May 1901





   At five o’clock yesterday morning Charles Banks, miner, aged 24 years, residing at Lomond Road, Cowdenbeath, met with a rather serious accident while on the North British Railway between Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly. He was on his way to his work at the May Pit, and was walking on the sleeper ends on the outside of the down line when he was overtaken by a goods train – the 9.45 p.m. from Carlisle for Dundee – in the centre of the tunnel situated east of Lumphinnans village, and knocked down. the wheels of the train passed over his left foot, cutting it off at the ankle. A train was coming towards him, which prevented him hearing the noise of the goods train behind him. He was removed home and attended to by Dr Selkirk, who ordered his removal to Dunfermline Cottage Hospital. 

– Dundee Courier, Thursday 2nd May, 1901, p.7.


   RAILWAY MISHAP. – Of Friday night a startling railway mishap occurred at Croy station. A train of waggons was shunted in and crashed into several waggons standing in the goods shed. One waggon was raised upright, and came through the roof of the shed, while another was pitched bodily on top of a second. The damage is estimated at about £100. 

Kilsyth Chronicle, Saturday 4th May, 1901, p.3.



   On Saturday morning a shocking occurrence was discovered to have taken place on the railway at Dyce, by which a shepherd named David Burnett (68) was killed by a passing engine. It appears that the driver of the 3.30 mail train from Aberdeen saw the body of a man lying on the main line, and, coming off his engine, to his horror discovered that the head was terribly injured, the back part being completely cut away. The body was removed to the creosote works, where it was subsequently identified as that of David Burnett, shepherd, residing at Raiths, Dyce. The man was seen the previous night in Aberdeen, which he left for home by the 10.10 suburban train. On leaving the train at Dyce Station, it is supposed that he had walked along the main line, with the view of taking a short cut to the place where he was staying. At a point near the creosote works, it is believed, he had missed his footing and fallen with his head lying close to one of the rails. Probably, it is thought, he had been stunned by the blow, and had been unable to get up. A pilot engine left Kennethmont for Aberdeen at 2.30 on Saturday morning, and it is conjectured it had passed over the unfortunate man’s head, killing him instantaneously. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Monday 6th May, 1901, p.4.


   BRAKESMAN KILLED. – A sad accident took place on the Caledonian Railway near Breich on Saturday afternoon. While a goods train was proceeding past Breich Station the waggon next the engine took fire. The second brakesman, John French (24), went on the top of the waggon to put out the fire, and at Muldron Bridge his head came in contact with the bridge, and he was killed. French lived at Bellshill. 

– North British Daily Mail, Tuesday 7th May, 1901, p.4.







   This afternoon an extraordinary accident took place at Hillside, near Montrose, as the result of which 45 sheep were killed. 

   It appears that a flock of sheep, numbering about 300, were removed in the morning from the farm of Warburton to Hillside North British Station for the purpose of being consigned to Aberdeen. While the work of trucking the animals was in progress a train on the Caledonian line, proceeding south, passed, frightening the sheep. 

   The terror-striken animals jumped over the embankment and ran along the line, when the express train from Aberdeen, due at Montrose at 11.18, came up and dashed into their midst, mowing them down on every side. 

   When the train passed a shocking spectacle was witnessed. Portions of the animals were strewn in all directions, and a number of carcasses were carried for many yards along the line. 

   When the train arrived at Montrose the engine was bespattered with blood, and caused a great amount of excitement. The carcasses were brought from Hillside to Montrose Slaughter House in the afternoon, and were afterwards dressed. they belong to Messrs Middleton & Sons, butchers, Aberdeen, and at the time of the accident they were in charge of a shepherd. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Thursday 9th May, 1901, p.3.


   A DANGEROUS PRACTICE. – At the Upper Station on Saturday night a man had a rather narrow escape of meeting with serious injury. It appears that the party in question had accompanied a friend to the station with a view of seeing him off with the 8.55 p.m. train to Edinburgh. As the train was starting the two friends shook hands, and continued to do so while the train was in motion, with the result that the one on the platform was dragged along the platform and fell between two carriages. Mr G. Green, the assistant agent, noticed the accident, and the train was immediately stopped and the man taken from his perilous position on the buffers. Beyond a fright the man seemed little the worse of his adventure. 

Linlithgowshire Gazette, Friday 10th May, 1901, p.5.




   Tit-Bits records a series of “noble deeds of railway servants,” and among them the following with regard to the sad accident which happened near Altnabreac a year or two ago:- 

   From the north of Scotland a rare act of railway heroism was reported twelve months ago. One Tuesday morning a gang of men were at work on a broken rail on the Highland line, just south of Altnabreac station, when a distant whistle announced the approach of the morning mail train from Wick to Inverness. The men had a bogie with them, which threatened to cause a terrible disaster, as it completely blocked the line, and there was no means of stopping the train, which at this point always ran at full speed. 

   While his comrades became panic-stricken, John Morrison, a young married man with two children, strove with superhuman strength to remove the bogie from the rails. He succeeded in doing this, but only at the sacrifice of his own life. The driver of the oncoming train saw him struggling with the obstruction, but could not stop in time. Morrison had just got the bogie off the metals when the engine caught him and cut the brave fellow to pieces. 

– Northern Ensign and Weekly Gazette, Tuesday 14th May, 1901, p.3.
[This story is very reminiscent of that incident on the 21st November, 1900, when James Watt died saving a train of fisher girls in the same fashion. See articles covering the incident – Dundee Courier, Thursday 22nd November, 1900, p.6, Stonehaven Journal, Thursday 29th November, 1900, p.2, and Dundee Evening Telegraph, Friday 28th December, 1900, p.5.]













   An alarming and almost unprecedented railway accident occurred to-day on the Dundee and Forfar direct line, as the result of which a goods train was severely smashed. 

   It appears that the 20.50 Caledonian goods train from Dundee West to Kingennie ran away from the latter station. From Broughty Ferry Junction to Kingennie there is a steep incline, and it was down this that the runaway train proceeded for a distance of about five miles. 

   Considering the nature of the line, which contains many sharp and dangerous curves, it is marvellous that the train should have kept on the rails. At Barnhill the unusual spectacle of a train running backwards was observed. 


   The train passed Barnhill at a high rate of speed, and entered upon the long embankment, and rushed headlong on to the Dundee and Arbroath Joint Line at Broughty Ferry Junction. Here damage of a very serious nature was occasioned. 

   In changing the metals several of the carriages were derailed, and some of them were smashed. 

   In consequence of the smash the system has been blocked at Broughty Junction. Traffic is being worked on the single line from Dundee to Carnoustie, while Forfar direct line is entirely blocked.

   Fortunately no danger to life was occasioned by the accident. 

   The break-down squad has been sent from Dundee to repair the damage. 







   An “Evening Post” reporter, telegraphing later, says:- A visit to the scene of the disaster reveals a picture of extraordinary destruction and confusion. Lying across the main line to Arbroath and the Dundee and Forfar Direct Line is a heterogenous mass of broken, smashed, and distorted material. The train left Dundee East Station at 10.50, the engine being in charge of Wm. Fraser, driver, and Wm. Milne, fireman – both belonging to Forfar. Kingenne was reached shortly before twelve o’clock, and as a number of the waggons containing manure were destined for that station, the engine was detached, leaving the twenty waggons, all heavily laden, and the guard’s brake-van on the line. Without any warning the train of waggons which had been stationary, began to move slowly down the line. The danger which would follow should the train get a start was at once apparent to the officials in charge and efforts were made to get the waggons spragged. These attempts were, however, without success, and, gaining speed, the engineless train dashed off on its journey. Faster and faster it flew, the steep gradients which prevail at this portion of the line aiding it greatly. A minute or two after it started it was rushing along at a terrific speed towards Broughty Ferry. The Dundee and Forfar line contains a large number of sharp curves and narrow rock-girt cuttings, besides several steep embankments and disused quarry holes. 


   The distance from Kingennie to Broughty Ferry is fully five miles, and having regard to the declivity the runaway train covered it in a marvellously short space of time. Rushing on it passed over the high and dangerous viaduct known as seven arches, and dashing past Barnhill Station at fully eighteen miles an hour it entered upon a long and curved embankment leading down to Broughty Junction, where the Forfar direct line merges on the Dundee and Arbroath Joint main line. 

   The officials at Broughty Junction had been apprised of the alarming nature of the runaway, and the points were placed in readiness to throw it off the line. Down the embankment the train came with a frightful roar, and crashed into the main line. The impact was one of terrific force, and twenty large cumbersome waggons were overturned and smashed almost into matchwood. Iron wheels and axles were broken and twisted, whilst the waggons’ contents, consisting of flax, mill-dust, coal, manure, and general merchandise, were scattered about. The wall which abuts Orchard Park was partially smashed, while a large signal post was broken and crumpled up. 


   As a criterion of the fearful chaos, it has just to be remarked that the last six waggons of the train were reared on end where they stood. The permanent way at Broughty Junction was torn up and destroyed, while the waggons lay about in a confused heap. 

   Information of the disaster was at once conveyed to the Dundee and Arbroath Joint Line officials, and the breakdown gang, under Superintendent Hackney and Inspector Soutar was at once on the scene, and started to clear the line. 

   This, however, was a task of great magnitude, and the line remained blocked for the greater part of the afternoon. Traffic between one and two o’clock between Dundee and Arbroath is very heavy, and a large number of trains had to be detained at Broughty Ferry, while the up trains to Dundee were also stopped at Monifieth and Carnoustie. 




   Another correspondent telegraphs:-  The circumstances of the smash were of the most startling kind. The goods train, when it reached Kingennie, was brought to a stand, and the engine and one of the waggons moved forward for shunting operations. The guard, James Wilson, of Forfar, was careful not only to put on the brake of his van, but also to “spragg” the wheels of one of the waggons. 

   When shunting operations were in progress the men in charge of the train were startled by observing the remaining portion, which consisted of 19 waggons and the van, gradually beginning to move down the declivity in the direction of Barnhill. The alarm was at once raised, and steps were taken to get the engine in motion in order to chase the runaway waggons. 

   The guard got into the waggon, which was still attached to the engine, in the hope that he would overtake the runaway vehicles, and thus enabled him to hook on the flying portion with his shunting pole. Right down in Barnhill the exciting chase was kept up, but invariably when the engine got within striking distance the waggons seemed to obtain additional momentum. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Wednesday 15th May, 1901, p.2.


   Accident at the Station. – About 2.50 yesterday afternoon, while a man named Davie was engaged in coupling a carriage to a train for Edzell he got caught between the footboard of the carriage and the platform, receiving a severe bruise about the right side. He was removed to the porters’ room, where he was examined by Dr Anderson, who, though not at the time able to give an opinion as to the nature of the injuries, did not think anything serious would ensue. 

– Dundee Courier, Thursday 16th May, 1901, p.4.



   The serious railway accident which occurred on the main line of the Dundee and Arbroath Joint Railway id a reminder that the various lines leading into Dundee lack such safeguard as the public have a right to demand. Accidents similar to that of yesterday have happened on the main line to Perth, on the line entering the Tay Bridge Station, and on the line at Wormit. Fortunately the series of accidents only resulted in damage to rolling stock and to permanent way. Nevertheless, the lesson of former accidents does not appear to have been taken to heart by the railway authorities. The arrangements for breaking portions of shunting goods trains on dangerous gradients do not appear to be perfect, and the allocation of runaway points cannot be regarded as affording proper protection. On the Newstyle railway a runaway train on one occasion dashed right through the Dundee Station to the public street. At the Tay Bridge Station trains sped down the lines into local docks and also on to the main line. At Wormit runaway points are so arranged that a train dashing through the tunnel shall be thrown into or upon the passenger platform. In yesterday’s accident the runaway points appear to be so placed that a runaway train coming down the steep line from Barnhill was thrown across the main line. Under such circumstances it ought to be the duty of the municipality of Dundee to request the Board of Trade officials to investigate the safeguards of the various lines converging on the city. In the case of the Caledonian Railway Company application has been made to the civic authorities for ground required for the doubling of the main line. At the time the application was first made a special point was made of the argument that it was essential to the public safety that the main line to Perth should be doubled. Now, however, the Caledonian Railway authorities seem to have departed from the policy of providing such safeguards as are possible on double lines of rails. The Company has declined to come under obligation to utilise within five years any public ground sold to them for the special purpose of doubling the line. The attitude of the Caledonian Company indicates the attitude of other railway authorities which seems to be that existing protective arrangements so-called are good enough for the Dundee district. Apart from proposals for improving railway lines by doubling, it is surely imperative that steps should promptly be taken to ensure the provision of train and line equipment making it impossible for runaway trains to dash into railway stations or on to busy main railway lines. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Thursday 16th May, 1901, p.4.




   A melancholy accident occurred in the vicinity of Grantown-on-Spey on Friday afternoon, where by a young man, one of the service volunteers who returned from South Africa the previous week, lost his life. It appears that the deceased William Macarthur) was walking on the railway, when he was run over by the express train due at Grantown Highland Railway Station at 4.22 p.m. The greatest sympathy is felt for the friends and comrades of deceased, who was a steady, well-doing young man, and greatly liked by all who knew him. Pathetic interest attaches to the sad occurrence from the fact that on Friday night it had been arranged to entertain the active service men of K Company Seaforth Highlanders, to which deceased belonged, at a conversazione in the Public Hall. The function, however, has been postponed. 

– Stonehaven Journal, Thursday 16th May, 1901, p.3.


   ELGIN – ACCIDENT AT GREAT NORTH STATION. – Last evening a boy, seven years of age, named Harry Macdonald, son of Mr Peter Macdonald, labourer, Victoria Crescent, met with a serious accident at the East Cabin of the Great North Station. It appears that the lad had gone on to the railway at the time when the carriages of the 6.50 train from Keith were being shunted on to No. 2 platform. The practice is to shunt the carriages a short distance up the hill, far enough to give them speed to take them into the required platform. Macdonald jumped on to one of them when it was returning, and, while attempting to jump off at the East Cabin, his right foot got entangled in a wheel, severely shattering it. Dr Watson was speedily in attendance and had him removed to the Hospital, where it was found necessary to amputate the leg above the knee. 

– Elgin Courant, and Morayshire Advertiser, Friday 17th May, 1901, p.5.


   ACCIDENT. – On Saturday a navvy, named Bernard Ferrie, while employed on the new Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway, near Gateside Colliery, Cambuslang, was knocked down by a loaded bogey and run over. On his removal to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, it was found necessary to amputate one of his legs. 

   ACCIDENT ON THE NEW RAILWAY. – On Tuesday night Charles O’Neill (23), navvy, Cathcart Road, Rutherglen, met with a serious accident on the new Lanarkshire and Ayrshire section of the railway at Cambuslang. While endeavouring to couple a truck to the engine he was caught between the buffers, and received severe injuries to the upper part of the body. Dr Turnbull examined the man, and on account of the internal nature of the injuries ordered his removal to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in the ambulance waggon. 

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 18th May, 1901, p.5.








      An alarming accident occurred just outside Perth General Station shortly after six o’clock last night. At first it was feared that the collision would be attended with serious consequences, but fortunately no one was seriously injured, although considerable damage was done to plant and rolling stock. 

   Immediately to the west side of the St Leonard’s Bridge the 6 p.m. N.B. passenger train for Edinburgh via Ladybank and a Caledonian cattle train collided. The shock caused considerable alarm among the passengers, of whom there were more than usual, on account of the holidays in the South. The N.B. train consisted of seven carriages and a guard’s van. there were about twelve trucks full of cattle in the stock train, but, strange to say, few of the animals appeared to be much the worse of the impact. 

   The [passenger train had just got outside the station when the cattle train was seen to be coming towards it at a good speed. The Caledonian driver fortunately appreciated the gravity of the situation, and with commendable promptitude shut off steam, thereby considerably lessening the force of the collision. Even then, however, the trains met with considerably lessening the force of the collision. Even then, however, the trains met with considerable force, and two of the cattle trucks were derailed, and, continuing their career, considerably damaged the permanent way. At first it was feared that the accident was more serious than it actually turned out to be, and two doctors were sent for, but their services were not required. 

   The engine of the passenger train was slightly damaged, and it was thought advisable that it should be replaced so as to allow the train to proceed. A large staff of men, under Mr Prentice, locomotive superintendent; Mr Burke, station superintendent; and Mr  J. D. Lang, district traffic superintendent, was soon engaged in restoring the vehicles to their wonted position. 

   About fifty yards of the permanent way had been injured and torn up. Among the passengers were the Provost of Newburgh and a Ladybank Bailie, as well as a large number of ladies. 

   It is not yet known who is to blame for the accident, but an official inquiry will be held to-day. 

   This makes the third accident on the Caledonian system within the last fourteen days. It is rather singular that the accident occurred at a point immediately opposite where the remnants of the Broughty Ferry accident were deposited. 

– Dundee Courier, Wednesday 22nd May, 1901, p.5.


   FATAL ACCIDENT AT NAIRN. – Yesterday afternoon a fatal accident happened to Duncan Wilson, Inverness, aged about eighty, while performing his duties at Nairn Railway Station in the loading of cattle after the cattle sales. No one saw the accident occur, but it is supposed that deceased had been pushing a truck to the loading bank, and had tripped while applying the brake, falling between the truck and the wall of the bank. Dr Cruickshank found Wilson suffering from internal injuries. The deceased insisted on being removed to Inverness, and was sent thither by the passenger train which was waiting at the time. He died in the Infirmary in the evening. Wilson has been a servant of the Highland Railway since its formation, and was the oldest servant in the service. He has acted for the past forty years as superintendent in the loading of cattle at sales all over the north. 

– The Scotsman, Friday 24th May, 1901, p.5.


   GIRL KILLED ON THE RAILWAY AT AIRDRIE. – Yesterday afternoon an accident happened on the North British railway near the Gushet House at Airdrie. Some girls had been playing about the public coup alongside the line, and one of them, Ellen McCormick, aged twelve years, daughter of a tubeworker in Coatdyke, had climbed over the fence and was crossing the line when she was caught by the 4.10 passenger train which had just left Airdrie station. The girl was dragged along for several yards, when the train was stopped. She was killed. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Friday 24th May, 1901, p.3.




   Passing along Coatdyke way on Thursday afternoon one could not fail to notice the clearly marked feelings of awe and sadness that spread over the district and to observe little knots of people gathered together at their doorsteps enquiring into and discussing the circumstances which had brought about one of the most touching incidents that has occurred in town for a very long time. Nellie McCormack, a little girl of eleven summers, daughter of Joseph McCormack, blacksmith, Coats Place, Coatdyke, had been returning from the Victoria School with a company of playmates of her own age, and in their gambols they had gone to the free coup at the North British Railway side opposite the Gushet House. Nellie, who appeared to be somewhat venturesome, made an attempt to cross the rails just as a goods train had passed up towards Airdrie. The girl was seen to emerge from behind the goods train on to the other line of rails at the time when the 4.10 train from Airdrie to Glasgow was passing, the result being that she was struck in the head by the train and dragged a considerable distance between the rails. The screams of the children who were standing by and the sudden manner in which the engine-driver stopped the train, announced the fact that something of a serious nature had taken place. The occupants of the train rushed to the windows and one of our representatives, who was a passenger, left the train and went to the scene of the accident. The spectacle was a heartrending one. The body of the little girl, which was entangled under the break-van, was taken out by the guard and placed on the embankment. Dr Inglis, a passenger on the train, hurried to the scene and pronounced life to be extinct. The guard then placed the body of the unfortunate little girl in the van, and had it conveyed to the station agent’s office at Coatdyke, after which the parents of the child were communicated with and the body removed home. Rev. Thomas Whiteside, who was also present, assisted in taking the body to the station. A little sister witnessed the sad incident and cried most bitterly – “My Nellie’s killed; my Nellie’s killed.” Nellie was a bright wee girl and known by almost everyone in the street where she lived, and from whom heartfelt sympathy goes out to the bereaved parents. 

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 25th May, 1901, p.4.



   Early yesterday morning the decapitated body of a railway porter, David Dawson, was found lying on a six-foot way on the railway at Polmont Station. He seems to have fallen in front of the 2.33 train from Sighthill to North Leith, which passed just before the discovery of the body. Dawson, who resided at Polmont village, leaves a wife and one child. 


   A distressing railway accident occurred at Insch Station yesterday afternoon, whereby Charles Gartly (30), goods porter, lost his life. He, along with a carter, was engaged shunting some waggons with a horse in the goods yard, and, after unfastening the chain to allow the horse to get clear, was in the act of stepping out between the waggons, but, miscalculating the speed  the waggon was running at, he got caught between the buffers, and was severely crushed on left side, just below the heart. the unfortunate man died about half an hour after the accident occurred. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Thursday 30th May, 1901, p.2.




   A distressing railway accident occurred in the vicinity of Bathgate Upper Station last Saturday night. James Leslie, a goods guard, residing at Causewayend, near Manuel, and who was employed as a porter at Bathgate Station some time ago, came to the town on Saturday to visit some acquaintances. On arriving at Bathgate, he wanted to go across the field at the up-shunting yard. He had to cross some lines, and on the nearest line to the station there was a long train of trucks. He made his way to the end of these trucks, and was in the act of crossing when the train moved back, and knocked him down. Before he was noticed two waggons had passed over his left leg, right up the body and over the left arm. He was conveyed to the station. Dr Kirk was sent for, and after being attended to he was immediately dispatched to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary by a special train. Just about two minutes before entering that institution, the injured man died. It is understood that Leslie was on his way to the house of a Mr Thomson in Engine Street, where he purposed staying overnight, when he met his death. He leaves a widow and family to mourn his loss. It may be mentioned that a brother of Leslie met his death on the railway at Bo’ness a few months ago. 

– West Lothian Courier, Friday 31st May, 1901, p.4.

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