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August 1904

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1904) Contents]






   A sensational attempt on the part of a man in custody of the police to regain his liberty took place near Perth on Saturday. Little can be learned regarding the circumstances connected with the affair, the police being very reticent in the matter. It would appear, however, that on Saturday afternoon three prisoners accompanied by two policemen were being conveyed from Falkirk to Perth Penitentiary with the train leaving Princes Street, Edinburgh, at 1.25, and timed to arrive in Perth about 3.16 p.m. Everything went on smoothly till the train reached Crieff Junction, where the last stop was made previous to the arrival of the train at Perth. Hardly had the train left the junction when one of the prisoners jumped out of the window. The constables looking out noticed that their “man” was lying prostrate on the up main line. The alarm cord was immediately pulled and the engine, which was only getting up steam, was speedily stopped. One of the constables took the man in charge and removed him back to Crieff Junction. He was afterwards conveyed to Perth with the 2.10 train from Glasgow, which arrived at 4.30. On the departure of the train from Crieff Junction a telegram was sent to the Perth Station police to have the ambulance waggon in readiness, but on it being learned that it was a prisoner who had met with an accident it was thought expedient to procure a cab and take the man to the Penitentiary. A large number of persons gathered at Perth Station awaiting the arrival of the train, and they crowded round the carriage to get a view of the prisoner. It was noticed that he had sustained serious injuries about the head and had apparently lost a large quantity of blood. The prison authorities deemed it advisable to have the man removed to Perth Royal Infirmary. Here he was attended by Dr Martin, the house surgeon. Prisoner’s name is John Campbell. He is aged 24, and is a labourer hailing from Falkirk. The doctor found that Campbell had sustained four deep scalp wounds and that he is suffering from concussion. Last night it was stated that the man was progressing favourably. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Monday 1st August, 1904, p.3. 

   ACCIDENT AT DUNDEE STATION. – A rather peculiar accident befell a young Dundee millworker named Andrew Walker, Cleghorn Street, on Saturday afternoon. He was standing inside the pavilion at the cabstance at the West Station when he was crushed between a goods lorry and one of the upright pillars. As he complained of having received injuries to his back he was removed to the Infirmary. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 1st August, 1904, p.4. 




   An extraordinary affair occurred on the Dundee and Blairgowrie Railway on Thursday night, when an attempt was made at three different places to wreck a passenger train by means of placing boulders on the line. The train, which had a marvellous escape, runs between Dundee and Blairgowrie, and is due to arrive at the latter place at 6.45 p.m. Everything went well till they reached, and keeping a good lookout he was astonished to find a huge boulder lying on his line. Before he could draw up, however, the engine went crash against it, but fortunately the locomotive kept on the rails, and on arrival at Blairgowrie the matter was reported to the stationmaster. Mr Cadenhead, and latterly to the county police. On the driver and Inspector Small walking along the line to the spot, they came on a large boulder and two other heaps of stones lying at the side of the rails. The boulder, which was about 22½lbs., was near Rosemount Station. The smaller stones were at a distance of about a foot apart from each other. The large boulder was fixed on the rail, being held in position by several small stones. What saved the train from certain disaster was the iron guard in front of the engine, which, fortunately, pushed the stone aside. This was not easily accomplished, however, as on arrival at Blairgowrie it was noticed that the guard had been considerably twisted. The smaller stones were easier to negotiate, the engine wheels crushing them to powder. Inspector Small and the engine driver brought the huge stone to Blairgowrie. they stated that they observed a man sitting near the place, and on inquiry it was stated he had been seen in the vicinity on several occasions earlier in the afternoon. Meantime, this man, who has been residing in the town for fully a year, walked to Blairgowrie and frankly admitted to Inspector Small that he had placed the stones on the line, but that he was doing no harm. On Friday he was examined by Drs Shaw and Gardiner, who certified him to be insane, and ordered his removal to a lunatic asylum. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Monday 1st August, 1904, p.7. 

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – On Monday evening, about eight o’clock, the goods train from Alves had a rather serious mishap. When near the goods station, the vacuum brake failed to act, and, being on a decline, the and brakes were no sufficient to bring the train up in time, and the engine ran with great force against five waggons loaded with barrels. Tw oof these were derailed and several wheels broken. Had the waggons not been in the way, the train might have gone over the end of the quay into the harbour. No one was injured. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Wednesday 3rd August, 1904, p.3. 

   On Wednesday night a serious accident occurred on the new Glasgow and South-Western Railway line in course of formation near Johnstone. An engine-driver named Michael Barr, residing at the Halfway House, near Glasgow, had both legs broken. He was taken to Johnstone Hospital. 

– Milngavie and Bearsden Herald, Friday 5th August, 1904, p.5. 

   Shoes are not the only articles of clothing that will effectually insulate when dry, for woollen cloth is an excellent non-conductor. Hence a person might lie with impunity right across the track of a “third rail” railway, provided that his bare skin did not touch the conductors. Accidents on electric railways of this kind have generally been due to the victim stumbling on the line; and his hands, spread out to break the fall, have come in contact with the live rail and earth respectively. 

– Wishaw Press, Saturday 6th August, 1904, p.4. 

  During shunting operations at the Railway Station on Monday evening an engine attached to a train of empty waggons standing in a siding. The f9orce of the impact derailed two of the stationary waggons, one of them being thrown across the rails and badly damaged. The accident crane was at once wired for, and it arrived from Inverness by special train shortly after midnight, about an hour being required to clear the line. 

– Aberdeen People’s Journal, Saturday 6th August, 1904, p.7. 



   A most distressing accident occurred at Cove late on Saturday evening, whereby George Dempster, Aberdeen, aged about 48 years, was knocked down by a North British train from the south whilst crossing the railway some 18 yards north of Cove signal box. There was a haze hanging around, and the first intimation the station officials had of the sad occurrence was the cries of Dempster’s wife. There was a large number of excursionists on the platform, and keen excitement prevailed when it became known that a serious accident had occurred. When picked up, Dempster’s injuries were seen to be of a serious nature, his left arm being severed from the body, near the elbow; the right foot almost off near the ankle, and head and body badly injured. He was at once carried to the waiting room, where everything was done to alleviate his sufferings. Dr Skene was unfortunately away attending to another patient. The accident occurred at 9.20 p.m., and Dempster was removed to the Royal Infirmary by the first available train. Mr and Mrs Dempster were out visiting Mr Dempster’s mother, who resides at Loirston House, Dempster, on hearing the train approaching, probably thinking it was the train he intended travelling by, it being already due, crossed the railway before reaching the platform. Cove Station has quite inadequate accommodation for excursionists. There being no shelter on the north platform, excursionists remain on the south platform under shelter until the train is almost due, and the wonder is that so few accidents occur. The unfortunate man died yesterday morning at ten minutes past three o’clock. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Monday 8th August, 1904, p.4. 


   A railway accident, by which a young stoker named James Newton, in the employment of the North British Railway Company, lost his life, occurred this morning at South Leith Goods Station. The deceased was about to couple a bogie and the engine together when he was crushed between them, his head and chest being injured. He was taken up unconscious and conveyed to Leith Hospital, where he died this forenoon. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Tuesday 9th August, 1904, p.2. 

   POLICE CONSTABLE V. COW. – An amusing yet withal exciting incident was witnessed yesterday in the vicinity of Dundee West Station. A number of cattle were being driven from the Cattle Market to the cattle yard at Tay Bridge Station, when one of the animals, unnoticed by the drover, mixed itself up with another drove which was being taken into the cattle siding at the West Station. The cow soon disengaged itself from its new companions, and for a time wandered aimlessly about the street in front of the West Station, and seeing the door of an ice cream and confectionary shop directly opposite the station open it ultimately made a dash for this, and entered the shop. Here blocking the doorway, and after calmly helping itself to several chocolates, it smashed a pane of glass, and stubbornly opposed all attempts to evict it from the premises. Finding his efforts to remove the animal from the outside of no avail, Constable Andrew Marnoch climbed over its back into the shop, and after considerable trouble secured it by the horns and forcibly turned its head towards the door. The cow offered resistance, but the constable eventually managed to push it into the street, where both man and animal rolled in the road. After much struggling the cow was firmly secured and taken to the station. Constable Marnoch, who had his right side pretty severely bruised in the struggle, deserves praise for his plucky action. 

– Dundee Courier, Wednesday 10th August, 1904, p.6. 



   On Saturday afternoon a man named William McMillan, 53 years of age, and residing at 11 Main Street, Shettleston, was killed on the Coatbridge line, a short distance to the east of Shettleston North British station. Deceased had been proceeding home along the four-foot way from his work at the Mount Vernon Chemical Works, when he was overtaken by the 4.5 train from Coatbridge to Hyndland. He was struck by the buffer plate and thrown out from front of the train. His neck was dislocated, and death was instantaneous. Deceased was a widower, his wife having been killed by a tramway accident in Glasgow a couple of years ago. – On Saturday forenoon a man named George Mellis, engineer with the North British Railway Company, was run over at Shettleston Station. He was crossing from one platform to the other when he was knocked down by a pilot engine. He was conveyed to the Royal Infirmary in the ambulance waggon, where he had three fingers and the large toe of his left foot amputated. – On Saturday afternoon a man named George Smith, 40 years of age, residing at Aitkenhead, Uddingston, was found lying on the Hamilton line at Sandyhills, Shettleston. He explained that he had fallen over the railway bridge there. He was conveyed to the Royal Infirmary in the ambulance waggon, when he was found to be suffering from a severe sprain of the back. 

– Milngavie and Bearsden Herald, Friday 12th August, 1904, p.3. 

   GIRL FALLS FROM A TRAIN. – Yesterday forenoon, while an express train was travelling between Kinghorn and Kirkcaldy, a girl, who had been leaning against one of the carriage doors, fell on to the line. On the train being stopped it was found that, beyond several cuts on the face, she did not appear to have sustained any serious injury. 

– Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian, Saturday 13th August, 1904, p.4. 


   Thomas Philp, foreman porter at College Goods Station of the North British Railway, Glasgow, was this afternoon killed while shunting operations were being carried on. The body was found lying face downward on the line, and it is supposed that Philp had been crossing the rails when he was knocked down and killed by two waggons which were being shunted. Deceased, who was aged 60 years, resided at 176 Thomson Street. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Tuesday 16th August, 1904, p.3. 

   AN UNFORTUNATE OCCURRENCE AT THE STATION. – Yesterday afternoon while a boy was standing on the north platform at the General Station looking at an engine taking in water, the injector was suddenly turned on, and the escaping steam scalded the lad about the legs. He was able to walk to an adjoining office, where Mr Millar, of the local Ambulance Corps, rendered first aid. Medical assistance was procured, and the boy was subsequently removed home in a cab. 

– Perthshire Advertiser, Wednesday 17th August, 1904, p.5. 



   An accident, causing considerable damage, occurred at North Berwick Railway Station on Saturday afternoon during shunting operations. Six empty carriages of a train from Edinburgh, from which the engine had been detached, were being run back into the station when the brake failed to act, and the carriages jumped over the buffer stops, running through the station entrance to the roadway. The platform, roofing, and carriages were very greatly damaged. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Monday 22nd August, 1904, p.5. 

   TRAIN COLLISION AT CARSTAIRS. – A mishap occurred at Carstairs Junction about five o’clock on Saturday morning. the second portion of the mail train from the south crashed into the first portion, which was standing in the station. On inquiry yesterday at the head offices of the Caledonian Railway Company in Glasgow, the following particulars were obtained regarding the accident. The second portion of the 4.30 A.M. train from Carlisle was entering Carstairs Station on Sunday morning when something went wrong with the brake and the driver was unable to stop before coming in contact with the first portion of the train, which was standing in the station. The engine kept the rails, but three vehicles were damaged. Four passengers, whose names could not be ascertained, were slightly injured, but all of them continued their journey. The line was cleared in about an hour and a half. 

– Scotsman, Tuesday 23rd August, 1904, p.4. 

A Warm Reception. 

   Strange to say, our pioneer cyclist on his Edinburgh journey was witness to a railway mishap, seeing the train leaving the line at a certain part of the journey. He thereupon “put on steam” himself, and making for the next station told his tale. But he was laughed to scorn. They thought, and did not scruple to say, that he was a good bit “off the rails” himself, and after a very hot time the Souter took himself off in disgust, leaving the railway unbelievers to find out the truth of his tale for themselves. 

– Southern Reporter, Thursday 25th August, 1904, p.3. 









   This morning a terrible railway fatality occurred at Perth General Station, the circumstances of which point strongly to a determined case of suicide. The exact details of how the accident really happened have not yet been ascertained. Just on the stroke of nine a North British pilot engine was proceeding along the line on the London to Aberdeen route. A man named Robert Welch, a railway clerk, employed in the engineer’s office of the Caledonian Railway, was observed a minute or two before standing on the platform in the vicinity of the fruit stall. Welch had made a remark to a companion regarding the weather, and walked in the direction of the rails. When the pilot engine passed several persons in the near neighbourhood observed the locomotive give a heave, and, suspecting something amiss, rushed forward, and, on looking down on to the line were horrified to see Welch lying in a pool of blood. On closer examination it was discovered that the injuries sustained were of a terrible nature, his left leg being almost entirely severed above the knee, while his feet were lacerat4ed almost to a pulp. 

   The members of the station ambulance corps rendered every temporary assistance possible, and Welch, in a semi-conscious state, was lifted on to the platform, where, after suffering the most painful agony, he expired lying in the arms of his fellow-railwaymen, about five minutes after the accident occurred. 

   Welch was unmarried. His connection with the railway has extended over the long period of 25 years, and in Perth generally he was pretty well known. He was a native of Glasgow, and his age is fifty-seven. 

   The police later in the forenoon made minute investigation into the affair, and discovered that Welch had apparently committed suicide. It is believed that he deliberately walked across the platform and flung himself on to the rails, and, though his attention was called to the approaching engine, he either did not hear the warning, or, at all events, took no heed. 







   The sad fatality at Perth General Station this morning was followed by another calamity, the circumstances of which are of as shocking a nature. 

   On the arrival of the 10.20 train, from Perth to Glasgow at Forgandenny, a gentleman who was travelling in one of the compartments had a terrible story to relate to the officials there. He stated that when the train entered the Moncreiffe tunnel a young girl of about twenty years of age occupied a seat in the same compartment as himself. 

   on emerging from the tunnel, however, his surprise may well be judged when he found that the young lady was amissing from the compartment. The stationmaster at Forgandenny, on learning of the affair, which he realised was sure to have a terrible result, immediately telephoned to the signalman at Hilton Junction, and ordered him to search the tunnel. 

   About midway in the tunnel the dead body of the unfortunate girl was found lying across the off rail of the up line in a terribly mutilated condition, her head being fearfully cut, and her body being practically cut in two. 

   She was immediately removed to the ambulance room of Perth General Station by means of a pilot engine. in her possession was found a return ticket to Auchterarder, which leads the officials to believe that the young woman belongs to that town. She was dressed in a navy blue costume with white piping, a black sailor hat, and light, high-heeled shoes. 

   The police are making inquiries at Forgandenny and Auchterarder with a view of gaining information as to the identity of the unfortunate young lady. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Thursday 25th August, 1904, p.2. 

   Yesterday morning at Perth general Station, Robert Welsh, a clerk in the District Engineer’s Office, Caledonian Railway, Perth, was run over and killed by the North British train which leaves Edinburgh at 7.30 a.m., arriving in Perth at 8.55 a.m. Welsh deliberately left the platform and placed himself in front of the advancing train. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Friday 26th August, 1904, p.3. 







   A distressing railway fatality, in which a mother died in an effort to save her child, occurred on Saturday afternoon at the level crossing about 200 yards east of Dalchonzie siding, on the Comrie and Lochearnhead railway. 

   The train which left Crieff at 1.53 p.m. was approaching the level crossing mentioned when Mrs Smith, wife of Mr Allan Smith, overseer, Dunira, had occasion to cross the line to procure supplies from a provision can on the main road. On turning round, she noticed her little child of about two years straying behind her on the railway. 

   The mother, recognising the perilous position of the child, dashed forward, and snatched up the little one, but in retreating across the line to guard her elder child, who had accompanied her, was caught by the oncoming train, and both mother and child were killed instantaneously. the bodies were carried a distance of thirteen yards. Both of deceased were considerably mangled, but several doctors who were soon on the scene pronounced death to have been instantaneous. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 29th August, 1904, p.5. 

   MAN KILLED AT FORDOUN STATION. – A railway accident occurred yesterday afternoon near Fordoun Station, by which John Murray, foreman platelayer, who lived at Cocketty, Fordoun, was run down and killed by the 12.55 P.M. train from Aberdeen. Murray, along with four other men, was repairing the postal apparatus, and one of the other platelayers had a very narrow escape. Murray leaves a widow and a large family. 

– Scotsman, Tuesday 30th August, 1904, p.4. 

   FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT NEAR GREENHILL STATION. – On Friday a fatal accident occurred on the railway near Greenhill Station, by which Peter Cochrane, a retired permanent way inspector on the Caledonian Railway, met his death. Mr Cochrane, who was about 80 years of age, and resided in Glasgow, was walking on the branch line from Bonnybridge towards Greenhill, when he was overtaken and knocked down by the 12.20 train from Queen Street, Glasgow, to Grangemouth. He was picked up and carried to Greenhill Station, and a messenger sent for Dr Young, but the unfortunate man succumbed to his injuries before the arrival of the doctor. 

– Falkirk Herald, Wednesday 31st August, 1904, p.4. 




   An accident occurred last night at the Kirkcaldy Railway Station, a boy named Crombie (13), residing at Bridgeton, who is engaged selling papers on the platform, having a narrow escape with his life. 

   As the 5.7 p.m. train was leaving the station a gentleman called to the boy for a paper, and the lad, running up, fell in between two carriages. Fortunately he dropped between the rails, and had the presence of mind to lie flat along the sleepers. In this position several carriages passed over him before the train was pulled up, when he was taken out and conveyed to a room, where it was found that he had escaped unhurt, only having sustained a shock. 

   Had the accident taken place with a lad of bulkier build no doubt it would have terminated fatally. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Wednesday 31st August, 1904, p.2. 

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