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The report into the collision and subsequent bridge collapse at Lewisham which killed 90 people, and accelerated the introduction of the Automatic Warning System (AWS) to protect against such collisions.
This document was published on 15th June 1958 by Her Majesty's Stationery Office.
It was written by Brigadier C. A. Langley.
This item is linked to the Accident at Lewisham on 4th December 1957
The original document format was Stapled Book, and comprised 37 pages.
This document was kindly sourced from Wobbly Bob and is in our Accident reports collection. It was added to the Archive on 25th July 2005.
This document is Crown Copyright, and is subject to the terms governing the reproduction of crown copyright material. Depending on the status and age of the original document, you may need an OPSI click-use license if you wish to reproduce this material, and other restrictions may apply. Please see this explanation for further details.
"In the prevailing dense fog, in which the trains were running very late, the 4.56 p.m. express passenger train from Cannon Street to Ramsgate, via Folkestone, formed of 11 bogie coaches hauled by a "Pacific" type engine, passed the Red aspect of the Down Through colour light inner home signal of St. Johns signal box, and then after travelling 138 yards it collided at about 30 m.p.h. with the rear of the 5.18 p.m. 10-coach electric passenger train from Charing Cross to Hayes (Mid Kent line) which was standing at the Parks Bridge Junction colour light home signal.
The air brakes of the electric train had been applied to hold it stationary on the rising gradient. As a consequence, the shock of the collision was more severe than it otherwise would have been, and the whole of the body of the eighth coach was destroyed when the underframe and body of the ninth coach were forced over and through it. In the Ramsgate train the rear of the engine tender and the front of the leading coach were crushed together and thrown to the left by the sudden stoppage, most unfortunately striking and dislodging a steel middle column supporting two of the four heavy girders of a bridge which carried the Nunhead-Lewisham double fine over the four main tracks.
The two girders subsided at once on to the train below completing the destruction of the leading coach and crushing the second coach and the leading half of the third. About two minutes later, the 5.22 p.m. 8-coach electric train from Holborn Viaduct to Dartford, which was moving slowly on to the bridge towards a signal at Red, was stopped very promptly by the motorman when he saw the girders at an angle; this train was neither derailed nor damaged, but the leading coach was tilted...
Owing to the disorganisation of the train services by the fog, both the trains were crowded, and it is estimated that there were nearly 1,500 passengers in the electric train and about 700 in the steam train. It was inevitable in these circumstances that the casualty list was very great, and I much regret to state that 90 persons altogether lost their lives; 88 passengers and the guard of the electric train were killed outright, and one passenger died later of his injuries. Of the 89 fatalities to passengers, there is evidence that 37 occurred in the electric train and 49 in the steam train."
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