Site icon Random Scottish History

April 1903



   On Monday Alex. Masson (40), farm servant, Peterculter, who was a passenger by the 10.45 Deeside suburban train, met with a serious accident at Pitfodels Station. Masson had booked for Cults, and when the train started from Pitfodels he imagined that he had missed his destination. He accordingly opened the door of the carriage and stepped out, when he fell between the footboard and the platform. He was dragged to the end of the platform before the train could be stopped. Afterwards the unfortunate man was taken on board the train and made as comfortable as the officials could make him. The journey was accomplished to Culter, and Masson was brought to Aberdeen by the returning train, when he was carried to the Royal Infirmary in the railway ambulance. One of his ankles, it was found, was dislocated, and he was otherwise severely injured and bruised on the legs and lower part of the body. When admitted to the infirmary he was suffering great agony. 


   Last Wednesday the police in the neighbourhood of Elfhill, Fetteresso, found a boy on the railway line who told a very remarkable story. The boy, a smart-looking child of 11 years of age, said he belonged to Dundee. Some time ago the sheriff there granted his parents a separation order, and the boy went to reside with his father in Aberdeen. There he remained for about a week, according to the boy’s story, till on Tuesday morning, when prepared to go to school, the father took the boy to the railway line, and, telling him to follow it till he came to Dundee, left him. The boy then started along the line on his long march, dodging out of the way when he came to the different stations, and again returning to the track. As stated, he was picked up by the police a few miles from Stonehaven, he having been 24 hours on the line, and the wonder is that he met with no mishap. On his shoulder were his school books in a strap. The lad was handed over to Mr A. Thomson Wood, inspector of poor, and the authorities at Dundee communicated with. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Wednesday 1st April, 1903, p.4.


   FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT COATBRIDGE. – Last night a young man named Samuel Young, Main Street, Coatbridge, died within the Alexander Hospital from the effects of a railway accident. While walking on the down main line of the Caledonian Railway near to Gartsherrie Ironworks, he stepped off the up line to get clear of a goods train, when he was knocked down by a passenger train. His left foot was terribly hurt, and his skull fractured. 

– The Scotsman, Wednesday 1st April, 1903, p.8.








   A “Courier” reporter had yesterday at Dundee West Station the novel experience of a ride on the biggest locomotive engine in Britain. 


   The engine which has been designed by Mr J. F. McIntosh, the locomotive superintendent of the Caledonian Railway Company, is a perfect monster, and the large crowd which gathered at the West Station yesterday were astonished at the huge dimensions of the vehicle. Its size can be imagined when it is stated that the tank holds no fewer than 5000 gallons of water, this being considerably over the capacity of the other larger engines in Britain, and that the engine complete weighs over 100 tons. It has not been fully completed yet, and yesterday was but a trial trip. 

   The engine, which is No. 49, brought the train which arrives at Dundee West at one o’clock from Glasgow, and left again at three o’clock with the slow train to Perth, where she awaited the 3.30 fast train from Dundee to Glasgow, Mr R. F. Duncan, locomotive inspector, was in charge of the engine. 


   Whilst the new engine has not been built for speed, but for drawing capacity over heavy gradients, it can attain a very high rate, but the speed will be that attained by the other large express trains. It is a six-coupled bogey engine, whereas the other large express engines are only four-coupled. The tender, too, is of the bogey type. The boiler is extraordinarily large, and, as stated, the tank contains 5000 gallons of water. The engine is fitted with steam reversing gear and vacuum brakes, in addition to the Company’s other brakes. The tender carries five tons of coal. 


   A new feature has been introduced in the cab of the engine, in that all the handles and mechanism are so arranged that they can be manipulated by the driver without taking his eye off the line, and can be worked from the one position. Another feature is that there is a gauge on the tank to show the driver at a glance the water that is left. The boiler is so large that the funnel looks like a dot. With the building of this engine it might almost be said that the limit has been reached in huge locomotives, as both in length and breadth it cannot be exceeded, whilst the height of the boiler is such that, short as the funnel is, the engine gets no more than through the bridges. It might be mentioned that the six driving wheels, which are all coupled, are of the usual express engine diameter of six feet six inches, with a four-wheeled bogey, and these with the wheels of the tender gave a total of 18 wheels. 

– Dundee Courier, Wednesday 1st April, 1903, p.7.


   A SHUNTER’S SHOCKING DEATH. – On Thursday morning a shocking fatal accident took place at the low level mineral station at Stobcross, Glasgow. An engine and 28 wagons loaded with coal were moving slowly, and Francis Stewart (35), a shunter, was standing on the buffers between the two rear wagons. While attempting to climb on to the top of the wagons Stewart slipped and fell, and the wheels of the rear wagon passed over his back, killing him instantaneously and mutilating the body dreadfully. 

– Southern Reporter, Thursday 2nd April, 1903, p.4.



   This forenoon a serious accident happened on the Great North Railway, near Spey Bridge, through a carriage door springing open while the train was in rapid motion. Mrs Marr, Durn Cottage, Portsoy, and her little boy, were standing looking out at the carriage window, and talking to Mr Marr, when the door suddenly swung open, and both were precipitated down the embankment. The child miraculously escaped with slight bruises, but Mrs Marr was seriously injured. She was conveyed to Elgin Hospital. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday 2nd April, 1903, p.4.






   Yesterday morning a serious accident occurred on the Great North of Scotland Railway between Portsoy and Garmouth. Shortly after leaving Portsoy two of the passengers, Mrs Ellen Marr, wife of Richard Marr, cooper, Portsoy, and her little son, aged three years, were looking out of the window of the carriage, when by some means not explained, the door flew open, and mother and child fell out, rolling to the foot of the embankment. The train was at once stopped by pulling the communication cord, and Mrs Marr and the boy were conveyed to a carriage. They were taken to Gray’s Hospital, Elgin, for treatment. Mrs Marr is severely injured about the head, and it is feared that her skull is fractured. With the exception of a few scratches the child was uninjured. 

   Our Garmouth correspondent telegraphs:- The train was timed to arrive at Garmouth at 10.47 a.m. All went well till the train passed over the bridge which crosses the Spey. When about half-way between the bridge and Garmouth Station the door of the carriage suddenly opened, and Mrs Marr and one of her children fell out and rolled down the embankment. The other occupants of the carriage were her husband. Mr Marr, cooper, Portsoy, and his son. Mr Marr immediately pulled the communication cord, but seeing that the train was not slowing down he gave instructions to the boy to sit still, as they were near the station, and he himself stepped down on to the footboard and jumped off. It was then that those on board the train knew that something was wrong, and the train was brought to a standstill. The officials at Garmouth Station at once got the train put back to the scene of the accident, and as Mr W. S. Murdoch, druggist, was at the station, he proceeded along with them. On Mr Murdoch examining the injured woman and child, he suggested that, as there was no doctor in the village, they should be conveyed to Elgin, and instructed the officials to wire for an ambulance and a doctor to be waiting on the arrival of the train. Mrs Marr was conveyed to Gray’s Hospital, Elgin, where on examination it was found that the base of her skull was fractured. The child was much shaken, and was bleeding freely from the nose, but so far as could be ascertained no other external injury was received. Mr Marr himself was bruised about the shoulder with the jump from the train, and much shaken. 

   Mrs Marr was last night in a highly critical condition. She was found to be suffering from concussion of the brain. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Friday 3rd April, 1903, p.4.


Serious Accident to a Girl.

   On Sunday afternoon a girl six years of age, named Rose Ann McCourt, residing at Kirkland’s Land, Knowetop, Motherwell, fell from a fence down a steep embankment on the Caledonian Railway at Motherwell. She sustained serious injury, blood flowing from her ears. It is feared that the base of the skull is fractured. She was taken to the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow. 

Motherwell Times, Friday 3rd April, 1903, p.2.


   The patience of railway guards is occasionally sorely tried by passengers who insist on entering trains at the last moment. The other afternoon at Tay Bridge Station a young lady, who was to travel north, was accompanied to the station by a number of friends. 

   After the tickets were checked the guard asked the young lady to enter the carriage. She promised to do so, but instead of complying with the request remained on the platform amongst her friends. 

   A minute of two afterwards, everything being ready, the guard announced that the train was about to start. The lady ignored the warning, and continued to chat merrily with her friends while the guard waved his flag. 

   The engine snorted, the carriages began to move. the lady stepped on the footboard, and was about to open the carriage door, when the guard stepped smartly forward, and lifting her from the dangerous position set her safely on the platform amongst her friends once more. 

   The train was now going at a good speed, and the terrified lady wisely refrained from making a second attempt. When all danger was past the guard nimbly entered the van and was soon out of sight. 

   Was she a heroine? Well, her friends did not think so, for one of them was heard addressing her in terms far from complimentary, while more than one spectator assured her that she had only got what she deserved. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Saturday 4th April, 1903, p.2.




   Mr. Marconi claims to have conquered the air as a medium for wireless telegraphy. Mr. Axel Orling and Mr. James Tarbottom Armstrong have staked out the earth as their share of the planet in this matter, and have dubbed their system the “Armorl.” The General International Wireless Telegraph and Telephone Company have acquired the patents, and a demonstration of the utility of the invention was given at the Alexandra Palace, London. Reduced to their simplest components a transmitting and a receiving station consists of the following parts. The transmitter is composed of a battery, a key, a self-induction coil with interrupter and condenser, and two grounded conductors; while the receiver, on the other hand, consists of two grounded conductors, a telephone or an electro-capillary relay, a local battery, and Morse-inker. Such an installation can, moreover, it is claimed, be adapted with great ease to serve in various ways. The instruments based on this system do not lend themselves solely to telegraphing. You can telephone by their aid; you can fire mines at a distance; you can control a torpedo; you can communicate between railway stations and trains in motion, and on the latter again between engine-driver and guard; in fact, you can control at a distance without the use of wires any instrument which is possessed of local power, such as clocks and tape-machines and fire-alarms. Of course, in regard to messages and other signals, what is known as syntonisation is of supreme importance, as it is in all other systems of wireless telegraphy. According to the inventors, any number of these instruments can be used in the vicinity of each other without affecting their mutual and exclusive operation in concert with each other, and without the interception of messages sent and received. A special illustration of this was afforded by separate firing of two mines at a distance of five or six hundred yards from the terrace on which the instruments were placed. 

– Northern Times and Weekly Journal for Sutherland and the North, Thursday 9th April, 1903, p.7.


   FATAL RESULT OF RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – Helen Marr, wife of a cooper at Portsoy, died on the 3d inst. from the effects of a railway accident while travelling from Portsoy to Garmouth on the previous day in company of her husband and son, three years old. On looking out the door flew open, and she and the boy fell to the ground. The train, which was nearing Garmouth Station at the time, was stopped, and they were conveyed to Gray’s Hospital, the boy being unhurt. Mrs Marr was suffering from concussion of the brain. 

– Aberdeen People’s Journal, Saturday 11th April, 1903, p.8.


   KILLED ON THE RAILWAY AT WEST CALDER. – Early yesterday morning the dead body of a workman was found on the Caledonian Railway between West Calder and Newpark. The body was identified as that of James Robertson, platelayer on the railway. He had been going home on Saturday night, and had been in the act of crossing the line when he was run down and killed by a passing train. Deceased leaves a wife and three children. 

– The Scotsman, Monday 13th April, 1903, p.4.


   TWO MEN KILLED AT LANARK STATION. – Yesterday afternoon a sad accident occurred just outside Lanark Station by which two platelayers, named Wm. Mansefield, aged seventy, and J. Napier, aged thirty-four, both belonging to Lanark, lost their lives. the deceased, along with other three men, were engaged working on the down line just outside Lanark Station, and were watching for the approach of an engine with some waggons from Douglas Junction. As this train was approaching the other three workers with the deceased stepped clear of the rails, while the latter stepped back to the up line, failing to observe the approach of a pilot engine which was proceeding to Cleghorn to work portion of the 2.1 p.m. train, Glasgow to Lanark, and were knocked down before warning could be given. Mansefield was killed instantaneously, while Napier only survived a few minutes. Both men were married, Manse field leaving a grown-up family, while Napier leaves two children, one two years old and the other six months. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Tuesday 14th April, 1903, p.3.


   Railway Accidents in Dundee. – Several accidents occurred to railway workers in Dundee yesterday. A shunter engaged on Harbour railway work had one of his arms severely bruised, while a young lad engaged with workmen at the East Station sustained injuries to his right hand by a rail falling on it. 

– Dundee Courier, Wednesday 15th April, 1903, p.5.


   ACCIDENT AT THE RAILWAY STATION. – An accident of a somewhat serious nature occurred last week at the Station. While Mr Gladstone Falconer, Cairnston, was standing at the Station with a horse yoked in a phaeton, the horse, which is a spirited animal, took fright at a passing train, and dashed along the road, past the goods shed, and into the fence at the top of an embankment. At this point Mr Falconer was thrown with great violence to the ground. The animal still continued its career, and dashed over the embankment, knocking the phaeton to pieces. This, however, did not seem to bring the animal to a standstill, for with only the shafts fixed to it, it rushed through an adjoining field, where it was captured. Luckily, Mr Falconer did not receive any severe injuries beyond having his leg badly twisted. 

– Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin Review; and Forfar and Kincardineshire Advertiser, Friday 17th April, 1903, p.3.





   An accident which might have been attended with serious results occurred at Broughty Ferry Station this afternoon. 

   After leaving Broughty Station the 3.15 p.m. train from Dundee East got safely past the crossing, and the gates were thrown open for traffic. Something, however, went wrong with the points, and without any notice the train backed at a good speed. A lorry belonging to Mr Keay, Monifieth, was crossing at the time, and after breaking down the gates the train dashed into the lorry, upsetting it, and breaking both the shafts. The side of the railway van which came in contact with the lorry was also smashed, but the horse and driver escaped unhurt. The line was blocked for some time, the trains being delayed for about half an hour. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Monday 20th April, 1903, p.3.


   MINISTER KILLED ON THE RAILWAY IN GLASGOW. – A distressing fatality occurred yesterday afternoon on the Cathcart Suburban Railway at Eglinton Street Station, Glasgow, the victim being the Rev. W. B. Melville, West United Free Church, Busby. Mr Melville was in the act of crossing the line from a gateway reserved for officials, in order to join a train on the lower line, when another train came along and knocked him down, death being instantaneous. Deceased was a native of Orkney, and went to Busby about 15 years ago. He was ordained in 1868. For some time he had been in ill-health, and on Sunday, 12th inst., he broke down in the pulpit. For the past week he had been confined to bed, and only got up to attend a meeting in Glasgow, at which he was anxious to be present. It was in contemplation that he should get leave of absence for three or six months to recuperate. Mr Melville is survived by a widow and three sons. 

   MAN KILLED ON THE RAILWAY. – A body which was found on the main line of the North British Railway at Mossbeath siding, Cowdenbeath, late on Saturday night, was identified yesterday as that of William Adamson, a labourer, forty years of age, who resided at Rotten Braes, in the parish of Kinghorn. The man had wandered on to the railway in the darkness and been knocked down by a mineral train, all the waggons of which passed over him, his body being cut in two. 

– The Scotsman, Wednesday 22nd April, 1903, p.8.


   MELANCHOLY END OF A FORMER RESIDENTER. – Thornton station was the scene of a terrible fatality on Friday night, when Alexander Burgess, Kirkcaldy, was killed on the up line. At a late hour he came off the train from Dunfermline and missed the train home to Kirkcaldy. He decided to walk home, and the officials directed him to leave the station by the bridge at the east end. Towards it he was seen making his way, but by some accident he stumbled on to the line and was run over by an incoming train. He was alive when found, and the station officials, removing him to the waiting-room, did what they could under the circumstances, but he succumbed in the course of four hours. Mr Burgess was resident in Leven for four or five years, acting as district superintendent of the Prudential Insurance Company, among the numerous clients of which he was much respected. Latterly he has been acting as representative for a firm of Edinburgh piano and organ dealers. Deceased was about forty years of age, and leaves a widow and large family, several of tender years. 

– Leven Advertiser & Wemyss Gazette, Thursday 23rd April, 1903, p.3.


  RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – Yesterday forenoon a surfaceman named John Rodgers, residing at Parkhead, met with a serious accident on the North British Railway east of Easterhouse Station. Rodgers had stepped into the six-foot way on the approach of the 10.45 A.M. Clydebank to Hamilton train, and was struck down by the engine. His right foot was terribly mutilated, his face cut, and his body bruised. He was conveyed to Glasgow. 

   MAN DECAPITATED ON THE RAILWAY AT HAWICK. – A shocking discovery was made on the North British Railway, near Hawick, at a late hour on Wednesday evening. The driver of a pilot engine which was assisting a goods train up the hill out of Hawick to the south observed the body of a man lying in the six-foot way about a hundred yards beyond the home signal. He blew his whistle to attract the attention of the driver of the train, which, however, was not pulled up until Stobs was reached, about four miles distant, where the signalman was informed, and he telegraphed to Hawick Station. On search being made, the dead body of a man was found in the six-foot way, and the head, which had been completely severed, in the four-foot way against the down line. From the position of the body – lying face downwards, stretched out, and the arms folded across the chest – it is conjectured that it was a case of suicide. There was nothing in the man’s possession to give any clue as to his name or address, but from his general appearance it is thought that he had followed the trade of a blacksmith or an engineer, and in his pockets there were found two recent monthly reports of the Associated Blacksmiths’ Society and a brass foot rule. He looked about fifty years of age, 5 ft. 10 in. in height, slender, with thin brown beard and moustache. Earlier in the evening the man had been seen in the direction of the loading banks, but there was no reason for paying any particular attention to him. The body was removed to the mortuary at the cemetery. The doctor who was summoned to the station was of opinion that the man when found had been dead for about an hour. 

– The Scotsman, Friday 24th April, 1903, p.4.





   An accident, which may have had fatal results, occurred at the level crossing between Rothes Station and the south cabin. A girl of about three years of age, daughter of Mr McDonald, baker, who resides in Green Street, Rothes, walked in front of the goods train which arrives in Rothes from Craigellachie about 3 p.m. The signalman and those on the engine were at the moment engaged in giving and taking the tablet, when the signalman saw the child, and gave the alarm to the driver, who drew up his train in less than 50 yards, but not before the engine had knocked the child down between the rails and passed over her, some of the waggons passing over her also. Mr F. L. Grant, engineer, who happened to be in the vicinity, rushed to the spot and kept the child from carrying out her intention of attempting to come out between the wheels. Those present were gratified to hear the little one ask for her “Tammy” (Tam o’ Shanter) before she was taken from her perilous position. The little girl’s forehead and one of her legs were cut, but otherwise there was no outward appearance of injury. Dr Allardes, who was called, saw no signs of internal injury. The level crossings within this burgh have for long been a grievance. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Saturday 25th April, 1903, p.4.




Lies Down Between the Rails.



   A foreman platelayer named John Deuchars, residing at 15 Flesher’s Vennel, in the employment of the Caledonian Railway at Perth, had a rather narrow escape from death early this morning. 

   Shortly after nine o’clock Deuchars was engaged supervising his division of the line just at the time when the 9 a.m. passenger train from Creiff was steaming into the General Station. Owing to the noise caused by the engine and carriages in so close proximity to where he was standing he failed to notice the approach of a pilot engine which was coming up the same line on which he was engaged, and only when the engine was upon him did he become aware of his perilous position. With commendable presence of mind, however, he at once dropped between the lines and allowed the engine to pass over him. 

   Several men who witnessed the incident at once came forward, and had Deuchars removed home in a cab, where it was found he had only sustained slight bruises on the back of the right elbow. Deuchars’ escape is regarded as a miraculous one. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Saturday 25th April, 1903, p.4.



   Ayr, Friday. – A railway porter, named Robert Ferguson, residing at 18 Hutchesontown Square, Glasgow, was fatally injured while working at Ayr last night. Ferguson came to Ayr to unload implements for the Cattle Show of next week, and, along with others, was working with a hand-crane at the Townhead lye, lifting reaping-machines out of a waggon, when the crane gave way, and in falling, struck Ferguson on the breast and legs. He was removed to Ayr County Hospital, where he died in the course of a few hours. Deceased leaves a widow and seven of a family. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Saturday 25th April, 1903, p.3.




   A SENSATIONAL incident occurred on the Great North of Scotland Railway between Buckie and Buckpool station on Saturday. A cooper, named James Bowie, was walking along the side of the line, accompanied by his son, aged 12 years. Suddenly, on the approach of the 3.50 p.m. east-going train, Bowie, who was the worse of liquor, threw himself across the line. The boy made desperate efforts to rescue his father. Happily the engine-driver was on the lookout, and brought the train to a standstill a few yards from the scene of the struggle. 

– Elgin Courant, and Morayshire Advertiser, Tuesday 28th April, 1903, p.5.


   SUDDEN DEATH IN A GLASGOW RAILWAY TRAIN. – On the arrival of the 2.55 P.M. train from Maryhill at the Central Low Level Station, Glasgow, yesterday, Mr George Ross, seventy-one years of age, a builder, was found dead in one of the carriages. Mr Ross, who resided at 2 Albany Street, North Kelvinside, joined the train at Maryhill and intended going to Whiteinch. Death was due to heart failure. 

   SURFACEMAN KILLED NEAR PORTLETHEN. – Yesterday forenoon, John Gray (36), a surfaceman, was killed on the railway near Portlethen, Kincardineshire. Along with several others, he was engaged repairing the truck about a mile south of the village, but a short distance ahead of his fellow-workmen. When the others saw the North British train, due at Aberdeen at 11.10, approaching, they shouted to Gray, but a goods train was passing along the up line at the time, and prevented him from hearing their warning cries. Quite unconscious of the danger. Gray continued working, and the train struck him. Death was instantaneous. He leaves a wife and six children. 

– The Scotsman, Thursday 30th April, 1903, p.4.
Exit mobile version