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. 



Opened in 1839 and in July 1846 merged with other railways to form the London Brighton & South Coast Railway

Railway accidents on the London & Croydon Railway

Croydon on 7th December 1839

Dartmouth Arms on 5th February 1841

Sydenham on 17th December 1841


on 5th October 1844

Extracted & adapted from the report by

R.S. Young

On the 5th October an accident occurred on the Croydon Railway to the last up train from the Croydon Station, which started 

about - a quarter before one o’clock. The front part of the train running to London Bridge was just starting from the Anerley 

Station, when the hind part, running to Bricklayers’ Arms, came into violent collision with it, severely shaking and bruising 

many of the passengers, and throwing part of the front train off the line, and greatly injuring the carriages.

The superintendent states that he is unable as yet to give the full particulars of the case, but he is led to believe that the red tail 

light had gone out, while the train was on the road.

That as soon as the carriages were got on the.line, the front part of the train was on to London, with all the passengers of both 

trains, about eight or ten, however, refusing to proceed in the train. One female, severely shaken and insensible, was taken to 

the Anerley Tavern, where the assistance of a surgeon was obtained; and all the passengers who arrived in London with 

injuries were attended at the waiting room by Mr. Cock, of Guy's Hospital; those also, who were unable to walk, were sent 

home in cabs. The superintendent further states that he has been unable to ascertain the number of those injured, or their 

names, but as nearly as he can judge, he thinks there must be two or three with severe sprains, and 15 or 20 with bruised shins 

and ankles, &c.

The collision that took place on the 5th instant, between two trains of the Croydon Railway Company, I read an account of the 

accident last Sunday in a weekly paper, which seemed to be so serious, that I requested Captain Coddington to go 

immediately, and make arrangements with the officers of that Company to enable me to inquire personally into the particulars 

next morning, which he did accordingly; and I then proceeded by appointment with Mr. Gregory, the resident engineer of the 

Company, to his office at the New Cross Station, where he had assembled the enginemen, firemen, and guards of the two 

trains, and other servants of the Company who knew the circumstances, whom I in their turns in the presence of that 

gentleman, as well as of Mr Benjamin Cubitt and Mr. Pulford, two other officers of the Company. From the result of this 

examination, I have to report as follows:- .

Croydon Fair had been going on for three days, of which Friday was the last, during which trains went in both directions every 

half hour, that is, double the ordinary number, and of course much more numerous than usual, for I was informed that 14,000 

persons were carried in one day. The accident happened to the last train of the whole, which left the Croydon Station between 

12 and 1 o'clock on Saturday morning in two divisions, the London Bridge train consisting of all carriages starting first, and 

the Bricklayers' Arms train of 9 carriages following it, at an interval of about five minutes, as had been usual during the fair 

timeThe rule is to place two red lamps behind the last carriage of every train by night; but on this occasion one lamp having 

been  broken by accident at the Croydon Station, where there was no other to replace it, only one red lamp was attached to the 

hind carriage of the foremost train. As the lamps at this station proved to have been in charge of a boy, I apprehended some 

neglect on his part; but several other witnesses assured me that this solitary lamp was well trimmed and burning brightly when 

the train left Croydon. The signal man at the Jolly Sailor Station observed, that it had become dim when it passed that Station

and it must have gone entirely out before it reached the Anerley where the accident occurred. The second tram passed the 

Jolly Sailor Station about three minutes after the first, the green light being then exhibited there as a signal to go on with 

caution; and on approaching the Anerley Station, the engineman of this train observed a red light on the signal post, which 

was the signal to stop at that station ; but not seeing the red light that ought to have been exhibited in the rear of the preceding 

train, he considered it was gone. and just as it was slowly quitting the station he ran into it, but with diminished speed, for he 

was preparing to stop there, and just before the collision took place he observed that it was still there, and reversed his engine 

whilst the fireman was working the break, but too late to prevent the accident.

Though this collision would have been avoided if the two trains had been combined ia one, yet I consider the arrangement 

that was actually adopted to be more prudent upon the 'Whole. There is reason. to doubt whether the second train might not 

have overshot the Anerley Station a little, even if the other had previously quitted it; but as the rule was for every train not to 

stop short of the station, but opposite to it, no blame can justly attach to the engineman of this train.

After this examination I proceeded to Anerley Station, the scene of the accident, and from thence to Croydon, where the 

injured carriages were collected.

I was happy to find that the first alarming accounts were exaggerated. Two females were most mjured, one of whom remained 

all night at the inn near Anerley Station, and was sent home in the morning. Another had her forehead severely cut, besides 

bruises on her limbs, and was at one time delirious; but on my inquiring the same at the' inn, her medical attendant gave me a 

favourable report of her case, and said that m a few days she might be taken home in safety. Mr. Gregory informed me that 

eighteen other passengers were more or less injured, but none so severely as these two. Their was ascertained on quitting the 

several stations for which they had taken their places, from whence those who required it were sent home in cabs, and 

received medical advice at the expense of the Company.

The buffer irons of a locomotive engine were broken and one of the carriages was thrown off the rails, which caused 

considerable delay, during which several passengers went off without waiting till the trains were able to proceed. At Croydon I 

examined the carriages that were injured. One of them, a first class carriage, had the side pieces of the under frame as well as 

the panels cracked. The other, a second class carriage, which received the shock, had its side pieces also cracked, and a central 

partition between two compartments inside broken and forced out of its place, though not thrown entirely down, and it was 

here that the most severe accident happened. Mr. Gregory, who with laudable zeal had been continually travelling along the 

line during the fair time, to see that the servants of the Company were attentive to their duty, experienced a shock himself, 

being in the Bricklayers' Arms train in a first class carriage. He informed me that the passengers in the front carriages of that 

train felt the collision more than those in the centre, though by no means so severely as those in the rear, and that the 

passengers in the centre compartment of each carriage felt it more than those in the ends. · As the want of lamps was the 

immediate cause of the above accident, I inquired into the arrangements of the and was informed that the lamps of every train 

are examined, and if defective, replaced or trimmed again at Croydon, New Cross, and London.

It is to be regretted that the signal man at the Jolly. Sailor Station did not warn the of the second train on its arrival, that the 

tail lamp; as it is called, of the preceding train was likely to go out; but this was no part of his written instructions, though an 

intelligent man might have done so of his own accord; nor is it likely that he should have anticipated a.n accident. In future, 

when successive trains run within five minutes of each other on the Croydon Railway, which can only be necessary at the time 

of fairs or races, the rule should be for the engineman of the following train to stop short at a certain distance from each 

station, when he sees the red lamp exhibited at the signal post, and wait there till an additional signal is made, before: he 

moves his train up to the platform.


That their Lordships request that the Directors will cause their lamp department to be better arranged ; and that in the event of 

fairs or races hereafter it expedient to divide their passenger trains into two or more sections. or smaller trains, starting at 

intervals of about five minutes after each other, that the enginemen of succeeding trains shall have strict orders to shut of their 

steam on approaching every station, so as to be able to stop short of the platform if required, whether they see the red tail 

lamps of the train, or not.

Railway accidents on the London & Croydon Railway continued

London Bridge on 7th October 1844

New Cross on 21st June 1845



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

Painting by Michael Codd 



(1837 - 1846)

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 


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. 


 LONDON & BRIGHTON RAILWAY Accident at Hooley Lane on Sunday 19th September 1841

On the Sunday 19th September, 1841, just a few days before the opening of the line through to Brighton on Tuesday 21st September, 1841, an incident happened  which did nothing to dispel such concerns happened very close to the new Red-Hill and Reigate-Road station. News had came through that a train had failed to reach its destination. An hour elapsed, during which tales of multiple casualties circulated. The truth was that one engine with one single carriage containing an inspector and his wife had been sent out to deliver to railway policemen at wayside stations new signal flags for use on the opening day. The special train ran into a line of earth-moving wagons under horse power engaged on final work near Hooley Lane, smashing the trucks and derailing the locomotive. There were no injuries, but the line was blocked with mangled wreckage.


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 


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.  


Railway accidents on the London & Brighton Railway

Dartmouth Road on Wednesday 2nd August 1843

Clayton Tunnel on Tuesday 17th October 1843

Maidstone Road on Wednesday 15th November 1843

Railway accidents on the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway

Stoats Nest on 9th November 1839

London & Brighton Railway Accident at Dartmouth Road on Wednesday 2nd August 1843

London & Brighton Railway Accident at Clayton Tunnel on Tuesday 17th October 1843

London & Brighton Railway Accident at Maidstone Road on Wednesday 15th November 1843

Stoats Nest on 4th January 1847

Nutbourne on 31st May 1847

Brighton on 4th July 1847

New Cross on 12th July 1847

Keymer Junction on 11th October 1847

Croydon on 23rd May 1849

Croydon Junction on 1st March 1850

London Bridge on 6th December 1850

New Cross on 14th March 1851

Brighton on 17th March 1853

New Cross on 13th August 1853

Angmering - Littlehampton on 24th July 1854

London Bridge on 10th October 1855

Streatham - Lower Norwood on 1st October 1856



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 


London & Brighton Railway Accident at Dartmouth Road on Wednesday 2nd August 1843

London & Brighton Railway Accident at Clayton Tunnel on Tuesday 17th October 1843

London & Brighton Railway Accident at Maidstone Road on Wednesday 15th November 1843


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. 

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 





 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 








Regulations for the First Appointment of an Engineman.


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 


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 


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






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.





Jenny Lind Class

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








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 




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the Brighton Motive Power Depots

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the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches



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