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May 1905

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1905) Contents]

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT NEAR ANNAN. – Last night the passenger train due at Annan at 4.30 P.M. from Kirtlebridge, on the Caledonian Railway, ran off the metals at the points at Corsehill, two miles from Annan. The engine and the whole of the carriages left the rails. Fortunately the train had slowed down, otherwise a serious accident would have taken place. The passengers escaped without injury, though many were shaken. Gangs of railway men were summoned to the spot, and got the engine and carriages replaced on the metals. – Another correspondent says:- A landslip occurred in front of the passenger train. The driver applied the brakes, but not in time to prevent a collision with the obstruction. The engine and most of the carriages were thrown off the line, but beyond a severe shaking the passengers were unhurt. The accident occurred at a deep cutting, and it is supposed that the embankment had been weakened by the heavy and continuous rains of the past week. 

– Scotsman, Tuesday 2nd May, 1905, p.4. 




   A peculiar accident occurred on the Great North of Scotland Railway at Aberdeen about 3.30 yesterday morning, the victim being a man named Gordon Johnston, a tailor, 44 years of age, who resides at 14 Eden Place. The details of the accident go to show that Constable John Copeland, of the City Police, was on duty in the vicinity of Woolmanhill adjoining the railway, and immediately after the 3.30 north train had passed, the officer was startled to hear loud cries that seemed to emanate from the Schoolhill tunnel. The constable at once ran to the side of the railway, and in the grey light of the morning discerned a man scrambling from the line on to the platform. A closer inspection revealed a painful sight, the poor fellow’s left foot being literally reduced to pulp. It was apparent that the man had been run over by the train. His condition looked extremely critical, and the constable at once had Johnston – who at this time could not speak – conveyed to the Royal Infirmary. At length the man recovered somewhat from the shock, and gave the information that he had been travelling from Inverurie on the railway and was in Schoolhill tunnel when he heard the train approaching. He endeavoured to get clear of the train, but the front wheel of the engine struck his left foot, and he was dashed to the side of the tunnel. The man’s escape thus seems miraculous. Johnston’s left foot was so severely damaged that it was found necessary to amputate it. According to Johnston’s version of the accident, it appears that he must have travelled on the line during the night, and had entered the tunnel not knowing his exact locus. He apparently did not know he was at that time in the city, and was ignorant of the early morning trains. It is understood that Johnston is progressing favourably. 


   James Calentine Potter, railway porter, Cove, met with a serious accident on the railway. He had gone along the line for a distance of about half a mile in a southerly direction for the purpose of instructing the foreman surfaceman to have a man ready to relieve the fog signalman. After delivering his message, Potter was returning along the railway, and when opposite the house of John Leiper, foreman surfaceman, he stepped aside to avoid a fish train from Aberdeen. He afterwards resumed his journey on the down track, but failed, in consequence of the fog and the noise of the passing train, to observe the approach from behind of an unattached engine in time to step entirely clear, and was struck on the back by the edge of one of the buffers. In consequence he was thrown with violence to the side of the railway. The accident was observed, and Potter was carried into the house of John Leiper, where he was examined by Dr Skene, who found that two deep wounds had been inflicted on the leg, back, and ear. Potter was afterwards removed to his lodgings on a stretcher. Although his wounds are serious, it is not expected that they will prove fatal. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Tuesday 2nd May, 1905, p.4. 

   A CURIOUS FUNERAL. – A somewhat uncommon occurrence took place in connection with a funeral which was held in Bothwell on Monday last. A native of Bothwell named Gibson, who had been for many years resident in Montrose, died last week in consequence of eating poisoned fish. In accordance with the wished of deceased, arrangements were made to have the body brought through to his native village and interred in the Auld Kirkyard of Bothwell. The funeral was fixed to take place on Monday afternoon, but through some unfortunate misunderstanding the coffin was despatched from Montrose by the Caledonian Railway early on Saturday morning. As a result, the mourners who attended the funeral, on repairing to the local railway station on Monday afternoon for the purpose of awaiting the arrival of the train which was to bring the coffin, were astounded to learn that the corpse had lain in the waiting-room at the station since an early hour on Saturday. The coffin was transferred to the hearse, and the funeral proceeded without any further hitch. 

– Hamilton Herald and Lanarkshire Weekly News, Wednesday 3rd May, 1905, p.3. 




   A shocking accident occurred yesterday on the railway, at a point a little to the south of Fordoun Station, whereby a young man named John Mackay was killed. 

   It appears that Mackay had been amusing himself along with a few others, and had run on to the railway. About that time a goods train was coming up from the South, and in endeavouring to clear it he failed to notice the approach of the 1.25 North British train from Aberdeen, which dashed past, carrying the unfortunate young man with it. His body was picked up about 100 yards down the line in a mutilated condition. 

   Mackay, who was 19 years of age, resided with his parents at Upper Powburn. 

– Dundee Evening Post, Thursday 4th May, 1905, p.2. 

Accident to a Schoolboy 

   While Peter Orr, aged 12, residing in Fir Park Street, was clambering over the fence adjoining the railway in Ferguson Street, he tumbled and broke his leg. Fortunately a local ambulance man observed the accident and carried the boy home. Dr Wyper attended to the fracture. 

– Motherwell Times, Friday 5th May, 1905, p.2. 


   At Kirkcaldy Police Court to-day, John Philp, floorcloth worker, Mid Street, was fined 12s 6d, or seven days’ imprisonment, for a breach of the peace at Sinclairtown Station. It appears that Philp had come off a train, and as his brother caused some disturbance inside he tried to get in again, and in doing so fell between the train and platform, and might have been seriously injured, or even killed, had not the guard come along and pulled him out. On being rebuked by the stationmaster, he challenged him to a fight. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 8th May, 1905, p.3. 

   THE COLLISION AT EASTER ROAD STATION. – The Board of Trade issued yesterday the report by Major Pringle on the circumstances which led to a collision at about 5.35 A.M. on the 5th March at Easter Road Station, on the North British Railway. It may be remembered that a light engine travelling eastward through the station on the up main line collided directly with the engine of the 8.20 P.M. goods train ex. Aberdeen, as the latter was entering the station from the east on the down branch line. Having reviewed the evidence, Major Pringle goes on to say:- I come to the conclusion that this collision was primarily caused by a signal remaining at “clear” after the operating lever had been replaced to “danger,” and that this was caused by the twisting of a pulley bracket. I do not consider that any blame attaches to Driver Brand of the Aberdeen goods train. As regards [Driver] Tait of the light engine, it is difficult to understand why, if his speed when he reached the up platform starting signals was (as he stated) as low as five miles an hour, he was unable on a steep rising gradient to bring his engine to a stand soon enough to avoid an actual collision. I hold that signalman Buchanan is actually responsible for the collision on two accounts. Firstly, it was his duty to assure himself that No. 24 signal obeyed the movement of his lever, and he neglected to make use of the indicator attached to the lever frame for this very purpose. Secondly, he broke the rules for block working by setting the points and lowering the signals for the light engine to cross the path of the goods train before the latter, for which he had given “clear,” had come to a standstill at the home signal. Buchanan gave his evidence in a very straightforward manner, and frankly acknowledged his fault. He had been on duty seven hours and a half at the time of the collision. It is not clear what twisted the pulley bracket. It had, however, the appearance of having been more than once struck by some moving object. 

– Scotsman, Thursday 11th May, 1905, p.6. 

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – A little boy named Wm. Fleming, eight years of age, son of James Fleming, a signalman, residing in Tenant Street, met with an accident on Saturday afternoon on the Caledonian railway at a point a little to the east of Whifflet High Level Station. the boy was knocked down by a light engine engaged in shunting operations, with the result that he received a simple fracture to the right leg and severe lacerated wounds. Dr Farquharson was called in, and ordered his removal to the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow. 

– Coatbridge Leader, Saturday 13th May, 1905, p.4. 

   Someone had been writing to an English contemporary about a remarkable dog, which apparently acts as assistant superintendent of railway traffic in the Fair City. At Perth Station he saw a Skye terrier intently watching the guard, and after that official had shown his lantern with the greenlight the dog rushed along, and barked furiously at the driver. 


   A porter told him that the dog had only become attached to the station for three weeks; that he regularly superintended the starting of the trains in this fashion; and that, a few days previous, discovering a tramp in a railway carriage in a siding, he insisted in dragging the constable to the spot, with the result that the tramp got fifteen days’ imprisonment. The writer adds that he never came across a case where a dog so rapidly appreciated cause and effect. By some mysterious method of canine reasoning he discovered that the guard was train-starter, and that the duty of the constable was to preserve order. Where is that Skye terrier now? 

– Dundee Evening Post, Monday 15th May, 1905, p.2. 

   FIRE AT PORTOBELLO RAILWAY GOODS YARD. – Two separate outbreaks of fire occurred inside three hours in Portobello railway goods yard on Saturday evening, and both were due, it is supposed, to sparks from a passing engine. First, two waggons containing bales of esparto grass for Portobello Paper Mill, which were standing in the delivery siding, got alight, and though water was abundant, the grass was destroyed and the woodwork of the waggons much charred. Then two waggons containing straw a considerable distance further east got on fire, and waggons and contents were practically destroyed. Waggons of the type which were burned cost about £60 each. 


   FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT ALLOA. – On Saturday forenoon a railway clerk named Robert Bennett received fatal injuries on the line near Alloa. He was riding in one of the trucks of a goods train which was proceeding from the goods to the passenger station, and as the train was going round a curve, he lost his balance and fell between two of the waggons. His right arm, head, and chest were found to have been terribly injured, and he died twenty minutes after admission to the hospital. 

– Scotsman, Monday 15th May, 1905, p.6. 

   A CURIOUS NESTING-PLACE. – For the past few weeks a thrush has had her abode in a rather novel nesting-place. She built her nest on the axle of a waggon at the railway station, and deposited in it her eggs. The waggon had to be removed, and the railway men removed the nest from the outgoing waggon, and placed it on the axle of the waggon which took its place. This change was effected six times, and, despite these singular conditions, the thrush has hatched her eggs. 

– Southern Reporter, Thursday 18th May, 1905, p.3. 

   A RAILWAY surfaceman, named Patrick McNimee, was run over and killed by a train on the Cathcart District Railway, on Friday night. 


   WHILE engaged in coupling two waggons at Waterloo Quay, Aberdeen, on Saturday, a traction engine driver named John Allardyce, was crushed between the vehicles. 

– Souther Reporter, Thursday 18th May, 1905, p.4. 

   In the report of the accident by which Captain William Rollo met his death on the railway it is stated that it is supposed that in passing along the corridor of the train by which he was travelling from Glasgow to London he had mistaken the doorway, and so had fallen out of the train. This is not at all improbable, and it should be noted that many accidents of a similar nature have happened through passengers mistaking the doorways in corridor trains. The matter calls for most careful inquiry, for if there is a risk of passengers mistaking the doorway of the carriage for the inside door of the corridor compartments special safeguards ought to be provided. 


   The railway station provides one of the very best of books of stories of everyday life. Come with me for two or three minutes into the Tay Bridge Station. At the top of the stairway take a note of the series of short stories with illustrations. There is the wee laddie with the evening paper. He is poorly clad, and the keen wind must cut through the lace work of his jacket, but he is a cheery little chap, and if our jute lords were as keen in watching for business as this little trader, Dundee would be busier than it is to-day. He has caught my eye, and is on us like a flash. “Telegrapst!” he shouts as he shoves the paper into my hands. He used to say “Penk” and “Post,” but now he has elaborated a queer compound word, “Telegrapst,” and strangers from far lands buy in order to discover what the boys are saying. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 23rd May, 1905, p.4. 

   DISTURBANCE AT PIERSHILL STATION. – At Edinburgh City Police Court yesterday a respectable-looking man named Robert Chisholm, thirty-four years of age, residing at 93 Nicolson Street, was sentenced to thirty days’ imprisonment for having on Saturday night behaved in a disorderly manner at Piershill Station, and attempted to stab a ticket collector with a clasp-knife. The accused was under the influence of drink at the time, and had been taken to the collectors’ office for travelling without a ticket between Piershill and Waverley Stations. 


   MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR IN A GLASGOW TUNNEL. – On the arrival of the 6.30 train from Gourock at Glasgow Central Station last evening a young woman was found in a third-class compartment suffering from severe wounds in the throat and neck and on the back of her hands. She blamed herself for the injuries, but a young man who was in the carriage along with her was detained by police. The woman, who gave the name of Emma graham, was removed to the Royal Infirmary, where it was found necessary to put several stitches in her throat. The address she had given to the police could not be verified, but at a late hour last night a young man identified her at the Infirmary as his sister, Emma Alison, 25 years of age. This girl Allison had been away from her home for two or three months, and her people did not know that she was in Glasgow. She is a draper’s assistant. No weapon was found in the carriage, but it is alleged that a razor case was discovered. The young man in custody is of respectable appearance, and apparently of the working class. 


   RAILWAY WORKMAN KILLED. – John Shendan, surfaceman, who resided at Bridgeton, Glasgow, while working yesterday morning at Kelvinhaugh Mineral Depot on the line of the North British Railway, was knocked down and killed by the 8.25 A.M. train from Bearsden. Deceased was twenty-five years of age. 

– Scotsman, Tuesday 23rd, May, 1905, p.4. 



   Quite the commotion was excited in Musselburgh on Tuesday afternoon by dense volumes of smoke rising in the vicinity of the Railway Station. Crowds of people hurried in that direction to find that fire had broken out in the railway goods yard known as the “Bogle Hole” situated right opposite Belfield Crescent. There were several waggons of coal standing there at the time, and also a considerable number of telegraph poles lying closely adjoining. All the trains pass quite close to the place, and it is supposed that a spark from an engine some time previously had ignited the coal in one of the waggons, and that after smouldering for a while it burst into flame. Several masons working near by were the first to observe the fire and one of them gave the alarm at the Police Office. The Fire Brigade were summoned as quickly as possible, and on proceeding to the spot they found the waggons enveloped in smoke and some of the coal and telegraph poles burning very fiercely. Obtaining a connection from a hydrant close at hand, they soon had a hose got into position, and there being a plentiful supply of water the flames were extinguished in a very short time, though clouds of smoke continued to rise for a considerable time longer. It was then seen that the wood work of three of the waggons were almost entirely destroyed, while comparatively little of the coal was saved. It had been consigned to Edinburgh and Leith firms by the Niddrie & Benhar Coal Company. As there was a tank of tar next to the waggons the consequences would have been much more serious had the fire got a firmer hold before it was suppressed. A somewhat similar fire occurred in the good yards at Portobello Station recently, and it would be well if some means could be adopted to prevent such contagion, which must be serious in its results to the Railway Company. 

– Mid-Lothian Journal, Friday 26th May, 1905, p.5. 

   KILLED ON THE RAILWAY. – On Saturday John Henderson, aged 46, tenant of Glenhead farm, bear Doune, was lying on the railway between Doune and Dunblane, when he was struck on the head by the engine of a passenger train. The driver noticed the mishap and pulled up, and Henderson was lifted into the guard’s van and taken to Stirling to the Royal Infirmary. His head was badly smashed, and he died on Sunday morning. 

– Kirkintilloch Gazette, Friday 26th May, 1905, p.2. 

    Dog Killed on the Railway. – A fox terrier belonging to one of the railway porters was killed at the station on Sunday night. The dog had got in front of the fast train which passes Dysart about 6.30, and, although it was not run over, it was struck by some part of the engine and killed outright. 

– Fifeshire Advertiser, Saturday 27th May, 1905, p.5. 

Largest Railway Station. 

   The dispute as to the largest railway station in Britain is a never-ending one. We are periodically called upon to answer the question. Perhaps the following figures will convince all round, “W. G.”:- As reconstructed, the Waverley Station is the largest railway station in Great Britain. It covers 23 acres of ground, of which exactly one-half, or 11½ acres, are under roof. The two largest and most important stations in England at present with which it may be compared are Liverpool Street Station, London, which is to all intents and purposes two station, and New Street Station, Birmingham, belonging to the London and North-Western Company. Liverpool Street covers 22½ acres, or half an acre less than the Waverley. It has 6½ acres under roof, or 5½ acres less than Waverley. New Street, Birmingham, covers 10¾ acres, or 12½ acres less than Waverley. It has 3¾ acres under roof, or 2¾ less than Waverley. We are not aware that there is any waste space at any of these stations; at least, so far as Waverley is concerned, there is none, but the cry is for more ground, and the North British Directors are said to have at the present time their eyes on the gas works in New Street, Edinburgh, for extensions. The Waverley, we believe, is the largest station in the world, but presently she will have to retire from that honourable position owing to the construction, which had begun in Leipsig, Germany, of a railway station which will cost altogether £7,500,000. In length the building will be nearly 1000 feet, and its 13 platforms each more than 100 feet long. Seven steel arches, each nearly 140 feet wide, will span the station. The city of Leipsig will contribute £800,000 towards the cost, the State contributing the remainder. 

– Aberdeen People’s Journal, Saturday 27th May, 1905, p.2. 

   FOUND DEAD ON THE LINE. – On the arrival of the 6.45 p.m. train at Cullen on Saturday, the driver reported that when passing through the cutting between Farskane and Portknockie he observed something lying between the rails a short distance ahead, and to ascertain what it was he pulled up the train as quickly as possible. Before the train came to a standstill, however, it had gone some distance past the spot, and on going back he was horrified to find the dead body of a woman with blood still flowing from several bruises on the head and face. The body, which was still warm, appeared from the clothes to be that of a fisherwoman of about the age of 30. On searching her pockets nothing could be found to give any indication as to her identity. A party at once left Cullen for the spot where the accident had taken place, and along with some others who had meantime arrived, had the body conveyed to Portknockie in the hope of its being identified. Later in the evening it was ascertained that the unfortunate woman was a Mrs Buchan, belonging to Buckie, and it is supposed she had been on her way to Cullen, where she has some relations, when she had been struck by the engine of the 6.13 p.m. train from Cullen and killed. Deceased, it is understood, had been in rather indifferent health for some time, but why she had gone along the line is a mystery. Mrs Buchan was 35 years of age, and leaves her husband, who is at Stornoway, and four children to mourn her loss. A Portknockie correspondent adds that Mrs Buchan left her house to go to the shop of Mr Green, draper, Buckie, about three o’clock, and thereafter took the train for Portknockie, which leaves Buckie at 3.55. A woman who travelled with her in the same compartment says she seemed very depressed in spirits. After giving up her ticket she was last seen alive passing along the street in Portknockie nearest the railway, and going in the direction of Cullen. She spoke to no one: but Mr Charles Forbes, baker, Buckie, recognised and nodded to her from his van. how, or at what point she got on to the line, which is somewhat difficult of access, is not known. Two of her children are staying with relatives in the Seatown of Cullen, and the thought of seeing them may have been in her mind when she took out her ticket. The body was removed to the family home at Buckie on Sunday. 

Banffshire Journal and General Advertiser, Tuesday 30th May, 1905, p8. 

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