September 1900

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1900) Contents]


   Last night a fatal accident occurred at the Highland Railway engine sheds at Perth Railway Station. It appears that a young man named John Ross, who is a fireman in the employment of the Highland Railway Company had been relieved from his work on a shunting engine at 9.15, and a quarter of an hour later his body was found lying on the down goods line about 10 yards north of the Highland Railway engine sheds at Glasgow Road bridge, he having been run down by an engine or goods train. His left arm was severed at the shoulder, while his right hand was smashed, and his face was mutilated almost beyond recognition. Dr Parker Stewart was called, and examined the body, which was afterwards removed by the police to the mortuary. Deceased, who was about 20 years of age, belonged to Invershin. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Saturday 1st September, 1900, p.5.


   About ten o’clock on Saturday night a machineman named Joseph Brown (40), residing at 4 Canal Street, Clydebank, had a miraculous escape from being killed at Partick Station, on the North British Railway. It appeared that he, together with his wife and family, were standing on the west platform awaiting the arrival of the Clydebank train, when he stumbled and fell on the rails as the Balloch train was approaching. Unfortunately the driver of the engine did not observe the accident, and before the alarm could be given the engine and four carriages passed over the man. On being extricated it was found that Brown had escaped with a fracture of the right ankle. He was at once removed to the Western Infirmary in the ambulance waggon, where it was found necessary to amputate the foot. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Monday 3rd September, 1900, p.2.

   A joiner named William McLachlan, sixty-five years of age, residing at 13 Crow Road, Partick, was instantaneously killed yesterday in Whiteinch while on his way home from work. It appears that as he was in the act of crossing from South Street into Squire Street he failed to observe an approaching train – the rails, by the way, being laid along the centre of the latter street for the purpose of facilitating shipyard traffic – and was knocked down and run over by an engine and two waggons. The body of the unfortunate man was frightfully mangled. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Wednesday 5th September, 1900, p.2.

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – On Monday morning a rather alarming railway accident took place on the railway line near the Junction. It was occasioned by two carriages of the 6.10 train from Carstairs to Edinburgh failing to take the points at the junction, and going off the line. The train fortunately was going slowly at the time owing to shunting operations. The two carriages left the rails at the points, but owing to the immediate application of the Westinghouse brake, the train was brought to a standstill before any further damage was done. Nobody was hurt, but the accident delayed the train for over an hour. 

– Mid-Lothian Journal, Friday 7th September, 1900, p.4.





   Late last night a somewhat serious accident occurred in the North British Railway Company’s goods yard at Dundee, as the result of which the foreman yardsman named William Forgan, sustained severe injuries. It appears that while shunting operations were in progress in the yard Forgan had gone to watch the approach of the Berwick train, and while doing so a pilot engine approached from the west goods yard, and Forgan, who apparently did not observe it, was struck by the buffer of the engine, and thrown violently to the ground. His head was cut, while one of his arms was apparently dislocated or fractured. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Friday 7th September, 1900, p.2.

   BOY KILLED AT COATBRIDGE. – Yesterday John Wylie (13), son of John Wylie, tube-worker, residing in Main Street, Coatbridge, was killed on the Caledonian Railway between Calder and Whifflet. The lad is said to have been walking along the line when the 10.40 train leaving Airdrie run him down. 

– North British Daily Mail, Tuesday 11th September, 1900, p.3.

Laws of the Session.


[All rights reserved].

   The following is a continuation of the summary of Acts of Parliament which have received the Royal Assent during the present Session:- 


   This is an Act for the better prevention of accidents on railways, and applies mainly to persons employed thereon. It gives, in Clause I, power to the Board of Trade to make rules as to dangerous railway operations. Such rules, if objected to, may be referred to the Railway Commissioners, and in considering objections the Commissioners have to have regard to the question whether the requirements of the rule would materially interfere with the trade of the country or the necessary operations of any railway company. By consent of the Board of Trade and the objectors, any objection may be referred to a referee in lieu of the Commissioners. In particular cases the Board may make a specific order to take the place of the general rule. When the alterations required by the Board of Trade’s rules entail capital expenditure, the Board may sanction the issue of debenture stock to the extent of the necessary expenditure. The Act applies to the United Kingdom. 

– Buchan Observer and East Aberdeenshire Advertiser, Tuesday 11th September, 1900, p.2.

   ACCIDENT NEAR CAMBUSLANG. – An accident occurred yesterday in connection with the operations at the formation of the new Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway, near Cambuslang. A young engine-driver named William Cameron, while attempting to stop some waggons, was struck on the head with a sprag, and so severely injured that he had to be removed to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. 

– The Scotsman, Thursday 13th September, 1900, p.4.

   BOY FALLS FROM A TRAIN. – A boy named William Reid, six years of age, son of Mr William Reid, fisherman, Seatown, Buckie, fell from a train on Monday night, and had a miraculous escape. He was travelling home in the train due to arrive at Buckie at 6.30 p.m., and, when about half a mile from Glassaugh Station, the door of the compartment suddenly opened, and he fell out. The train was stopped, and, on being backed to the scene of the accident, it was found that, beyond a few cuts on the face, the little fellow had escaped unhurt. 

– Huntly express, Friday 14th September, 1900, p.8.



   Last night a distressing fatal accident occurred on the Highland Railway at Newtonmore Station, whereby James Ormiston, a brakesman, lost his life. Ormiston was employed as a brakesman on the 4.15 p.m. goods train from Inverness to Perth, and while engaged in shunting operations he was caught mortally wounded. He only survived 40 minutes. Deceased, who was 25 years of age, was a native of Kinbrace, in Sutherlandshire, and was unmarried. 

– Dundee Courier, Friday 14th September, 1900, p.5.

   The body of a man in a terribly mutilated condition was found on Sunday forenoon on the Alva branch line of the North British Railway a short distance from Cambus Station. The body is surmised to be that of Andrew Murray, distillery worker, Cambus, and he must have been killed by a train leaving Cambus for Alva at eight o’clock on Saturday night. When run over deceased was less than 150 yards from his own home. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Tuesday 18th September, 1900, p.5.


   At Greenock Sheriff Court to-day – before Sheriff Begg and a jury – a public inquiry was held into the circumstances attending the deaths of three men who were fatally injured while following their usual employment in Greenock and Port-Glasgow. 

   The first inquiry took place in regard to the death of Francis Harkins, cattleman, who resided at 14 Ann Street, Greenock, and who was in the employment of the Caledonian Railway Company. The evidence showed that he was on the railway about 100 yards east of Dellingburn Street bridge waiting on the arrival of a train with sheep, and while in the act of crossing the line he was knocked down by a passenger train from Glasgow, and killed almost instantaneously. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Tuesday 18th September, 1900, p.2.



   While Thomas Weir (22), a lorryman in the employment of the Caledonian Railway Company, who resides in Stewarton Station, Wishaw, was, along with several others, engaged in taking off a lorry from a waggon at the Central Goods Station, Wishaw, the rope broke, and the side of the lorry knocked him down, and afterwards fell upon him. He sustained a scalp wound two inches long, and his right leg was broken above the ankle. He was attended by Dr Alexander Logan, who ordered his removal to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. 

   Last night the four o’clock corridor train from St Enoch to Stranraer ran down a man between Dalry and Kilbirnie. The driver drew up at Dalry and reported the circumstance, and the stationmaster, along with superintendent McCreath and two constables proceeded along the line to the spot indicated, where they found a man, name unknown, lying on the line fearfully mangled. He was removed to Glengarnock Station. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Wednesday 19th September, 1900, p.1.




   On Monday afternoon, while Rev. Mr Nicol, United Presbyterian Church, Nairn, was attempting to cross the rails at Nairn Railway Station, he slipped and fell in front of a goods train, consisting of an engine and five waggons, which was drawing up to the platform. Mr Nicol had the presence of mind to lie flat on the ground between the rails, and the train passed over him without doing him any injury beyond tearing a portion of his clothes. The accident caused intense excitement among those who witnessed it, but they were relieved when they found that Mr Nicol was uninjured. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 19th September, 1900, p.3.







   About ten o’clock this morning a serious smash occurred on the Caledonian Railway a little to the north of Motherwell Railway Station. A goods and mineral mixed train from the south was passing through the station at a good speed, when one of the axels of one of the waggons broke. The damaged waggon, after dragging along the line for a considerable distance, turned broadside at the “diamond” points and caused a great upheaval. 

   No fewer than nine waggons were destroyed, some being completely turned over and lying in a heap at the Lesmahagow Junction. One of the derailed vehicles was a gun-powder van. The others contained stores and minerals. The accident blocked all the lines, except the down line to Glasgow, and there was consequently a great delay in the traffic. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Thursday 20th September, 1900, p.3.

   GRANTOWN-ON-SPEY – SURFACEMAN KILLED. – Early on Wednesday morning intelligence was received in Grantown that the body of a surfaceman named Bruce, who is in the employment of the Highland Railway Company, had been found on the railway in the vicinity of the new porter lodge. It appears that deceased, who was in Grantown during the preceding evening, had, while making his way homewards, been run over by a train and killed on the spot. Much sympathy is felt for the friends of deceased, who was well known in the vicinity. 

– Inverness Courier, Friday 21st September, 1900, p.3.



   A shunter, named George Gardiner, who resided at Brunstane Farm, and who was twenty-eight years of age, met with his death last night about 9.30 at Portobello Station. The young fellow had been at the bothy near to Hope’s Bridge, and it is conjectured that in leaving to take up duty he had stumbled in front of a goods train which was leaving the station at the time. 

– Mid-Lothian Journal, Friday 21st September, 1900, p.4.





   Last night a commercial traveller named John Thomson, residing at 22 Ballantyne Place, Perth, and representing the firm of Messrs J. & R. Tennant, laager [sic] beer manufacturers, Glasgow, had a narrow escape with his life at Forfar Station. The unfortunate man, who is married, and is about forty years of age, had been in town in the course of the day in pursuance of his duties, and evidently intended to return to Perth per the 6.50 train from Forfar. The train was in motion, however, before he attempted to get into his carriage, and, missing his footing, he fell between the last passenger vehicle and the guard’s van. The train, which had by this time attained considerable momentum, was immediately stopped, and on the man being examined it was found that he had received a deep wound in the back of the head and another over the eye. He received “first aid” at the hands of the railway officials, and was afterwards removed to the Infirmary on a stretcher, quite conscious, but evidently suffering severely. At the Infirmary Dr Alexander discovered that the skull had been fractured, and found it necessary to stitch the wounds both back and front. The injured man is progressing as favourably as can be expected in the circumstances. 

– Dundee Courier, Saturday 22nd September, 1900, p.4.





   Notwithstanding precautions, accidents to railway servants are still all too frequent, and the introduction and practical use of contrivances tending towards a diminution of these dangers is always to be welcomed. But recently a Royal Commission held an enquiry into the cause of and the best means of preventing accidents to employés on the line, the evidence going to show the great danger arising from the use of the present system of coupling and uncoupling of waggons by means of pole or hand, and the benefit which would accrue from the introduction of some means by which this work could be performed by mechanism, fitted, for preference, at the side of the waggon. In view of these opinions considerable importance must be attached to the invention of Mr John McLaren, who has given a deal of time and labour to the matter, had just patented a coupling which, while possessing the advantages of simplicity of construction, appears at the same time to be fitted in every way for the purpose intended. It has no springs or weak points liable to go out of order, and can be fixed on the waggon without any change in the present position of links or gab; while the act of coupling can be performed on curves and straight lines as with the present pole, and if desired can be so fixed that, when shunting, the waggons will, on contact, automatically couple themselves. The nature of the invention is as follows:- A lever handle is fixed at both sides of the waggon, on a shaft extending beneath and from side to side of the waggon, so that by lifting either of these lever handles the mechanism set in motion lifts the coupling chain, which is of the ordinary form, clear of the gab, and the waggon is thus uncoupled. In order to couple the waggons, the lever handle is lifted, and is preferably fixed in any desired position, according to the respective heights of the waggons to be coupled, by a wedge, which, when released, allows the coupling link to fall into the gab, thus coupling the waggon. The shaft on which the lever handles are secured is cranked at its midpoint, and to this crank a short connecting link is connected, the other end of the link being centred on a pin carried on pivoted arms depending from a pivot from the bottom of the waggon. At the lower end of these pivoted arms, one end of a coupling fork is centred, the fork being connected at its outer end with the outer link of the coupling chain. The depending pivoted arm and coupling fork together form a taggle which, when straightened out by the turning of the crank on the lever handle shaft, brings the coupling links into position to be lowered over the gab, a rest or guide being formed at the end of the waggon in order to support and direct the coupling link to its position over the gab. The action of the apparatus is as follows:- When a waggon is to be coupled either of the lever handles at the side of the waggon is turned, the crank of the shaft acting on the connecting link to pull it forward, which link, because of its connection to the depending arms, draws these forward, and these arms in turn push forward the lifting fork to whose end the coupling link is pivoted, the fork being guided forward and upward by the rest or guide on the waggon end in order to bring the coupling link over and beyond the point of the gab, the link being retained in this position by inserting the wedge between the handle and a fixed quadrant, thus preventing the return of the coupling fork to its original position. On releasing the lever handle by removing the wedge the coupling link drops over the gab, and the waggon is coupled. The waggon is uncoupled by turning the lever handle when the action takes place exactly as in coupling, the lever handle being retained in this position by the wedge or by hand until the waggons are at a short distance from each other. From the above description it will be seen that the invention is one likely to commend itself to railway and other companies possessing rolling stock, and, it is hoped, will meet with the approval and support of all interested. 

– Falkirk Herald, Saturday 22nd September, 1900, p.5.


   An old man named Joseph Allan, belonging to Niddrie, was this afternoon knocked down and seriously injured on the railway line near Wallyford Colliery siding. He had been on the line, and was overtaken by an engine going to Wallyford to take away a mineral train. Allan sustained severe injuries to his head and spine. He was conveyed on the engine to Portobello for medical treatment. He was employed by the Edinburgh Colliery Company. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Saturday 22nd September, 1900, p.4.

   FATAL ACCIDENT ON THE RAILWAY. – On Sabbath forenoon, the body of a man was found on the branch line to Alva just outside Cambus station in a terribly mutilated condition. Constable Duncan was at once communicated with, when the body was identified as that of Andrew Murray, distillery worker (45) who resided at Dovecot Cottage, Cambus, with his brother. It is supposed that the unfortunate man was knocked down by the last train to Alva from Alloa on the Saturday evening while on his way home. The body, which was cut in two and fearfully mangled, was taken to the Dovecot. 

– Alloa Advertiser, Saturday 22nd September, 1900, p.3.

   FATAL RESULT OF ACCIDENT. – James McGoldrick, labourer, who was knocked down on the North British Railway near Partick Station on Wednesday morning and severely injured, has died in the Western Infirmary. McGoldrick was 29 years of age, married, and resided at 31 Crawford Street, Partick. 

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT – MAN KILLED. – A serious railway accident occurred yesterday morning at the Caledonian Locomotive Works, Springburn Road, Glasgow, whereby one man was killed and another very seriously injured. Both men were platelayers, and at the time of the occurrence were at work on the lines in the shunting yard. They had just left one set of rails to get out of the way of an engine that was coming along, when in doing so they stepped in front of another engine that was being driven along a neighbouring set of rails. Both men were knocked down. One of them, John Rae, 303 Charles Street, St Rollox, was so severely crushed about the head that he succumbed a few minutes after his admission to the Royal Infirmary. The other man was badly injured about the feet, and he also sustained a scalp wound. He lies in the infirmary in a critical condition. 

– North British Daily Mail, Saturday 22nd September, 1900, p.4.

  FATALITY ON THE RAILWAY. – A permanent-way watchman, named William Nelson, residing in Wishaw, met his death on the Caledonian railway between Holytown and Wishaw last night. Nelson had left his work at Carfin, and while making his way along the line was run down by a passenger train when within half a mile of Wishaw Central Station. 

– The Scotsman, Tuesday 25th September, 1900, p.7.



   The dead body of a young girl was found last night on the North British Railway near Aberdour. The girl had been run over by a train, the head being severed from the trunk. The body has been identified as that of Rosina Clark (13), daughter of William Clark, bleach-field worker, Milton Green, Dunfermline, who left home on Monday morning. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Wednesday 26th September, 1900, p.3.

   PLATELAYER KILLED. – John Carr (60), platelayer, who resided at Barrack Square, Carfin, lost his life on the railway siding leading to Dixon’s Colliery on Saturday. He was engaged on the line, when he was run down by a train of loaded waggons, three of the trucks passing over his right leg, completely severing it. He died in about half an hour. 

Coatbridge Express, Wednesday 26th September, 1900, p.3.


   A fire broke out early on Friday morning at the Caledonian Railway Company’s pier at Wemyss Bay and did damage estimated at £15,000. The origin of the fire is unknown, but the flames are supposed to have first appeared in the oil store. That portion of the pier nearest the station was soon on fire, and a high wind drove the flames over the station. The stationmaster and railway employés did their best to subdue the fire until the arrival of the brigade from Largs, and were successful in saving the station. The greater portion of the pier, however, was completely destroyed, together with several hundred tons of wooden blocks and pillars which were to be used to extend the pier. Wemyss Bay is one of the termini of the Caledonian Railway Company, where steamboats await the arrival of trains. 

– Shetland Times, Saturday 29th September, 1900, p.7.

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