March 1905

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1905) Contents]

   Mr Robert Sinclair Scott, of Greenock and Largs, a member of the shipbuilding firm of Scott & Co., Greenock, fell dead last evening in Glasgow Central Station. 

   He was crossing from the Station Hotel to board a train for London when he swooned and expired on the platform. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Wednesday 1st March, 1905, p.2. 

   FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – Michael Gaffney (58), a quay labourer, whilst trespassing on the North British Railway near Parkhead Station, on Monday night, was run down by a mineral train, and seriously injured. One of his feet was so badly mangled that it had to be amputated. He died some hours afterwards in Glasgow Royal Infirmary. 

– Scotsman, Wednesday 1st March, 1905, p.9. 

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT IRVINE. – On Tuesday night an accident occurred at the Caledonian Railway station at Irvine, resulting in serious damage to stock and a delay to the traffic of three hours. A train, made up of passenger carriages and goods, dashed into the terminus, wrecking a passenger carriage, and more or less damaging the entire train. No one was injured. 

– Scotsman, Thursday 2nd March, 1905, p.4. 

   RAILWAY PORTER KILLED. – John Tomkin, railway porter, while engaged in shunting waggons at Princess Pier Station, Greenock, late on Thursday night, was run over and killed. He was forty-four years of age and married. 

– Scotsman, Saturday 4th March, 1905, p.9. 


   An accident, fortunately not of a serious nature, occurred early yesterday morning on the North British Railway at the junction at Easter Road. A goods train, proceeding towards Leith Walk Station, and a single engine, going in the direction of St Margaret’s, collided, both engines being damaged, and four men on them severely shaken. In only one case was medical attention necessary, one of the firemen, named John Anderson, 26 years of age, residing in Milton Street, Edinburgh, having been cut on the back of the head. he was able, however, to go home after being attended to. The accident, it is said, was due to one of the signals failing to act. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 6th March, 1905, p.2. 



   Mr Mount moved the second reading of the Compensation for Damage to Crops Bill, the object of which, he explained, was to ensure that, where damage was done to crops, plantations, &c., by sparks falling from railway engines, compensation should be paid to the owners by the railway companies. The effect was merely to take away from railway companies the privileged position which they had occupied for so long, and to bring them under the common law. As the law stood, it was necessary for the farmer, before he could recover compensation, to prove that the company had acted negligently, or that it had not used the best means of construction in its engines. He also often had to prove that a particular engine had emitted the spark. It was therefore obvious that there was no adequate remedy for damage received. The present state of affairs was particularly unfair, because many insurance companies refused to insure crops growing within a certain distance of a railway, and others insisted on higher premiums. 

   Mr George White strongly supported the bill. With the fast speed at which trains now travelled on the great lines, there was much greater danger now of sparks and small live coal falling amongst the crops and, unless the railway companies could be made to suffer for fires, they were not likely to go to the expense of having the latest scientific appliances to prevent sparks… 

   Sir Frederick Banbury, in opposing the bill on behalf of the railway companies, asked if each time a train approached growing crops was it to pull up and go slow? If it did so, he thought the noble lord and other supporters of this bill would be amongst the first to complain. This measure was most unreasonable. Railways paid very heavily for the land when they made their lines, so that they paid beforehand for any possible damage. There were £12,000,000,000 invested in railways, but the profits made did not pay 3½ per cent. on the money invested. With their present burdens railway companies were barely paying their way. While there was something to be said for the bill from a sentimental point of view, yet from the business point it would be most unjust to pass the bill. He moved its rejection… 

After further debate, Sir F. Banbury withdrew his motion for rejection, on the understanding that the Government did not accept the bill as it stood. 

   The second reading was agreed to, and the Bill referred to the Standing Committe on Trade. 

– Inverness Courier, Tuesday 7th March, 1905, p3. 

   THERE was an occasion, recently, upon which the acuteness of an Ardrossan police official prevented what might have been rather a serious accident. Happening to notice a man with a parcel crushed under his arm out South Beach way, one afternoon, the guardian of the peace, “put two and two together” when he found, on the roadway leading to South Beach Station, two packages of blasting powder. A prompt search resulted in his finding the individual with the parcel seated in South Beach Station, and certainly not sober. On the seat beside this person lay the parcel, spread open, and containing a number of other packages of blasting powder similar to those which had been picked up. He was lighting his pipe, without regard to the grave danger to himself and the station. A spark falling on one of the paper-covered packages would have resulted disastrously. Very properly the official took charge of the explosives, deeming these safer with him than with the other individual in a railway train. The offender, a West Kilbride quarryman, was fined £1 at Ardrossan Burgh Court on Monday. 

– Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, Friday 10th March, 1905, p.5. 

   GLASGOW BRAKESMAN KILLED. – Andrew McCaig (50), a brakesman in the employment of the Caledonian Railway Company, was yesterday forenoon engaged in uncoupling an engine from a train of ten waggons on the main line near Dubi siding, Polmadie. He was standing on the buffers of the waggon immediately behind the engine when he slipped and fell on the line, and the train passed over him, killing him instantly. 

– The Scotsman, Friday 10th March, 1905, p.4. 

   RAILWAY CLERK SERIOUSLY HURT. – An accident occurred on the railway siding at Jamestown, on the Forth and Clyde Railway. Alexander Hay, goods clerk, was standing last night on the tender of a goods engine, and when the train was passing under Napierston Bridge, Hay’s head came in contact with the bridge, and he was dashed against the engine. His injuries were of a serious character, and he was removed to the Western Infirmary, Glasgow. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Saturday 11th March, 1905, p.8. 

   ASSAULT. – At Lanark Sheriff Court yesterday, Thomas Mooney, miner, residing at Longlea Terrace, Auchenheath, was charged with having, in a railway carriage travelling between Coalburn and Lesmahagow Stations, assaulted Isabella Jackson, wife of Daniel Jackson, miner, residing at Coalburn Rows, Lesmahagow, by striking her repeatedly on the head and body with [his] fist and conducting himself in a disorderly manner. He was found guilty, and a fine of 30s or 10 days’ imprisonment was imposed. 

– Hamilton Herald and Lanarkshire Weekly News, Saturday 11th March, 1905, p.3. 




   This morning a distressing accident occurred at Balloch Railway Station to an old man named William Waddell (60), goods porter, Balloch Castle Cottage, Balloch. Waddell had been engaged on a railway siding in shunting operations, and when crossing the rails between two waggons, the engine started, and he was fearfully crushed between the buffers. He sustained two compound fractures of the left arm, while his elbow was seriously injured, the arm being badly mangled. He was removed to the Western Infirmary, Glasgow. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Saturday 11th March, 1905, p.4. 


   A rather serious accident occurred at Row railway Station on Saturday evening to Mr James Spy, master builder at Row, and well known as a local Parish Councillor. In attempting to step out of the train he fell between the moving train and the platform, and was badly injured. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Tuesday 14th March, 1905, p.3. 

   A CHILD named David Ferguson (2½ years old), was on Friday run over by a train and killed, opposite his father’s house, close to the railway fence in the Barcaldine Woods. 

   A Greenock man named Matthew Pollard on Wednesday last stepped down from the platform of the Central Station there in front of a train, by which he was run over and killed. 


   ON Saturday afternoon, Alexander Robertson, fireman of a goods train running from Oban to Stirling, fell from his engine while at Dalmally station, and was instantaneously killed. 

– Southern Reporter, Thursday 16th March, 1905, p.4. 


   Dr Cluckie has pleasure in acknowledging receipt of £3 from Lady Ann Speirs and £4 from Mr A. A. Speirs, of Houston House, as a contribution to the fund being raised for the widow and children of the late John Tomkins, porter, Princes Pier. 



   LAST Saturday afternoon, Alexander Robertson, fireman of the 1.10 p.m. goods train from Oban to Stirling, fell from his engine while at Dalmally Station, and was instantaneously killed. Robertson belonged to Stirling. 

– Strathearn Herald, Saturday 18th March, 1905, p.3. 





   An unfortunate accident occurred on the North British Railway system near Inverkeithing yesterday, whereby a miner of 40 years of age named Alex. Park, 77 Quarry Row, Kingseat, had one of his legs taken off. He was walking on the railway towards Aberdour, a little to the east of Inverkeithing Station, and was in the act of stepping out of the way of one train when he was caught by another proceeding in his own direction. One of his legs was terribly crushed, and a couple of surfacemen later found him sitting on the bank. 

   Police Constable Balsillie, Inverkeithing, was apprised of the occurrence, and along with a doctor proceeded to the scene of the accident. Park was subsequently conveyed to Dunfermline Hospital, where his foot had to be amputated. 

– Dundee Courier, Tuesday 21st March, 1905, p.4. 

Arbroath Railway and Ambulance Festival. 




to be presented that evening showed that the classes reflected a great deal of credit on their instructor. (Applause.) He (the Provost) knew very little about ambulance work, but at the same time, he must admit that there was no class in the community where ambulance work could be of more benefit than amongst people connected with the railway. Employment on the railway was very dangerous. When they considered the great number of train that passed along the line daily and the great attention required, the wonder was that more accidents did not occur. So far as passengers were concerned, the last thing they thought of as they seated themselves quietly into the corner of a comfortable carriage was a railway collision. The number of collisions that happened in proportion to the number of trains run was almost infinitesimal, and one was almost as likely to meet with an accident on the street as in a railway train. There was an old adage which said “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” In some cases that might be true, but he did not think it was so in ambulance work. Although, notwithstanding what Dr Laing had said, they could not as yet expect to “rive the bonnet” of their instructor, Dr Duncan, they would be able to assist any of their fellow-workers or any passenger who might meet with an accident, and give him what was called first aid. He thought it was a very laudable thing to do, because by properly binding up a fractured limb or stemming the flow of blood they made the patient easier till the doctor came; assisted a great deal towards his recovery; and in some cases, it might be, the means of saving life. That he understood to be the true work to which they had been trained and were being trained… 

– Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for the Montrose Burghs, Thursday 23rd March, 1905, p.5. 

   RAILWAY COLLISION. – A collision, which was fortunately attended with no serious results, occurred on the railway about ten o’clock last night, when a goods train ran into a pilot at the Skew Bridge. It appears that the pilot had been working between the goods yard and the down main line, and at the time of the accident, it is stated, the driver ran through the signals, which had been obscured by the steam of his engine, with the result that the 6.35 p.m. goods train from North Leith to Sighthill caught the pilot’s waggons, and three of them were thrown off the line. The contents of two of the loaded waggons as well as about 16 yards of the parapet were thrown over on to the road below. The permanent way was also slightly damaged. Mr Stewart, the agent at Linlithgow, was at once on the spot, and wired to Edinburgh for a break-down gang, who arrived shortly after twelve o’clock. Fortunately, the down line was not interfered with, and traffic was conducted on the single line until shortly after three o’clock, when both lines were opened. Happily, no one was injured, and the wonder is that the damage should have been so slight. 

– Linlithgow Gazette, Friday 24th March, 1905, p.4. 

   A DUNDEE FATAL ACCIDENT. – At Dundee yesterday, Sheriff Campbell Smith conducted inquiries in a number of fatal accidents. One inquiry had reference to the death of an old man named Alexander Clark, who was employed as a labourer at Dundee Gas Works, and it appeared that while he was crossing the yard a bogey engine emerged from a tunnel, knocking him down, and causing fatal injuries. The foreman of the works said notices were posted up for engine drivers, instructing them to sound the engine whistle before leaving either of the tunnels in the gas works, and since the accident to Clark one engine-driver had been dismissed for not sounding the whistle. William MacKay (19), the driver of the engine, was asked by the Procurator-Fiscal whether he sounded the whistle before leaving the tunnel on the occasion of the accident, when Mr W. H. B. Martin, Town-clerk, objected to the question, stating that he did not know what the witness was to say, but it was a question which might lay him open to a charge of culpable homicide. The Sheriff stated that the witness was not bound to answer the question unless he liked, and witness thereupon said he declined to answer. A verdict of accidental death was returned. 

– Scotsman, Friday 24th March, 1905, p.4. 







   An extraordinary accident, as a result of which a vandriver named James Findlay, residing at 50 Leonard Street, Arbroath, had a most miraculous escape, occurred on the Caledonian Railway at St Vigeans, near Arbroath, on Saturday night. 

   Findlay, who is in the employment of the Equitable Co-Operative Society, Arbroath, was proceeding home in the evening after going his usual Saturday country rounds. His way took him to the level crossing at St Vigeans, and, seeing the gates open, he proceeded to cross the line. He, however, had only gone about halfway across when the 6.20 Caledonian express from Montrose to Dundee dashed up, and crashed right into the van which Findlay was driving. The train was travelling at the rate of about thirty miles an hour, and the van was completely cut in two the rear part being carried away by the engine. 


   [As] showing the force of the impact, it may be mentioned that one of the doors of the van was found some time later hanging on a telegraph post about thirty yards from the scene of the collision, while other parts were scattered about the line for a considerable distance. Findlay, the driver of the van, was thrown with considerable violence from his seat on the front part of the van, and, alighting on one of the gate posts, he was pretty severely bruised about the shoulders. Fortunately, however, as if by a miracle, he escaped without any serious injury, while the horse did not receive a scratch. 

   No damage was done to the engine, but on arrival at Arbroath the matter was reported to Mr John Grant, the stationmaster, who instituted inquiries as to the result of the accident. On inquiry yesterday it was learned that Findlay had sustained no ill effects from his shock. 

   How the gates at the level crossing came to be open with the express due is not known, but as they open on to the road it is supposed that the wind had blown them asunder, and this led Findlay to believe that the way was clear. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 27th March, 1905, p.4. 




   Margaret Aitken or Harvey, a young woman of 24, was to-day remitted from Glasgow Central Police Court to the Sheriff on a serious charge, the indictment setting forth that on 13th March she gave birth to a male child in a railway carriage between Neilston and Glasgow Central Station of the Caledonian Railway, that she conveyed the child to a closet at 12 John Knox Street, where she abandoned it in a state of nudity, in consequence of which it died of pneumonia on the following day. It may be remembered that the guard of the train observed symptoms which led him to make inquiries, and these showed that a lady passenger had given birth to a child. He offered to procure medical assistance, but the woman declined, stating that she was quite able to look after herself and the child. As soon as the train arrived at Glasgow the woman hurried out of the station with the child wrapped in a shawl, and the same day it was reported to the police that the child had been found in John Knox Street as stated. The woman was at the time admitted to the poorhouse hospital, and on being discharged this morning she was apprehended. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Wednesday 29th March, 1905, p.5. 




   An unfortunate accident occurred at the Upper Railway Station at Dunfermline this morning, a porter named Alexander Ross being seriously injured. 

   About six o’clock he was engaged at the shunting of a passenger train when he fell off the footboard on which he had been standing. It was apparent that he was badly injured, and he was conveyed to the Dunfermline and West of Fife Hospital in the ambulance waggon. At that institution it was ascertained that he was severely bruised, and had several nasty wounds about the face. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Wednesday 29th March, 1905, p.2. 



   How stories go! Inquiries made elicit the fact that there is practically nothing wrong with the man who was killed by a tramway accident on Saturday evening. 

– Hamilton Herald and Lanarkshire Weekly News, Wednesday 29th March, 1905, p.7. 





   In the Court of Session on Saturday, Lord Kinnaird and a jury had before them the action of James Rennie, tea merchant, 3 Buckingham Terrace, Maryfield, Dundee, against the Great North of Scotland Railway Company for £500 damages in respect of personal injuries. The pursuer, who is blind, was on 17th July last travelling on the defenders’ railway from Elgin to Garmouth, and when the train reached the latter station it stopped. The carriage in which the pursuer was seated, which was the second last in the train, was not, apparently on account of the length of the train, drawn up to the platform. The pursuer averred that the name of the station was called out, that no warning was given to the passengers in the carriages which were not opposite the platform not to get out, that he heard the doors of the carriages being opened and closed, and opened the door of his carriage and got out, and that owing to there being a drop of several feet from the carriage step to the ground, he fell and was severely injured. 

   The defenders explained that owing to the exigencies of traffic, the train was too long to admit of its being wholly opposite the platform when it stopped. When it was seen that the rear carriage was not opposite the platform, the railway officials took steps to warn the passengers in the compartment not to alight, and that the train would be drawn forward. It was also said that the defenders warned the pursuer not to alight, but notwithstanding, he proceeded to do so before their servants could offer him assistance. The accident occurred through the pursuer’s own act. 

   The pursuer denied that he received any warning from the railway officials. None of them he said, spoke to him either before or after the accident. 

   The trial lasted all day, and resulted in a verdict for the pursuer, the jury assessing the damages at £50. 

– Banffshire Advertiser, Thursday 30th March, 1905, p.6. 

   NEW INVENTIONS. – Weekly report by Bottomley and Liddle, 154, St., Vincent Street, Glasgow, Chartered Patent Agents and Agents for the registration of Designs, March, 1905:- E. Mackay, improvements in and connected with indicators for steam gas petrol and other engines;.. J. Darling, improvements in and connected with apparatus for automatically coupling and uncoupling railway carriages, waggons and other vehicles;.. 

– Huntly Express, Friday 31st March, 1905, p.6. 


   About half-past six o’clock this morning, the dead body of a respectably-dressed woman was found lying on the railway of the Galashiels and Selkirk branch of the North British Railway, near Abbotsford Ferry. It is believed that the woman had been killed by the last train leaving Galashiels about eleven o’clock last night, as the body had the appearance of having lain all night. The body was removed to the waiting-room of the station at Abbotsford Ferry, but it has not yet been identified. 



   A distressing fatality occurred this morning on the Dundee and Blairgowrie Railway, near Newtyle. A squad of men under the direction of David Gullan, foreman platelayer, proceeded to dislodge a large piece of rock on the railway embankment between Auchterhouse and Newtyle. The men were at work, when without warning the boulder came tumbling down, and struck Gullan, who was so severely injured that he died a few minutes afterwards. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Friday 31st March, 1905, p.6. 

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