NUTBOURNE, June 22. [1847]

The adjourned inquest on the body of Gregory, the engine-driver, was resumed this morning, at the Bell and Anchor, before Mr. J. L. Ellis. It will be remembered that the accident which killed poor Gregory on the spot and mutilated the limbs and fractured the skull of Joseph Peel, the stoker, was caused by the engine running off the rails without any assignable cause; and that several of the drivers and signalmen who were examined had noticed the "wabbling" of the outside cylinder engines of Stephenson used on this line, and of the engine No. 40 in particular.

Mr Kirtley, the superintendent of the locomotive engines on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, also spoke of these engines having both an "oscillating" and an "undulating" motion; and, although he declined to express positively an opinion that these engines were unsafe, he said he preferred others, and gave some other answers containing inferentially an opinion adverse to their safety. The inquest was adjourned for the purpose of taking the evidence of the stoker, should he recover. He was not, however, although strong hopes are entertained of his ultimate recovery, sufficiently convalescent to give evidence. Great interest was excited in the neighbourhood of Chichester on account of a strong feeling which prevails in that city against the safety of the line, and, particularly since the holding of the inquest, against Stephenson's outside cylinder engines.

Mr. Mason (the Mayor of Chichester), Mr. J. Powell (the Town-clerk), and Mr. Sherwood (a solicitor of Chichester), were again in attendance.

Mr P. Clarke (manager of the railway), Mr Kirtley (the locomotive engineer), Mr. H. Faithfull (solicitor), Mr. Hood (engineer), and Mr. F Hitchin (resident engineer), were in attendance on the part of the company.

Captain Coddington, the Government Inspector of Railways, was also in attendance.

The jury having answered to their names, the Coroner proposed, in order to avoid the confusion of the former part of the inquest, that he should be allowed to take the examination in the usual manner first of all, after which the jury could put supplementary questions, and then the solicitors, according to seniority.

Richard Hesketh, of Brighton, deposed—I have been accustomed to railways for 15 years, and have been in the employ of the Brighton Railway Company two years; six or seven weeks as the foreman of the engine men. My duty is to see that the engines are right when they go out. I knew Gregory, the deceased, about a week before the accident. I knew the engine No. 40. I recollect the 31st May, the day that the accident happened. I examined the engine No. 40 that day. She was in as good and sound a state as the day she came out of the foundry. I have been an engine-driver 14 years, on the Manchester and Liverpool, Hull and Selby, a Belgian, and other railways. Robert Peel drove the engine 40 in the morning, the deceased in the afternoon. He started from Brighton about a quarter after 2 o'clock. I know nothing of Gregory's experience as an engine-driver. Peel said he knew him.

By the Coroner.—Should you have been afraid to drive No. 40?—No; I have driven her more than any man in the Brighton Company. I have driver her five months together.

Was that a passenger or luggage-train?—Both.

Had you ever any accident with her?—No.

Have you always been of the same way of thinking with respect to this engine?—Yes. I never said she would go "a steeple-chasing". This engine jumped about a little more than the rest. I never thought she was unsafe. It is one of Stephenson's engines. We have four of them. They are 39, 40, 41, and 42. They shake about a little more than the rest; 40 shook a little more than the other three, but I did not consider them unsafe. I never hesitate to drive the engine.

Coroner.—If any persons should state that you have expressed yourself afraid to drive her, would that be untrue?—Yes. I never have said so. I know a man named Samuel Johnson. He was a driver on this line, and he left about a fortnight before the accident. I saw him last three weeks ago. He was just going to France. It was after the accident; and I think it was the same day. I think he is in France now. He had heard of the accident, and asked me how it occurred. I told him I did not known.

Coroner.—Do you know why Johnson left?

The witness gave a roundabout answer, which was, in substance, that he was discharged for refusing to take Peel and his brother on the engine No. 40, to show them the line. Witness proceeded,—When he refused to take the Peels with him I was sent for to put another driver on; but he then got on the engine and went with them, and I went too. He has never worked an engine for the company since. He gave no other reason for refusing to go with the engine than that he should not have room to do his work.

Coroner.—Now are you sure that you never told any one that the engine was unsafe? I never did. I have only said she jumped more than others.

Foreman.—Did this engine require more care than the rest?—No, I can't say she did.

Coroner.—Did you ever say the engine was unsafe?—Why, when the engine jumps she wants steadying.

Then you think these engines are not as safe as others?—Why, of course, an engine that jumps is not so safe; but I did not consider it "unsafer" than when quite new.

By the Jury.—The engine is fit to run 35 miles an hour. I have driven her 40. I never knew an engine run off a straight line unless some accident happened to the wheels, or some part of the engine.

Examined by Mr. Sherwood.—I did not say, when I heard that Gregory was gone out with this engine on the morning in question, that I thought an accident would happen. I did not say so to Peel, or any one else; nor anything like it. Alexander Pridan was foreman before. Peel told me that Gregory was gone with the engine, because Mr. Kirtley wished to see him (Peel). By "jumping" I mean going up and down. I reported the fact of this engine jumping more than the rest to Mr. Kirtley. He asked if there was any serious danger; and I told him not more than at any other time. I do not think this engine is so safe at a high speed as others, but is safe at the speed of any train she has ever drawn. This engine drew passenger trains and luggage trains alternately with the rest of the engines. She had drawn passenger trains on the London and Brighton line. She did so the last time about six months ago. I believe she was taken off the London line because there are large embankments, which require the strongest engines.

Mr. Sherwood.—And a jumping engine might take it into her head to jump down an embankment, might she not? I did not mean embankments, but "inclines". They require stronger engines than level lines.

Mr. Sherwood.—And you keep the best engines for London and Brighton and send the worst here?

Examined by Mr. Sherwood.—Several engine-drivers have lately left the line. More than 10, I think. Engine-drivers are paid 7s.6d. a-day. They have not been reduced since Mr. Kirtley came, but increased. When I came on the line, two years ago, they were paid 6s. 8d. a day; afterwards the wages were raised to 7s. and then again to 7s. 6d. On Sundays, when they work, they are paid a day and a half, and when they make overtime they are paid overtime. If I had had the sending out the driver I should not have objected to send out Gregory. Mr. Kirtley spoke of him as a driver; and he had been out on the line two days to become acquainted with the line. Drivers ought to be experienced and careful men. A driver, if he is a driver, would at once find out that the engine jumped. I never knew men who were not experienced men put on engines on the Brighton line.

By Mr. Powell.—A fortnight before the accident, the engine (No. 40) was taken into the workshop and furnished with a pair of fresh hind wheels; the fore wheels were then in good order. Both wheels were provided with "protectors" when the engine left Brighton. I am sure of it.

If an engine were without a "protector", and an obstacle were on the rail, would that cause danger?—Not unless it was very large. I have driver all kinds of engines. There are some which I prefer to those with outside cylinders. There four engines, and particularly No. 40, are not so safe as others. These engines have been used for passenger trains on the Hastings line. One of them, last week (No. 40), was run on the Hastings line with passenger trains. All four have been used on the Hastings line. Two of these engines, Nos. 41 and 42, are still used on this branch of the railway. No irregularities have happened with them since the accident. I don't know of anything occurring on this line yesterday.

Mr. Faithfull asked what the occurrences of yesterday could have to do with an accident that occurred three weeks ago?

Coroner.—I think the more questions we put the more answers we shall get.

Mr. Powell said he was inquiring whether engines of the same class were used at present.

Mr. Faithfull said the company were anxious for the fullest investigation; but he thought some of the questions had been irrelevant.

Examined by Mr. Faithfull.—These engines are not so powerful as others which the company have. This is a level line. The Hastings is not so level, nor the London. There is an incline of 1 in 100 on the London line, and one of 1 in 88 on the Hastings. That is the reason why the more powerful engines are used on those lines. There are few inclines here. It does not require such strong engines here as there. Besides, on the London line the trains are much heavier than on this. For the work there is to do on this line, I consider Stephenson's engines as safe as the rest. I am not aware of any line in the kingdom where drivers are better paid than on the Brighton line. Many other lines pay less.

Mr. John Canning, of Finchdean, ironfounder, was a passenger in the train. When he got out of the train on its stopping, he saw deceased lying dead, The cause of the accident was, he thought, the breaking of one side of the coupling iron, which pulled the engine round like a horse with one rein.

Coroner.—That was my impression, but Peel, the driver, who was examined the other day, stated that such would not be the effect of the breakage of the coupling iron, as there were chains on each side.

Examined by Mr. Sherwood.—The part of the iron that was broken was sound. I dare say you have heard of bad lawyers. (Laughter.) We have also bad iron masters, and they don't care what iron they send us. Some of the iron in this engine was bad.

Coroner.—Would the company be blameable for that?—No.

Mr. William Wise, of Horndean, brewer and innkeeper, stated that he formerly kept the Railway Tavern, at Havant. Hesketh lodged there. He never heard him speak of No. 40 in particular; but he had heard him say that No. 40 was a bad engine. This was a month or two months before the accident. He never expressed any fear of driving the engine. Witness had ridden in a train drawn by this engine, and was not afraid of it. Never heard him talk of the engine being a steeple-chaser. He had never heard engine-driver call the engine a "long backed one", and say they did not like it.

Mr. Samuel Tee, farmer, of Redlands, Emsworth, said, he ahd never heard Hesketh speak of No. 40; but in a public-house at Emsworth, he heard a man say that he did not like No. 40.

Mr. Faithfull.—Really, Mr. Coroner, is this evidence? (Laughter.)

Mr. Blagden (deputy-coroner).—Do you know his name?

Witness.—They called him "Dick". (Laughter.)

Any other name?—I heard no other. (More laughter.)

John Williams, of Portsmouth, engine-cleaner, was called, but knew nothing about either the engine or the accident.

The animus of the jury may be understood from questions put by the foreman of the jury:—]

What were you before you were an engine-cleaner?—A sailor.

And had you no intermediate employment?—No.

Then you known nothing about the construction of an engine?—No. What do I want to know about that to clean an engine?

Captain Coddington here came forward, and produced a letter of instructions to himself and Captain Murray to make such an examination of the engines as might enable him to assist the inquiry at the adjourned inquest. He came to Brighton yesterday, and examined the engine at Brighton. Having been sworn,

Captain Coddington, Royal Engineers, Chief Inspector of Railways, appointed by the Government, said—I attend here today by order of the Government. I saw all the parts of the engine No. 40 yesterday, in company of Mr. Murray, another Government inspector. The engine was in the engine-house at the Brighton terminus. The parts were all good. There was no wearing or slackness indicating imperfection, except a cut in the flanges of the wheels, which was evidently the consequence, not the cause of the accident. The axle was hooped, in consequence of being slightly cracked. That strengthened the wheel. The engine is one of Stephenson's patent. Jones and Pott are the makers. That particular construction of engines caused them to be more elastic and oscillating, owing to there being much overhanging weight.

Deputy-coroner.—Lateral, or at the ends?—At both ends. Those engines are used on the North, and on the Dover line, and, I believe, others. The line was straight and nearly level, and I have not made an inspection which would enable me to give an opinion as to the cause of the accident. Captain Symonds has inspected this railway. I was never on it till to-day.

The Coroner asked whether it would be possibloe to avoid accidents by having a double flange?

Captain Coddington.—Quite possible; but I doubt the possibility of making a road for them. You might make such wheels running on a straight line, but the engine must run backwards and forwards. There could be no branches or sidings.

Coroner.—Would you attribute the accident to Stephenson's engine?—I don't think that that construction alone, without some other cause, led to the accident. It is possible there may  have been a defect in the roads. These engines are liable to more motion than others from the overhanging weight.

The Coroner called the attention of the witness to the cause of the accident suggested by Mr. Canning.

Captain Coddington replied that, supposing one side of the coupling-iron had broken, in the manner explained, the draught would still be in the centre, and, therefore, such fracture would not cause the accident.

To other questions Captain Coddington replied that the quantity of water in the boiler could have not effect on the jumping. The oscillation of Stephenson's engines was only felt when the speed was high. He did not think the driving of them required more care than the driving of other engines at a speed of 35 miles an hour, and, as the site of the accident was only a mile and a half from Bosham, where the train has stopped, he did not think the speed could have been so great as 35 miles an hour.

In reply to Mr Powell, the witness stated that this class of engines was constructed with outside cylinders, the object of which was to have the cylinders larger. There were disadvantages attending them, which he had pointed out, and the expected advantages had not been realized.

Then, to travel in the safest way possible, it is desirable not to use these engines?—The very safest travelling would be the very slowest. Every increase of speed involves an increase of danger.

Mr. T. Kirtley, the locomotive superintendent, was called and questioned relative to the discharge of Johnson.—He was suspended on the 15th of May; I suspended him for refusing to take the Peels down the line. On the following Monday he came for his money, and then retired without being discharged. Since that, a contractor on the Paris and Rouen Railway wrote for his character.

Coroner.—Did he ever refuse to drive No. 40.—No! I never heard a complaint.

Mr. Sherwood.—Was there not something paid to him besides his wages?—No.

Was there not 20l. paid to him?—I should hope not.

Never mind what you hope. Was 20l. paid to him?—There was not.

Mr. Miller, the surgeon who attends Peel, the stoker, stated that he was gradually recovering, and had conscious intervals, but it would be a month at least before he could be examined.

Mr. John Winter, superintendent of Mr. Stephenson's patent engines, deposed that he had seen the engine No. 40, at the Brighton terminus. It had been taken to pieces, with the exception of the springs, cylinders, and motion. I examined the springs, and find that they were not the same as they were when delivered to the company. Stephenson's leading and hind springs were three feet six inches but the springs of No. 40 had been applied to the engine after she came on the line. Those springs had been shortened 12 inches, which made them much more rigid. The centre springs were left as they were when delivered. The effect of the alteration would be to increase the jumping motion; and arising from it to create an oscillating motion. Mr. Kirtley had told him that he found these springs on the line when he came there; that he did not approve of the alteration; and that he intended to alter them back again. The alteration was made by Mr. Gray (Mr. Kirtley's predecessor) with a view of steadying the engine; but it unfortunately had an opposite effect. A similar alteration had been made in one other engine, which witness understood was now being altered back again by Mr. Kirtley. Witness added that he did not attribute the accident to these altered springs, although the alteration was prejudicial to the engine.

By a Juror.—I do not attribute the accident to the peculiar construction of Stephenson's engines. We have them running daily on the London and North-Western Railway at the speed of 45, 50, and even 55 miles and hour. I ran one yesterday myself at the rate of 55. The average speed is 45 and 50. I have also run one of these engines at 75 miles an hour.

Is the London and North-Western a level line?—No; a heavy line, 16 feet a mile rise, much of it. They are of the same construction as the engine No. 40, only with larger fire-boxes,

Examined by Mr. Powell.—The machinery of No. 40 was in very good condition; the only objection that I saw was a little lateral motion in one of the journals of the leading wheels. I examined the rails, and could see nothing to give me an idea of the cause of the accident. Many similar accidents have occurred with all sorts of engines, and have been entirely unaccounted for.

The Coroner then announced that the inquest was adjourned till Tuesday, the 3d of August.

The Times, Wednesday. Jun 23, 1847; pg. 5; Issue 19583; col E

Note: Thomas Kirtley died on 16th November later this year from a brain tumour.

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