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December 1900

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1900) Contents]







   Early yesterday morning, when a goods train on the North-Eastern Railway was a few miles south of Berwick, the couplings of a waggon broke. The first part of the train was brought to a standstill, but the second part, coming on, dashed into it. Twenty-eight waggons were thrown off the rails, and both lines were blocked for several hours. Seven of the waggons were smashed to pieces. Breakdown gangs were sent from Gateshead and Tweedmouth to repair the damage. The fast trains to Edinburgh were delayed five hours, and other traffic was disorganised. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 3rd December, 1900, p.3.

   SINGULAR ACCIDENT. – A rather unusual accident occurred at the Queen’s Dock on Friday night. While three railway waggons were being run to the edge of the quay the foremost one jumped the sleeper buffer intended to stop it and rolled into the hold of the steamer Kelburne. A number of men and women who were working in the hold escaped injury. The waggon was lifted out by means of a large crane. 

– North British Daily Mail, Monday 3rd December, 1900, p.3.

   MAN KILLED ON WEST HIGHLAND RAILWAY. – An accident of a shocking nature occurred on Friday afternoon on the West Highland Railway about a mile east of Spean-Bridge Station. Donald Forbes, aged about 80 years, had been walking on the line, and, being somewhat deaf, did not hear a ballast train approach, with the result that he was run down near a sharp curve and instantly killed. The body was horribly mutilated. Deceased, who was better known by the cognomen of “Killiechassie,” belonged originally to Aberfeldy, and for many years was a well-known figure in dancing competitions at Highland gatherings. Latterly he followed the occupation of mole-catcher throughout the Lochaber district, and for a man of his advanced age was robust and constitutionally strong. 

– Inverness Courier, Tuesday 4th December, 1900, p.2.





  An accident, resulting in the death of a yardsman named David Smith, 194 Blackness Road, occurred at the goods yard of the North British Railway Company at Dundee last night. Smith, at the time of the accident, about twenty minutes to ten o’clock, was walking along the permanent way in a westerly direction. He had just given instructions to a signalman about a west-going train, when in trying to get clear of a pilot engine proceeding westward, he was knocked down in front of a number of waggons which were being shunted to the east by another pilot engine. The waggons were immediately brought to a standstill, but not before one of the wheels had come against the unfortunate man’s prostrate body. One of the railwaymen, a member of the ambulance corps in connection with the Tay Bridge Station, was quickly on the spot, and made an examination of the extent of the injuries, but found life to be extinct. The body was thereafter removed to the shunters’ bothy, and Dr Lennox, who was called, pronounced death to have been instantaneous. The external effects of the accident had apparently been slight. Smith, who was over thirty years of age, leaves a widow and four of a family, for whom much sympathy is felt. His father resides at Kettie, while a cousin is the stationmaster at the Esplanade Station. 

– Dundee Courier, Wednesday 5th December, 1900, p.4.



   On Saturday night the mutilated remains of John Baillie, printer and stationer, Hamilton, were found on the four feet way on the low level at Eglinton Street Station of the Caledonian Railway in Glasgow. No one had seen the deceased, and it is unknown how the accident occurred. 




   Richard McOne, a foreman labourer, was crushed between the buffers of two waggons on Saturday at Berth 18, Queen’s Dock, Glasgow, and killed instantaneously. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Wednesday 5th December, 1900, p.12.


   On Friday a sad accident occurred at the Highland Railway loading bank at Inverness, resulting in the instantaneous death of John Ralph, carter. He and Mr Boyd, his employer, were loading a waggon. Boyd went to shift the horse while Ralph was packing wood. Some waggons were shunted against the waggon. Ralph fell between the bank and the waggons, and three of them passed over his head. He was thirty years of age, unmarried, and belonged to Portmahomack. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Wednesday 5th December, 1900, p.5.

   SURFACEMAN KILLED. – Yesterday the body of Norman Mackay (22), a surfaceman, was found on the Highland Railway line at Milton of Bracklish. near Gollanfield Station, Mackay came into Inverness from Fort George to see some friends belonging to the Inverness-shire Militia, and returned home in the evening. He is supposed to have wandered on to the railway line, and to have been knocked down by the night train and killed. 

– North British Daily Mail, Thursday 6th December, 1900, p.3.


   This morning a serious smash occurred on the Caledonian Railway outside the Central Station, Hamilton, the scene of many previous occurrences of the kind, due to subsidences, caused by mineral workings. A mineral train was entering the station, when twelve waggons left the rails, one being overturned, a second tilting partly over it, while others had wheels torn off and were smashed and damaged. The line is being cleared, and traffic is being conducted over the down line. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Friday 7th December, 1900, p.2.

   FATAL ACCIDENT AT CARRON. – On Friday, about one o’clock, a young man named Robert Jackson, who lodged in Gairdoch Terrace, but who is supposed to belong to Langholm district, met his death by falling in front of a railway waggon in Carron Works. Jackson was employed as a guard on the railway, and was engaged at his work when the accident happened. The body was conveyed to Falkirk mortuary, pending communication with deceased’s friends. 

– Falkirk Herald, Saturday 8th December, 1900, p.5.



   While Her Majesty was on a visit to Dunrobin Castle, a very comical incident occurred. The train had to pass a certain farm on the way, and the farmer and his family and all the farm servants gathered in an adjacent level-crossing to gaze at the train as it passed. One boy, with exceedingly loyal intentions, had secured his mother’s best scarlet shawl to wave as a flag. He ran forward to a little hill near the crossing to get the first glimpse of the train. At last it came in sight, and the youngster shouted and cheered, waving his flag frantically. Imagine the surprise of the people when the Royal train slowed and stopped. In an instant a railway official seized the boy and cried – “Down with that shawl. Don’t you know you are stopping the Royal train?” The driver had taken it as a signal of danger. However, it pleased Her Majesty to be greatly amused, and no ill consequences ensued. 

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 8th December, 1900, p.5.

   Shortly before seven o’clock on Saturday night a railway accident of a serious nature occurred at Cambuslang Station to a minor named Connely, residing at Blantyre. Connely was journeying with the Bothwell train to Blantyre, and on its arrival at Cambuslang he opened the wrong door, falling on the six-foot way. On being examined by Dr. McPherson, Cambuslang, he was found to have sustained severe injuries to the face and arms, and was ordered to the Royal Infirmary. 

– Kirkintilloch Herald, Wednesday 12th December, 1900, p.6.






   This afternoon a rather serious accident occurred at Tay Bridge Station, involving considerable damage to the rolling stock. 

   A train arrived at the station from the South shortly after midday, and, after the passengers had been landed, the carriages were shifted in order to have them shunted into a lye situated at the extreme west end of the platform between the north and south main lines. 

   As the carriages negotiated the points leading to the lye they entered upon a gradient. Here they could be brought to a stop they dashed into the stationary buffers at the end. The force of the collision was of sufficient severity to knock the first carriage of the train off the line, besides smashing the footboard and otherwise damaging it. 

  The two other vehicles fared even worse than this carriage, their bodies being damaged and several of the windows broken. The guard’s van sustained the worst damage of the vehicles. The frame of the carriage was partially detached from the bogies, while a panel at the end was knocked out. 

   Fortunately no accident to life or limb was sustained, but the damage will be considerable. A breakdown gang was brought into request, and soon had the derailed carriage replaced on the line. 

   As the lye was clear of the main lines no detention was occasioned to traffic. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Friday 14th December, 1900, p.5.

   Accident to a Signalman – Strange Conduct. – Last Saturday night an unusual occurrence took place at the new signal box at Boghead. A signalman names John Macfarlane, who resides in West Main’s Cottages, which are close to the signal box, had a holiday on Saturday, which he spent in Edinburgh. He returned back by the last train, which leaves Edinburgh at 10.30. When the train reached Boghead the signalman handed his tablet to the engineman. Immediately after he had done so, and as soon as the train rushed passed, he observed a dark object drop on to the rails on the other side. The signalman had to go and change the points, and after having performed that duty he returned to see what had fallen from the train. To his consternation he discovered a man whose face was so covered with blood that identification was impossible. Assistance was obtained and the unfortunate man was conveyed off the rails. He was then recognised to be the signalman named John Macfarlane. After some difficulty he was conveyed to Bathgate and from there to the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, where it was discovered he was suffering from fracture of the skull. The strange and dangerous manner of leaving the train can only be accounted for with the statement that he wanted to save himself the trouble of walking from Armadale station. The other feasible explanation is that he forgot to get out at Bathgate station, which was as near, if not nearer, to his destination, and jumped out when the train was opposite the cottages where he stayed. 

– West Lothian Courier, Friday 14th December, 1900, p.4.




   On Saturday afternoon as the 3.12 p.m. train from Crieff Junction to Crieff and Comrie was approaching a deep cutting with a sharp curve, fully two miles west of Crieff, it knocked down a man who was walking on the four-foot way. It is supposed that the man, who is named Andrew Dewar, a retired labourer, about 70 years of age, who resided at Glascary, on the Strowan estate, 3 miles west of Crieff, had been in Dundee doing business, and had taken the railway track as a short route home. Owing to the sharp curve in the cutting the engine-driver was upon him before he could draw up, while it is thought that the strong wind blowing at the time prevented the old man hearing the approach of the train. On the arrival of the train at Comrie the matter was reported to the police, when Constable Duff, with an engine and van proceeded to the scene of the accident, and had the body conveyed to Crieff, where it was placed in one of the waiting-rooms. The deceased had been dragged fully a hundred yards from the place where he was knocked down. The body was found with face downwards, while the left arm was cut off, and the left foot above the instep, and his face was so disfigured as to be past recognition. 

   The police, on searching his clothes, found the key of his dwelling, and a deposit receipt dated June last for £300; while, strange to say, a small bottle of ink was found intact. The matter has caused a considerable sensation in the district, where deceased was well known. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 17th December, 1900, p.4.

   OLDMELDRUM – ACCIDENT AT RAILWAY STATION – While Mr George Mackay, retired blacksmith, Baker Street, was coming off the train at Oldmeldrum Railway Station the other day, he unfortunately stepped on to the platform before the train had stopped, and, keeping hold of the carriage handle, he dislocated his shoulder. 

– Buchan Observer and East Aberdeenshire Advertiser, Tuesday 18th December, 1900, p.5.

   Mr George Westinghouse had produced a new invention which, it is stated, may turn out to be as important in railway affairs as his famous brake. It is a kind of friction buffer, designed for taking up the heavy shock of the impact between railway carriages or waggons, combined with a draw-bar appliance for connecting the vehicles. Many American trains are already using the new appliance. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Thursday 20th December, 1900, p.4.

   Accident on the Railway. – On Saturday afternoon, while John Johnstone, a labourer, employed at Westrigg Colliery, was walking home to Blackridge he was overtaken by the 3 o’clock passenger train and knocked down. On being pushed up it was found that he had sustained severe injuries, and it was deemed advisable to have him conveyed to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary by the next train. At the time of the accident a strong wind was blowing which prevented Johnstone from hearing the train coming up behind. He was caught on the shoulders and hurled over the embankment. The injuries were not considered dangerous. 

– West Lothian Courier, Friday 21st December, 1900, p.4.

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT NEWTON. – A railway accident occurred on the Caledonian main line early yesterday morning, several mineral waggons leaving the rails opposite Newton Colliery No. 1, and smashing the roadway for a considerable distance. Happily the accident occurred at a time when only mineral traffic was in operation, but notwithstanding the efforts of a large break-down gang, the lines were not cleared in time for the early passenger traffic, and great delay ensued. Later on the line was cleared, and trains passed on the single-line principle, but it was the afternoon before the effects of the damage were rectified. 

– The Scotsman, Saturday 22nd December, 1900, p.9.



   About 12.20 [a.m.] a terrific blast carried away the greater portion of the corrugated iron roof of the tar house at the Forth Linoleum Works in the vicinity of the railway station. As showing the power of the gale the heavy iron roofing was lifted far aloft, and after sweeping clean over the high intervening building it alighted in a most awkward place, namely, on the railway line. The crash of the falling roof set one or two of the company’s sleepless servants on the alert to find out what happened. In this they were quickly successful, and in almost no time, with the assistance of a number of firemen and workmen on the night shift at Messrs Barry, Ostlere, & Shepherd’s works, the operation of clearing the line was commenced and successfully accomplished after the lapse of fully an hour. Both roads were blocked. Had the occurrence passed unobserved a serious railway accident would doubtless have resulted. 

– Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian, Saturday 22nd December, 1900, p.4.

   RAILWAY FATALITY. – a signalman on the Caledonian Railway, William Sibbald, 32 years of age, was accidentally killed on Monday morning about 7.30, as he was returning home from his work. It appears that he had stepped off the up-line on to the down-line in front of a fish train which was due to pass, and which it is thought instantaneously killed him, although his body was not found until about an hour afterwards. He leaves a wife and family to mourn his loss. 

– Bellshill Speaker, Saturday 22nd December, 1900, p.3.

   ACCIDENT. – On Saturday afternoon while a boy named William Gillespie, residing in North Bridge Street, Bathgate, was coming from Livingstone to Bathgate he was knocked down by a passenger train coming from Edinburgh. He sustained a compound fracture of one of his legs and the other was fractured. He was also cut about the head. As quickly as possible he was removed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and on Monday night he was still in an unconscious condition. 

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 22nd December, 1900, p.5.


   About half-past eleven o’clock on Saturday night a man about forty years of age, named Alex. Ritchie, residing at Roslin, was found lying at the west end of Bonnyrigg Railway Station platform in a dying condition. He was severely bruised about the head, and unconscious. He succumbed to his injuries about midnight. It is supposed that he had been run down shortly after eleven o’clock by a special train of empty waggons. Deceased was a slater to trade. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 24th December, 1900, p.3.


   Last night the storm was renewed with great violence in Annandale. An engine-driver and fireman have been reported as having had a very narrow escape. As they were bringing a goods train out of the Glasgow and South-Western Station at Annan a signal was blown down, and it was dragged beneath the railway bridge near the engine, the men escaping by a miracle. Several boats have slipped their moorings, and damage to growing timber is considerable. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 26th December, 1900, p.4.




   A crane accident of an alarming nature occurred yesterday at West Pier, Bo’ness, in which a railway official named Walter Dickson, employed by the North British Railway as waggon inspector, was severely injured. Operations were being carried on for the raising of a keel, belonging to Mr Findlayson, Bo’ness, by means of a crane situated on a high embankment overlooking the beach, at the erection of which Dickson was assisting. When the keel was in midair the crane slipped its bearings and toppled over the embankment, dragging Dickson with it, and falling on top of him, severely crushed him about the back and upper part of the body. He was also terribly lacerated about the face and head. He was removed home in an unconscious condition and medically attended to. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Thursday 27th December, 1900, p.4.


   While George Smith, retired farmer, Duke Street, Huntly, was walking along the railway on Tuesday afternoon between Ellon and Esslemont, near the bridge spanning the Ythan, he was overtaken and knocked down by the engine of the 1.30 special ballast train from Ellon, which was proceeding in the direction of Esslemont. He was tossed off the railway track. Two persons who heard his cries picked him up and removed him to Ellon Station, where he was seen by Dr Bisset, who dressed his injuries. He was afterwards removed to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. His right shoulder was dislocated, and the fingers of his right hand injured, while it is believed that several ribs on his right side have been bruised or broken. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Thursday 27th December, 1900, p.3.


   James Watt, surfaceman, Rossie Island, died in Montrose Royal Infirmary last night from injuries received on Wednesday, 21st November. Deceased, it will be remembered, was working at the entrance to Craig Cutting when a special passenger train from the south came upon the flying squad with which he was engaged. All were able to get clear except Watt, whose right arm, shoulder, and collar-bone were broken. He made satisfactory progress for a week or two, but latterly his strength failed. He was 47 years of age, and leaves a widow and four children, all of whom are young. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Friday 28th December, 1900, p.5.

   ACCIDENT ON THE RAILWAY. – On the morning of Monday last, a Caledonian mineral train drawn by two powerful engines, while running between Barrhead and Neilston on its way to Kilmarnock, met with a serious mishap. The train consisted of 36 waggons loaded with coal, and after passing the new signal cabin at Barshagray the coupling of the waggon second from the engine gave way. The signalman seeing the 35 waggons and guards’ van coming back at considerable speed, opened the points leading to the new up line siding, with the result that the train entered it, an before coming to a stand guards van and nine waggons had gone over the end of the siding – partly into Mr Hutton’s garden and partly onto the up line of rails at Barshagray House. The guard wisely jumped from his can on seeing how matters stood, or he would not have escaped with his life. The signalman at Barshagray is to be commended for his prompt action in bringing the train to a stand, although with such serious damage to plant and displacement of over 60 tons of coal. The officials had the line clear by mid-day, and have left debris for removal on Sunday. While the block lasted all trains passed up and down on the down line of rails between Barshagray and Barrhead with little or no delay. 

Barrhead News, Friday 28th December, 1900, p.3.

   HOW WE FARED BY THE GALE. – … Another serious mishap was the accident to the “pug” engine which travels between Linlithgow Oil Works and St Magdalene’s Siding. When at the works, and about to make the usual journey, the engine and waggons were caught by the wind and blown off the railway. The boiler of the engine was burst and other damage done, but fortunately no personal injuries were sustained by those engaged on the engine. 

– Falkirk Herald, Saturday 29th December, 1900, p.7.

   RAILWAY FATALITY. – Early on Sunday the body of a man was found on the Lesmahagow branch, about a quarter of a mile east from Larkhall Station. Later in the day it was identified as that of John Rourke (28), labourer, Birkenshaw. On Saturday, along with a companion he arrived with a train at Larkhall Station, and was then put on the way for home. They had separated, however, and it is not known how Rourke came to be on the railway. 

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 29th December, 1900, p.6.

   Railway Accident at Burntisland. – Early yesterday morning an accident of rather an alarming character happened on the railway opposite the Links, Burntisland. A goods train was being shunted into the dock sidings, when one of the trucks missing the points left the line and dragged three other waggons with it, the derailed trucks mounting on the top of each other. One of these struck one of the pillars of the new bridge recently erected to give access to the beach and precipitated it into the subway. The parapet railing was also twisted and broken. Both lines were blocked at the time, but a staff of workmen under Mr Taylor, locomotive superintendent, set to work and cleared the lines in two hours before the morning trains were due. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 31st December, 1900, p.3.

   RAILWAY FATALITY. – James McCann, second guard on a goods train from Dumfries, met with a fatal accident on the Glasgow and South-Western Railway line at Closeburn at a late hour on Friday night. He had been engaged shunting at the quarry siding, and having coupled on his train was crossing the six-foot way to enter the van when a special train from Glasgow passed. He was struck on the head by the engine, and death was instantaneous. 

– North British Daily Mail, Monday 31st December, 1900, p.3.
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