We started our posts this month with another 2 cases of workers having 2 accidents each, with the promise (threat?) of more multiple accidents to come. It’s to this we return now, with another 2 cases of 2 accidents.
We start on the south coast of England, at Brighton station appropriately on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. Here on 1 February 1912 shunter Albert Leggatt was injured for the first time. Whilst moving coaches from one platform to another, Leggatt ‘received a hand signal from signalman F Ansted that the points had been set’ for the route the coaches were supposed to take. However, as Inspector Amos Ford noted, ‘unfortunately Ansted had failed to set the points, with the result that the carriages were propelled to No 3 line again.’ There they collided with train engine that had just brought the coaches into the station. Leggatt, who was in the brake van, was thrown against the brake wheel, slightly injuring his left hip. Ford concluded that Ansted and Leggatt were ‘equally to blame’ for the accident. In common with many cases at this time, the rule book was deployed to hold Leggatt to account as he should have ‘seen that the points were properly reversed, in accordance with Rule 185(a)’ (1912 Quarter 1, Appendix C).
Leggatt managed to make it until 14 July 1913 before having another accident (at least one which was investigated by the Railway Inspectors). However, again whilst shunting at Brighton he succumbed. Whilst preparing to couple two sets of coaches, Leggatt went between them, even though the incoming rake was still moving. ‘While he was so engaged he failed to notice the proximity of the moving coaches until it was too late for him to step out of the four-foot way [the space between the rails]’, and his shoulder and elbow were caught between the stock. This time Inspector JJ Hornby investigated, finding Leggatt responsible because ‘he admits that he disregarded his instructions by going into the four-foot way before the vehicles were closed up and at rest’ (1913 Quarter 3, Appendix C). No recommendations were made.
We move from the extreme south to the extreme north for the next cases. The second person involved was J Anderson, an employee of the Great North of Scotland Railway. He incurred his first accident on 22 July 1911 at Kittybrewster, just outside Aberdeen. Working in the yard, he noticed that one of the doors of the brake van standing in a nearby siding was open. Clearly a conscientious employee, Anderson went to close the door, but as he did so, an engine approached on an intervening siding. For once it didn’t hit him! However, by running through a pair of points it did flip the point lever, which struck Anderson on the left leg, bruising it. Inspector Campbell put the case down to ‘misadventure’ (1911 Quarter 3, Appendix C).
Anderson only had to wait another year and a half or so for his next accident, also at Kittybrewster. By now he had made it up the ranks from a yardsman to a shunter. He was in the same set of sidings as his earlier case, working with a rake of 27 wagons being moved on No. 5 siding. He was between this and the next siding, about to uncouple some of the wagons with his shunting pole, ‘when he was knocked down by an engine which he failed to observe approaching on No. 4 road.’
Inspector Campbell investigated once again, concluding that Anderson had this time demonstrated a ‘want of care’ (a phrase frequently found in our database). He made no direct reference to Anderson’s earlier accident at almost the same location, though presumably as it was relatively minor it might not have stuck in his mind. However, he did ‘call attention to the fact that he was exposed to grave danger while working in the six-foot way between two lines on which shunting operations are often conducted simultaneously.’ This was the nature of railway work in a busy yard, with operations going on all around. The solution? Campbell suggested shunting on the No 5 siding should be carried out on the other side, where there weren’t any adjacent sidings. This might have carried with it an implication in terms of time taken for the shunters to move from one job to the next if it added extra distance to the route – something the company probably wouldn’t have appreciated.
It also would likely have taken issue with the next part of Campbell’s recommendations to facilitate shunting from the other side of the No 5 siding: ‘in order to make this practicable a number of point-rods and a signal post should be set further back from the line, and a proper path provided’ (1913 Quarter 1, Appendix C). All of these things had a direct financial implication, a point which often militated against action being taken, so far as the railway companies were concerned.
Sadly, that isn’t the end of July’s multiple accidents, with more cases to come next week.