The accident near Beckenham, on the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway, on Sunday last

The accident near Beckenham, on the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway, on Sunday last. Source: Illustrated London News 1866. [Click on the image to produce a larger picture.]

Article beneath the engraving and on the following page

On Sunday morning a rather alarming accident, which caused the loss of one life, look place on the mainline of the London, Chatham horn, and Dover Railway, within a short distance of Beckenham, Kent. It is necessary to explain that, between one and two miles from Beckenham a stream crosses the track of the rmLwny, and is spanned by a girder bridge upen lofty piers of brick and stone. On one aide of the stream are plowed fields and on the other osier-beds. The snow which fell during Thursday and Friday week covered these fields to a considerable depth. The rain which fell on Saturday has melted the snow, and not only swelled the stream, but saturated the ground on each side of it and sapped the foundations of the bridge. No indications of weakness, however, were observable. The midnight passenger-train from London passed over the bridge in safety within two hours of the time when the whole structure fell down, and the train next following waa destroyed. At half past one o'clock on Sunday morning a goods-train, consisting of an engine and tender, thirteen trucks, and a break-van [sic] left Battersea station for Ramsgate. It arrived at the bridge over the brook, and here the disaster took place. The engine got on and nearly crossed the bridge, which is about 40 ft. is length, when an immense mass of the farther pier gave way and fell heavily into the stream. The girder bridge thus deprived of its support at one end appeared to swing out sideways, and then fell with a terrific crash into the stream, bringing with it the engine and the tender and the whole of the train, all hurled pell-mell to tne bottom of the stream. The engine-driver, before the engine touched the ground, leaped from it into the ploughed field. He was severely shaken, but he escaped with his life, though the height from which the engine fell is about 40 ft. The fireman was not so fortunate; he clung to the rail of the engine, and, the tender falling on it, he was crushed to death. Soon after daybreak gangs of workmen were hurried to the spot to remove the ruins. Half the girders of the bridge were found to be smashed to atoms, and half the pier was destroyed. The engine and tender were entirely smashed. Over them were piled the remains of some trucks to a considerable height. In the stream and in the fields around lay the merchandise with which the train had been laden.

Our Illustration, from a sketch taken on the spot, will give some notion of this scene.


“Fall of a railway bridge at Beckenham.” Illustrated London News. 48 (24 January 1866): 69-70. Hathi Trust Digital Library version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 23 December 2015.

Last modified 24 December 2015