drawn by horses employed carrying ballast to form the platforms on the sides of the up and. down lines; the drivers on the line were therefore quite aware that obstructions might 
occur at this station. 

The Croydon station as approached from London, is protected by a semaphore signal post, placed about 220 yards from the centre of the platforms on the London side, and 400 yards farther on in ‘the same direction there is a distant signal worked by means of a connecting wire by the man in charge of the semaphore signal. The distant signal consists of two discs set horizontally on a post. When it is turned on it presents the two discs painted red, and when off it presents a knife edge, and therefore only indicates” Stop" and “ All right." When the signal is turned on, it was stated to me that it could be seen on clear day half a mile oft: I ascertained personally that it could be seen certainly 500 or 600 yards off.  About 100 yards past the distant signal, approaching the station, a bridge crosses the line, which intercepts the view any obstruction beyond it.

About 1 P.M. of the day of the accident the foreman of works commenced ballasting with nine; or ten trucks; no train was due at station until 1.55. Before he took his trucks out of the siding he ascertained that both signals were on. At about 1.45 he states he moved off the trucks from about the centre of the station, where they were ballasting, to a siding on the north or London side of the station.  I ascertained that to get the trucks into the siding from where they were at work would take three minutes. While the trucks were in the act of going through the points into the siding they were struck by the South Eastern train which leaves London at 1.30, and which is timed to leave Croydon at l.57, and allowing for a stoppage of two minutes, its time of arrival would be 1.55. There is a preponderating amount of evidence, and in my opinion of a satisfactory character, to show that the collision occurred at 1.51, four minutes before the train was due, but guard of the train says it wanted seven minutes of two when the collision occurred If his statement is correct the Brighton Company would not free from charge of imprudence in permitting an obstruction on the line with so short an interval intervening before the time of a train being due, even though that train should be a stopping one; and the interval even of four minutes, which I believe to be the actual one, I consider sufficiently scant. But if the distant danger signal was duly exhibited, and run past by the driver, the circumstance of the Brighton Company having failed in prudence will not exonerate the driver of the South Eastern traifrom the blame of having caused the collision. His (the driver’s) statement is that when he sighted the distant signal he looked out and saw it standing “ All right”; he did not keep his eye fixed on it, and when. ‘within a few yards of it looked up and saw it was turned on, but when it was turned on cannot say, though positive that it was not on when he first looked; he whistled immediately for the, guards to put on their breaks, but he not reverse his engine until he had passed through bridge, when, seeing the obstruction, he reversed the gear of his engine. He also states that he was going at no higher speed than twenty-tour miles per hour. As the gradient an ascending now of 1 in 264, and the distance from the point of collision after the danger signal turned on, according to his own statement, was upwards of 400 yards and there were three breaks to the train, this statement of the speed appears quite improbable.

The fireman of the engine makes a statement nearly word for word the same as the driver, viz., that when he came in sight he looked out and saw it “All right,” and when within twenty yards he looked up and saw it turned on, but when it was turned on he cannot say. It is a little remarkable that both driver and fireman should have, looked off and looked at same time; and as it does not appear that they anything in particular to attend to about the engine, their look-out was a most negligent one in approaching a station where works were in progress. A plate layer who was working close to where the collision occurred, says, that whilst the trucks were ballasting he several times looked at the distant signal and saw that it was turned on, and he is  positive that it was on seven or eight minutes before the accident, and as nothing came down the line during the time the trucks were ballast till they were struck, the probability, as well as the evidence, is against the signal having been turned off.

The driver said he did not immediately reverse his gear, because he looked upon the distant signal as a caution signal auxiliary to the semaphore signal The superintendent of the South Eastern Company inclined to the same opinion. It no doubt is an auxiliary to the other, but it is meant to repeat what the station signal indicates at such a distance as will ensure safety, and as in the first page of the Book of Regulations of Brighton Company it is distinctly stated that “red is a signal to stop,” and “green, to go slowly;” whether, therefore, "red" is dipslayed by means of a flag, lantern, or disc, it must equally mean the same thing, and obeyed.

The day of the accident having been a fine clear day, there was no excuse for not seeing the signal. But I would observe, that though the double disc signal is of itself an excellent description of signal, that the one in question is not placed as conspicuously as it might be, as instead of being seen against the sky, it is backed partly be red brick houses and the bridge; this might easily be obviated by substituting a higher post, and doing so would be a  great improvement.

The South Eastern train consisted of ten carriages and was accompanied by two guards; first guards, the first guard rode in a carriage next to the tender, and the second in the fourth carriage for him. Although  the subject is irrelevant to the accident, I would remark that it is very objectionable, on many accounts, to leave the rear of the train without a guard.


 Jenny Lind Class

Brighton Engine men with Brighton locomotive No. 65 Jenny Lind in c1847. 



1st NOVEMEBER 1852



This accident occurred on the 1st November, 1852,  at the Reigate goods station of the London, Brighton, and South Railway, on the 1st caused by passenger train running into a goods train.

The Reigate Junction station of the Brighton Company is situated about one mile south of Reigate station. As a goods station, which it exclusively is (no passenger trains stopping at it), it is one of considerable importance, the interchange of goods between the South Eastern Company and Brighton Company being conducted there. The accommodation which the station offers for conducting this interchange consists of sidings on each side of the line; that on the down side being about 530 feet in length. and that on the up side 600 feet. The station is protected by Station distant signals, and the working staff consist of a station clerk and two porters. Five goods trains, called “pick-ups,”stop at the station every day. These trains do not work to a timetable; there is a nominal hour for starting them from either terminus  of the line which it is stated is kept with tolerable punctuality. Sometimes, however, they are as much as an hour after time in starting, and the times of their arrival at Reigate station are most certain. The first train, which is a down one, is expected at Reigate between 4 and 5 a.m.; the second, which is an up train, is expected between 9 a.m and noon: the third, which is a down train is expected noon and 1.30 p.m.; the fourth, is an up train, expected between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m .; and the fifth, which is a down train, is expected between 8 p.m. and midnight.

The duties of the porters consists in loading and unloading goods accompanying goods which have to be transferred to the South Eastern Railway to the Reigate Junction, and also going there to assist in loading goods which are to be transferred to the Brighton. Railway. These last duties require the attendance of a porter at the junction three or four’ times day he rides up with the goods and walks back, the distance being about a mile.

The pick-up train, which caused the collision, was the second up train; it arrived at Reigate at 10 a.m., ; it  consisted, besides engine and tender, of thirty five trucks and might be about 640 feet in length; at the time of its arrival there were standing in the up siding twelve trucks. It stops at all the stations between Brighton and Reigate, six in number, and pick" up its load promiscuously; when it. arrives at Reigate the train has to be marshalled, the trucks being placed in the order they have to be left at the different stations; this operation occupies about three quarters of an hour; each train is accompanied by two guards, who assist in marshalling it. On the occasion in question, after the train had been partially arranged, the 10 a.m. down train was nearly due, as well as the parliamentary up train; it was necessary, therefore, to clear both main lines; neither of the sidings being sufficient separately to contain the whole of the pick-up train, part of it was shunted into the up siding, and remaining part, with the engine, into the down siding. When the two trains which were due had passed, the portion of the pick up train which was in the down siding was drawn on to the down main line, and the engine was sent with four of the trucks up the down line to a ballast siding, (which is within distant signal, which was turned on,) one of the porters accompanying it to open the points; the engine having: left, the trucks returned back and hooked on to the part of the train left standing on the down line. At.this time the up expres was a few minutes  overdue, and the signals for the up line were turned off, indicating that that line was clear for the express train, and necessarily stopped to the pick-up train, or anything else coming into it from a siding. The second porter, who was standing at the points leading from the down line to the up line, opened them about a minute before the express came in sight, whether at a signal from the driver of the pick-up train or not does not appear. but the engine and tender moved through the crossing, taking the train with them, and had just got on to the up line when the express ran into them; the express had left Brighton ten. minutes after time, and was about six minutes late in arriving at the Reigate goods station. 

The Circumstances of the collision were investigated by the magistrates at Reigate the following day, and the result was, that they committed to the House of Correction for two months the driver and the head guard, and the porter who opened the points.

The station and distant signals were standing as they should do when the accident occurred; there was, therefore, no excuse for either the porter turning open the points or for the  driver to go through them without first ascertaining that the line he was about to go on was closed; but, whilst admitting that the accident was directly due to the carelessness of the servants, there appears to me to be much in the management and arrangement of the station, as well as of the trains, which calls for remark.

1st. The siding accommodation, appears to be insufficient.

2d Although the actual amount of labour the porters have to perform may not be too heavy, yet the uncertainty in the arrival of the several trains, spreading as it does over a space of time varying from one hour and a half to four hours, and the circumstance of the frequent which or other of the porters has to pay to the Junction station a mile distant, renders the duties somewhat harrassing and distracting; and with a consideration of the time which is involved in marshalling the train, would point out, that. attendance on signals and points should form exclusively duty of one man, who, having nothing else to attend to, would be less likely to become forgetful or confused; and an extra man, I conceive; should therefore be appointed to the duty.

3d Working the pick-up trains without reference to time appears a most fatal error in the management, and has, on other lines, been a most fruitful source of accident; not only are the delays frequent on the road, but punctuality is not observed even in starting the trains, for which at least I think there should be no excuse. Trains which ar worked without regard to time, are liable to be overtaken at any of the stations by passenger trains, and as all station are provided with siding accommodation, it must frequently happen that the objectionable practice of shunting the train on to a down line to get it out of' the way must be resorted to, and this is always a source of great danger.

Whilst I thus strongly remark upon the great evil of running trains like these pick-up trains, I am bound to state that the manager of the line has pointed out to me certain peculiarities to which the conduct of the traffic is subject, which renders the question of keeping time rather more complex problem than it is on other lines; it is one, however, which I am sure can be solved, and which has no important a bearing on safety that the Company cannot give the subject too much attention.

There is nothing to prevent punctually being strictly enforced in the passenger trains; the express train which ran into goods train on this occasion was six minutes late in arriving at the Reigate goods station, had it kept time the accident would not have occurred.




Collision at Redhilll Goods Station 

24th August 1857

By G. Wynne Lt Colonel R.E.

On the 24th August, 1857, a collision took place at Redhill Goods station of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, between a passenger and a goods train. 

The goods train left Brighton at 10.35 a.m., and was due at Redhill at 1.17, but did not arrive until 2.15. on arriving, the driver was directed to take five wagons out of a siding which had some other wagons standing in front of them. This operation, it appears, by the statement of the guard of the goods train, took up something less than ten minutes, as he states that they were in the act of shunting the train into the lower siding at 2.25, and had got the whole of the train in, with the exception of the engine and six wagons, when they were run into by the express train which leaves Brighton at 1.30 p.m., and is due at Reigate at 2.33, and passes Redhill probably 3 minutes sooner. the guard of the express train, however, states that it was close on the half hour when the collision took place.

The station is protected by two signals; a station signal and a distant signal. The former is a visible a distance 800yards off, and the latter at 3,000 yards. There is no doubt that both these signals were turned on, and the driver of the passenger train is therefore without excuse.

But although the driver’s conduct is without excuse, and shows him to be altogether unfit to be trusted with a passenger train, there is another individual quite as much as in fault, and that is the station master of the Redhill station. It is one of the printed rules of the Company that goods trains not more than 15 minutes in advance of passenger trains are to be shunted out of the way.  By this own showing, the goods train was rather less than 15 minutes in advance of the express train; and if he had been a person of any experience  he must have been aware, that, with a train such as the goods train, composed of 31 trucks, it must have been incurring a great risk to have attempted the operation that he did, even within a much longer interval.

The guard of the passenger train states that he saw the signal about 500 yards off, and that he put on his break, but that he had no means of communicating with the driver. Under the circumstances, a communication with the driver would probably not have prevented the collision; but the necessity of having a means of communicating between the guard and the driver is so generally admitted, that I feel some surprise that the Brighton company should not have established one. I would also have thought, with the warning the Company received in their late collision at Croydon, that they would have established the system of working their train by means of telegraph, so essential on a line where slow and very fast trains are mixed up as they are on this one.



Brighton Terminus Fatal Accident 

27th November, 1858 

by George Ross, Captain, R.E.

A fatal accident occurred at Brighton terminus of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway. to George Sweetman, a Switchman in the employment of the L.B. & S.C.R.

A Switch-man named Henry Evans has charge of the switches adjacent to the terminus on the London side of it, and the deceased was his assistant.

On the morning of the 20th ultimo, at about 9 a.m., Sweetman held the points of a coke siding, of which the lever is close to the Switchman’s box, for the admission of some coke wagons, and the driver pushed them with his engine into the coke store.

It was the least busy part of the day, and Sweetman crossed the main line to a spot where he had no points to attend to, and there he was seen quietly standing.

Presently, the driver having placed the coke wagons, whistled for leave to quit sidings. Evans, who was not at his box, signalled to him to do so, and the driver was backing his engine tender foremost out of the sidings, when Sweetman suddenly ran from where he was standing on the opposite of the main line towards the Switchman’s box. He was crossing before the engine in motion on the coke siding, when his foot slipped, and he was struck by the tender, and his death was the result of the serious injuries he received.

Evans cannot explain Sweetman’s object in crossing the line at that moment. There was nothing for him to do, and his intervention was not required to pass the engine out of the coke siding. He had been 4 years on duty at that post, and was a steady man; but the stain master says that he had on several occasions reproved him for rashness. In my opinion, his death must be attributed to his own want of caution.    

The urn observed in their verdict (in the extract submitted by the railway to their Lordships) that “two men were not able to attend to fourteen of “more points at a place of so much traffic with “reasonable safety.”

These Switchmen are circumstance as follows: Their hut is about 100 yards of the terminus on the left of the arrival line from London, and is in an angle between the arrival line and the sidings of the station yard. They have two series of switches to attend to, of which the one is in the shops’ and sheds’ yard behind their box, where there are 7 switches of sidings connected with turntables, water cranes, shops, &c., &c. The other series is on the main line side of the box, where switches lead from the main lines to the coke siding in which the accident occurred to the spare carriage sidings in the terminus and into the yard already referred to. They also charge of one switch of a cross-over road, which is in use on the arrival of nearly all passenger trains from London, for passing the engine from the front to the rear of the train.

About half of the total number of switch handles are contiguous to the Switchman’s box; the others at various distance within about 60 or 70 paces of it, and most of them on the box side of the main line.

To enter or quit the yard, the numerous engine which work into Brighton terminus must pass on to a small length of main line, about 100 yards in length, between the Switchman’s box and the terminus, and this, with the number of trains arriving and departing on the London main lines, doubtless makes the Switcman’s position an anxious one.

the company, I understand, would be glad to improve it; but they question the practicability of working the switches by handles collected into a box, where, as in this case, the engines are many, their objects various, and the switches frequent.

Evans, the Switchman, and the station master, with respectively 13 years and 11 years experience at the station, are dubious as to its expediency, and the former says that there would be liability to fouling of the points from engines hanging close to them when shunting after dusk. That inconvenience might perhaps be avoided by means of a lamp or post on the side of the line to indicate to the driver when at a proper distance clear of the points; and my impression is, that it might be an improvement were one or two of the most frequented switches to be worked from the box; that, for instance, leading from the arrival main line into the yard.

The duties were conducted by one Switchman until four years ago, when they were lightened by the appointment of the assistant Switchman; and it is said that no accident had, until now, occurred to any servant of the company on duty at that part of the terminus.


 Engine Driver Sam Fry standing next to a John Chester Craven’s Locomotive No.12,

 photographed at the Lover's Walk Railway Depot, Brighton in May 1858.



29TH MAY 1863

On 29th May, 1863, 'Craven West End Well Tank Loco' No. 131 was working the Victoria portion of the 5 p.m. Brighton express bunker foremost from East Croydon. About a quarter of a mile before Streatham Common station on the tight curve at the foot of the 1 in 126 bank the engine began oscillating so violently that it left the road. After running 224 yards along the ballast it fell on its right side and then turn upside down before stopping with wheels in the air. So far the damage was remarkably slight, but then the dome disintegrated with an explosion heard several miles away, which killed the driver and three passengers, and injured fifty-nine others. Before the accident the sixteen coaches forming the train had been extended for 112 yards, but when inspected afterwards they were all collected within half the distance, some being upright on the track, others on the ballast and a few on the adjoining track in addition to the normal complement of passengers, two companies of Grenadier Guards and their baggage made the train heavier than usual, probably about 200 tons.





The maker’s of locomotives always used best quality materials and often substituted more expensive items than those required by John Chester Craven, Locomotive Superintendent for the L.B. & S.C.R. Generally this was to the Company’s advantage, although in the case of the footplate floor boards on the Standard Craven Passenger Locomotives 2-4-0’s, this was definitely not so, for pitch pine replaced oak planking. This was beautifully grained, and as long as it remained dry greatly improved the appearance of the footplate, but a drop of water turned the flooring into a skating rink. Craven discovered this when travelling on loco No. 187 from Croydon to Brighton with the 4 p.m. express in c1864.

Near Horley track repairs necessitated the up line being used for several hundred yards and when the driver entered the loop at 25 to 30 M.P.H. the whole party slid across the footplate to end up in an untidy pile of arms and legs, the floorboards having been well swept and watered in honour of Craven’s presence. Scrambling hurriedly to their feet, all forgot that the loop has two ends and as the engine it the second crossover the jerk sent them again flying across the footplate. Craven broke his collar bone and the fireman his wrist, which left the driver to keep the train running to Brighton. First-hand knowledge is a wonderful thing, and within ten days all of the class had oak planking, which, if less decorative, gave firm footing come rain or shine.


* Depot of loco-men not known




In January 1866, Locomotive Superintendent John Chester Craven, designed a pair twin 0-6-0 saddle tanks locomotives, with a coupled footplate to footplate for working heavy main line goods trains up New Cross bank, and thereby avoiding the expense of employing pilot engines. The fuel was carried in bankers alongside the two fireboxes, which left the footplates free from obstructions and offered the possibility of one crew handling both engines with subsequent saving in wages and man-power. However, when the loco-men heard of this, they flatly refused to work them unless given double wages, and when this was refused by Craven. Craven then realised the scheme was impracticable and redesigned the this loco into two independent loco to carry out shunting duties and local goods traffic.



 The view of Brighton station and locomotive works in the foreground 




7th SEPTEMBER 1866


F.H. RICH, Capt. R.E. & Major

The collision of a passenger train of the London,Chatham and Dover Railway Company with a train of empty carriages belonging to the London, Brighton, and Sonth’Coast Railway Company, which occurred on the 7th September 1866, at &e entrance to the Victoria station, on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway. 

Five passengers are reported to have been shaken, and the second guard of the passenger train was in hospital at the time of the inquiry, but none of the sufferers are supposed to be seriousIy injured. The driver of the London, Chatham, and Dover Company’s train also complained of feeling pains in ‘hie loins since the collision. He remained on his engine, but his fireman jumped off just before the collision, having previously put on his break.

The north side of Victoria station belongs to the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company and the south side to the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Company. The lines leading to the south side of the station diverge from the L.B.& S.C. main lines at the west end of the yard. The point of the junction is called Victoria Junction and is commonly known as the “Hole in the Wall Junction.”

The train consisting of a tank engine, a third class, a second class, three first class, a second class, and two third class carriages, coupled in the order given, and having a guard in the break compartment of the first and one on the break compartment of the last carriage of the train, left the high level station at the Crystal Palace at 2.14 p.m.

The driver slacked speed at Battersea Bridge for signals, but on their being turned to admit him, he continued his journey to Victoria Junction, which he reached at 2.52 p.m., four minutes late. From the jerk in passing through the junction points, the driver observed that he was on the wrong road, and that instead of going into the south side of Victoria station, as he should have done, he was going into the Brighton Company’s side of the station, and that there was a train on the same line immediately in front of him. He reversed, put on steam, which was shut off at the time, called to his fireman to apply his break, and had just time to whistle for the guards’  breaks, when his engine ran into the tail of empty carriage belonging to the L.B.& S.C.R., which had just come to a stand, within about 60 yards of the junction points, after being backed out from the station platform.

Neither the engine or any of the carriages of the passenger train left the rails and the damage to this train was very slight. The buffers and draw hook of the engine were damaged, the lamps were broken, and the footplate bent. A few of the roof lamps of the carriages were broken and two of the buffers damaged.

The train of empties, which consisted of an engine and eleven coaches, was a great deal damaged. The two hind carriages were knocked off the rails, the last but one being thrown on its side.

The speed at which the passenger train came through the Victoria Junction points is variously stated at 4 to 14 miles per hour. Judging from the evidence and the effects, I thin it was probably six or seven miles an hour.

The points and signals at this junction are arranged on the locking principle by Messrs. Saxby & Farmer. Before the proper signals could be given for the passenger train to approach, it was necessary that the lever handle which works the junction points should be pushed over, so as to set these points in the proper direction for the train. The rod connecting this lever handle with the points was found broken after the collision.

A train from Hastings and Portsmouth had passed through these points into the Brighton Company’s side of the Victoria station at 2.49 p.m., and the signalman allowed the point to remain as set for that train till the arrival of the L.C. & D. Company’s train from the Crystal Palace about 2.52 p.m. He shifted the lever handle of the points, which the locking gear obliged him to do, before lowering the signals for the latter train, but in doing so he did not observe, that the points did not move, as the connecting rod was broken by the train from Portsmouth at 2.49 p.m., at an old flaw which extended almost through the rod.

All points ought to be looked at by the man working them after each train passes over them to see that they work properly, and if they are at such distances from the wpointsman’s box that he cannot observe them well, they should be furnished with an indicator. In the present case they were close under his box.

He was suspended for his neglect and had resigned his situation. He had been eight years in the company’s service and five years and seven months of that time he had been employed at the Victoria junction. He bore a good character. 

Victoria station, and particularly the entrance, is much too confined for the traffic now worked into it.

The shunting which goes on on the passenger lines or lines in connection therewith whilst passenger trains are passing, is most objectionable. 

The rearrangement of this station in connection with the new lines of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway Company is now in progress, and it would be desirable in such rearrangement that the signals controlling all shunting on lines leading on to the passenger lines should be connected with the main line signals, so that both cannot be lowered at the same time ; as the working that necessitates or admits of a train backing out on a junction line, to within 50 or 60 yards of the junction points, while passenger trains are passing through the junction, must always be attended with great danger, although it had nothing to do with the present accident, further than that the signalman at the Victoria junction attributed his not having observed that the connecting rod which moved the points was broken, to hie attention being given to the trains of empties which was backing out and which he stated that he was watching anxiously lest it should foul the junction. 



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