April 1905

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1905) Contents]

   ACCIDENT AT RAILWAY STATION. – On Saturday night James Macdonald, stonebreaker, Muir of Ord, on attempting to board the 7.25 north-going train while in motion, missed his footing and fell between the platform and the train, receiving an injury to his left leg. He was conveyed to the Northern Infirmary. 

– Highland News, Saturday 1st April, 1905, p.5. 

The Casualties of Peace. 

   Numerically the casualties of peace are insignificant compared with those of war. Yet the total is appalling enough. The death-rate from accidents among railway servants is this year less than might be expected, and much less than formerly. In 1904 some 416 were killed – 54 4less than in 1903. The five years’ average was 501, but to these must be added 22 employees of railway contractors. The movement of carriages, trucks, &c., accounts for 388 of the total deaths. Permanent-way men lost 101 of their total in this way. The mean annual total of all deaths by accident was under 7 per 10,000 employed. The proportion of fatal accidents compared with the total employed was in round figures as follows: Seamen, nearly 70 per 10,000; miners, 13¾ per 10,000; quarrymen, over 11 per 10,000; railway employees, over 8½ per 10,000; non-textile factories, 2½ per 10,000; textile operatives, only 0.69 per 10,000; or about two in every 30,000 employed. The total of accidents of all kinds shows a decline of 411, and the numbers at present are showing a steady annual fall. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Saturday 1st April, 1905, p.4. 


   This morning an accident of a distressing nature occurred at the railway station. The 7.55 train from Glasgow had just taken its departure, and in the performance of his duty William Martin, parcel porter, had taken charge of certain packages which had been left on the platform. He got on to the down line, and was standing there waiting till an express from Gourock had passed, when he failed to notice the approach of a light engine. Martin was carried a distance of fully twenty yards, and on being picked up it was found that his skull was fractured, and that he had received serious bodily injuries. Dr Watt was early in attendance, and did what he could for the unfortunate lad, who was removed to the Infirmary. Martin has only been a short time at the Port Glasgow station. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Tuesday 4th April, 1905, p.2. 

   ACCIDENT AT AVIEMORE STATION. – On Monday an accident occurred to a young man, Joseph Macgill, a clerk in the goods department at Aviemore station. It appears that an engine and a tender were slowly entering Aviemore station, and, unknown to the driver, Macgill jumped on to the engine. He accidentally slipped off the step, and the wheels of the tender passed over his right foot, crushing it severely. He was promptly attended to, and in course of the afternoon he was conveyed by train to the Northern Infirmary, Inverness, where it was found necessary to amputate his foot at the ankle. 

– Northern Chronicle and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland, Wednesday 5th April, 1905, p.4.

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – On Tuesday Mr Bernard Ferry, foreman, platelayer, was knocked down by some waggo9ns, which were being shunted in the vicinity of the station, and severely injured. On his being removed to infirmary it was found necessary to amputate both legs below the knees. Mr Ferry is fifty years of age, and had been a railway servant for over thirty years. He has a wife and large family, and it is hoped that his recovery will be a speedy one. 

– Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, Friday 7th April, 1905, p.8. 

   SHUNTING ACCIDENT. – Late on Monday night while a goods train was being shunted from the Caledonian main line to the “lie,” a little to the west of Bellshill Station, the driver, under the impression that he had been shunted on to New Orbiston branch line, was proceeding at a good speed when he crashed into the embankment at the end of the line. The driver and brakesman escaped with slight injuries. 

– Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 8th April, 1905, p.6. 


   A sensational case of suicide was reported from Airdrie on Saturday. An engine driver named James Ross Lindsay (30) climbed upon the watering tank outside Airdrie Railway Station, tied a railway [chair] round his neck, and fired a revolver into his mouth. He fell dead into the water. Deceased, who hailed from Montrose, increased the eccentricity of his act by leaving a letter addressed to his mate, in which he enclosed ten £5 notes. No reason is given for his curious behaviour. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Monday 10th April, 1905, p.3. 


   A rather serious accident occurred yesterday morning at Findochty station, on the Great North of Scotland Railway. George Gibson, porter, slipped and fell between the platform and the engine tender of the 10 o’clock goods train. He was badly cut and bruised, and rendered unconscious. He was taken home and medically attended. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Tuesday 11th April, 1905, p.4. 

   Accident at Drumshoreland Station. – When the last train from Edinburgh arrived at Drumshoreland Station at about eleven o’clock on Saturday night, a miner’s drawer, named James Carson, 28 years of age, residing at Oakbank Place, Winchburgh, evidently meaning to avoid the crush of passengers getting out of the station, attempted to get a quicker means of exit by climbing over the fence on to the road. Seemingly he had not known or had not recollected that his endeavour meant a drop of between twenty-five and thirty feet, as the road passes underneath the railway at this part. When he released his hold of the fence, of course, he descended this distance and sustained a simple fracture to his right leg below the knee. The local police were sent for, and rendered first aid, and the man was afterwards taken home in an ambulance waggon. 

– West Lothian Courier, Friday 14th April, 1905, p.2. 





   Late on Friday night it was discovered that James Ross Lindsay (30), an engine driver on the Caledonian Railway, and residing in lodgings at Wellsfield Place, Cairnhill Road, had committed suicide in the watering tank nearly opposite his lodgings. What has driven the unfortunate man to the rash act is not known, but he seems to have been very determined to end his life. After bringing the last train from Newhouse, he appears to have got up on the water tank, carrying with him a heavy iron chair from the railway line. This he tied round his neck with his muffler, and then, when on the edge of the tank he produced a revolver and fired it in his mouth. He fell into the water and Dr. Martyn, who afterwards examined the body, is of opinion that the shot had been instantaneously fatal. The report of the shot attracted the attention of the workmen in the engine sheds adjoining, and following footprints in the snow which led to the ladder at the tank they found the deceased’s cap floating on the surface of the water. The matter was reported to Mr Ogilvie, the station master, who had the water at once turned off, and the body was then discovered at the bottom. Mr Ogilvie states that there was nothing about the conduct of the deceased to have caused any suspicion that anything was wrong with him. He brought the train from Newhouse to Airdrie all right, and then took the engine down to the sheds for the night. It has since transpired that he had purchased a revolver that day, and left a letter to the fireman on the engine, enclosing a bulky envelope addressed to a Mrs Anderson, residing in Dorset Street, Glasgow. It was found that the envelope contained ten £5 notes. This money, we learn, the relatives of the deceased have decided to allow Mrs Anderson to get possession of. The letters were found lying on the top of the tank. On Monday the remains of the deceased was interred at Montrose. 

– Bellshill Speaker, Friday 14th April, 1905, p.3. 

   THE ELECTRIFICATION OF RAILWAYS. – This was the subject of the closing lecture of the winter season of the Inverness Scientific Society and Field Club. The meeting, which took place in the Waverley Hotel on Tuesday evening, under the presidency of Mr Alex. Fraser, was well attended, and the paper by Mr Newlands, C.E., was listened to attentively. Mr Newlands described the two classes of railway traffic, local and main line, and the sucess of electric traction in thickly populated districts such as Tyneside, Liverpool, and London, in giving greater facilities at less cost per car mile, and said that the value of electric trains on lines where stations were numerous and traffic heavy had been abundantly proved. He doubted whether electricity could yet be applied satisfactorily to long distance traffic. Methods at present were as efficient as they could be; the cost of conversion would be enormous; it would be difficult to apply electricity to the extensive shunting yards on great lines, and he did not think it would be of greater service than the present system. A short discussion followed the reading of the paper. The President intimated the arrangements made for holding excursions in the summer. In May the club would visit Slochd Muick and Carr-bridge. In June there would be a joint meeting of northern societies at inverness, and an excursion to the Falls of Divach, to be followed by visits to Ord Hill in July, and Ardersier and Whiteness Head in August, 

– Inverness Courier, Friday 14th April, 1905, p.5. 

   RAILWAY FATALITY. – The driver of the 9.36 p.m. train from Airdrie on reaching Calder Station on Thursday night intimated his suspicion that someone had been run down on the line. Search was immediately made, and near the rails confirmed the surmise. The county police removed the remains to Calderbank mortuary, and yesterday the body was identified as George Carmichael, painter, Airdrie. 

– Coatbridge Leader, Saturday 15th April, 1905, p.4. 






   A shocking fatality occurred early this morning on the N.B.R. Company’s system at Sinclairtown Station, the victim being David Scott, an elderly man, who was a surfaceman on the line. Scott, along with a number of other surfacemen, was working on the permanent way in the vicinity of the station platforms, where shunting operations were going on. A large amount of steam was being emitted from the engine that was employed for shunting, which, owing to the mist, completely enveloped the whole line for some distance. 

   In order to allow the shunting operations to go on without interruption the men had to step on to the south-going line. At this time a passenger train from the north came rushing along. Scott did not observe it, and was caught by the engine and knocked down. On being attended by his comrades it was found that death had been instantaneous. 

   The unfortunate man was terribly mutilated, one of his legs having been torn off, while his head and other parts of his body presented a sickening appearance. 

   The deceased was very well known in town, although a man of a very quiet disposition. His family is grown up. Two of his sons are connected with the police, one having been in the Dundee force for the past five years, while the other joined the Glasgow force last year. 

   Deceased, who has been for some 30 years connected with the Railway Company, was considered one of their most faithful servants. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Saturday 15th April, 1905, p.4. 

   KILLED ON THE RAILWAY. – On Thursday night the driver of the 9.36 P.M. train on the Caledonian Railway from Airdrie to Maryhill, on arriving at Calder Station, reported that the train had run over some obstacle near Cairnhill signal cabin. The line was examined, and the body of a young man was found badly mutilated. Yesterday afternoon it was identified as that of George Carmichael (30), a painter, who resided at 4 Alexander Street, Airdrie, and who had left the house about nine o’clock the previous night. 

– Scotsman, Saturday 15th April, 1905, p.8. 

Fatal Accident on the Railway. 




   Early on Sunday morning a man was run down on the Caledonian Railway at a point near to the Whifflet North Junction starting signal. At about twenty minutes to seven in the morning the mail train, which leaves Carlisle for the North at 4.22 a.m., was approaching Whifflet Low Level Station. At the same time a goods train was proceeding along the up-line, round the end of which emerged a man who endeavoured to cross the up-line. He failed to notice the approach of the mail train, which, although it makes a halt at Coatbridge Station, was coming along at a high speed. The result was that the man was knocked down, and as the result of the train passing over him he was terribly mutilated. The head was severed from the body, and he was totally dismembered. 

   The remains, after a time, were gathered together and conveyed to the mortuary at the Police Office, and it was seen that the only means of identification would be by the clothes. 

   Some time after the identification of the remains took place when they were found to be those of Neil Thomson, moulder, who resided with his parents in Ross Street. It appears the deceased had left his parents’ house as was his wont early on Saturday morning, and, being in the Whifflet district, was returning home by the railway when he met his death. 

– Coatbridge Leader, Saturday 15th April, 1905, p.5. 

   ACCIDENT AT THE STATION. – The danger connected with alighting from a train before it has stopped was demonstrated in a painful manner at Larbert Station on Wednesday morning. When the 7.20 train from Perth came into the station an old woman named Mrs McCulloch, residing in Dunblane, and seventy-eight years of age, stepped on the platform before the train had come to a complete standstill, with the result that she was thrown violently to the ground and got one of her legs broken. She was attended by the ambulance men on the station staff in praiseworthy fashion, and conveyed to Stirling Infirmary by special train about 9.30. The old woman suffered greatly, but bore up well. 

– Falkirk Herald, Saturday 15th April, 1905, p.5. 





   A melancholy fatality occurred on Saturday afternoon on the main railway line between Perth and Edinburgh near Kelty, a pithead labourer named Wm. Mitchell or Chalmers, forty-five years of age, being knocked down by a passing train and almost instantaneously killed. 

   The unfortunate man was engaged as a pithead worker at Blairenbathie Colliery, Kelty. While proceeding to Cowdenbeath on Saturday afternoon he had, presumably to shorten the journey, gone by the railway from Kelty Station, when, at a short distance from the South Cabin, he was knocked down and run over by an express train passing about three o’clock. 

   Information of the accident was conveyed by the man in the cabin to Mr Diack, station agent, who, with a staff of assistants, was speedily on the spot, and had the unfortunate man conveyed to the station, when he was found to be severely injured about the head and body. 

   He showed hardly any signs of life, and succumbed shortly afterwards. Dr MacMahon was sent for, and pronounced death due to fracture of the skull. The body was identified by Mr John Mitchell, colliery manager, as one of the workers at the collieries, and inquiries were set on foot with a view to discover his relatives. So far these have been unsuccessful. 

   He appears to have been little known in the district, and it is not known to where he belongs. He was a man of about 5 feet 6 inches in height, and about 45 years of age. Apparently he had met with a previous accident, as he was minus four fingers of the left hand and a part of the first finger of the right hand. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 17th April, 1905, p.7. 


   On the motion to go into Committee of Supply on the Civil Service Estimates, 

   Mr CHANNING called attention to the number of accidents on railways and the hours of railway servants, and suggested that the Board of Trade should take steps to carry out experiments with automatic and non-automatic couplings, with a view to the prevention of such accidents. In the matter of working overtime, the figures on nearly all the railway companies, he said, were practically as bad as they were before two years ago. This was a very grave and serious evil, and the Board of Trade ought to explain why they did nothing to bring about a better state of things. 

   Mr BELL (Derby) said he knew instances where men were unable to walk home after their work. Neither in the interests of the men themselves nor in the interests of the public safety was this a fit state of things. He mentioned cases where men worked from twenty to thirty hours at a stretch, and said it often happened that after a man had done twelve hours’ work in a cleaning shed he was put on to a locomotive for a similar time without an interval of rest. In one case, a guard on the North British Railway, who had worked considerably over twelve hours, was asked to pick up traffic at a particular siding, and he declined to do so, the result being that the man was suspended for two days. In another case, a signalman on the North British Railway was dismissed for insubordination, the offence being that the man said he was not going to work such long hours without making a fuss about it. Such cases were very numerous. From the Board of Trade report, it appeared that during the last year there were 101 men killed on the railways of the United Kingdom, or 1 in every 754, and 2893 injured, or 1 in every 36. This was a scandal which the House out not to tolerate. (Hear, hear.) Thousands of these accidents were preventable if there was proper administration, and if the Board of Trade exercised its power, and insisted on seeing that the orders they had issued for the protection of the men were properly carried out. 


   Sir CHARLES RENSHAW (Renfrewshire W.) said the question of automatic couplings did not come before them as a novelty, and he was not surprised at the statement for the Board of Trade. When the automatic couplings were introduced into this country it was hoped that they would reduce the number of fatal accidents. he was bound to say that he doubted that very much. Our railway system in its gradients and curves was not particularly suited to automatic coupling, even when they had the best. When automatic couplings were used certain accidents did occur through automatic coupling taking place. he would also like to say a few words on the hours of labour. He hoped that the Board of Trade would not forget that it was impossible to establish an absolutely uniform system of hours for those engaged in railway work in the United Kingdom. The men liked to have some assurance in starting work in the morning that they would be able to arrive home at the end of the day. He found in the case of the Caledonian Railway in Scotland, with which he was associated, that the long round of the hours was owing in certain cases to the strong desire expressed by the workers themselves that they might carry on their work in such a way and in such circumstances as would make it tolerably certain that they would get home when the work was done. he hoped the Board of Trade would bear that in mind, and when pressure was put upon them to secure a uniform arrangement they would not do anything to sacrifice the best interest of the men. 

   Mr MARKHAM (Notts, Mansfield) said that want of light in the night time at railway sidings, and men tripping over levers, which were not flush with the ground, were fruitful sources of accidents. More lives were lost through men having to crawl under waggons to release the brakes than through uncoupling. 

   Mr KEIR HARDIE advocated a more vigilant inspection of the railways if the loss of life was to be materially lessened. There were methods of automatic coupling on the market which would admittedly be workable, and the adoption of one or other of these would lessen the number of accidents. It was only by using an invention that its defects could be found out. He thought the time had come, after the experience of America, when automatic coupling should be compulsory. He hoped the Board of trade desired to have something done speedily in connection with workmen’s trains, and that the Labour members would be represented on the Committee to be appointed. 

– Scotsman, Wednesday 19th April, 1905, p.10. 

   A young man named Archibald McQueen, 27 years of age, employed by Messrs Sykes & Co., electrical signal engineers, on the contract for the new railway nearing completion at Dalry, was returning to a workshop at the south end of the railway platform there, when he was knocked down by the buffer of the 4.5 train leaving Glasgow, and instantaneously killed. 

– Kirkintilloch Herald, Wednesday 19th April, 1905, p.5. 

   ACCIDENT ON THE RAILWAY. – On Saturday afternoon, when the 4.25 train from Edinburgh arrived here, Mrs Mitchell, an Edinburgh woman, informed the officials that her son Thomas, aged four years, had fallen out of a carriage about half-a-mile from the station. A pilot engine was immediately dispatched along the line, and the boy was brought back to the station. Thence he was removed to the Railway Hotel, where he was medically attended. He suffered from slight concussion of the brain, but had recovered sufficiently to be removed home on Tuesday. 

– Southern Reporter, Thursday 20th April, 1905, p.3. 

   FATAL ACCIDENT AT A LEITH STATION. – About half-past six o’clock yesterday morning, John Warner (55), a waiter employed at the Peacock Hotel, Newhaven, fell in front of a train from Leith to Princes Street Station at Craighall Road Station, and received severe injuries about the head and back. He was put in the guard’s van and taken to Princes Street Station, where an ambulance van was waiting to convey him to the Royal Infirmary. he died in the afternoon. He was a married man, and his widow lives at Forres. 

– Scotsman, Friday 21st April, 1905, p.4. 



   Paisley, Friday. – This forenoon, a respectably-dressed man supposed to belong to Edinburgh or Leith, dropped dead at Gilmour Street Station. He had just gone on to the railway platform to enter a train, when he suddenly fell and expired. The man would be about sixty years of age. The return half of a railway ticket between Leith Walk and Paisley was found on the body. 

   Later. – The body, which was taken to Paisley mortuary, was subsequently identified as that of John Hemphill, 3 Albert Street, Leith Walk, Edinburgh. The man had been on a visit from Edinburgh to his brother in Paisley, and was on his way home to Edinburgh this morning. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Friday 21st April, 1905, p.2. 

   FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT YOKER. – James Harriden, who resided at Langlands Road, Goven, was yesterday afternoon working on the line at the edge of the platform at Yoker Station, on the Caledonian Railway, when an express train from Rutherglen, [passing] through the station knocked him down, killing him instantaneously. Deceased was twenty-seven years of age. 

   LAD INJURED AT MOTHERWELL STATION. – On Thursday night a lad named David Forbes, employed in a signal box at Motherwell Station, met with a terrible accident while crossing the line between two waggons. He failed to notice a shunting engine, and was jammed between the buffers of the trucks. The lad had several ribs broken, his lungs were lacerated, and he sustained other internal injuries. He is in a critical condition. 

– Scotsman, Saturday 22nd April, 1905, p.8. 


   A man, who was subsequently identified as James Curwood, engine cleaner, Low Waters, was this morning found by two other cleaners lying on the Caledonian Railway under a Bridge at Park Road, Hamilton. The signalman at the nearest point passed a mineral train and van going to Ross Junction 15 minutes before, and the presumption is that Curwood stepped out in front of the engine and was knocked down. A doctor found his skull fractured, He was removed to the Royal Infirmary. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday 27th April, 1905, p.2. 

   DANGEROUS CONDUCT. – At Airdrie J.P. Court, on Monday, William Crickett, a schoolboy of twelve, son of Peter Crickett, 2 William Street, Tollcross, was charged with having on the Airdrie and Glasgow branch of the Caledonian Railway, west of Carmyle Station, created a breach of the peace by placing his head on the down rail along which a passenger train was approaching, so that the train had to be suddenly stopped, causing the passengers annoyance and alarm. Accused pleaded guilty. The boy said he had put his head down to hear if a train was approaching. Another boy had said that there was a train coming and he said “No,” and he had put down his head to listen. He never saw that there was a train coming. Their Honours pointed to the seriousness of the charge. They, however, did not want to bring disgrace upon the parents and they told the father that if he promised to punish the boy they would let him go. The father said that he had already done so, and his Honour in the chair told him to do so again and the boy was let away. 

– Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 29th April, 1905, p.6. 

   DISTRESSING FATALITY. – About nine o’clock on Thursday evening the engine driver of the south train arriving about that hour brought in information to the station officials that a young man had thrown himself in front of the engine near Dallasdhu Distillery, fully a mile from Forres. A party under Sergt. Macknockiter and Constable Roy were at once despatched to the spot, and the body, mangled and mutilated almost beyond recognition, was discovered. From some papers found on deceased the remains were ultimately identified as those of Alex. Stephen (23), baker’s vanman, residing at Claremont Cottage, North Road, Forres, and son of George Stephen, railway surfaceman. Deceased was seen about the town shortly after eight o’clock, and there was no indication at that time that anything was amiss. Stephen was of a genial disposition, thoroughly steady and reliable, and was in the country with his van (R. R. H. Austin’s) during the day. A sad circumstance connected with the tragic event was the fact that he was married only ten days ago, the announcement of the wedding appearing in the local paper on the morning of the day on which he met his death. Universal sympathy is being expressed for his young widow and relatives. 

– Northern Scot and Moray & Nairn express, Saturday 29th April, 1905, p.5. 

   DISTRESSING FATALITY IN DUNDEE STREET. – A respectably-dressed man, apparently has not yet been discovered, was killed at one of the entrances to Dundee Gasworks yesterday by being run over by an engine. It is supposed that he had suddenly emerged from behind a wall in front of the engine, which, coming from the railway goods yard on the opposite side of East Dock Street round a sharp angle, had been unobserved. He was dragged several feet by the engine, the wheels of which, passing over both his legs, inflicted terrible injuries, to which he succumbed on the way to the Infirmary. Grey-haired, with grey whiskers and moustache, shaved at the sides, the old man was about five feet in height. He wore two jackets – one brown and the other blue – and dark grey tweed trousers, a sailor’s cap, and blue scarf. His blucher boots were well-worn. 

– Dundee Courier, Saturday 29th April, 1905, p.7. 

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