November 1900

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1900) Contents]




   An accident occurred on the Highland Railway this morning causing considerable interruption to traffic. The mishap took place near County March, where operations are at present in progress for doubling the line. It appears that while a fish train, due in Perth at 4.30 A.M., was approaching that spot is collided with a horse which was hauling a bogey, with the result that the engine of the train was derailed. The horse was instantaneously killed, and the man in charge of the animal had his arm broken. Little or no damage was done to the train or permanent way. It required some time to clear the line, and the morning south mail reached Inverness 2 hours 15 minutes behind time. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Thursday 1st November, 1900, p.5.




   The Railway Companies have recently carried into effect various schemes for the curtailment of working expenses, and another drastic step has been taken by the Caledonian Railway Company, which manifests the determination of the authorities in their object. An order has been issued from headquarters, requiring the dismissal of 400 of the Company’s servants. The unfortunate railwaymen will be chosen from all over the system, of course, and the staffs reduced where circumstances will permit. 

   In Dundee, it is understood, the service of about a dozen men in the various departments have been dispensed with. The scheme of rearrangement has been so formed as to cause minimum hardship to the older employees. The stoppage of trains has, for instance, thrown out of situations many guards, drivers, and firemen, but these are provided with employment in an inferior grade. Their subordinates are reduced in turn to make room for them, and the process of reduction is carried out correspondingly, so that in the end the recruits in the Company’s service are those whom the new order affects most seriously. It is also a matter for concern to those who are retained. Those who are reduced in rank suffer a relative reduction of wages, their rate of pay being according to the grade to which they have been placed. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Friday 2nd November, 1900, p.5.

   An accident occurred recently at Crofthead station, a woman with a child in her arms falling from the platform on to the rails. She sustained rather severe bruises. 

   A correspondent writes alleging that the accident was due to the narrowness of the platform and insufficient lighting. 

   A native of Crofthead who was severely injured last New Year by falling over the same platform, is, I understand, suing the N.B.R. for damages. 

– West Lothian Courier, Friday 2nd November, 1900, p.8.

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT DUNDEE. – Early yesterday morning an accident occurred in the shunting yard of the Caledonian Railway at Dundee West Station, whereby a shunter named James Sheriff was severely crushed. A dense fog hung over the city at the time, and it is supposed Sheriff had failed to notice the approach of a waggon, with the result that he was caught between the buffers. He was removed to the Infirmary, but it is not expected that he will recover. 

– The Scotsman, Saturday 3rd November, 1900, p.7.


   The twelve o’clock train from Glasgow to Oban met with an accident yesterday between Dunblane and Doune. The connecting rod on the right side of the engine came off the rear wheel and was dragged along over the sleepers, breaking them into splinters and smashing the chair, for 200 yards. Had the rod come off the front wheel the train would probably have been at once derailed. The train from Oban was detained a couple of hours. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Saturday 3rd November, 1900, p.3.



   Charles Milne, farm servant, about forty years of age, and belonging to Oyne, was found dead on Thursday morning by a brakesman at the north end platform at Insch Railway Station at 2.33. He apparently had been walking on the line and struck down by the 11.30 p.m. goods train from Aberdeen. His right arm was almost severed from his body and his head split. Death must have been instantaneous. 

Banffshsire Herald, Saturday 3rd November, 1900, p.6.



   AN accident occurred at the station on Thursday afternoon which was attended by incidents of a rather exciting nature. It appears that while the 1.20 train was leaving for Dundee a gentleman residing in King Street was seeing a friend of his off. Previous to the train starting, as there was some little time to wait, both went into the carriage for a seat, the Perth gentleman fully expecting that the ticket collectors would check the tickets at the General Station. With this particular train, however, the tickets are collected at Princes Street Station. The train started, but, expecting it to stop, the Perth man remained seated. As, however, he found it did not do so, he jumped from the train, with the result that he fell between the platform and the carriage, the unfortunate gentleman getting rather seriously crushed. When it was noticed what had happened the train was stopped as soon as possible, and the platform foreman pulled the gentleman up from between the platform and the carriage. He was removed to the Ambulance Hall, where his injuries were attended to. Thereafter he was taken home by his friend. 

Perthshire Advertiser, Monday 5th November, 1900, p.2.





And Are Made Compos Mentis.

   One of the most extraordinary voyages ever undertaken has just been completed, the steamer Euranian having been chartered early in the year to carry a party of lunatics on a trip around the world. The voyage, a successful one, was the outcome of a debate between several experts on lunacy as to the efficacy of long sea voyages in curing hallucinations. Ordinary ocean trips had been found to work many cures, and it was reasonably certain that little harm could be done. 

   Forty men and women, exclusive of medical attendants, were taken on board. These patients were not “lunatics” in the ordinarily accepted meaning of the word, but every one was the victim of some hallucination, and they all knew that their ultimate recovery not only depended on the voyage, but largely on the efforts they put forth themselves. 

   Another case was that of a locomotive engine-driver, who years before had run over a man who had strayed on the line. So persistently had he dwelt on this mishap that at last he came to believe that the same accident daily befell him. The railway company took no notice of this, but when it came to stopping the train for non-existent obstacles his friends obtained him twelve months leave of absence. This was a difficult case. The nerve tissues were so weakened that locomotives on sea being impossible, he got to believe that they were constantly 

Running Down Small Boats.

   Curiously enough, he infected one of the crew, a weak-minded, impressionable sort of fellow, who one day warned the crew that the sun would fall on the vessel if they made the least noise when passing the meridian. No manual work and plenty of arithmetic brought the weak-minded seaman and the engine-driver to their senses. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Thursday 8th November, 1900, p.6.






   What has the appearance of a dastardly outrage is reported to have taken place this morning on the Caledonian Railway between Dundee and Perth. Just as the 8.20 train from Dundee was nearing Inchture Station, and proceeding at a rapid rate of speed, the passengers, numbering three gentlemen, in a first-class compartment, heard what they declared to have been the report of a gun, and at the same instant the woodwork at the side of the window was struck by a bullet. Had the bullet struck the glass of the window, where a passenger was sitting, there is little doubt that serious injury would have been done, as nearly an inch of the solid beading of the side of the window was carried away. The passengers were naturally considerably alarmed, and on reaching Errol, where the train stopped, they at once reported the matter to the stationmaster, who wired to Inchture and asked inquiry to be made. The guard of the train, whose attention was drawn to the matter, said that the injury to the woodwork might have been caused by a stone, but the passengers emphatically declare that they heard the report of a gun. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Friday 9th November, 1900, p.4.

Railway Smoking.

   A Glasgow gentleman is running a test case just now for the purpose of obtaining a decision as to whether railway companies may be compelled to prevent smoking in non-smoking railway carriages. 

   While travelling on the Glasgow, Barrhead, and Kilmarnock Joint Line the gentleman was annoyed by half a dozen young men smoking in the non-smoking compartment in which he sat. He pulled the communication cord, stopped the train, and demanded the guard to eject the smokers. That official refused, it is stated, to interfere. Now the gentleman sues the company for £10 damages. The result ought to be interesting. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Saturday 10th November, 1900, p.3.

   BULLOCK KILLED ON THE RAILWAY. – Some excitement was occasioned on the arrival of a train from Portpatrick by the driver reporting that his engine had knocked down a man near the farm of Whiteleys. The police, on proceeding to the place, found it was a bullock that had perished. The animal had escaped from the slaughter house. 

North British Daily Mail, Monday 12th November, 1900, p.3.








   Shortly before eight o’clock this morning an accident occurred on the North British Railway line just outside the Tay Bridge Station. 

   At 7.45 a goods train of 25 waggons left the yard heavily laden with coal, and while taking the diamond points at the locomotive sheds four waggons  left the line, crashing over on to the permanent way. The break occurred almost in the centre of the train, the locomotive and the first five waggons taking the points. The couplings of two of the waggons snapped, but the others remained firm, with the result that the debris was piled in one huge heap, blocking the main line. 

   The coal littered the permanent way. Fortunately, however, the rails stood the test of the strain. The breakdown gang were speedily on the scene to clear away the obstruction, but, though they worked with a will, several trains were considerably delayed. Information was at once despatched to Newport and Tayport, and the morning trains used principally by business men, were detained until such time as the way was clear. 

   Three Newport trains were delayed, but by 9.30 the line was once more clear. The 8.10 to Edinburgh was 25 minutes late in starting, while the 8.15 for Glasgow was kept back for half an hour. 

   The officials at the Tay Bridge are to be congratulated on the promptitude displayed in repairing the damage. Despite the amount of broken woodwork, iron, and coal heaped for yards around, the line was signalled all clear within an hour and a half. 

   It was not known how the accident occurred. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Tuesday 13th November, 1900, p.4.



   An old farmer who lives in a rural district through which a railway passes had the misfortune to lose a valuable colt. The animal jumped out of a meadow, ran down upon the railway, and was killed by an express train. The railway company want to effect an amicable settlement is possible with the old man, and sent somebody to see him. 

   “We are verry sorry, of course, that this affair happened,” said the railway man, “and I hope it will not be necessary for us to go into court.” 

   The old farmer looked at him suspiciously and shifted about uneasily, but said nothing. 

   “You must remember,” continued the other, “that your colt was a trespasser on our property when the accident occurred. We don’t want any litigation, however, if we can help it, and we’d like to arrange a settlement on a friendly basis.” 

   “Well,” said the farmer, “I tell you what I’ll do. I’m verra sorry the colt runned on the line, but I’m a poor man, and I’ll give you ten shillings!” 

– Fraserburgh Herald and Northern Counties’ Advertiser, Tuesday 13th November, 1900, p.5.

  The other morning a newly-elected M.P. for a constituency not many miles from Glasgow was seated alone in a reserved carriage on the Caledonian Railway at a coast town station. The train was just leaving, when a gentleman jumped in and took a seat. Apologising for the intrusion, the “intruder” explained that, as there was no other seat available, and as he had an important meeting that day at noon, he could not wait for a later train. The M.P. said nothing, but engrossed himself with his newspaper, much to the discomfiture of the gentleman. 

   The train sped on, and upon it being drawn up for the collection of the tickets at a Glasgow suburban station, the stationmaster, saluting the gentleman, said, “Good morning, my Lord.” The M.P., turning to his travelling companion, said, “Oh, I have evidently made a mistake.” “I want no apology, as mine was refused,” was the reply. The gentleman gave his name, which was that of a Caledonian Director, and one of the largest landowners in Scotland, and further mentioned that the meeting he wished to attend was that of the Caledonian Railway Board, where he would take care to ascertain how it was that in a crowded train one passenger should get all to himself a compartment of eight seats. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Wednesday 14th November, 1900, p.4.



   On Sunday morning the Great North of Scotland Railway Station at Garmouth was observed to be on fire. Mr Marr, the agent, states that on Saturday night he locked up all the premises, and everything was safe when he passed the late train; but on Sunday morning, between seven and eight o’clock, when he looked from his house – which is only fifty yards from the station – he saw smoke issuing from the station doors. He at once proceeded to the spot, and himself removed from the station office – which is a continuation of the same building – all the books, tickets, etc., and by this time quite a number of the villagers had arrived on the scene. All went to work with a will, carrying pitchers of water from a ditch near by, and using as a battering ram a railway sleeper, of which there are several hundreds stacked about the station for export, and in the course of an hour their strenuous efforts managed to confine the fire to the railway store and coal cellar. At one time the flames penetrated the office, but with prompt action on the part of Mr Marr in getting part of the roof torn off and water freely poured on this part, the station was saved. The origin of the fire was, there is little doubt, owing to some four bags of lime getting wet. They had been received by the last goods train, and had been put for safety into this store. Owing to the gale of wind and the rain in the latter part of Saturday evening, they had got wet, as stated, the rain having been driven by the force of the gale under the door on to the floor of the store-room, and thus commenced the process of slaking the lime, which in time ignited the bags, and the fire had then spread to the other articles stored there. 

Banffshire Advertiser, Thursday 15th November, 1900, p.8.

   Another railway smash took place yesterday morning just outside of Hamilton Central Caledonian Railway Station. A mineral train was passing along the line, when some of the waggons, failing to take the points, became derailed, and smashed into several passenger carriages lying in a small siding near by. The latter were considerably damaged. 

– Dundee Courier, Thursday 15th November, 1900, p.3.


   This morning, while a platelayer named George Stevens, who resides at 65 Market Street, Musselburgh, was carrying a heavy bar across the line at Dalmeny Station, where he was working, he stumbled, with the result that the bar fell across his leg, breaking it between the ankle and the knee. Stevens was taken by train to Edinburgh and removed to the Royal Infirmary. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday 15th November, 1900, p.3.

   ACCIDENT AT INVERGORDON STATION. – An accident, which involved considerable damage to property, took place at Invergordon Station on Thursday night. It appears that the 7 p.m. goods train, going north, was shunting some waggons on to the loading bank by means of a rope – the engine on the main line and the waggons running on to the bank. When the waggons had enough of way the engine stopped as usual, but the brakesman at the time could not get the rope unfastened from the waggon, with the result that two waggons were upset, one against the pointsman’s cabin, knocking it several feet from its foundation and smashing the windows. The pointsman, who was in the cabin at the time, received a severe shaking, and had to come out by the window. Another waggon with cattle also went off the line, but that was soon put on the rails. The accident crane arrived about 11 p.m. from Inverness, and had the other two waggons put on the rails, and the other necessary repairs were promptly attended to. 

– Ross-shire Journal, Friday 16th November, 1900, p.5.

   ALLOA TRAVELLER KILLED AT STONEHAVEN. – Thomas Wilson, 54, commercial traveller for Archibald Arrol & Sons, Limited, brewers, Alloa, while turning suddenly on a new stair at Stonehaven Railway Station on Friday night, stumbled and fell, fracturing his skull. He died yesterday in Aberdeen Infirmary. 

   SHOCKING RAILWAY FATALITY NEAR KIRKCALDY. – The body of John Brown (30), floorcloth printer, Park Road, Gallatown, was yesterday morning discovered in a frightfully mutilated condition lying on the railway near Sinclairtown Station. The man had evidently wandered on to the line and been knocked down by a passing goods train. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 19th November, 1900, p,.2.



   Yesterday morning a painful discovery was made on the railway near Sinclairtown Railway Station, Kirkcaldy. John Brown, a floorcloth printer, residing at 32 Park Road, Gallatown, was found lying between the up line of rails about fifteen yards to the east of Sinclairtown Bridge. The body was in a frightful condition. The upper part of the head was completely knocked off, the right foot and left hand being also terribly mutilated. Deceased, it has transpired, was at the Liberal Association meeting the previous evening, and left Kirkcaldy about eleven o’clock in company with other two men. On reaching the harbour they parted company, and about midnight he called at a house in Harriet Street, Pathhead, where he remained for about an hour, afterwards leaving for home. He proceeded up Harriet Street, and was never seen again until he was found at 6.45 yesterday morning by a railway surfaceman. It is supposed he had wandered on to the line, and been knocked down by a passing goods train. Deceased, who was only 30 years of age, was a married man, and leaves a wife and two young children to mourn his untimely fate. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 19th November, 1900, p.7.

   FITTER KILLED ON HIGHLAND RAILWAY. – On Saturday an accident occurred on the Highland line, whereby a railway fitter named William Smith lost his life. It appears that Smith, who was in the employment of Mr Best, railway contractor, had been working at the doubling of the line near Dalnaspidal.. He was proceeding along the railway to pay a visit at Baluan, [Blair-Atholl,] near Struan, and at a curve had stepped out of the way of the 11.50 a.m. down train from Perth. He, however, got in front of a pilot engine coming in the opposite direction, whose approach he had not observed, and by which the unfortunate man was run down and instantaneously killed. He was about 40 years of age, was unmarried, and is believed to have belonged to Dunfermline. 

Perthshire Advertiser, Monday 19th November, 1900, p.3.


   The platelayer, James McKenna, 3 Guthrie Street, who was run down by an express train near Merchiston Station yesterday forenoon, succumbed to his injuries in the Royal Infirmary at ten minutes past eight o’clock this morning. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday 22nd November, 1900, p.2.




   Yesterday a serious accident occurred to Mr James Watt, a foreman surfaceman, residing at Rossie Island, and in the employment of the North British Railway Company at Montrose. Watt, along with other workmen, was engaged laying plates in the cutting near the Inch Bridge, when he was knocked down by a fish worker’s special train from the south. Watt was struck in the shoulder by the engine and rendered unconscious. He was conveyed to the Infirmary, where his injuries were attended to by Drs Key and Stone. On examination it was found that he had sustained a compound fracture of the shoulder. Under careful treatment the injured man is expected to recover. Further information states that when the injured man saw the train coming he made a strenuous effort to adjust the rail, otherwise, it is stated, the carriages would have been thrown off the rails. This he succeeded in doing, contemplating at the same time that he would have the work performed before the train would reach the portion of the line at which he was working. Last night Watt lay at the Infirmary in a critical state. 

– Dundee Courier, Thursday 22nd November, 1900, p.6.

   PORTER KILLED AT MOTHERWELL STATION. – At Motherwell Railway Station, on Saturday evening, a young porter named Martin Kenneth, employed by the Caledonian Railway Company, unfortunately jumped from the platform in front of a passing engine, his attention being attracted by a train which was passing on the down line of rails. He was fearfully mutilated, both legs being cut off, and his right arm mangled. Kenneth, who was 21 years of age, died on Sunday morning in the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow. 

– Bellshill Speaker, Saturday 24th November, 1900, p.2.




   The other morning the travellers by one of the trains on the Dundee and Arbroath Joint Railway had a spice of excitement added to their rather monotonous journey. As the train was approaching Craigie Bridge, after leaving West Ferry, and was then going at full speed, the occupants of the carriages in the rear of the train were surprised to see the guard leave his compartment, and begin to walk along the footboard. It appeared that he had observed that one of the doors of a carriage had not been properly locked, and, as the train was well filled with passengers, he had decided to properly secure the door, so as to avoid the possible occurrence of an accident. 

   The guard’s progress on his dangerous journey was watched with great interest by the passengers. the most exciting incident occurred when he had to bridge the space between two carriages; but he succeeded in accomplishing the self-imposed task without mishap. The great suction caused by the speed at which the train was going occasioned him considerable trouble. After fulfilling his mission, he made his way back in safety to the van. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Saturday 24th November, 1900, p.3.

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – While a North British engine was shunting some loaded waggons into one of the sidings at the colliery on Wednesday, two waggons were derailed and came through the paling and telescoped, crashing into a green. Luckily there was no children near, but a brakesman, who was standing on one of the waggons when it went over, was nearly covered in the debris, receiving some nasty cuts, and had to be removed in the brakes van. 

– Bellshill Speaker, Saturday 24th November, 1900, p.2.


   Robert Douglas, 66 years of age, linen dresser, East Nethertown Street, Dunfermline, was found dead yesterday on the railway near Dunfermline Lower Station. The deceased had been run over by a train, and his head was almost severed from the trunk. He left his house on Saturday night, and is supposed to have wandered on to the railway. 

– Dundee Evening Post – Monday 26 November, 1900, p.4.





   Preaching in the Parish Church, Montrose, on Sunday, Rev. Hugh Callan, of the Second Charge, referred to the accident which had last week befallen James Watt, surfaceman, a member of the congregation. The rev. gentleman said that from what he had heard from Mr Watt’s own lips, and from what others who had witnessed the accident, had said, Watt had proved himself a hero. In the cutting at Craig, on the North British Railway, Watt, with his squad, numbering about twenty, was repairing the rails. A jack had been left in position, and while the others left the line in time to escape an express train which came rushing down the cutting at about 75 miles an hour, he stuck to his post, and at the peril of his life removed the jack. In clearing the rails, he was struck on the shoulder and knocked down, sustaining such injuries as necessitated his removal to the infirmary. By his brave action, Watt saved the train with about 300 fisher girls who were going north to their homes from the English fishing stations. 

– Stonehaven Journal, Thursday 29th November, 1900, p.2.

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