It is not certain that the following report relates to 'our' Lane Fox as there were other (related) Lane Foxes in the British Army.  See, for example, Sackville Walter Lane Fox who had joined the Grenadier Guards in January 1814 and retired in 1822, as recorded in a brass plaque at Tollard Royal church. The London Gazette issue 20 May 1836 reported his promotion to Captain. I presume that Sackville is the person of the same name who was born in 1797 and died in 1874 and became a Conservative MP from 1832-1835 and 1840-1, and from 1842. He was Augustus Lane Fox's uncle (younger brother of his father). It could not have been his father, William Augustus Lane Fox who also served in the Grenadier Guards as he died in 1832.

However, given that the Guards regiment had, at this time, rank 'creep': which is to say that they were addressed by the rank above the one they actually held, it is possible (but unlikely, given the date) that it was in fact Augustus Lane Fox rather than Sackville. The report might also have been inaccurate about the rank.

Our thanks to Dan Hicks for pointing this extract out to us.

Consultation of a diary for 1847 suggests that the accident happened on Monday 11 January 1847.

Extract from the Derby Mercury of 13 January 1847, re-printing the Brighton Gazette's account of the instance:

Railway Accidents

... Accident on the Brighton Line

On Monday morning the express train, which left Brighton at a quarter before nine o'clock with a considerable number of passengers, proceeded safely at its usual pace till after it had passed the station at Stoat's Nest, [1] when the passengers in the first carriage adjoining the luggage-box were alarmed by an unusual jolting and gradual sinking of the carriage, and the passengers in the third were even more so, on finding the wheels protrude through the bottom of the carriage. One gentleman had the presence of mind to lower the widows [sic, presumably windows?] and advise his companions to retain their seats. Some of the passengers of the back carriages, when going over the fragments of the broken axle-trees and wheels of the foremost carriage, felt a continual bumping, and their alarm was increased by seeing portions of the carriages fly over the embankment; but the whole of the passengers kept their seats till the train was stopped. It appears that just after the train had passed Stoat's Nest, the axle-tree and the wheels of the first carriage broke away, and the carriage was lowered to the ground; but it was still attached to the other carriages by the coupling chains, which fortunately did not give way, or the consequences might have been very serious. Owing to the accident to the first carriage, the second and third carriages were dragged off the line. Happily, the accident was immediately observed by the guard, who put on the break, [sic] when the engine-driver, finding the progress of the train retarded, looked back, and seeing the position of the carriages, gradually and with great judgment shut off the steam, and stopped the train in perfect safety, on an embankment about 25 feet high. The engine-driver, Robert Clark, who has been in the service of the company a considerable time, is deserving of great praise for the coolness and intrepidity which he displayed. The first carriage was off the rail on the right-hand side, the body resting on the ground, and the wheels and axle-tree being completely gone; the second and third carriages were also off the rail on the left-hand side. As soon as the train was stopped, one of the guards was sent back with a red flag, to prevent a collision with any other train. The three broken carriages were left behind; and the remainder of the train was taken back to Stoat's Nest Station, when, after some delay, it was taken on to London, reaching town one hour and ten minutes after its time. Mr Rowland Hill, Mr Peter Clarke, Captain Laws (connected with the Birmingham line), Sir Harry Dent Goring, Colonel Lane Fox, Mr Cordy, and Mr. F. Cooper, were in the train when the accident happened.--Brighton Gazette.


[1] Stoat's Nest: Coulsdon North station, opened by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway Company as Stoat's Nest and Cane Hill in 1841. Following another, more serious, accident in January 1910 it was renamed Coulsdon and Smitham Downs, in 1923 it was renamed Coulsdon West and then less than a month later renamed Coulsdon North. The station was infrequently used from the 1960s and finally closed in the 1980s. See here and here for more information.


Transcribed by AP April 2012


prm logo