Harrison’s Train Alarm
The first form of train alarm apparatus as
required by the Regulation of Railways Act 1868 was the ‘Harrison cord system’
(devised by T.E. Harrison of the North Eastern Railway
which involved a cord threaded through rings running along the top of the carriage sides.
In an emergency, should a passenger wish to attract the attention of the train crew he was obliged to lower the compartment window (remembering that the cord was only connected up on the right hand side in the direction of travel) and grope about on the roof for the cord. When pulled this was supposed to sound a supplementary whistle on the locomotive and ring a bell in the guard’s brake van.
Harrison’s system was adopted by the LNWR in 1869, but in practice it left a great deal to be desired, and it was condemned by the Board of Trade in 1893. However, it was not until October 1899 that the LNWR began to change over to the modern system which applies the brakes directly by admitting air to the vacuum braking system.
The Harrison system ceased to be used around 1903, but the brass rings along the carriage cornice remained in position on older carriages for many years.