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July 1900

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1900) Contents]




   Yesterday a carter named William Finlay, residing at Mossgreen Place, Kelty, was fatally injured on the Perth and Dunfermline Railway at Kelty Station. Finlay had crossed the railway at a point near the north end of one of the platforms for the purpose of getting a travelling-bag. On returning with the bag he was run down by a coal train, and was so much injured about the head that he immediately expired. Deceased was 60 years of age. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 3rd July, 1900, p.3.


   Shortly before two o’clock this morning the body of a man, about 25 years of age, was found lying in the four-foot way 200 yards west of Haymarket West Junction, on the North British Railway line. He had met his death by being knocked down by a train. His right foot was severed, and his head was severely smashed. The body, which was taken to the City Mortuary, was dressed in brown corduroy trousers, dark tweed jacket and vest. The deceased was about 5ft. 6in. in height, of medium build, with dark hair and slight dark moustache. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday 5th July, 1900, p.2.







   When a train from Wemyss Bay was nearing Bishopton Station this morning two gentlemen in a third-class compartment noticed that a fellow passenger, whom they did not know, had disappeared, and that the door of the compartment was open. The train was stopped and a search was made along the line, when the remains of a man, terribly cut up, were found. He was caught by a train going in the opposite direction. It is supposed that he is John Mitchell, who resides in Pollock Street, Glasgow. 

   Our Glasgow correspondent finds on further inquiry that Mr Mitchell was cashier to Messrs A. B. Fleming & Company, Limited, printing ink manufacturers, Waterloo Street, whose headquarters are in Edinburgh. He was living at Skelmorlie, and travelled up and down morning and night. He was 29 years of age, unmarried, and has been in the employment of the firm for over a dozen years. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Saturday 7th July, 1900, p.3.


   Four railway carriages were damaged in Musselburgh station this morning by the breaking away of an empty train which was being shunted into the station. It appears that the coupling of the carriage next to the engine slipped. The end carriage which met the buffer bank was telescoped, and the second one was also badly smashed. The next two were less damaged. Fortunately there was nobody about to sustain injury, and the wrecked carriages were got out of the way of traffic as soon as possible. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Saturday 7th July, 1900, p.3.



   An overhead bridge on the Dunfermline and Alloa section of the North British Railway at a point about 100 yards to the east of Bogside Station was destroyed by fire on Saturday afternoon. The bridge, which was built of wood, was of a substantial character, forming part of a farm service road. The fire, which was discovered between five and six o’clock, is supposed to have originated at the foot of the supports. A stiff breeze fanned the flames, and the heavy beams supporting the upper part of the structure were soon burned through, with the result that the whole bridge collapsed. The wreckage, after it fell on the railway, continued to burn for a considerable time, and traffic was delayed. The line was completely blocked, and those travelling east or west had to leave the trains and walk past the burning pile. Immediately on the outbreak being discovered, a breakdown squad was despatched from Dunfermline, but it was several hours before the line was cleared of wreckage and the permanent way restored. Those who suffered most inconvenience by the fire were agriculturalists whose stock was returning from the agricultural show at Dunfermline. The stock could not be transferred, and the train by which it was being conveyed had to remain to the east of the scene of the fire until the work of repair was completed. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 9th July, 1900, p.4.


   On Saturday the remains of Robert Reid, a labourer, residing at 20 Strathclyde Street, Glasgow, were removed from the Rutherglen Mortuary, where they had lain for identification. Early in the morning Thomas Lancaster, a brakesman, had seen the deceased go on to the railway near Shawfield siding, and before he could render any assistance Reid had placed his head on the metals as an approaching mineral train was coming up. Mrs Reid states that her husband had been in bad health for some time, and had declined to go to the Infirmary a second time to undergo an operation. In the morning he left his house while she was sleeping, and apparently had travelled out to Rutherglen, and had gone on to the railway for the purpose of committing suicide. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Monday 9th July, 1900, p.3.


   Last night Walter McCrindle, porter at Crosslee Station, on the Greenock and Ayrshire Railway, was run down by a Greenock train and instantly killed. Deceased was a native of Ayrshire, and unmarried. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 10th July, 1900, p.3.







   The value of run-off points was never more clearly manifested than in connection with an accident which occurred at Forfar Station shortly before noon to-day. 

   The engine and carriages of the Arbroath train were standing in the usual siding awaiting the passing of the 11.30 express, which was somewhat late. After the English portion of the express had passed, and while, it is said, the signals were set for the Edinburgh and Glasgow portion, the driver of the Arbroath train proceeded to back his carriages on to the main “up” line. The stationmaster, Mr Irons, immediately observing what was in progress, whistled loudly, and held up his hands in warning, but, unfortunately, too late. 

   Two of the carriages ran off the metals, and cut up the permanent way to a considerable extent. But for the existence of the run-off points, it is more than probable that the express would have rushed into the carriages of the Arbroath train, at the moment close at hand. As it was, the signals being damaged, the express had to be hand-signalled into the Forfar platform. A breakdown gang was requisitioned, one of the carriages lying at a dangerous angle. Both, however, were soon restored to the metals. 

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



   At Falkirk Sheriff Court yesterday – before Sheriff Bell and a jury – Wm. Scaife, engine-driver, 129 Dundas Street, Grangemouth, was charged with having, on 15th May last, while driving a locomotive engine from Grangemouth along the Grangemouth Branch Railway towards Grahamston Station, disregarded the signals then set against him at the junction between said branch and the main line of the N.B.R., and driven the engine, or allowed it to pass from said Grangemouth branch on the main line, and caused a collision between the engine and a passenger train from Edinburgh to Grahamston, and so killed Florence Leslie, daughter of Andrew Leslie, signalman, Manuel, a passenger in the train. Scaife, who was defended by Mr William Findlay, advocate, on the instructions of Messrs Clement, M. Campbell, Wallace, & Allan, writers, Glasgow, and Mr Arthur W. Thomson, solicitor, Falkirk, pleaded not guilty. A large number of witnesses on both sides were examined. the evidence went to show that, although the signals were against accused, his throttle valve refused to work, and he could not stop his engine until he had crossed the point. At the close of the evidence the jury retired, and returned after an absence of about 15 minutes with a verdict of not proven, by a majority of 13. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Wednesday 11th July, 1900, p.2.





   A painful case of suicide occurred on the railway, near Cupar, about eight o’clock last night. A few minutes before the 6.40 p.m. express from Edinburgh, which does not stop at Cupar, was due, a man informed the station officials there was a man down the line below the water bridge, with his coat and vest off, waiting to throw himself in front of a train. By the time the message was delivered, and before anyone could be sent to the rescue, the train had thundered past the station at the rate of between sixty and seventy miles an hour. On going along the line after the passing of the train, the station officials discovered the fearfully mutilated body of George Rodger, slater, residing at South Road, lying on the six-foot way. He was completely scalped, and his face was all but smashed off, while pieces of his brains were scattered here and there for a distance of twenty yards. One of his arms was severed from the body, and lay a few yards away. Dr Crichton was early on the spot, and after the body had been seen by Captain Bremner, chief constable, it was removed to his house at South Road. When the train stopped at Leuchars the guard wired Mr Stewart, the agent at Cupar, that he saw a man throw himself in front of the engine about fifty yards west from Cupar. The engine was besmeared with blood. Deceased leaves a widow and a young daughter. 

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


   Word has been received in Stirling that Joseph walker, canvasser, in the employment of the North British Railway, residing in Shettleston, died there last night from the effects of an accident received in Stirling on Monday while unloading machinery for the Highland Society’s Show. He had been known all over Scotland. In the same accident, Peter McKenzie, lorryman, Aberdeen, had both legs broken. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday 12th July, 1900, p.2.


   Yesterday forenoon a most determined suicide took place on the Glasgow and South-Western Railway at Gretna. On rounding the curve of the line at Gretna, the driver of the express, which was due at Annan from Carlisle at 11.30, observed a young woman lie down on the metals. He at once sounded the whistle, but no attention was paid to the warning. The brakes were applied, but the engine and carriages passed over the body. The head was completely severed from the trunk, and rolled down the embankment. The train, which was close on Gretna Green Station, was pulled up, and the railway officials, going to the scene of the affair, found the body and head of the young woman, who was identified as Annie Thomson, residing with her parents at Gretna. The woman was about 28 years of age, and unmarried. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Thursday 12th July, 1900, p.3.





   Shortly after four o’clock yesterday afternoon a distressing accident occurred at Greenock West Railway Station, whereby Capt. Derrick, residing at 78 dempster Street, received frightful injuries. He had intended journeying to Gourock to join the yacht Ivy (belonging to Mr Winnan, an American millionaire), which was lying in the bay. On the train’s arrival Capt. Derrick was attempting to enter a compartment, when he slipped and fell on to the rails between the platform and the footboard. As the train was still in motion, one of the wheels went over his right leg, which was fractured. The right arm was also broken; while his body was all more or less bruised. There were a considerable number of people on the platform at the time, and the sad accident caused a painful sensation. Assistance was soon at hand, and the injured man was lifted up from the rails. Dr Nairn was in the vicinity at the time, and also promptly rendered help. Meanwhile the carriage ambulance was telephoned for, and shortly after had the captain removed to the Infirmary. An examination was made, and it was then apparent that the injuries were very serious. Later in the evening the right foot was amputated at the ankle. Captain Derrick is about thirty years of age. On inquiry at the Infirmary this forenoon we were informed that he had stood the operation well, and his condition now was “fairly favourable.” 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Friday 13th July, 1900, p.2.


   Captain Peter Derrick, of the steam yacht Ivy, who slipped and fell on to the rails while attempting to board a train in motion at Greenock West Station on Thursday afternoon, died in the Infirmary about five o’clock last night from the injuries then received. Deceased, who resided at 78 Dempster Street, has left a widow and four of a family, for whom much sympathy is extended in their bereavement. 



(To the Editor Greenock Telegraph.)

16 Union Street,

Greenock, 13th July, 1900.

   Sir, – Your readers must have been painfully affected by your account of the sad accident at the Greenock West Station on Friday. Personally, however, I am not astonished at it, for every one who has been in the habit of coming to this station from any of the east stations, or of starting from it for Gourock, must have often had a dread of such an occurrence. For at this part of the down line the rails are laid with a slight curve, and with the north rail a little lower than the other, so that the carriages incline away from the platform, the footboards becoming thereby not horizontal and leaving a considerable gap between them and the platform, which at the best is too low for easy entrance or exit from the carriages. The remedy evidently for this state of matters is the raising of the platform; and this should be urgently pressed upon the directors of the railway. – I am, yours truly, 


– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Saturday 14th July, 1900, p.2.




   A shocking railway fatality occurred at Perth last night, whereby a carriage inspector named James Graham, forty years of age, and residing at 1 Whitefriar Street, Perth, lost his life. Graham had been on the down line about midway between the Crieff and Dovecotland bridges, and about fifty yards south from the clearing-house at Balhousie, when the Aberdeen express due in Perth at 7.55 ran him down, killing him instantly. It appears that deceased had been walking along the line, and had stepped from the back of a goods train right in front of the rushing express. He received injuries of a terrible nature, his head being completely severed from the body, while his limbs were frightfully mutilated and dismembered. 

– Dundee Courier, Saturday 14th July, 1900, p.6.


   Francis Wattie, son of Police Sergeant Wattie, stationed at Prestwick, was accidentally killed on the Glasgow and South-Western Railway near Monkton Station on Friday. He had been sitting on the last waggon of a goods train, which was being shunted backwards. The train jerked, and he was thrown on the line. The train passed over his chest, and he was instantly killed. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 16th July, 1900, p.3.



   ANOTHER railway accident, fortunately not so serious as that which took place last week, occurred on the line in the vicinity of Dovecotland Bridge this forenoon. It appears that William Grassie, the guard on the Methven goods train, who resides in Market Street, was performing some shunting operations when he sustained severe injuries. Grassie, who is a man 45 years of age, has considerable railway experience. It is supposed that in the act of coupling or uncoupling waggons he allowed the shunting pole to project too far out from the train, with the result that it caught a signal pole, and he was thrown underneath one of the waggons. His left leg was smashed above the ankle, while his right leg also received a severe flesh wound. He was immediately removed to the Infirmary by Mr James Smith and Mr John McFarlane, of the Station Ambulance Corps, and others of his workmates. After examination, it was found that the leg would require to be amputated. Grassie has been in the employment of the Railway Company for about 20 years, and was at Perth South until some months ago, when he met with an accident at Mossend which necessitated the amputation of the fingers of the left hand. It was at that time he received the post of guard on the Methven goods train. A significant feature in connection with the accident is that it took place within a short distance of the spot where the railway inspector was killed on Friday last. 

Perthshire Advertiser, Friday 20th July, 1900, p.3.

   SAD RAILWAY FATALITY. – Late on Friday night a young man named John Barrie (24), residing at McCann’s Buildings, Hamilton Road, Bellshill, was found on the Caledonian Railway, near Clydesdale, with both his legs cut off. It appears that he had taken the railway as a short cut home from Holytown Station, where he had left a train which did not stop at Bellshill, and in getting out of the way of an approaching train, he stepped in front of another, and before he could realise his danger, he was knocked down and had both his legs cut off. His moans attracted the attention of a young woman, who resided near at hand. After being medically attended, he was removed to the Royal Infirmary, where he died early on Saturday morning. He leaves a young wife to mourn his loss, for whom much sympathy is felt. – On Tuesday the remains were interred in Bothwell Cemetery, prior to which a very imposing funeral service was conducted in front of deceased’s residence by the Salvation Army, of which he was a member. The whole proceedings, which lasted for about an hour, were listened to by a large and sympathetic crowd. At the close of the service, the coffin (enshrouded with the Army colours) was carried on the shoulders of brethren to its last resting place. The Blantyre Salvation Army Brass Band (augmented for the occasion by players from Milnwood Band) played most appropriate hymns during the service and on the way to the cemetery, while the members of the Army sang the same. There was a large turnout of the members of the Salvation Army (wearing white bands on their uniform) and other mourners. 

– Bellshill Speaker, Saturday 21st July, 1900, p.2.

   PAINFUL ACCIDENT. – On Friday a man named John McCann (48), a steelworker, residing at Old Square, Calderbank, met with a rather serious accident. He had been lying asleep on the embankment of the railway siding within the Calderbank steelworks when he seems to have rolled over on to the rails. At all events his right foot got run over by a passing pug engine, and it was so severely crushed that amputation was necessary. McCann was afterwards removed to the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow. 

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 21st July, 1900, p.6.

   Accident to a Dundee Guard. – On Saturday afternoon a rather serious accident befel David Duncan, a passenger train guard in the employment of the North British Railway Company. Duncan, who is well-known in railway circles in Dundee, left Tay Bridge Station with an afternoon slow train for Edinburgh. When the train was steaming out of Inverkeithing Station, Duncan, in jumping on to the foot board of the van, got his foot caught by the lid of an oil box, which was open, and stumbled and fell between the moving train and the platform. The train was stopped, and the unfortunate man taken from his dangerous position, when it was found that he had sustained severe injuries to one of his sides, several of his ribs being broken. Duncan was removed later in the day to his home in Edinburgh. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 23rd July, 1900, p.6.


   David Duncan, a passenger guard on a train running between Dundee and Edinburgh, and residing in Norton Street, Edinburgh, met with a bad accident at Inverkeithing Station on Saturday night. Duncan missed his footing while leaping on to the van, and got dragged along the platform for a distance of 30 yards before the train could be brought to a standstill. He was bruised about the face and head and was injured internally, and was conveyed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 23rd July, 1900, p.2.



   Frederic Cowser, residing at 223 Gorgie Road, a carriage inspector, employed by the Caledonian Railway Company, was accidentally run down by a train at Morrison Street on Saturday night, and terribly injured. He died shortly after his removal to the Royal Infirmary. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Monday 23rd July, 1900, p.4.

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT NEAR AIRDRIE. – Alexander Duff, goods engine-driver, was seriously injured yesterday morning at Forrestfield Station on the North British Railway. He had slowed down his train for the purpose of exchanging the oval tablets with the signalman, when the tablets got mixed, resulting in the signalman being thrown on the platform and Duff being dragged from his engine and pulled thirty yards between the platform and the outer rail. His right arm was torn off. 

– The Scotsman, Tuesday 24th July, 1900, p.6.





   A shocking railway accident occurred this forenoon near Monifieth Station, a man, not yet identified, having been instantaneously killed by an up-going train to Dundee. The discovery was made by some lads, who at once informed the railway authorities at Broughty Ferry. The body was lying in the four-foot way in a frightfully mangled condition. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Wednesday 25th July, 1900, p.3.




   The accident appears to have happened at Marshall Place, a short distance to the east of Barnhill. It is thought that the man, on stepping on to the line at the level crossing, was knocked down by the train leaving Arbroath at 12.1. The body was carried about 290 yards, and when discovered was in a horribly mutilated condition. The body was removed to the Mortuary at Broughty Ferry, where it lies awaiting identification. The unfortunate man appears to be of the labouring class. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Wednesday 25th July, 1900, p.5.


   A man, at present unidentified, was run down and killed on the Dundee and Arbroath Joint Railway to-day. He was walking on the line between Carnoustie and Barry, when he was overtaken by a Caledonian fast train. When the engine was about fifteen yards off, he stepped between the rails, and was almost instantaneously killed. Deceased is supposed to be a holiday-maker from Dundee. The body was much mutilated. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Wednesday 25th July, 1900, p.4.

   VALE OF LEVEN. – LOCAL NOTES. – … – Mrs Bauchop, wife of Mr John Bauchop, flesher, Alexandria, met with an unfortunate accident while alighting from a train at Bowling Station. On medical aid being obtained, it was found that the unfortunate lady’s shoulder-blade was broken. She was afterwards taken home in a serious condition. 

– North British Daily Mail, Wednesday 25th July, 1900, p.3.

   A Miraculous Escape. – An accident which might have had much more serious consequences occurred yesterday on the railway, near Arbroath, to a boy named Alfred Robb (10), residing in Ladybridge Street. It seems that the boy had been spending the day at Elliot along with other two companions, and was returning to Arbroath when the accident happened. The lads, at Elliot, entered a compartment of the train which leaves Dundee for Arbroath at 3.30 p.m. While in the compartment Robb amused himself by looking out of the carriage window, till a point on the railway near Hospitalfield Gates was reached, when it is stated the carriage door flew open and precipitated the lad on to the permanent way. On being thrown out the lad managed to crawl on to the Dundee road, where he was found by two men, who, after temporarily bandaging up the boy’s injuries, had him conveyed to the Infirmary by means of a cycle. At the Infirmary his wounds were dressed, it being found that he had sustained a rather nasty wound on the side of his head. How the lad escaped more serious injuries is really miraculous, for the train was running at a fair speed at the time. 

– Dundee Courier, Thursday 26th July, 1900, p.6.




   “Unusual Despatch” writes: With reference to your leader in Tuesday’s issue regarding the accident to a N.B.R. driver while exchanging tablets, you state that unfortunately time saving is the rule on the railways, and sometimes it is saved at the expense of risk to life and limb. As regards this, I may state that there is more paper wasted on the driver of a passenger train dropping three minutes than the killing of a man. That’s nothing, Mr Editor; men are cheap now, as I will explain. Then you state it may be that the companies have the time bills pared to the finest limits. My answer to that is, in a good many cases (taking the road of the train into consideration) the engines can do no more. Then as regards carelessness on the men’s part, I honestly admit some accidents are caused that way, but so long as there are railways there will be accidents. Then you go on to say something ought to be done to prevent the occurrence of sickening accidents. Something has been done. An apparatus is presently in use on some railways doing away with the necessity of the driver or fireman running any risk whatever, but, of course, that costs money, and money they do not intend to part with. Being a fireman, I can point out a still greater danger which the public are unaware ever exists. That is when a fireman requires to trim some coal, to keep the wheels going round, in nine cases out of ten it has to be done when running down a bank with steam off. Then up goes the fireman into the tender, daylight or dark, doing his best before steam is required again, and running a terrible risk of having his head chopped off by overhead bridges, &c., a duty I have to do nightly, and sometimes I forget the bridges until my mate will shout. Of course, this is forbidden, but cause any delay by standing till this duty is done, and your services would be no longer required by a certain date. As regards my statement that men are cheap, I think you will form the same opinion when I state firemen are paid from 18s to 24s weekly with an average of seven to ten years before he becomes driver. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday 26th July, 1900, p.2.





   Yesterday forenoon Mr Alexander Donaldson, golf greenkeeper at Monifieth, met with a sad death on the Joint Line. He left home about nine o’clock in the morning with the intention of visiting the ladies’ course at Barnhill, Broughty Ferry. On returning to go home he was about to cross the line at the crossing at Marshall Place, at the east end of the golf course, and got in front of the Caledonian midday express for Dundee, when he was cut down and fearfully mutilated, the driver, who gave information at Broughty Ferry, observed the man get on the rails, but had no time to give a warning whistle, far less draw up. The accident happening within the Broughty Ferry boundary, the remains were afterwards gathered up and conveyed to the mortuary there, and in the evening they were identified as those of Mr Donaldson, whose sad end will be deeply regretted, not only by the many golfers who frequented the links, but by all with whom he came in contact. Mr Donaldson was somewhat dull of hearing, and that no doubt accounts for the accident. 

   Our Monifieth correspondent writes:- When the accident happened there was another train on the down line fast approaching the same spot, and deceased may have seen the one and not noticed the other. There is also a sharp curve at the place, and a train could be quite close before it would be noticed. Alexander Donaldson was a well-known and highly-respected member of the community. He acted as minister’s man to the late Rev. Dr Young for a long number of years. After leaving that position he was appointed green-keeper on the golf course, and was in that capacity brought in contact with a large number of the golfing fraternity who frequent the course. By these and by the general public he was held in much esteem. He leaves a wife and grown-up family, for whom much sympathy is felt in their sudden bereavement. 

– Dundee Courier, Thursday 26th July, 1900, p.4.

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – On Thursday night an accident occurred on the Caledonian Railway near Castlecary which caused considerable delay to the traffic. As a goods train from Carlisle was running between Abronhill and Greenhill at 11 p.m. one of the couplings gave way and the second portion came into collision with the first near Castlecary Castle, causing several waggons to leave the rails. The break-down squad was immediately wired for from Motherwell and was soon at the scene of the accident and had the waggons re-railed. Meantime the railway officials at Greenhill had single line working put into operation, the whole of the traffic being conducted over the up line till 4 a.m. There was no damage done to the permanent way with the exception of 120 chairs broken. 

– Kirkintilloch Gazette, Saturday 28th July, 1900, p.3.


   This forenoon, as a train was about to start from Alexandria for Glasgow, William McBrian, 40, a carter, rushed on to the opposite platform carrying some parcels. He attempted to cross the rails, but at the moment a light Caledonian engine came along on the down line. McBrian was struck on the back of the head, and receiving a severe fracture of the skull. Death was instantaneous. Deceased leaves a widow and family. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Saturday 28th July, 1900, p.5.

   Early on Saturday morning Patrick Hughes (49), miner, Lachlan’s Buildings, Calderbank, was found lying seriously hurt at Palace Craig railway siding, having been run over by a train. He was removed to the Alexander Hospital, Coatbridge, and died shortly after admission. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Monday 30th July, 1900, p.3.


   A man named James Annan was killed this afternoon by a railway waggon passing over his head on the premises in the Edinburgh Dock occupied by Messrs Patmore & Co. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Tuesday 31st July, 1900, p.3.
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