March 1900

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1900) Contents]

Fatal Result of an Accident

   Thomas Aytoun, fireman, who resided at Polmadie, and who was seriously injured on the railway near Motherwell Station, has died from the effects of his injuries in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Motherwell Times, Friday 2nd March, 1900.

   A QUESTION AS TO ANSTRUTHER STATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. – In the House of Commons on Monday, Mr Dalziel asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the recommendations of his Department, embodied in a report by the late Major Marindin, issued in January 1897, as to the necessity of properly laying out Anstruther Station, on the North British Railway system, so as to afford the usual facilities for passing trains and avoid needless danger of life and property, had yet been carried out; and whether the provision of a second platform at this station, as suggested by the Board of Trade Inspector, had been made, and if not, what steps he intended to take to make the Company carry out the recommendations? Mr Ritchie – No, sir. I regret to learn from the Company that the Directors have not come to a decision as to the alterations at the station. The Board cannot compel the Company to make these desirable alterations, but I am in communication with the Company on the subject. 

– East of Fife Record, Friday 2nd March, 1900, p.4.

   FATAL ACCIDENT AT BURNTISLAND. – A shocking accident occurred on Saturday night at the new level crossing which gives access to the Lammerlaws from the town, over the dock service railway. One of the dock workmen, named Wm. Baxter, was making his way to his lodgings at the Lammerlaws huts when a mineral train approached. The crossingkeeper, observing the man’s danger, rushed to warn him, but Baxter, unheeding the warning, held forward and was caught by the buffer of the engine and thrown down. In passing over him, the locomotive was thrown off the metals after it had severed the man’s head from the trunk, causing instant death. Baxter was about forty years of age. 

– The Scotsman, Monday 5th March, 1900, p.6.



   Yesterday morning the body of Mr James Close, Kirkland Cottages, Glengarnock, was discovered lying on the Glasgow and South-Western Railway line to the south of Davidshill Bridge, near Kilburnie, shockingly mangled. A book belonging to the British Legal Life Assurance Society, of which deceased was assistant-superintendent, enabled the body to be identified. It is supposed that Mr Close had missed the last train from Dalry on the previous night, and had started to walk home along the line, when he was run down by the 10 p.m. train from Glasgow, the driver of which, it is stated, did not know that an accident had taken place till he reached Ayr. The night was very foggy. Deceased was well known throughout North Ayrshire. He was 59 years of age, and leaves a widow and six of a family. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Friday 9th March, 1900, p.2.


   Railway accidents are so rare in Holland that an average of only one death a year results from them throughout the entire country. 

– Leith Burghs Pilot, Saturday 10th March, 1900, p.6.


   Early this morning, while the 4.40 goods train was entering Cambuslang Station, three waggons at the rear end of the train went off the rails, and drew a large part of the platform coping along with it. The rails were bent, and the permanent way for about 50 yards damaged to such an extent that it had wholly to be relifted. A large squad of workmen were soon on the scene, and cleared the down line, which was in working order about two hours afterwards, allowing the trains to work single line. The up line by nine o’clock was also in working order, but from the time of the accident passenger traffic was completely disorganised. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 12th March, 1900, p.2.



   On Saturday afternoon John McSkimming, an engine-driver, who resided at Railway Blocks, Hurlford, was accidentally killed near Auchinleck. While on duty as driver of a mineral train he was on the tender of the engine, when his foot slipped, and he fell, his head striking the footplate. Death was instantaneous. Deceased, who was an elderly man, and a widower, resided with a married daughter, his family being all grown up. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Monday 12th March, 1900, p.3.


   On Tuesday a rather serious accident occurred at Dingwall Railway Station. Alexander Mitchell (16), goods clerk, son of Mr Mitchell, blacksmith, Littlemill, Nairn, while crossing the rails, got his foot caught in a check rail, and before he could withdraw it a waggon being shunted off from a goods train passed over his leg. He was removed to the hospital, and died in the evening from the shock of his injuries, which were severe. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 14th March, 1900, p.5.








   This morning a smash occurred on the railway between Fife Coal Company’s pit at Kirkford and the junction at Cowdenbeath, with the result that an engine-driver was killed and considerable damage done to rolling stock. The railway from the pit to Cowdenbeath is downhill, and it appears that early in the morning the colliery engine started from the pit with a heavy race of loaded waggons. In going down the incline the brakes seemed to fail to operate, and in taking the turn at No. 7 Pit, Cowdenbeath, the engine left the metals, and engine and waggons went crashing through a weighing-house. The engine-driver, named Richard Lumsden, a resident of Fordell village, was killed on the spot. The fireman saw the danger of the crash at an early stage, and leapt off the engine and escaped with only some bruises. The weighman who is stationed at the weighing-house had just left his post as the train came forward, and he escaped with some cuts about the head from some of the debris. The permanent way was torn up for a considerable distance. The engine was wrecked, and the waggons lie a huge heap of wreckage. Squads of men are at work clearing up the wreckage. The smash took place at a point a considerable distance from the main railway, and the general traffic will not be interfered with. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 14th March, 1900, p.5.



   Alex. Mitchell, goods clerk at Dingwall, who, as reported, met with an accident on the railway, died in Ross Memorial Hospital there yesterday from the results of the injuries he sustained. Mitchell, as stated yesterday, got his foot caught in a check rail on Tuesday morning, and before he could release it a waggon had passed over it. At first it was thought he would come round all right. Deceased had only been a week in Dingwall. He was the son of Mr Mitchell, blacksmith, Littlemill, Nairn. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Thursday 15th March, 1900, p.2.

   SERIOUS RAILWAY SMASH. – A serious railway collision took place yesterday forenoon at Motherwell Railway Station, as many as 24 passengers being more or less injured thereby. It seems that the 10.15 a.m. train express Glasgow for Lanark was standing in the station when from some cause that is at present not very clear, it was dashed into from the rear by an engine that was working a ballast train on the same line. The effect of the collision was that one or two carriages of the passenger were telescoped, and one or two thrown off the rails. The line, in consequence, was blocked for over an hour, but a flying squad of workmen soon arrived in response to an urgent call addressed to the Caledonian offices in Glasgow, and they quickly cleared the rails. Thereafter, the traffic was resumed without more interruption. Among those injured are the following:- Inspector Cunningham, Caledonian Railway, Motherwell, shock; Mr Robertson, Burnhouse Weighs, Mossend, slight bruise on the head; John Letham, iron merchant, Coatbridge, shock; A. McMillan, Stevenson Park, Carluke, slight shock; Lloyd Hamilton, of Chalmers & Ormiston, Coatbridge; R. C. Fowlis, Brandon Street, Motherwell, slight shock; John Shirlaw, of Messrs R. Y. Pickering & Co., Wishaw, shock. 

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 17th March, 1900, p.4.



   A railway collision which resulted in considerable damage to rolling stock occurred early on Monday morning near Aberdeen Joint Station. The traffic to the South and Deeside was greatly disorganised in consequence of the main lines being blocked, but the service was maintained by a single line. The accident took place at Deeburn Junction South. In crossing the facing line at this point on its way to the goods yard a Caledonian milk train from Stonehaven and a train of empty carriages which was being shunted out of the station collided. The train from Stonehaven had been slowed down, but seeing that a collision was inevitable the driver and fireman jumped off the engine and were uninjured. The engine, which was being run tender first, was derailed and greatly damaged, the waggon next to it was demolished, but the van sustained comparatively little damage. The guard fortunately escaped unhurt. The train of empty carriages, consisting of 13 coaches belonging to the Caledonian and North British Railway Companies, suffered most by the collision. Two of the Caledonian carriages were overturned, one was derailed, and another, which received the full impact of the collision, was smashed to pieces. The rails at the point where the collision occurred were twisted, but the permanent way was too seriously damaged. Breakdown squads were sent to the scene of the accident from the workshops of the Caledonian Railway Company at Ferryhill, and of the Great North of Scotland Railway Company at Kittybrewster, and the lines were cleared and repaired or traffic early in the afternoon. Mr Charles Smith, district manager of the Caledonian Railway Company, and other officers were present soon after the collision occurred and superintended the operations of clearing the line and conducting the traffic. 

– Kinross-shire Advertiser, Saturday 17th March, 1900, p.3.

   STRANRAER. – WOMAN KILLED ON THE RAILWAY. – Yesterday a distressing fatality occurred on the railway line a few hundred yards from the station. Miss Annie Johnston, housekeeper at Aird Donald Parks, was crossing the line at the level crossing which leads to the farm, when she was knocked down by the incoming Caledonian passenger train due about noon, and sustained dreadful injuries, which caused death instantaneously.

– Glasgow herald, Wednesday 21st March, 1900, p.5.



   An accident of a serious nature befell John Potter, foreman platelayer in the employment of the Caledonian Railway Company, on the arrival yesterday afternoon of the 2.35 train from Dubton. Potter, who had been crossing the line outside the station, had not observed the approaching train, and, it is supposed, had been caught by the right foot. His leg was severely injured, and he also sustained slight injuries about the head. He was taken to the house of Dr Soutar, where his wounds were attended to. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Thursday 22nd March, 1900, p.4.


   John Potter, foreman platelayer, who met with a shocking accident at the Caledonian Railway Station, Montrose, yesterday afternoon, died between one and two o’clock this morning in the house of Dr Soutar, to whose surgery he had been removed. His right leg had to be amputated, and he received serious internal injuries. Deceased, who belongs to St Cyrus, was 43 years of age. He was twice married, and leaves a widow and a large young family. He was held in high respect by his fellow employees, and the deepest sympathy is felt throughout the town and district for his wife and family. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Thursday 22nd March, 1900, p.2.


   One cannot visit Old and New Prestwick without being struck by the activity presently existing in the building trade; but as I walked Ayr-ward I saw so many “To Sell” tickets on glass and glassless windows that I am just afraid that many persons have been building on “spec.” But go no further than the station. Prestwick is likely to have a commodious and convenient one, and it is to be hoped that the plans are such that an overhead carriage bridge will be erected to the north of the station. The present bridge immediately south of the station is a standing disgrace. There is a dip down to it, and as the breadth permits of only one vehicle to pass under at a time, and as the old station buildings are so constructed that a train gives no warning either to driver or horses of its approach, the consequence has been that numerous accidents have happened. – Amongst those who have had a narrow escape being Lord Rutherford Clark and Sir James Gibson Craig. The golfers, of course, are adverse to a bridge being placed to the north of the station, as they desire to maintain the already easy access to the course. Prestwick having extended shoreward, there is a great want of an overhead carriage bridge between the antiquated one at the station and Kingcase, which is half a mile away. 

– North British Daily Mail, Friday 23rd March, 1900, p.2.

   FORT-WILLIAM. – FATAL RESULT OF A BURNING ACCIDENT. – John Gilday, a workman in the employment of James Young (Limited), contractors for the Invergarry and Fort-Augustus Railway, died in the Belford Hospital, Fort-William, last night as the result of a burning accident during the previous night. He had been left in charge of a locomotive near Alltrua, and during his watch, finding the engine fire low, he was in the act of throwing some naphtha on the fire, when his clothes became ignited, and he was shockingly burned. Deceased, who was about 24 years of age, was believed to belong to Broughty Ferry. 

– Glasgow Herald, Saturday 24th March, 1900, p.5.

   DISTRESSING RAILWAY FATALITY. – On Monday last an accident of a distressing character occurred on the railway at Manuel Station, by which a man named John Scullion, aged 47 years, and residing in Linlithgow, lost his life. The deceased, who was employed as a surfaceman, had, after having taken his dinner, been proceeding, along with some other men, towards the station. They required to cross the railway, and it was while doing this that the sad fatality occurred. It appears that a mineral train had been engaged in shunting operations in the vicinity of the station, that the train came up unobserved by the deceased, who was knocked down and run over. He was seriously injured about the legs and head, and though not killed instantaneously, he succumbed to his injuries while being conveyed to Linlithgow Railway Station shortly afterwards. The deceased, who resided with his sons in Linlithgow, was of a quiet and unobtrusive disposition, and was much respected by those who knew him. It may be mentioned that on the accident occurring first aid was rendered by the members of the Manuel Station Ambulance Class. 

– Falkirk Herald, Saturday 24th March, 1900, p.7.



   Robert Taylor, station agent, Dyce, Aberdeenshire, had both his legs terribly crushed this morning. It appears that he was standing on the platform taking to a passenger of the 8.35 train from Keith, when his foot accidentally slipped, and he fell among the carriage wheels as the train was leaving the station. He was conveyed to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, and it is feared that both legs will have to be amputated. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Monday 26th March, 1900, p.4.

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT HAMILTON – TWO MEN KILLED AND ONE INJURED. – Yesterday morning an unfortunate accident happened on the west side of Hamilton Central Railway Station, resulting in the death of two men and the injury of another, the whole of them being platelayers. Owing to the mineral subsidences there have been numerous accidents to trains within the last few months, and the scene of the present accident has for a long time occupied the attention of the platelaying staff of the Caledonian Railway Company. Latterly they have been erecting new signals. All Sunday a staff of several hundred men were engaged completely relaying the permanent way, and they left behind them yesterday morning a number of men to complete their work, amongst them being the victims of the present mishap. They were engaged at the Orchard Street bridge, and in stepping aside to avoid a mineral train two men were knocked down by a passenger train of four carriages which was coming down the incline from the goods yard. James Manning (33), Back of Barns, Hamilton, and Richard Hamilton (25), Drygate Street, Larkhall, were found after the train had passed lying on the rails horribly mangled. They were at once removed to the platform, where they were attended by Drs Kerr and J. R. Watson, who dressed their injuries, after which they were both conveyed by special train to Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Hamilton died in the course of the journey, while Manning succumbed to his injuries in the infirmary. A third man, Charles Friese, was injured by a portion of one of the carriages while trying to draw the attention of the driver to the accident which was by this time apparently imminent. He is a foreman platelayer, and resides at Coats Land, Blantyre. He was injured on the back. 

– Glasgow Herald, Tuesday 27th March, 1900, p.4.






   Our Glasgow correspondent wires this morning:- A terrible railway smash took place this morning at Charing Cross, Glasgow, to the workmen’s train in connection with Singer’s works at Kilbowie. It appears that the train which leaves at 5.45 from Queen Street, was on its way, but when at Charing Cross something went wrong with the first carriage, and the train had to be brought to a standstill. The next train being pretty close to it, ran right into it, and the result was something dreadful. The carriages were completely telescoped. It is stated that there are several killed and many injured. 

   Another correspondent telegraphs:-  A serious accident occurred at Charing Cross Station early this morning. A workmen’s train collided with another workmen’s train. Three coaches were telescoped. Both trains were crowded, and a large number of workmen were injured.





   The following are further particulars of the railway accident this morning:- The accident occurred at Charing Cross Station on the N.B. Railway. A Clydebank workmen’s train was standing at the platform when another workmen’s train dashed into it from the rear. Three carriages of the stationary train were telescoped. The coaches were filled with passengers, and a large number of them were injured, many severely. So far as is known at present no one has been killed. The guard of the stationary train hearing the train coming on endeavoured to stop it. He was caught in the wreckage and badly injured.



   The Central News Glasgow correspondent telegraphing later says:- The supposition that no one was killed in the railway accident this morning is not borne out. Among the wreck have been found three dead bodies.

   The total number of injured is 17.

   The number of injured was 17, and 14 have been removed to the infirmary.

   Of the killed, one was taken from the wreckage dead. The other two expired on the way to the hospital. The injuries of the wounded are very severe, several having fractured limbs and skulls.



   Telegraphing later, a correspondent says:- The facts of the collision are these:- A heavily-laden train, conveying several hundred workmen from Bridgeton Cross to Kilbowie to the works of Singer & Co., sewing machine manufacturers, was passing through the tunnel, two miles long, when something went wrong with the Westinghouse brake, and the train was brought to a standstill. In the darkness a second workmen’s train had pulled up at the mouth of the tunnel at Queen’s Street, as the signal was against it. It was stated that the Queen Street signalman telephoned to Charing Cross asking the cause of the delay, and that he received the reply, “Line clear.” He therefore allowed the second train to pass into the tunnel, and this train, on nearing the centre, dashed into the rear of the standing train. The guard’s van and three rear carriages were smashed, the wreckage being piled up to the roof of the tunnel. The greatest consternation ensued, as the tunnel was black as night. The men who had escaped lit matches and candles, which they usually carried with them, and the injured were speedily aided by their fellow-travellers. Some of the men meanwhile hastened along the tunnel, and doctors and ambulances were soon in attendance. Both lines were blocked, and the work of rescue was most difficult owing to the confined nature of the scene of the disaster. The men set to work at once to pull away the debris, and in this they were exposed to not a little danger owing to escape of steam from the engine of the second train. Six of the injured were conveyed to the Royal Infirmary and eight to the Western, while others were able to go home. The accident would have been much more serious but for the speed regulations laid down whilst travelling through the tunnel, as the trains were packed. The driver of the second train did all possible to minimise the impact when he saw the rear red lights of the first train, but the accident was practically a thing of the moment. The names of the killed and injured are up to the present withheld by the railway officials. 



   A fourth death has now to be recorded, the names of the killed being:- 

   John McGill (18), cabinetmaker, 122 Garngad Road. 

   Frank Connor (20), labourer, 70 Garngad Hill. 

   Thomas Rodger (17), labourer, 6 Bright Street, Townhead. 

   Alexander Moore (17), 9 Balmand Street. 





   The cause of the accident is under investigation, and no definite explanation can yet be given by the authorities, but the allegation is that James Rentoul, the signalman at Charing Cross, signalled the line “clear” for the second train, apparently having failed to observe that the preceding train had not passed the station. Rentoul was taken to the Western Police Office, where he had been detained while inquiries are being made. Mr James N. Hart, the Procurator-Fiscal, proceeded in the forenoon to the scene of the disaster, and made official investigation into the circumstances.



   When the news of the accident became known a large number of men and women from all parts of the city, especially from the East End, where so many of the Kilbowie employees reside, called at the offices of the Company in Queen Street to inquire whether any of their friends were killed or injured. At times they simply entered the building in crowds, and so great was their number that they were admitted in batches into Mr Cunningham’s room, where several officials were entrusted with the task of answering questions. Anxiety was written on their faces as they made inquiries, and when the reply was satisfactory there were evident signs of relief. Several women, on hearing that their dear ones were included in the lists, completely broke down, and had to receive assistance before they were able to leave.

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 28th March, 1900, p.3.

   FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT INQUIRY. – An enquiry into the circumstances attending the death of Alexander Thurburn Mitchell, goods clerk at Dingwall Station, and who died from the effects of a railway accident at Dingwall Station, on 13th March, was held in Dingwall Sheriff Court, by Sheriff-Depute Howden and a jury, on Monday. The principal witness was Dr Pender Smith, on the 13th he was called to the Ross Memorial Hospital, and found the deceased there suffering from serious injuries, to which he attended. The lad died at ten o’clock the same night from severe lacerated and contused wounds on the right leg, probable internal injury, and shock. Three witnesses connected with the railway – Robert Murray, lorryman; James Ross, clerk; and Finlay Davidson, clerk – explained their surmises as to how the accident happened, nobody having actually seen it. It appears that some shunting was going on in a siding near the goods shed. The deceased went out to go to the station with some invoices for the Skye train. On his way he had to cross a set of rails. It was conjectured that while crossing the rails he observed a train of wagons being shunted back in his direction, and that he made a spring back to avoid them. In doing so his foot must have slipped down between the rail and a check rail, and before he could extricate it the wheel of the first wagon had struck his leg and knocked him down, passing over his foot. This surmise was borne out by the fact of the lad’s boot being found, much torn and marked, jammed between the rail and the check rail, the laces having been burst and the foot crushed out of the boot. As the engine engaged in the shunting was at the south side of the goods shed, neither the marshalman nor the engine-driver could observe what had occurred. The jury unanimously found that the deceased sustained serious injuries by being run over by the wheels of a railway wagon on the railway, near the goods shed at Dingwall Railway Station, on the 13th March, 1900, and that he died in the Ross Memorial Hospital about a quarter past ten o’clock on the evening of that day from severe lacerated and contused wounds on the right leg, probable internal injuries, and shock. The unfortunate youth was only 15 years old, and was a son of Alexander Mitchell, blacksmith, Invermill, Nairn.

– Northern Chronicle and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland, Wednesday 28th March, 1900, p.7.





   The dead body of a man dressed in the uniform of a Seaforth Highlander was found late last night lying on the North British Railway near Cowdenbeath. The back of the head was badly smashed, the brains protruding. Deceased was supposed to have been a passenger by the eight train from Perth to Edinburgh, and he must have fallen out of the carriage. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Thursday 29th March, 1900, p.2.







   James Rintoul, signalman, was to-day remitted to the Sheriff on a charge of culpable and reckless conduct – that, being signalman at Charing Cross, he allowed two trains to collide in the tunnel, causing the death of six people and injuries to twenty-three others. 

   Rintoul felt his position very keenly. 

   This morning John McIntyre, a mechanic, of Rotten Row, Glasgow, who received serious injuries in yesterday’s disastrous collision at Glasgow, succumbed to his injuries. This makes the sixth death in connection with the catastrophe. 

   On Making inquiry at the Glasgow Western Infirmary last evening, it was ascertained that a fifth death had taken place, Thomas Carroll, who was taken to that institution suffering from fracture of both legs and an arm, having succumbed to his injuries. Wm. Mills and John Kirkwood were reported to be suffering severely from shock to the system, besides injuries to the legs and arms, and the doctors considered that the men were not yet out of danger. At the Royal Infirmary, where most of the patients were under treatment, no further deaths were reported, and the injured were said to be progressing favourably. 


   Colonel Yorke, inspector of the Board of Trade, will hold an inquiry into the circumstances attending the accident to-morrow. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Thursday 29th March, 1900, p.2.


   The dead body found on the railway near Cowdenbeath on Wednesday night has been identified as that of David Small, a Royal reservist, who resided at Ingliston Street, Edinburgh. Deceased was one of thirty or forty reservists who were travelling from Fort-George to Edinburgh. He was seen to fall out of the railway carriage near Cowdenbeath, and his companions gave information to the railway authorities on the arrival of the train at Edinburgh. Deceased was 41 years of age. He was married, and leaves a widow, who identified the body last night. 

– Dundee Courier, Saturday 31st March, 1900, p.6.






   At Lumphinnins Colliery Siding, near Cowdenbeath last night James Innes, a boy of two years of age, son of James Innes, engine-driver, was run over by a train of waggons and fatally injured. The boy had been playing about the siding when shunting was going on. A sad feature about the accident was the fact that the engine was driven by the lad’s father. The father saw people running at the rear of the train, and on coming up to the scene of the accident found his own son so badly injured that he died within an hour.

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Saturday 31st March, 1900, p.4.

   SHOCKING FATALITY TO DYCE STATIONMASTER. – A serious accident which terminated fatally, occurred on Monday at Dyce Station on the Great North of Scotland Railway. While standing on the platform talking with a passenger in a train from Keith, Robert Taylor, the Stationmaster, accidentally slipped and fell below the wheels of a carriage just as the train was starting. On being conveyed to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary it was found that his legs had been terribly crushed. Both limbs were amputated below the knee, but Mr Taylor succumbed early on Tuesday morning. Mr Taylor, who was 50 years of age, had been in the service of the Great North of Scotland Railway Company for about 25 years. Before being appointed station agent at Dyce five or six years ago, he had acted in a similar capacity at Bucksburn and Craigellachie. He is survived by seven of a family, his eldest son, Alexander, being stationmaster at Cairnie. 

– Aberdeen People’s Journal, Saturday 31st March, 1900, p.8.

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