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April 1900

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1900) Contents]




   Perth Station and its vicinity was the scene of a number of accidents between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Shortly after eight o’clock on Saturday night, while John Hall, tailor, residing at 126 Murraygate, Dundee, but who had been working in Falkirk, was attempting to join the 8.5 express for Dundee, while the train was in motion at the Dundee platform of the Perth General Station, he slipped and fell between the moving carriages and the platform, the result being that his left foot was severely crushed. He was at once removed to the Infirmary by the Joint Station Ambulance Corps by Messrs Kellock, Cobban, and John Smith, where it was found necessary to amputate his left foot above the ankle. 



   Early yesterday morning while James Callum, assistant superintendent of the permanent way, residing in the cottage adjoining the permanent way office, Dovecotland, sustained an accident while examining Moncreiffe Tunnel. The tunnel is examined periodically, and during his examination some heavy weight fell on him, and he sustained severe injuries to his back and other parts of his body. He was attended by Dr Macaulay, and afterwards conveyed to his home. It is not expected that any serious consequences will follow. 



   While the through goods train from Aberdeen to Glasgow was standing at the Perth General Station about one o’clock yesterday morning taking in water for the engine, another goods engine and van crashed into the rear of the train, the result being that three waggons were derailed. The driver had not noticed the rear of the train, but fortunately the impact was not attended with anything more serious than the derailing of the three waggons. The station staff succeeded in putting matters right, and comparatively little damage was caused. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Monday 2nd April, 1900, p.2.


   A railway shunter named Bernard Brady, Dobbie’s Loan, Glasgow, sustained severe internal injuries yesterday morning through an accident at Bellshaugh siding, near the Caledonian Railway Station at Maryhill. Brady attempted to pass between the end of a carriage which was being backed into the siding and a stationary carriage, in order to attend to the couplings, but was caught between the buffers and severely crushed. He was removed to the Western Infirmary, Glasgow. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 4th April, 1900, p.4.


   The Bill intended to aid the prevention of railway accidents which the President of the Board of Trade has introduced in the House of Commons is not by any means a revolutionary measure, but the fact that it has been welcomed by the representatives of the railway men and men like Mr JOHN BURNS, may be taken as indicating that the measure gives promise of practical reform. The record of 500 men killed and 12,000 injured year by year on our railways ought certainly to compel improvement, but the reform movement has been very slow, mainly because the vested interests are very powerful, and it is cheaper to waste men than to spend money upon the equipment required for the proper safeguarding of the railway. The Bill, which is the outcome of a Royal Commission under the able Chairmanship of Lord JAMES, empowers the Board of Trade to make rules with the object of reducing or removing the dangers and risks incidental to railway service. As the schedule in the Bill includes the all-important points of “brake levers on both sides of waggons,” “steam brakes on engines,” “lighting of stations and sidings where shunting operations are carried on after dark,” and the “protection of permanent-way men when relaying or repairing permanent way,” it is evident that an earnest effort is to be made to safeguard railway men against accidents which have long been regarded as preventable. The important question of automatic couplings is only to be dealt with on the experimental lines which found favour with the Royal Commission; but in the speech made by Mr RITCHIE last night it was definitely stated that the question of improved safety or automatic couplings would not be left untouched. Mr JOHN BURNS, indeed, seemed to put more faith in the strong and sympathetic speech of Mr RITCHIE than in the technicalities of the Bill, for he declared that working men have reason to bless Mr RITCHIE’s occupancy of the present post. Certainly if Mr RITCHIE works the measure, which it is to be hoped will soon be placed on the Statute Book, in the spirit of his speech, much will be done to check serious accidents to our railway men. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Friday 6th April, 1900, p.4.

   SERIOUS ACCIDENT ON THE RAILWAY. – On Monday afternoon, Mr James Neish, an old man, residing at Whitehills, sustained a rather serious accident on the railway. Mr Neish had been crossing the line in the vicinity of Pitscandly, when the 3 p.m. train from Forfar to Arbroath came up and knocked him down. Fortunately he was thrown clear of the rails. The stationmaster at Clocksbriggs, having been informed of the accident by the driver of the train, the old man was conveyed to Forfar by a goods train, and thence to his home on a stretcher by several of the station officials. Dr Alexander was summoned and found that his left leg had been fractured below the knee, and that he was severely bruised and shaken. 

Forfar Herald, Friday 6th April, 1900, p.2.




   Mr James Callum, Assistant Superintendent of Permanent Way, Caledonian Railway, died at his residence, Dovecotland, Perth, last night at ten o’clock, as the result of an accident caused by some rock falling upon him while he and others were engaged last Sunday week in inspecting the roof of Moncreiffe Tunnel. Although it was known at the time that Mr Callum’s injuries were somewhat severe, it was not anticipated that they would prove fatal, and at the beginning of last week he seemed to be progressing favourably, but within the last few days internal complications ensued, and Mr Callum died as stated. The deceased was a native of Auchterarder, and began his railway career as a surfaceman in that district. Shortly afterwards he was appointed foreman platelayer on the length at Almond Valley Junction. A proposal being made to reduce the pay of the railway servants, Mr Callum left, and took service at a brickwork near Edinburgh. He again joined the railway service at Auchterarder, and proving himself to be an able workman, with a good command of men, he was soon promoted to be foreman of the Perth “flying squad.” This “squad” being engaged on all the great “relaying” operations, as well as called out for work in the various “breaks down” in the district, gave Mr Callum the necessary training and experience which admirably fitted him for the next important post to which he was advanced, viz., Inspector of Permanent Way for the Perth district. When the late Mr James Proudfoot was appointed Superintendent of the Permanent Way and Works for the whole of the northern division of the Caledonian Railway, Mr Callum was chosen to be his assistant for the southern portion, his appointment embracing the supervision of the permanent way of the main line from Perth to Greenhill, the Dundee and Perth branch, the Dundee and Newtyle branch, the Crieff branch, Creiff and Methven and Comrie branches; the Dunblane, Doune, and Callander, and the Callander and Oban and Killin Railways; and the Kilsyth and Bonnybridge branch. In addition to the ordinary heavy operations of the permanent way department of the railway, and larger operations, such as accidents to trains, &c., and snowstorms, renewal of bridges, &c., Mr Callum had the personal supervision of the remodelling of the Perth North Goods Yards, and the large works in rail laying connected with the Perth Station alterations; several miles of sidings, with complicated connections at Grangemouth, and the present extensive works in the re-construction of Stirling Station, all of these largely through his resource, coolness, and foresight being successfully carried out. In addition to a thorough grasp of the work of his own department, Mr Callum had a wide knowledge of all forms of railway work. Mr Callum was held in the highest esteem by his employers, and in him the Railway Company have lost a very faithful officer. Mr Callum, though by nature quiet and unobtrusive, was nevertheless very popular, especially among those who were under him, whose best interests he always had at heart. The deceased was 53 years of age, and is survived by a daughter, for whom the utmost sympathy is felt by all classes in her sad bereavement. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 11th April, 1900, p.3.







   Yesterday afternoon the two rear vans of a goods train ran off the line four miles from Stranraer, destroying the permanent way for several hundred yards, and injuring the guard. The passengers from Glasgow and Dumfries had to be conveyed into Stranraer in vehicles. The line was cleared after a breakdown gang had been working all night. 

   Lord Londonderry, the new Postmaster-General, was travelling to Ireland by the Stranraer route. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Wednesday 11th April, 1900, p.3.




   YESTERDAY afternoon shortly after 4 o’clock an accident of an alarming nature occurred at the south end of the North British Railway Goods Shed, situated immediately behind the Station, and which resulted in the deaths of John Haggart (72), foreman surfaceman, Unity Place; and David Craig (58), surfaceman, Leonard Street. From particulars to hand it appears that the deceased and another surfaceman were engaged repairing the permanent way, when the goods train, which leaves Blair-Atholl at 11.30 and is due in Perth about 3.30, came up unobserved and knocked down both the deceased. The wheels of six of the waggons passed over the bodies of the unfortunate men. Needless to say they were killed instantaneously. The accident was not discovered until the van was derailed. The sight which presented itself was a ghastly one. Both men were decapitated, and were otherwise fearfully mutilated, indeed the bodies were scarcely recognisable. Haggart’s head was cut off by the throat, while Craig’s was taken off by the chin, the skulls of both being smashed. The news of the terrible accident soon took wing, and within a short time a crowd of people from Craigie collected in the vicinity. The Station Ambulance Corps, including Mr J. D. Smith, Messrs Fisher, Kellock, and Anderson, were early on the scene and covered up the bodies of the men with waggon sheets. Dr Hunt was called and the Police Authorities, who were at once informed of the unfortunate affair, ultimately removed the bodies to the mortuary. Haggart had been employed for 40 years on the railway. He came to Perth Station at the time the North British Railway Company erected the Goods Shed. Previous to that he had charge of a section of the “road.” Craig, who was his assistant, had also been employed for a great number of years. At the time the accident occurred the men were laying sleepers. Owing to a bend in the line, the surfacemen were not noticed either by the driver or fireman. The third man only escaped by a hair’s breadth. The occurrence naturally caused great excitement among the station employees, by whom the deceased men were highly respected. Mr Ellis, the N.B. Locomotive Superintendent, and Mr Yule rendered valuable services. 

   To the Rev. Mr Landreth was entrusted the delicate task of breaking the sad news to Haggart’s  widow. Haggart was a much respected member of the West Church and on Sunday last attended all the services. 

Perthshire Advertiser, Wednesday 11th April, 1900, p.5.







   By an accident which occurred to the 1.40 a.m. goods train from Perth to Aberdeen at Kirriemuir Junction on Wednesday both the up and down lines were blocked for about five hours, and traffic had to be conducted either by transferring the passengers or by diverting the trains by way of Dundee. It appears that, about a mile to the south of the Junction signal cabin, the journal of one of the waggons broke, with the result that, after running some little distance, twenty of the vehicles left the metals and tore up the permanent way for a distance of several hundred yards, blocking both roads. Information was immediately telegraphed to Forfar and the breakdown gang, under the direction of Mr Macqueen, superintendent of permanent way, and Mr Colin Campbell, locomotive foreman, at once proceeded to the scene of the accident, followed later by the Perth breakdown gang under Mr Prentice, and accompanied by Mr J. D. Lang, district superintendent, and Mr Fletcher, traffic inspector. It was found, however, that only one of the waggons laden with iron had become smashed. The others having maintained an upright position, the task of replacing them upon the metals was a comparatively easy one. The destruction to the permanent way was such, however, that it was 10.45 before the first trains got through, one for Perth, and the other for Kirriemuir. What is known as the Tourist Train and the Postal were diverted by way of Dundee, and the 6 a.m. slow train from Perth, and the 6.15 from Forfar had their passengers transferred at the Junction. The damage to rolling stock is not heavy, the principal destruction being in regard to the permanent way. The driver of the train was D. Brown, Glasgow, and the guard D. Bell, Glasgow, who both escaped uninjured. 

– Dundee Courier, Thursday 12th April, 1900, p.3.

   Mr. Tennant resumed the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Railway (Prevention of Accidents) Bill. A good many members took part in the discussion, which was mainly favourable to the Government proposals. Mr Bryce rejoiced at the unanimity with which the bill had been received. The second reading was agreed to, and the bill referred to the Committee on Trade. The House then further considered the proposal to appoint a Select Committee on municipal trading. 

Banffshire Advertiser, Thursday 12th April, 1900, p.8.







   This afternoon while a passenger train from Carnoustie, due to arrive at Dundee East Station at 2.57 p.m. was entering the station the driver misjudged his distance, and collided with some empty carriages standing at the terminus. The impact drove the carriages against the protection buffers with great force, smashing about six feet of wall and displacing the seating in the entrance hall. Happily the accident was more alarming than dangerous, no person being injured. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Friday 13th April, 1900, p.5.

   FATAL ACCIDENT INQUIRIES. – At Kilmarnock Sheriff Court on Tuesday – before Sheriff Hall and a jury – … In each case the accident had been of a particularly shocking nature. It was found that… Thomas Kelly sustained such serious injuries from the upsetting of a vehicle being driven by him on the 23rd ulto. that he died in Knowe farm on the following day; and that Edward Devine had been knocked down and killed by a passing train on the line near to Hurlford. 

– Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, Friday 13th April, 1900, p.8.

   MISHAP ON THE RAILWAY. – As a special goods train from Aberdeen was passing south on Friday an empty waggon left the rails at a point near Broombank Bridge, and, running along, broke a number of chairs. The train ran along in this way till Fordoun Station was reached. The train from the south reaching Aberdeen at 8 pm. was delayed somewhat on account of the mishap. Considerable damage to chairs was done at Fordoun. 

– Montrose Standard, Friday 13th April, 1900, p.6.

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT DUNDEE. – Yesterday afternoon a railway accident, fortunately unattended with serious consequences, occurred at Dundee East Station. A passenger train was entering on the up line, and it seems that the driver did not slow down sufficiently, as the engine collided with several empty carriages which were occupying the line. These were driven up against the permanent buffers with great force, with the result that a considerable portion of masonry was displaced. 

– The Scotsman, Saturday 14th April, 1900, p.7.




   A fatal accident occurred yesterday after noon at Crawford Railway Station. Two navvies employed on the new waterworks near Crawford considerably the worse for liquor, took tickets at the booking office for Carlisle, and being pushed for time, instead of crossing the railway footbridge, crossed the rails. When John Dolan, known as “Soldier Dolan,” jumped from the platform on to the railway he fell and made several attempts to rise, but failed. The other navvy, instead of going to the assistance of his comrade, stood and laughed, and on the engine appearing round the curve roared with an oath to him to rise or he would be run over. This the navvy attempted to do, and the engine-driver, seeing the predicament the poor fellow was in, shut off steam and applied the brakes, but owing to the rate of speed at which the engine was going he could not draw up in time. About fifty yards out of the station the train was brought to a standstill, and then returned and picked up the poor fellow, who was in a fearfully mangled state. During this time the other navvy remained on the platform, and seemed to treat the matter as a huge joke, as by reaching out his hand to the other he could have pulled him out of danger. Life being not extinct, the injured man was conveyed by the express to Carstairs, and thence to Lanark Hospital, but he was no sooner admitted than he expired, having sustained a fractured skull and fractures to the left arm and leg. Deceased was an old soldier, and went through the Egyptian campaign, taking part in the storming of the trenches at Tel-el-Kebir. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Saturday 14th April, 1900, p.3.



   On Monday afternoon, a sad accident took place on the railway between Holytown Junction and Newarthill Old Station, whereby Thomas Connor, aged between five and six years, son of John Connor, ironworker, Shanks’s land, New Stevenston, lost his life. It appears that the unfortunate lad, along with other three boys, among whom was his brother, was returning from the R.C. School at Carfin. Two of the lads had crossed the line and were at the wood beyond it, and Thomas Connor was in the act of crossing, too, when his brother called him back. While he was returning over the line, he was run down by the four o’clock express from Edinburgh to Glasgow. The body, which had been carried forward a distance of 150 yards, was frightfully mangled, part of the head being taken off. A platelayer reported the accident at Holytown Station, where the body was removed before being taken home. 

– Wishaw Press, Saturday 14th April, 1900, p.2.




   Another shocking accident is reported from the Mallaig Railway. One of the workmen while engaged in digging operations struck an unexploded dynamite cartridge, which exploded and injured three men. One of them, Thomas Cullen, died in Belford Hospital, Fort-William, on Tuesday afternoon. Cullen was 23 years of age and belonged to Wexford, Ireland. He had both his legs blown off, and was otherwise seriously injured about the body. It is thought that the cartridge which caused the accident must have failed when blasting operations were in progress in the cutting previously, and had remained covered by debris till struck by the pick of the workman in question. 

– Strathearn Herald, Saturday 14th April, 1900, p.3.




   A shocking railway accident occurred in the goods yard of the North British Railway Company at Dundee to-day. The victim of the accident was Samuel Lindsay, hydraulic shunter. About eleven o’clock, while operations were in progress in the goods yard, Lindsay was engaged in the traversing of waggons from the rails to the loading bank. From some reason unexplained he got between two waggons, one of which was being shunted, and before he could extricate himself from his perilous position he was caught between the buffers. He sustained dreadful injuries about the ribs. Dr Johnston was summoned, and though every attention was paid to the unfortunate man, he expired twenty minutes after the accident. Deceased, who was 19 years of age, resided in Hilltown. He only joined the employment of the Railway Company yesterday. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 17th April, 1900, p.3.




   A serious accident occurred near the Waverley Station bout half-past two this afternoon, resulting in the death of two men, named Alex. Punton, gaffer’s surfaceman, 4 St David’s Terrace, Morrison Street, and Robert Shaw, who was employed as a pipe layer, in the N.B.R. plumbing department. It appears that both the deceased were engaged at work near the Princes Street signal cabin, where they were knocked down by a light engine, which was going from the Waverley Station to the yard at Haymarket. Punton was run over on the head and legs, and was killed instantaneously; while Shaw was run over on the head. Both men were conveyed to the Waverley Station and taken to the Infirmary in the station ambulance. Shaw died while on the road to the Infirmary. It is presumed that the noise of the passing Glasgow train had deadened the sound of the approaching engine, with the result that it came upon them unawares. Both of the deceased were married, and were held in high esteem by their fellow-workmen, having been for many years in the service of the company. Shaw resided at 64 Dumbiedykes Road. The melancholy accident was witnessed from the Mound by several passers-by. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Wednesday 18th April, 1900, p.3.



   On Tuesday evening a man was killed on the railway near the bridge which crosses the Dee at Aberdeen. It appears that as the Caledonian train from Perth, due at Aberdeen at 6.20, was crossing the bridge, the driver observed a man in front, walking on the down line, in the direction of the city. Near the north-west corner of the bridge the man stepped off the permanent way, and as he disappeared it was thought that he had gone down a path leading to the roadway beneath the bridge. Almost immediately, however, he reappeared, and again stepped on the line. At this moment, the 6.16 Caledonian train from Aberdeen came up, and the two trains passed each other near the corner of the bridge. It is believed that the man had become confused, and got in front of the outgoing train, with the result that he was knocked down and instantly killed. The body was identified as that of James Arthur, labourer, 38 years of age, who resided at 14 Chapel Lane. He leaves a wife and two children. It appears that deceased was in company with another man on the riverside, and they parted company at the railway bridge, his companion leaving with the intention of returning home by the way of the opposite side of the Dee. The deceased had become confused with the two trains, and in getting out of the way of the incoming train, stepped in front of the outgoing one. 

– Stonehaven Journal, Thursday 19th April, 1900, p.3.

Accident to a Railway Man

   Lawrence smith, fireman, who resides at 42 James St., Motherwell, was run over at Glasgow Central Station on Wednesday afternoon. The one o’clock train for Gourock had just left the platform, and the engine which had brought it up was following it out of the station when Smith, at the other end of the platform, who had been cleaning his engine and was standing on the line between the platforms stepped back and was caught by the buffers of the following engine. He was knocked down, and the wheels of the engine passed over both his hands and his right leg, taking off his foot. He was at once removed to the Royal Infirmary. 

Motherwell Times, Friday 20th April, 1900, p.2.

   BUSBY. – SHOCKING ACCIDENT. – On Saturday night a most melancholy accident took place near Busby Station. When the 10.30 train from Glasgow was between Clarkston and Busby a young man named McCorquodale fell out, sustaining injuries of a very serious nature. The poor fellow was discovered on Sunday at noon in a very exhausted state having been lying on the rails all night, and presented a pitiable appearance. Both legs were in a state of semi-amputation, and the injuries internally bad. Dr Macfarlane, Busby, was at once in attendance, and had him removed to the Victoria Infirmary. Little or no hope could be held out for his recovery. 

– North British Daily Mail, Tuesday 24th April, 1900, p.3.


   Particulars have been received of the collapse of the viaduct on the New Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway, which crosses the Lugton stream at Gree farm, about four miles from Beith. The viaduct consists of eleven spans, the largest being about 50 feet in width, supported by piers reaching to a height of 60 and 70 feet. The structure, which is entirely built of concrete, was nearing completion, only the ledges on either side being awanting, while the permanent rails were about to be laid. On Saturday afternoon, an hour after work had ceased, without the slightest warning two of the piers on the south side of the stream collapsed and three of the largest spans came crashing to the ground. The noise created at once drew the farmers, navvies, and officials living in the vicinity to the spot and the utmost alarm prevailed, fears being expressed that some persons had been buried in the debris. Happily these fears turned out to be groundless, although had the accident occurred when the men were at work the loss of life would have been appalling. The structure extends to several hundred feet in length, and must have been very costly. It is almost a total wreck, and will require in great part to be rebuilt. Various surmises have been made as to the cause of the collapse, but these can only be conjectural until an official investigation takes place. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 25th April, 1900, p.4.

   RAILWAY FATALITY. – The dead body of Peter Rooney was found lying across the rails on Monday morning near Cumbernauld Station. He had evidently been run over by an express train for the north, as the body was cut in two. The unfortunate man, who was an Irishman, was about 28 years of age, and was for some time employed in the fire clay works, and afterwards in the Tannoch chemical works. He was last seen on Sunday evening making for his lodgings in Sandy Row, and is supposed to have fallen asleep on the railway line. 

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 28th April, 1900, p.3.


   The following cases were admitted to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to-day;.. A girl of seventeen years of age, named Martha Erskine, residing at 17 Laurence Street, Buckhaven, while proceeding to work in the morning along the railway line at Buckhaven, was knocked down and run over by a railway waggon, which passed over her leg. The unfortunate girl, however, expired shortly after her admission to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 30th April, 1900, p.2.
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