February 1903





Marvellous Escape of Passengers.



   Early yesterday morning an accident occurred on the Highland Railway at Rogart Station, and which but for the coolheadedness and foresight of the pointsman might have proved to be of an appalling nature. About 5.30 a.m. a heavy train from Wick reached Rogart drawn by two engines. There it was discovered that something had gone wrong with one of the engines, and it had to be left behind. The line being doubled at the station, the broken-down engine was shunted on to the north line to make way for the 6 a.m. mail from Wick. Meantime the fish train proceeded on its way to Lairg. and was gone half an hour or so when the mail train reached Rogart, and was about to start again when the fish train was suddenly heard coming back again down the line, and was indeed within a very short distance of the station. The one or two officials quickly realised what had happened, namely that the one engine had proved unable to draw the heavy fish train up the hill between Rogart and Lairg Stations, probably the stiffest climb on the Highland line. But what could they do to avert an almost certain disaster with the mail train, containing several passengers, standing on the main line and the pilot engine on the other. The pointsman was at his post in the cabin, and, weighing the matter over quickly in his mind, switched the runaway train on to a short siding behind the station – the best that could be done under the circumstances. The embankment at the end of the siding being a substantial one stopped the runaway train, and the whole train lies a complete wreck, truck piled upon truck, the guard’s van being undermost. It was known that two men were in the van along with the guard, and all were expected to have lost their lives, but fortunately all were recovered alive, and were quickly removed to Golspie on the pilot engine. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Monday 2nd February, 1903, p.5.



   Owing to the constantly increasing railway accidents in America, the New York Central Railway has opened a bureau of physicians and surgeons, and will in the future employ 60 doctors, living along the line, who will form a corps of “minute men,” ready to proceed to any railway wreck on the Central’s system at an instant’s notice. Bills have been introduced in several State Legislatures providing for the use of a buffer car at the front and end of each train, in which no passengers will be carried, its purpose being to break the force of a collision. Expert engineers say that if American cars were built 30 per cent. stronger than they are at present all danger of telescoping in a collision would be avoided. The railways, however, refuse to go to this extent. 

Edinburgh Evening News, Tuesday 3rd February, 1903, p.4.







   ON Sunday morning a serious accident occurred on the Highland Railway, at Rogart Station, when a special train which was nearing Rhemarstaig Summit was divided, and a portion of it ran back and smashed into a siding, causing a great deal of damage, and injuring three men who were in the brake van. 

   There were 29 waggons loaded with fish on the special, bound from Wick to the south, which was drawn by two engines. Rogart was reached about 5.30 a.m. It was discovered that 

Something had Gone Wrong

with one of the engines, and it was left behind. The line being double at the station, the broken down engine was shunted on to the north line to make way for the 6 a.m. mail train from Wick. Meantime the fish train proceeded on its way to Lairg, and was gone half-an-hour or so when the mail train reached Rogart. The latter was about to start again when the fish train was suddenly heard coming back again down the line, and was, indeed, within a very short distance of the station. 

   The mail train was standing on the main line and the pilot engine on the other. 

   George Macleay, the Rogart pointsman, showed great presence of mind and shifted the points for the back siding into which the run-a-way portion of the train, consisting of 22 waggons and a brake van, rushed with terrific speed. The permanent buffers were carried away, but the embankment, being a substantial one, the run-a-way trucks were stopped. The impact was a terrible one. the waggons were tumbled over one another and  

Smashed Like Matchwood,

while the barrels and boxes were broken up and the fish scattered in all directions. 

   At the time of the accident there were three men in the brake van who were returning to Inverness. These were Alexander Reid, engine-driver, Inverness; William Fraser, fireman, do.; and James Miller, porter, Wick. They were buried in the debris and rescued with great difficulty. Fortunately they were recovered alive. Several passengers in the up train, notably Mr Macaulay, solicitor, Golspie, lent valuable aid, and Mr Campbell, relieving agent, wired to Golspie for medical aid and procured the services of the local sick nurse. The men were found to be severely injured; it is a marvel that they were not killed outright. They were removed to the Lawson Memorial Hospital, Golspie, where they were attended to by Dr Simpson. 

How the Accident Happened.

   It appears that when the train was nearing Rhemarstaig Summit it suddenly came to a halt. The guard left his van to see what had gone wrong, and the engine-driver did his best to ascend the steep ascent. Then suddenly the coupling of the seventh waggon from the engine snapped, and the detached waggons and brake van slipped back, and gathering speed as they went, got out of control, and rushed back to Rogart at a tremendous speed. 

  A break-down train was despatched from Inverness, and arrived at the scene of the accident at about 2 p.m. The debris was cleared away with expedition. A good deal of damage was done. A telegraph wire was carried away, part of the roadway leading to the station was cut up, and six waggons lying in the siding were smashed. 

   The Railway Company’s coal-store was demolished, as also were the agent’s store and wash house. 

– North Star and Farmers’ Chronicle, Thursday 5th February, 1903, p.8.


   VAN FATALITY. – On Saturday afternoon a van boy named James Farquhar, residing in Dennistoun, Glasgow, and in the employment of Glen park Aerated Works, met his death near Mount Vernon Railway Station. He was sitting on the front of the van when the horse suddenly sprang forward, and the lad fell, the wheel passing over him. He died shortly after. 

   RUNAWAY WAGGONS. – While a heavy train of fish from Wick was going up the hill to Lairg at an early hour on Sunday morning fifteen of the waggons broke away, ran back down hill, and smashed into the siding at Rogart Station. The rolling stock and contents were practically destroyed. An engine-driver named Reid and a fireman were injured, and were conveyed to Golspie Hospital. 

   FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT HARDENGREEN. – A middle-aged man named John McQueen employed as a platelayer on the North British Railway at Hardengreen, was killed on Friday afternoon when engaged oiling the main line of rails on the Waverley route. He did not observe a pilot engine which was coming towards the South  Hardengreen cabin in time to get clear of the rails, and was knocked down, his head being almost severed from his body. 

– Southern Reporter, Thursday 5th February, p.4.


   A CHAPTER OF ACCIDENTS. – Yesterday, John Easton (23), joiner, Balmano Street, Glasgow, was injured while working at the electric light offices at Whitehill Bridge, Caledonian Railway. he had stepped on to the line of rails in front of a train of waggons, and being knocked down, his right arm was severed at the shoulder. On the way to Glasgow Infirmary, the special train conveying him ran down and killed a platelayer. There was an exciting scene at the Caledonian Central Station, Hamilton, on the departure of the Lesmahagow train. A schoolboy jumped on to the train at it was moving off, and the platform policeman named Dollan, in attempting to stop the boy, fell between the platform and the wheels. Luckily the driver noticed his predicament and pulled up, Dollan having a miraculous escape. A further mishap occurred at Ross Junction, in which John Johnstone, enginedriver, and Robert Wallace, fireman, were injured while engaged in shunting operations. 

– The Scotsman, Saturday 7th February, 1903, p.8.


   MISHAP AT THE RAILWAY STATION. – On Monday afternoon, while shunting operations were in progress in the vicinity of the bridge to the east of the railway station on the north line, a waggon laden with wood went off the rails. Occurring as it did shortly before the arrival of the Dunfermline train due at Kirkcaldy at 1.43, considerable delay was occasioned, and it was fully three-quarters of an hour before the derailed waggon was righted and the passenger train proceeded on its journey. 

– Fife Free Press & Kirkcaldy Guardian, Saturday 7th February, 1903, p.4.


   PROSPECTIVE RAILWAY REFORMS. – It is reported that the Caledonian Railway Company, with its connecting ally, the London and North-Western Company, has decided to send out a deputation of railway officials to the United States to study railway methods there. Heads of various departments will form the deputation, and a special study will be made of rolling stock of large capacity, the handling of the same at the public works and harbours, and automatic signalling. 

   RAILWAY FATALITY IN GLASGOW. – The death of a labourer named George Moore (50), residing at 154 Garngad Road, Glasgow, was reported on Saturday. While Robert C. Forrest, a Caledonian Railway engine-driver, was taking an engine and carriage along the main line on Friday night towards Germiston signal box, Forge Street, he observed Moore walking along the footway in front. As the engine was about to pass, Moore stepped in front of it and was knocked down. He was instantly killed, his skull being fractured. 

– The Scotsman, Monday 9th February, 1903, p.6.




   Reports reached Glasgow this forenoon of an extraordinary flood in the Clyde valley, caused by the bursting of the Clyde banks between Rutherglen and Uddingston, a distance of five miles, within which great floods occurred. A huge volume of water was suddenly liberated, and spread itself over the valley with alarming force and rapidity. Farmhouses were cut off, and stand in lakes, in some places, it is estimated, 12 feet deep. At Rutherglen about a dozen large works were flooded, and stopped. Hundreds of acres on both sides of the river were submerged, and between 5000 and 6000 workmen thrown idle. Great damage has been done to the new bridge in course of erection for the Caledonian Railway across the Clyde, and work has been suspended. So far no loss of life has been reported, but many people had to run for their lives. A boy was drowned in the overflow of the River Cart. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 9th February, 1903, p.3.



   Serious flooding is reported in Fife. The Orr and Lochty streams are in terrific flood in the vicinity of Thornton, and a serious state of matters prevails. 

   The trains on the West Fife line did not run this morning by Dunfermline and Thornton as usual, but proceeded instead by Inverkeithing, but as the overflow is steadily falling, a resumption of the usual route, unless there is more heavy rain, will only be a matter of a short time. At Thornton an unusual state of matters exists, particularly on account of the flooding of the Lochty at the north end of the village, whereby a large tract of land is entirely under water and many houses flooded. Vehicular traffic on the roadway via Thornton from Orr Bridge northward to Lochty Bridge is accompanied with the greatest difficulty, carts and vehicles being axle deep. At Cameron Bridge, on the Leven, the low-lying houses are seriously flooded, the distillery being also affected, while a temporary bridge over the river has been carried away. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 9th February, 1903, p.4.


   The flooding of Dalmarnock Railway Station, on the Caledonian low level line, caused considerable inconvenience. The train service was stopped during the forenoon, but by noon the water had subsided to an extent to allow the ordinary traffic to be resumed. While the car circuit by way of Rutherglen and Dalmarnock was interrupted, a new service, which was to have been opened on Monday next by way of Rutherglen Bridge, was brought into operation, and there were cars running into the city from either side of the point where the roadway was crossed by the flood. 

   Altogether about a hundred acres have been submerged, and the loss entailed must be very great. During the day crowds were attracted to the scene of the flooding, the prospect of acres of inundated ground being a most unusual one to the average citizen of Glasgow. The rainfall in Glasgow, as registered at the Observatory, was, from 7 o’clock on Saturday morning to 4 o’clock on Monday morning, 3.42 in. The rainfall recorded for Saturday and Sunday was the largest for two days within the past twenty-eight years. 

– The Scotsman, Tuesday 10th February, 1903, p.5.


   It was Poe who wrote “The truly brave man is the one who is not afraid either to seem or to be, when it suits him, a coward.” This sentence was quoted to a porter at Buchanan Street Station two nights ago as the north express landed under the blackened rafters of that dismal shed. A lady had dropped her umbrella upon the line, and innocently asked the porter to jump down for it. He looked first at the article lying over the rail, then at the approaching engine, and said “I am afraid.” The umbrella was smashed, but better that article than the precious body of a human being. Thus Poe was right even in Buchanan Street Station. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Tuesday 10th February, 1903, p.4.


   STRANGE AFFAIR ON THE RAILWAY. – While the 5.30 stopping train from Edinburgh to Glasgow was proceeding between Castlecary and Dullatur on Thursday morning, the driver noticed a man on the line coming to meet the train. He blew his whistle, but all the man did was to stand stock still. The engine-driver then pulled up as quickly as he could, and the engine was almost at a stand still when it reached the man, who, however, was knocked over, but clear of the wheels. His arm was found to be slightly bruised, and one of his hands was greatly swollen, while he complained of injury to his back and ribs. The man, who was bare footed, was put in the guard’s van, and the police at Lenzie were apprised of the incident. Constable Edwards joined the train at Lenzie, and had the man taken to the Royal Infirmary. He was examined, but it was found that there was very little the matter with him. His clothing excited the constable’s suspicion, and on inquiry being made it was found that the man had escaped from Barnhill Poorhouse, where he had been under observation as a case of insanity. His name was found to be William Henderson, 39 years of age, and iron dresser, who had resided at Church Place, Garscube Road. 

– Kirkintilloch Herald, Wednesday 11th February, 1903, p.5.


   The Luggie wrought serious havoc in its journey through the burgh. The flooding was heavy right down from Oxgang, but the damage was more particularly confined to the Lion Foundry and the goods station in Eastside. The bridge carrying the railway over the Luggie and below the canal was unable to cope with the volume of water and when the early morning goods train passed through the water was flowing over the railway line on the top of that bridge to a depth of 2 feet and a torrent 3 feet deep was sweeping down through the goods yard right into the Eastside and there meeting the water coming up from the Ledgate. The men on the train at once roused the stationmaster, Mr Ferguson, who took all steps possible to prevent damage to railway property. 

– Kirkintilloch Gazette, Friday 13th February, 1903, p.2.





   The London express leaving St Enoch’s, Glasgow, on Monday night was pulled up at Holywood, near Dumfries, in consequence of a shocking accident. 

   One of the carriages was occupied by two people, a man apparently about 26 years of age, and a lady, strangers to each other. 

   As the train was rushing along, about ten miles north of Dumfries, the male passenger got up, and, before the lady was aware of what was taking place, he had opened the door and stepped out. It is thought that he had intended to go into the corridor and had opened the door on the wrong side of the carriage. The lady informed the officials of what had taken place and the train was brought to a standstill at Holywood Station. Information of the tragedy was there lodged with the stationmaster, and a pilot engine was despatched to search the line. 

   The mutilated body of the unfortunate man was found between Auldgiirth and Closeburn, and it was taken to Dumfries to await identification. From the nature of the injuries, death must have been instantaneous. 

   The deceased, who was respectably dressed, wore a badge of the Scottish Cyclists’ Union bearing the name “J. J. Forrester.” 

   Deceased has since been identified as James Jarvie Forrester (28), third son of John Forrester, Greenhill. He was well-known in Coatbridge and the West of Scotland. He was a member of the Coatbridge Harriers since the formation of the Club. In the Junior Championship of Scotland for 1901, he was in the winning team. He was an excellent runner and won a considerable number of prizes both in cross-country and on the track. Deceased was a genial young man and very popular with the Club members. Sympathy has been freely expressed for the relatives in their sad bereavement. 

   The funeral takes place this (Saturday) afternoon to the New Monkland Cemetery. 

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 14th February, 1903, p.5.




Waggon Crashes Into Passenger Train.



   Perth of late has been wonderfully free from railway accidents of a serious character, but this morning a mishap of a rather disquieting nature occurred at Friarton Junction. the scene of the accident – insignificant in itself, but which might have had very grave consequences – was just at the Perth side of Moncreiffe Tunnel. In consequence of the operations which for a considerable time past have been carried on inside the tunnel, the traffic has been conducted on a single line of rails, and while the 6.30 a.m. North British passenger train from Perth to the South, via Ladybank, was proceeding towards the tunnel at a speed of about ten miles per hour, the engine crashed with great force into a Caledonian waggon full of ashes, the refuse of the tunnel engine. 


   The waggon in question had been trigged up, but it had become loose by being struck with an engine, and at the time of the impact the waggon was travelling in the direction of the passenger train. So severe was the collision that the passenger engine was knocked completely off the line, and thrown right into an adjoining six-foot way, while the end of the waggon was split to match wood, and strewn all over the line. 

Fortunately, the other carriages kept the metals. Information was at once sent to Perth of the mishap, and a special engine was sent out to bring the passengers back to Perth. Mr J. D. Lang, district superintendent of the Caledonian Railway; Mr J. D. Smythe, assistant district superintendent; Mr Prentice, locomotive inspector; and Inspector Fletcher were soon on the spot, along with Mr Ellis, N.B. locomotive foreman, and by the aid of a large squad of men the main line was cleared, the damaged engine being again got on the rails shortly after eight o’clock. The 7.30 a.m. train from Perth to Glasgow had to proceed via Crieff, a very round about road, and as a result of the accident considerable detention to the traffic was caused. As far as can be learned none of the passengers were injured in any way, although the shock must have been pretty severe. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Tuesday 17th February, 1903, p.2.


   ACCIDENT AT GALASHIELS STATION. – Yesterday afternoon Charles Rooke, a locomotive fireman residing at 6 Meadowbank, Piershill, received serious injuries in the lyes at Galashiels railway station. Rooke was fireman on the goods train running between Portobello and St Boswells, and yesterday afternoon on the journey back to Portobello called at Galashiels to lift a number of waggons. Shunting operations were going on in the yard, and Rooke left the engine for the purpose of connecting the waggons. While doing so he was struck on the stomach by the buffer of one of the waggons, and received serious internal injuries. He was removed to Galashiels Cottage Hospital, where he lies in a critical condition. He is a young unmarried man, residing in lodgings. 

– The Scotsman, Friday 20th February, 1903, p.7.


   HORSE KILLED. – A horse belonging to Mr John Macphee, mason, while employed at the Railway Goods Station [Fort-William] on Saturday last, was struck on the hind quarters by an engine engaged in shunting operations, and the animal was so severely injured that it had to be shot. 

– Inverness Courier, Friday 20th February, 1903, p.6.




   An alarming accident occurred on Wednesday afternoon near Alford to the goods train which leaves at two o’clock in the afternoon. When opposite the farm of Elrick, the whole train, with the exception of the engine, left the rails, the waggons being completely wrecked and about a hundred yards of the permanent way torn up. This caused a serious delay of traffic. Mr Lyon, Haughton Arms Hotel, had his large char-a-bancs at Whitehouse Station waiting the arrival of the five o’clock passenger train, which conveyed both passengers and mails to Alford, and returned with the 5.35 passengers to Whitehouse. The break-down squad arrived, and by seven o’clock had the damaged rails so far repaired as to allow the 7.11 p.m. train to pass over them, arriving at Alford about three quarters of an hour late. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Friday 20th February, 1903, p.3.




Fife Farmer Run Down.



   A distressing accident occurred at Ladybank Junction this forenoon, where by Mr [Robert] Bonella, Ramornie Mill, a well-known farmer, sustained serious injury. It appears that Mr Bonella had been at the railway station and had occasion to cross the railway. He waited until the train from Edinburgh passing Ladybank about 10.40 passed, and then he crossed the railway. Stepping in front of the train leaving Dundee at ten o’clock, Mr Bonella was knocked down by the engine. He was carried into one of the waiting-rooms and received medical attention, when it was found that one of his legs and an arm had been broken, while his skull was fractured. The fast train for Edinburgh, passing about 12.50, was stopped, and Mr Bonella was taken to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Saturday 21st February, 1903, p.6.


   HIGHLAND RAILWAY – ACCIDENT TO A GIRL. – On Friday last, Maggie Robertson, domestic servant, Schoolhouse, Cranloch, Lhanbryd, was travelling by the 10.5 a.m. train from Forres when she met with a rather serious accident. It appears that the carriage door had opened from some unexplained cause and she was seen by a passenger in the next compartment clinging to it for some time and ultimately she fell on to the permanent way. There being no communication cord, there was no means of calling the attention of the guard and it was not until the train reached Lhanbryd that the railway authorities knew of the accident. The railway inspector, who happened to be travelling by the train, went in search of the girl, and found her at the line-side badly injured, her left hand and part of the left forearm being terribly torn, apparently by the wheels of the train. She was removed shortly afterwards to Gray’s Hospital, and after having been seen by Dr Alexander the arm was amputated. Her condition is somewhat critical. It appears that the girl was alone in the compartment she was travelling in. 

– Forres Elgin and Nairn Gazette, Northern Review and Advertiser, Wednesday 25th February, 1903, p.3.


   BIRTH OF A CHILD IN A TRAIN. – On Monday evening on the arrival of the 7 p.m. train from Brechin a woman, who had travelled from the city in company with her husband, gave birth to a female child while the train was standing in the Station. Dr Gilruth, who happened to be on the platform at the time, willingly gave his services at once. The woman was carried into the waiting-room, and the baby was taken into the house of Mr Grant, the stationmaster. The mother and child were shortly afterwards taken home to Kydd Street in a cab. Both mother and child are doing well. 

Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for the Montrose Burghs, Thursday 26th February, 1903, p.5.





   Robert Crocket, the goods yardsman at Cupar Railway Station, while coming from the signal cabin to the station at 9.5 last night, discovered the fearfully-mutilated body of a man lying across the rails on the down line about thirty yards from the north platform. The yardsman passed the same place about seven o’clock, and in the interval a couple of passenger and a goods train had passed. No one saw the occurrence. The body was completely severed, the upper part being between the rails and his feet and legs on the outside. It is conjectured that the body had been dragged along by the engine about twenty yards. The man’s dress marked him as belonging to the tramp labouring class. After being removed to the mortuary at the police office, a search of his clothes resulted in the finding of a document which leads to the assumption that it was a case of suicide. On a sheet of paper was written the following:- “John Gibson, Leven. It is not my blame. She wanted to poison me. I am better away.” 

– Dundee Courier, Thursday 26th February, 1903, p.6.


   RAILWAY STATION ACCIDENTS. – A FATALITY. – On Thursday afternoon, Charles Rooke, a locomotive fireman, residing at 6 Meadowbank, Piershill, received serious injuries in the lyes at Galashiels railway station. Rooke was fireman on the goods train running between Portobello and St Boswells, which, on the journey back to Portobello, called at Galashiels to lift a number of waggons. Shunting operations were going on in the yard, and Rooke left the engine for the purpose of connecting the waggons. While doing so he was struck on the stomach by the buffer of one of the waggons, and received serious internal injuries. He was removed to Galashiels Cottage Hospital, where he died at eleven o’clock on Friday forenoon. He was a young man, unmarried, and lived in lodgings. – On Monday morning, Robert Notman, carter, in the employment of Mr John H. Hume, coal merchant, was engaged in filling a cart with coals from a waggon, while shunting was going on. In getting down form the waggon Notman placed his left foot on one of the spring buffers, and at the same time four waggons were shunted up and his foot was caught in the buffer. The foot was severely bruised, and the main artery severed. He fell from the waggon to the ground, and lost a good deal of blood ere he was attended by Dr Doig and removed to his home. 

– Southern Reporter, Thursday 26th February, 1903, p .3.


   ELECTRIFICATION OF BRITISH RAILWAYS. – It is reported that a conference of British railway managers is being held in London in regard to the electrifying of railway lines throughout the country. It is stated that all the railways including those in Scotland, will almost immediately electrify their lines for the purpose of dealing with suburban traffic. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Friday 27th February, 1903, p.6.


   MAN KILLED. – A young man named David Sutherland (26), son of Mr J. Sutherland, foreman surfaceman, Bridge of Allan Railway Station, was found dead on the railway early on Sunday morning. Deceased had spent Saturday evening in Stirling, and, losing the late train, proceeded to walk home by the railway. the body was badly mutilated, and death must have been instantaneous. 

– Kirkintilloch Gazette, Friday 27th February, 1903, p.2.

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