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Birmingham New Street Station: lnwrbns_str417b

Close up with two unidentified Midland locomotives standing on the centre road and the cantilevered LNWR signal over the platform

Close up of image 'lnwrbns_str417' showing two unidentified Midland locomotives standing on the centre road and the cantilevered LNWR signal over the platform. The locomotives are probably a Midland 2-2-2 'Single' on the right with a Midland 2-4-0 coupled to its tender. The LNWR signal has been cantilevered out from the wall to reduce station clutter and is located at this point rather than on the footbridge because the platform could accommodate two trains at the same time, the signal protecting the West end of the platform. The arrangement was however to prove fallible and at 4 25pm on 26th November 1921 the 2 10pm Bristol to Sheffield express ran into the rear of the late running 4 12pm Birmingham to Derby local passenger service killing three people and injuring another 24 people.

Midland locomotives were driven with the driver standing on the right-hand side of the cab and because of the angle of approach and the bend of the platform he needed the fireman to pass onto him the state of the signal. A misheard call resulted in the express being driven at sufficient speed to come to rest at the far end of the platform and consequently hit the rear of the local. Despite the driver being blamed for the accident for not confirming the position of the signal himself, Colonel Pringle, the Inspecting Officer, did recognise that the station was a very difficult one to work and the few accidents demonstrated the care and attention exercised by the men.

His two criticisms focused on improving the sighting of the signal and the practice of allowing long trains to enter partly occupied platforms when there was insufficient room for the full length of the train. The latter remark reflecting that the express was three coaches too long to stop at the signal and needed to occupy part of the Eastern half of the platform. The sighting problem was addressed by the installation in 1924 of special colour signals (see image 'lnwrbns_lms1875') which remained until the station was rebuilt in the 1960s.