May 1903



   LAST night, between five and six o’clock, a distressing accident occurred at Wemyss Bay Railway Station, which resulted in the deaths of two workmen and severe injury to other seven. The accident occurred to a train by which the workmen engaged at the rebuilding of Wemyss Bay Station and pier are conveyed between Greenock and Wemyss Bay. After taking the workmen down from Greenock early in the morning, this train, composed of four carriages, the end of one being a brake van, with four passenger compartments, lies in a siding outside Wemyss Bay Station till half-past five in the evening, when it is backed in to take up the workmen returning to their homes in Greenock. A number of the men are in the habit of boarding the train at the siding before it enters the station, and last night as usual the composite carriages were occupied before the train started back. There is a declivity from the siding to the station of one in seventy to one in seventy-five. It appears that when the time, came for the train to be run back, the guard removed the brakes, while the engine was some distance from the train, being under the impression that the engine was coupled on. The train immediately started back towards the station. An attempt was made to apply the brakes, but owing to the rails being greasy, they failed to act, and the train ran into No. 2 dock at great speed. Several waggons laden with metal were lying at the head of the dock, and into these the train crashed with such force as to telescope the brake van and the carriage next to it, while a third carriage was knocked off the metals. When the terrible shock and noise of the smash had passed, the passengers scrambled out, a number of them having been injured through having been thrown violently against each other. Owing to the telescoping of the carriages, great difficulty was experienced in getting at the injured. Ultimately it was ascertained that two men had been killed and seven severely injured. Medical aid was rendered to the injured men, and as speedily as possible they were conveyed by train to Greenock, and afterwards removed in ambulance vans to the Infirmary. The bodies of the two men who were killed were removed to the mortuary at Inverkip. 

   Killed. – James McMinneny (34), John Street, Greenock; and Samuel Haddon (60), residing in a lodging-house in Greenock. 

   Injured. – Alexander Watson (50), 26 East Crawford Street; J. McGachan (21), 13 Springkell Street; J. McLauchlan (25), 24 St John Street; Neil McMillan (40), 13 Shaw Street; Joseph Riley (19), 5 Smith’s Lane; James Boyle (22), 2 Tobago Street; P. McCann (24), 5 Shaw Street – all of Greenock. The injuries are chiefly about the legs and arms. Riley’s condition is considered serious. 

– The Scotsman, Saturday 2nd May, 1903, p.8.


   The drains of Holyrood Palace were further heard of in the Commons on Wednesday in connection with the report on the vote for Royal palaces. The subject is not a very savoury one. 

   On the same day attention was directed to the long hours of railway servants. Accidents are held to be a natural corollary of the same. 

Perthshire Advertiser, Friday 8th May, 1903, p.2.


   TOWN COUNCIL. – The monthly meeting was held on Tuesday evening – Provost Christie presiding… Councillor David Millar then called the attention of the meeting to early cutting off the street lamps for the season. For some nights of late one had to grope his way in the dark, more especially when crossing from the late train at night. It would just land in the town being held responsible for any accident that might happen. He moved that the lamps at the Post Office, Toll Cross, and east and west end of the burgh be lighted all night. No one seconded the motion, and the matter dropped. 

– St Andrews Citizen, Saturday 9th May, 1903, p.8.



   Ardrossan, Friday. A serious railway accident of a peculiar nature is reported at Ardrossan. A man was travelling in a passenger train on the Glasgow & South-Western Railway, and fell out of the compartment, near Saltcoats, receiving severe injuries. He was medically attended to at Ardrossan, and he afterwards joined a train at the latter station for Largs. Shortly after the train had left Ardrossan, on its way to West Kilbride, he again fell out of the compartment, and was severely hurt. He was greatly bruised about the head, and is suffering from compression of the brain. Part of one of his feet has had to be amputated. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Saturday 9th May, 1903, p.3.


   RAILWAY COLLISION. – On Saturday morning, about 3.30, a collision took place at Johnstone Goods Station between two goods trains, resulting in several waggons being demolished and the waylines being badly damaged. Several hours were occupied in repairing the ways, but the passenger traffic was but little impeded. 

– Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette, Saturday 9th May, 1903, p.6.


   The First Great Railway Accident. – Friday was the anniversary of the first great railway accident. The disaster occurred in 1845 to a train containing a vast number of excursionists, on its way between Meudon and Bellevue [France]. The cause was the breaking of an engine-axle box, which threw several carriages over the two engines, and set fire to the crowded compartments. As the doors were locked, the passengers suffered intolerable anguish, and as many as 52 perished. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Monday 11th May, 1903, p.7.


   It is sad reading the pages of the Parliamentary Blue-Book devoted to the death-roll on our railway systems. Well on to 20,000 persons have been killed or injured during the past year. While a proportion must be set down as the result of accident directly connected with defective permanent ways and rolling stock, still I am inclined to the belief that the public (and railway servants, too) are in a great measure at fault themselves. Carelessness and callousness in a vast number of instances are the immediate cause of many fatalities – far too many, indeed. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Tuesday 12th May, 1903, p.5.




   About six o’clock on Monday morning, the mutilated remains of Annie Masson, daughter of Mr Wm. Masson, road foreman, North Side, Grantown, were found on the permanent way, near Craggan, about a mile from Grantown Highland Railway Station. Information was at once given to the police authorities, and Sergeant Winchester had the remains conveyed home. How the girl met her death in such a sad fashion is at present enshrouded in mystery. She had been in the service of Mrs Clarke at Craggan. Her after movements are a little uncertain, and what took her to the particular spot where the body was found is at present a matter of conjecture. Various reasons have been assigned and explanations offered, but these do not help to elucidate the mystery. It is supposed that the poor girl met her death by the goods train passing Grantown about two a.m., as the driver of the next train, about six o’clock, reported that he had seen an object lying on the railway at the point stated. The authorities are at present investigating the matter. The deceased was a bright, intelligent girl, about 16 years of age. The sad accident has cast a gloom over the whole district, and great sympathy is felt for the parents in the sad and trying circumstances. 

– Elgin Courant, and Morayshire Advertiser, Tuesday 12th May, 1903, p.5.


   CHILD KILLED ON THE RAILWAY. – A distressing accident occurred on the Caledonian Railway near Carluke yesterday, when a child, aged eighteen months, the daughter of John Jackson, signalman, was killed. The house is quite close to the line, at Low Crossings, and the gate of the garden had been left open, so that the child wandered on to the line. A fast goods train from Carlisle to Dundee approached, and the child was caught by the wheel of the engine and dragged a distance of nearly eighty yards. The left foot was severed from the leg, and its head was terribly bruised. the child died three hours later. 

– The Scotsman, Wednesday 13th May, 1903, p.8.



   ON Monday night an unfortunate accident, resulting in the death of James Airth, fireman of the 5 p.m. passenger express train from Glasgow to Perth, occurred between Kinbuck and Greenloaning. Before reaching the latter station, Drury, the driver of the train, missed Airth, and at Greenloaning he informed the officials there of what had occurred. Information was at once telegraphed to Perth and to Kinbuck, while a search party proceeded along the line. About a mile to the north of Kinbuck, Airth’s body was found lying in the six-foot way. It is supposed that while on duty on the tender he had been struck by a bridge and thrown down on the rails and killed instantaneously. Deceased, who is between 20 and 30 years of age, and unmarried, resided with his parents in Friar Street, Craigie. He belonged to a railway family so to speak, his father being a signalman and three brothers also being in the railway service. 

   One of the brothers and a brother-in-law left Perth by the 7.35 p.m. train to make arrangements for the removal of the body. The body was conveyed to Perth Station last night by the eight o’clock train, and from thence taken to the deceased’s home in Friar Street. 

   Deceased is a member of a family of fourteen and his tragic end is the first breakage in the household. 

Perthshire Advertiser, Wednesday 13th May, 1903, p.8.



   A sad railway fatality occurred at Hawthornden Station yesterday afternoon. Owing to the Royal train having to pass through the station the Penicuik train was delayed, and when it steamed into the station at Hawthornden it was half an hour late. As the train was drawing up a man made a rush and tried to enter the train evidently under the impression that it was not going to stop. he had just got on the footboard of the train when he slipped, and the consequence was that he was caught between the footboard and the platform. Before the train could be brought to a standstill he had been dragged along for about six yards. When the train did stop it was found that before the man could be extricated part of the wooden platform would have to be cut away. Dr Mitchell, superintendent of the Rosslynlea Asylum, had arrived by the time the man was got out, but a very quick examination served to show that life was extinct. the body was identified as that of William Sinclair (35), miner, son of a Rosewell shoemaker. Sinclair, it is understood, leaves a widow and five children. The large number of people who were on the platform waiting to travel by the train into Edinburgh for the purpose of seeing the King were greatly affected at the occurrence. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal Thursday 14th May, 1903, p.4.







   A mishap of a rather serious nature occurred at Perth General Station this forenoon. The train which was about to leave Perth for Carstairs at 12.15 had just been made up in the shed. 

   The engine, attached to three passenger carriages and a luggage van, was proceeding out of the shed towards the general platform. It was here that the mishap occurred. When crossing the points at the entrance to the station three of the carriages, including the luggage van, left the metals. The engine was going at a fair rate of speed, and it was a few seconds before it was brought to a standstill, and consequently the carriages were each about two yards off the rails. The van was lying in such a position that it interfered with the traffic to and from the shed. The breakdown gang were soon on the scene. In the meantime they confined their efforts to the luggage van in order that the traffic might not be interfered with. 

   By means of iron plates and logs of wood, and after half an hour’s hard work the derailed vehicle was again set upon the metals. The other two carriages were dealt with after this, and it was only after considerable difficulty that they were again put on to the rails. 

   The mishap was due to the rails being put off the level owing to the new heavy engine passing over them. 





   Another accident of a still more alarming nature has to be recorded. A N.B. pilot engine was proceeding out of the siding at the goods shed for the purpose of being turned on the turning-table. 

   The driver failed to notice that the table was not in the right position, but lying in the opposite direction altogether, and drove his engine right on. 

   The engine was going tender first, with the result that the tender went down into the hole, and at the time of writing (two o’clock) the tender was still hanging over the edge in a dangerous position. 

   The breakdown gang are now engaged in trying to get it out, but it will be some time and considerable labour will be involved before it is got on the line again. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Thursday 14th May, 1903, p.2.


   SLAUGHTER OF CATTLE ON THE RAILWAY. – On Monday afternoon six young cattle, belonging to Mrs Law, Netherhouses Farm, were killed on the railway about a mile west from Armadale Station. It is given as the reason for the cattle getting on to the line that the gate on the No. 8 Pit siding was left open, and another story is to the effect that the fence, which has been set back on account of the doubling of the line, was not finished at a level crossing gate and formed an opening. The accident happened at what is known as the Northrigg Bridge, between the passing of the 4.54 east going and 5.54 west going passenger trains, and must have been done by one of the heavy laden goods or mineral trains, but which particular one, at the time of writing, was not known. Three of the animals were killed outright and terribly smashed one of them being thrown over the embankment. On Tuesday morning the carcasses were taken to the Armadale Slaughter House, and dressed by Mr John Gibb, butcher, previous to be sent to Glasgow. 

Linlithgowshire Gazette, Friday 15th May, 1903, p.5.



   Annie Masson, 15 years of age, was run down and killed on the railway at Grantown-on-Spey on Monday. 

   George Turnbull, surfaceman, was killed at Dundee East Station on Saturday afternoon. While walking along the line he was caught by an engine and carried about twelve yards. When picked up he was found to be dead and terribly mutilated. 

   On Saturday a surfaceman, named McGhee, was killed on the Caledonian Railway near Whifflet Station. McGhee was run down by a train, and when picked up his body was terribly mutilated, his head being knocked into a pulp. The deceased, who resided at Langloan, was a young man, and unmarried. 

   James Airth, fireman of the passenger express train from Glasgow to Perth, met his death on Monday between Kinbuck and Greenloaning. It is supposed that Airth, while on duty on the tender, had been struck by a bridge and thrown down on the rails. 

– Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian, Saturday 16th May, 1903, p.2.


   PETERHEAD MAN KILLED AT GRANGEMOUTH. – A sad accident occurred on Thursday morning on the railway near Grangemouth, whereby William Tocher, a platelayer, was knocked down by a pug engine and both legs were broken. Tocher was removed to the Edinburgh Infirmary, where his legs were amputated. He did not survive the operation, however, dying on Thursday evening. Tocher was a native of Peterhead, and before leaving for Grangemouth, resided in Maiden Street. His remains are to be brought to Peterhead on Monday for interment. 

Peterhead Sentinel and General Advertiser for Buchan District, Saturday 16th May, 1903, p.4.


   CHILD KILLED ON THE RAILWAY. – The death of Ian McLean, Northburn Street, Glasgow, a boy of four years of age, who had been injured on the railway at Lochearnhead, under singularly sad circumstances, was reported at the Royal Infirmary on Saturday afternoon. The boy and his mother were at Lochearnhead on a visit to his father, who was employed there at some railway operations. As the father and mother sat talking in the house the boy wandered on to the railway, which was not far distant. The mother missing the boy went in search of him, and soon came upon him lying badly injured on the line. It was apparent that he had been knocked down by a passing train. The mother took up the unconscious child, rushed to the station, was just in time to catch a Glasgow-bound train, and carried the child to the Royal Infirmary. There the boy died on Saturday afternoon. 

– The Scotsman, Monday 18th May, 1903, p.6.



   On the arrival of the 8.25 train from Gourock at the Central Station, Cathcart Street, on Saturday night, a cry was raised by some persons on the platform that a man had fallen on to the rails. James Butchart, ticket collector, thereupon crossed the line, and found a man lying in the six-foot way with his right foot cut off at the ankle. It appears that he had fallen off the platform, and, seeing that he was likely to be run down by the approaching train, he jumped towards the six-foot way, and was almost clear of the rails, when his right foot was caught by the engine. He was immediately conveyed to a room in the station, and the services of Dr Lees obtained. After temporarily dressing the limb, the doctor ordered the man’s removal to the Infirmary, where it was ascertained that his name was William Jackman, residing at 193 Holm Street, Glasgow. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Monday 18th May, 1903, p.2.


   FATAL FALL FROM A TRAIN. – A boy named Norman Cotton, 4½ years of age, living in Sunderland, was on Friday admitted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary suffering from a fracture of the skull and right arm. The boy was travelling with some relations to Edinburgh on an express train from Berwick, and had been looking out of the window when he overbalanced himself. The accident happened at Longniddry, and when the boy was picked up it was seen that he was seriously injured. As promptly as possible, he was conveyed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where he died. 

– Southern Reporter, Thursday 21st May, 1903, p.4.


Railway Accident at Fodderty.


Narrow Escape of a Passenger Train.


Six Cattle Killed.


   Yesterday a railway accident occurred on the Skye Junction of the Highland Railway line above Fodderty Junction, whereby six cattle were killed, and some damage done to the permanent way. Fortunately, however, the train, which conveyed a few passenger carriages, escaped without injury. It appears that about 9 a.m. yesterday morning a large herd of cattle were being driven from a field at the back of the farm steading of Fodderty into another field on the north side of the railway. The driver of the cattle did not think the train was near, and accordingly opened the gates to allow the cattle to cross. Half of the herd had just crossed, when the train came dashing round the curve and right into the cattle, killing six instantaneously. The line from Achterneed to Dingwall comes down a very steep declivity, and the train was on the cattle before it could be pulled up. The impact gave the train a terrible shock, but, fortunately, it held to the rails, and passed by uninjured. The bodies of the cattle were dreadfully mutilated, and one got so entangled with the bogey of the engine that the train had to be brought to a standstill to clear the flesh off it. The train was delayed a very little, and it steamed into Dingwall only a few minutes late. The cattle belonged to Mr J. C. Robertson of Achtilty, who also owns the farm of Fodderty, and the damage is estimated at between £70 and £80. 

   A curious fact about the accident is that, on examination of the line at the spot where the accident occurred, the roadway was torn up. From this it is surmised that some of the fish trucks, which accompanied the passenger train, had been thrown off the line, but the speed at which the train was going must have lifted the waggons on to the rails again. 

– Ross-shire Journal, Friday 22nd May, 1903, p.8.


   Thomas Donegan, goods porter, residing in the Hilltown, was admitted to the Infirmary on Saturday afternoon suffering from a severe scalp wound sustained in the course of his employment in the goods yard of the D. & A. Joint Railway. Donegan stepped from a goods brake, and, failing to observe the approach of a shunting engine, he was struck on the forehead by one of the buffers. His wound was temporarily dressed in the guards’ room. 

– Dundee evening Post, Monday 25th May, 1903, p.4.


   AN EDINBURGH MAN FALLS BEFORE A PASSING TRAIN. – Before Sheriff Henderson in Edinburgh Police Court on Saturday a man, named Anthony Huber (42), restaurant manager, 20 Springvalley Gardens, Edinburgh, was charged with having on 27th April last attempted to commit suicide by throwing himself from the south platform of Morningside Road Station in front of a passenger train while in motion, with the result that he was knocked down by the coal tender of the engine and the whole train passed over his body. He sustained a compound fracture to his skull, and was otherwise injured about the body. the accused, according to police information, when the train was twelve yards distant, ran along the platform and threw himself in front of the coal tender. When the train had passed Huber was found lying between the rails in an unconscious condition, and bleeding profusely from a wound on the back of his head. He was subsequently taken to the Royal Infirmary, where he had been for the last four weeks. Sir Henry Littlejohn said the accused had made a most wonderful recovery, and was perfectly sound, so far as he could make out. There had been some domestic difference at home, and Sir Henry thought the accused might be leniently dealt with. The sheriff placed Huber under £5 caution for his future good behaviour. 

– The Scotsman, Monday 25th May, 1903, p.6.







   A distressing railway accident, involving the death of a young man named Samuel Clifton, 21 years of age, belonging to Bankfoot, occurred at Perth Station between nine and ten o’clock this morning. 

   Deceased, who was a railway surfaceman, resided in High Street, Perth, and was engaged in repairing the line at the ticket platform of the down station when a Caledonian engine from Carlisle, proceeding from the station towards the goods shed, approached him. 

   On account of an N.B. engine blowing off steam at the time the unfortunate man failed to hear the approach of the Caley engine, and he was knocked down, and the great engine passed clean over him. 

   A few of the surfacemen who were standing in the vicinity, observing the engine approaching towards Clifton, called to him, but they were too late. 

   The men immediately ran for the stretcher, and the remains were removed to the ambulance hall of the station. Dr Taylor, who arrived on the scene shortly afterwards and examined the body, gave it as his opinion that death was instantaneous, the injuries sustained by the deceased being of a shocking and revolting nature. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Wednesday 27th May, 1903, p.4.



   While an empty passenger train was being taken from St Margaret’s Works to the Waverley Station shortly after ten o’clock last night, the driver felt the engine give a jerk as the train was passing Royal Park Terrace, and looking back he saw the body of a man lying between the rails. He stopped the train and informed a fellow employee, who communicated with the police. An examination disclosed that the man’s head and left arm had been almost severed, and Dr Lilias Thomson, 6 Dalziel Place, who was summoned, pronounced life to be extinct, death having been instantaneous. The body was removed to the City Mortuary and searched, when a railway time table and a written address, “John Goddart, 5 Spittal Street” were found in the pockets. Early this morning the body was identified as that of Joseph Goddart, who lived at that address. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Wednesday 27th May, 1903, p.2.


   RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – After the 1.15 A.M. mineral train, Dundee to Ladyburn, on Monday morning had passed Greenloaning the driver observed a man lying on side of down line. The driver stopped at Kinbuck, and this information was telephoned to Greenloaning. The stationmaster there was informed of this, who immediately went along the line and found a man lying on side of line severely injured about the back and head. An engine was requisitioned and the injured man was run special to Stirling, the ambulance was being wired for to be ready to take him to the Infirmary. He proved to be John Galloway, mason, Kinbuck, at present engaged in the alterations at Cromlix Mansion House, and is supposed to have been walking home on the line and had somehow or other been struck by a passing train and lain there till he was seen by this engine-driver after daylight came in. 

Perthshire Advertiser, Wednesday 27th May, 1903, p.6.



   About 11 o’clock last night a serious block occurred at Hamilton Central Station of the Caledonian Railway, due to a mineral subsidence. A train, consisting of 41 loaded coal waggons, was proceeding from Strathaven Junction to Leith, and when near Orchard Street bridge some of the couplings and drawbars broke, and the train became divided in three portions. The first portion, with nearly 15 waggons, ran into the station, when the coupling next the engine gave way, and the waggons went backwards and collided with the remainder of the train under Orchard Street Bridge. One waggon was telescoped and smashed into pieces. This occurred right under the bridge, and the rebounding waggons struck and broke the water pipe, which is laid underneath the bridge. The up line was completely blocked, and the contents of the waggons strewn over a long stretch of permanent way. Owing to the lateness of the hour, passenger traffic was practically over for the day, there being only two trams due from Glasgow. These were stopped at the West Station, and the passengers discharged there. The mineral traffic was taken round by Newton and Motherwell. Without delay the steam crane from Motherwell arrived on the scene, and the line was cleared about four o’clock this morning. Traffic is proceeding as usual. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday 28th May, 1903, p.2.


   A DETERMINED SUICIDE. – A fatality took place on the Glasgow and Paisley Joint Line on Thursday between Ibrox and Cardonald stations. A man about fifty years of age was observed running through a field and climbing the railway fence as the eleven o’clock train from Glasgow was coming up. He jumped in front of the train and was instantly killed, being almost decapitated. 

– Southern Reporter, Thursday 28th May, 1903, p.4.


   MONTROSE RAILWAYMAN INJURED. – An accident befell Mr Thomas Dickie, engine-driver, Caledonian Street, Montrose, at Dundee West Locomotive Department on Friday. On arriving at Dundee about 9.30, Mr Dickie proceeded to water his engine, and was standing on the tender when he lost his footing and fell on the permanent way. he was picked up in a semi-conscious condition, and was conveyed to Dundee Royal Infirmary, where it was found that he had sustained, besides severe bruises on the head, injuries to his left arm and leg. 

– Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin Review; and Forfar and Kincardineshire Advertiser, Friday 29th May, 1903, p.5.

2 thoughts on “May 1903

  1. How do I find info on an uncle killed in Greenock. His name was Michael hinchey. Would be around 1900s.possibly on lillybank rd. Truck struck child

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