Site icon Random Scottish History

December 1905

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1905) Contents]



   An accident which, but for the promptitude of Railway Guard J. Duncan, would have had very serious results, occurred at Edzell station on Saturday afternoon. The 2.55 train from Brechin had just arrived, and the carriages had been uncoupled from the engine and were in the act of being moved back to allow of the engine passing to the rear of the train, when Mr Abernethie, farmer, Balrennie, near Edzell, who was standing on the platform, unfortunately lost his balance, and toppled in between the rails in front of the moving carriages. The guard saw the man fall, and immediately he sprang to his van and applied the brake, but before the carriages could be brought to a standstill one wheel had passed over the heel of the left foot of Mr Abernethie, who was lying on his back underneath the carriage with his head and shoulders slightly raised, and leaning against the flange and axle in such a position that had the carriage moved another couple of feet he must inevitably have been seriously crushed. He was immediately removed into the waiting-room, and a messenger despatched for a doctor, and meanwhile the foot was examined, when it was found that the heel of the boot had to a great extent saved the foot. 

– Forfar Herald, Friday 1st December, 1905, p.6. 

   THE DANGERS OF SPRING PISTOLS. – The stationmasters on the Dundee and Newtyle Railway are confronted with a new danger. On 16th November last while a train was passing Rosemill Siding Mr James Mitchell, station agent there, was struck on the head with a bullet fired from the train. Inquiries were instituted, and as a result George Mann, schoolboy, Belmont Street, Newtyle, appeared before Sheriff Campbell Smith at Dundee yesterday charged with having recklessly discharged a loaded spring pistol from the compartment of a passenger train. The lad pleaded guilty. Mr Al. Agnew, the procurator-fiscal, stated that the pistol had not been recovered, as it had been left in the carriage. Mann’s father stated that there were eight boys in the compartment, and they were all shooting. The Sheriff – Were they all shooting at stationmasters? (Laughter.) The parent said they were shooting at each other’s hands. His Lordship ordered Mann to find caution to the extent of £1, or go to prison for three days. 

– Dundee Courier, Saturday 2nd December, 1905, p.6. 

   The decapitated body of a young woman of handsome appearance was found on the Midland Railway between Burton and Birmingham. She was seen by a schoolboy to leap from a train. There were four guineas in her purse. 

– Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 2nd December, 1905, p.3. 

   FATALITY ON THE RAILWAY. – The body of a man, who has not yet been identified, was found early yesterday morning by a surfaceman on the Caledonian underground railway, between the platform and the rails, at Glasgow Cross Station. The head of deceased was severely injured, and it is believed that he had been knocked down and killed by a passing train. He was a man of 5 ft. 3½ in. in height, and apparently between 35 and 40 years of age. Lying beside the body were about twenty copies of ballads of the Watson Street lodging-house disaster, which occurred in Glasgow on the 19th November last. 

– Scotsman, Monday 4th December, 1905, p.6. 




   A distressing accident occurred on the railway near Inverurie about 8 o’clock yesterday morning, whereby William Craig, foreman wayman, residing at Chelsea Place, Inverurie, lost his life. It appears that deceased was making his daily inspection of the section under his charge, and when at a point about 200 yards north of the signal cabin at Port-Elphinstone, he was knocked down by a light engine proceeding in the direction of Kittybrewster, and was instantly killed, the body being terribly mutilated. The deceased was walking in the direction of Inverurie and, being overtaken by a special train from Aberdeen, it is surmised he stepped upon the up line of rails to allow it to pass, and his attention being directed to this train, he failed to observe the approach of the light engine, and was consequently knocked down and run over. Deceased was about 80 years of age, and was a highly respectable and trusted official. He had been over 50 years in service of the railway company, and for the greater part of that time was foreman of the Inverurie section. Deceased is survived by a widow and grown-up family. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Saturday 9th December, 1905, p.4. 





   Circumstances in connection with an exciting affair which occurred on the North British Railway at Lochgelly on Saturday night have just leaked out. 

   It appears that an engine-driver on a goods train, when approaching the station, descried a man standing in the middle of the railway track waving his arms, apparently with the intention of stopping the train. 

   The driver brought his engine to a standstill, but when spoken to the individual commenced to talk in an incoherent fashion. The police were apprised, and after an exciting chase the man was captured. 

   It was subsequently ascertained that he was insane; and it was deemed advisable to have him removed to Springfield Asylum. 

– Dundee Courier, Tuesday 12th December, 1905, p.4. 

   FATAL ACCIDENT. – James Andrew Lockhart, 45 years of age, pitheadman, residing at 10 Pleasance, Falkirk, was killed at No. 6 Callendar Coal Pit, Shieldhill Farm, early on Saturday morning last week. Lockhart was engaged with James W. Erskine, enginekeeper, High Station, in removing waggons of coal dross, and was endeavouring to shift a detached waggon. It was suggested that a second waggon be allowed to run down upon the first waggon, and the trigger of this other waggon was accordingly drawn. Lockhart unfortunately got between the buffers of the waggons, and was crushed. He was carried to the engine-house close by, and his injuries were so serious that he died about 20 minutes after the accident. The body was afterwards taken to Glen Village, where it was examined by Dr Inglis. Subsequently the body was removed to the deceased man’s lodgings. 

– Falkirk Herald, Wednesday 13th December, 1905, p.4. 

   FATAL RESULT OF AN ACCIDENT. – James Kirk, 40 years of age, a labourer or shunter, residing at Morris Street, Low-Waters, succumbed in the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, on Monday, to injuries received on Thursday last on the Cadzow Colliery Branch Railway, Hamilton. He seems to have lost control of a pug engine of which he was in charge, with the result that it tore away at a terrific pace – fully thirty miles an hour – and ultimately collided with two waggons on the main line. Before the pug came to its sudden stop it had travelled almost a quarter of a mile. When taken from the engine, Kirk was found not only to have been scalded, but to have sustained severe injuries. He was assisted to the lamp cabin at the colliery, and was there attended to by Dr Stewart, Low-Waters, who ordered his removal to the Royal Infirmary. 

– Hamilton Herald and Lanarkshire Weekly News, Wednesday 13th December, 1905, p.4. 

   A miner named John Lambert, about 25 years of age, and residing at Roughrigg, threw himself in front of the engine of the nine o’clock train at Longriggend Station, North British Railway, yesterday forenoon, and was killed. 

– Daily Record, Thursday 14th December, 1905, p.3. 


   James Anderson, 28 years of age, a brakesman, residing at 8 St. Vincent Place, met with a serious accident on Thursday of last week while at work on the Lanarkshire Steel Works sidings. About 8 p.m. on the night in question he was shunting his train near to the signal cabin. He had left the tail lamp behind, and while he was away getting it the train got the signal to move. He caught up the train and after jumping on, a ground signal caught his foot and dragged him off, and some of the waggons passed over his right leg. He was attended by Dr Fotheringham at Motherwell Station, and afterwards removed to Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where his leg was amputated. 

– Motherwell Times, Friday 15th December, 1905, p.2. 





   An accident took place on Wednesday forenoon on the branch line leading from Morningside to West Craigs, belonging to the North British Railway Company. A mineral train of thirty loaded waggons, with engine No. 772, from Parkhead, arrived at what is known as Stane Incline. A Shotts ironworks engine was shunting at the time. The train could not proceed as the signals were against it. Ultimately a clear line was given. In order to spring the hill beyond Shotts Ironworks the train had to go at express speed. Three loaded waggons had been left on the main line by the Shotts engine, which had been shunting, unobserved by the signalman, and the result was a terrible smash, throwing the engine and sixteen waggons off the line. The engineman and fireman had a miraculous escape. Much damage has been done. 

– West Lothian Courier, Friday 15th December, 1905, p.5. 






   A somewhat alarming railway mishap occurred at Invergowrie Station between five and six o’clock last evening. Serious consequences were happily averted by the fact that the discovery of several unattended waggons on the main line was made by a single engine, which was proceeding to Perth prior to the departure of a passenger train from Dundee West Station. The engine met the fate which might have befallen the passenger train. 

   On the arrival of the 5.3 p.m. goods train from Dundee at Invergowrie several waggons loaded with esparto grass had to be shunted, and while the operations were being carried on the couplings between two of the waggons broke. This was unknown to the driver or the guard, and the goods train proceeded, leaving four waggons stationary on the main line. 


   The night was very dark, and as the waggons were situated in a curve of the line they were situated in a curve of the line they were beyond the vision of the signalman. A single engine en route for Perth left Dundee about half-past five, and when it reached Invergowrie the line was signalled clear. Consequently it passed through at full speed, and outside the station it crashed into the waggons. So severe was the impact that the rear waggon was smashed to atoms and derailed. The three other waggons were driven along the line, and, though they were not damaged, they tore up the permanent way for fully fifty yards. A breakdown squad was soon on the scene, and cleared the wreckage. The damaged waggon had to be hoisted clear by means of a crane, and it was three hours ere the main up line was reopened and a considerable time afterwards before both lines could be worked. 

   Information of the occurrence was at once sent to Dundee, and the 6.15 p.m. train to Perth was detained until half-past seven o’clock. This train was the first due to pass through Invergowrie Station after the accident, and if it had not been preceded by the single engine it would probably have met with a serious mishap. 

– Dundee Courier, Tuesday 19th December, 1905, p.6. 







Victim a Kirriemuir Man. 


   A most distressing accident, and one which it is feared may have a fatal termination, occurred at Perth shortly after eight o’clock last night, when a man named David Thomson, said to be a butler in the employment of Sir Campbell Munro of Lindertis, Kirriemuir, sustained frightful injuries. 

   It appears that Thomson, along with a party of servants in the same employment as himself, was journeying south accommodated in a compartment of a corridor train. They all left apparently in the best of spirits with the 8.10 mail train from Perth General Station. Shortly after its departure, in fact, just before the train entered the Moncreiffe Tunnel, Thomson left the compartment for the purpose of ordering some refreshment. The order was executed in due course, but Thomson himself did not reappear. His companions noting his absence became uneasy, and a thorough investigation failed to reveal his whereabouts. 


   On arrival at Creiff Junction the officials were notified of the mysterious occurrence, and details were immediately communicated to headquarters at Perth. Prior to the receipt of the message, however, an engine-driver coming into Perth had made a shocking discovery. While driving through the tunnel the light of his engine revealed the body of a man, horribly mutilated, lying between the two sets of rails, and on a party proceeding later to the spot they found Thomson in an unconscious condition and bespattered with blood. He was immediately removed to the Infirmary, where the exact extent of his injuries was ascertained. His left arm had been shattered practically to atoms, and had to be amputated at the shoulder. His head, too, was cut and lacerated in several places. 

   The surmise is that Thomson had, after giving the order for the refreshments, got bewildered in an endeavour to reach his own compartment, and had opened one of the outside doors of the carriage instead of the door of his compartment, and fallen on to the line. 

   On inquiry at the Infirmary early this morning it was learned that Thomson’s condition was most precarious, and it was stated that he might not live many hours. Thomson is a man apparently about 30 years of age. 

– Dundee Courier, Wednesday 20th December, 1905, p.4. 

   EDINBURGH PASSENGER TRAIN IN COLLISION. – A railway collision, resulting in some damage to rolling stock, occurred last night at Forrestfield, the 8.15 P.M. passenger train from Edinburgh to Glasgow running into a goods train. From information received at Glasgow, it appeared that the engines of both trains were damaged, and several of the goods waggons were thrown off the line. Fortunately the passengers escaped without injury, and after about two hours’ delay were brought on to Glasgow in a relief train of four carriages, which arrived at Queen Street station shortly after midnight. The damaged passenger train was in a condition to be brought on to Glasgow some time after the relief train. 

– Scotsman, Friday 22nd December, 1905, p.4. 

   DUNDEE RAILWAY MISHAP. – Early yesterday morning an alarming mishap occurred on the North British Railway at Tay Bridge Station. An engine and tender belonging to the Caledonian Railway Company was on its way to the Harbour sidings, and when passing the west junction at Tay Bridge Station an axle broke, causing the engine to be thrown off the line. The driver and fireman had a narrow escape, as the engine was going at a high speed at the time of the mishap. It was not until ten o’clock that the engine was replaced on the rails, the task being a difficult one. Mr Ewing, locomotive superintendent, had his right hand bruised while engaged removing the engine. 

– Dundee Courier, Friday 22nd December, 1905, p.6. 






   A MYSTERIOUS railway accident happened on the Caledonian Railway, about two miles from Perth, on Tuesday night. The driver of a goods train, which immediately follows a passenger express train leaving Perth for London at 8.10, noticed a man lying about 200 yards inside the Moncreiffe Tunnel. The affair was reported to the signalman at Hilton Junction, and a north-going goods train was stopped, and the man picked up and conveyed to Perth, where he was afterwards conveyed to the infirmary. The man was unconscious, and his left arm was terribly mutilated, being practically shattered to atoms, while the back of his head was injured. In his possession were found a number of labels with the words – Munro, Fairfield, Lymn Regis. Four railway tickets marked Aberdeen to London were also found, along with an excess luggage ticket from Kirriemuir. The station officials wired to Stirling to endeavour to get particulars of how the accident happened, and from that information it appears that the man, whose name is given as James O. Thomson, butler to Mr H. Munro, Kirriemuir, and of Lymn Regis, Dorsetshire, was travelling to London with the 8.10 express train from Kirriemuir, along with five other servants. Thomson and another man occupied a third-class apartment of a corridor carriage, and Thomson was not missed till after Auchterarder was passed. The express was brought up at Crieff Junction, and the signalman was informed that a passenger was missing, and that he must have fallen out of the train between the Moncreiffe Tunnel and Forteviot. The statement made to the Stirling officials is that Thomson left the carriage in order to speak to the attendant regarding providing him with tea. That apparently had been safely accomplished, for Thomson left the attendant to go back to his carriage. After that nothing further is known of how Thomson fell out of the train, but it is surmised that he had opened the wrong door and had fallen out. So serious was the injury to his arm that the limb had to be amputated. 


   Thomson died in Perth Infirmary shortly after nine o’clock on Wednesday morning. Deceased from the time he was discovered lying between the rails never regained consciousness. He was about 30 years of age. 




   Another painful railway mishap is reported from Perth, the victim in this instance being a woman. In the early hours of Wednesday morning a signalman named Alex. Ramsay, while proceeding along the rails in the vicinity of the Barnhill siding, stumbled across the prostrate body of a woman of middle age. She was unconscious, and apparently very badly injured/ The unfortunate woman was removed to the Infirmary, where it was found necessary to amputate her left leg. She had also sustained a severe cut above the left eyebrow. The circumstances of the affair are shrouded in mystery. her name, it appears, is Lizzie Bissett, and she belongs to Perth, but for several years she had been in service in Edinburgh. How she came to be on the railway line is unknown, but it is thought that she had arrived in Perth by train on Tuesday night, and while crossing the footpath on the railway bridge she had mistaken the route in the dark, and wandered on to the permanent way. Miss Bissett is a relative of Mr R. McKillop, the Burgh Surveyor, and the supposition is that she had been proceeding to the home of Mr McKillop’s sister. her friends in Perth, however, had no intimation to the effect that she was to pay them a visit, and the mystery is therefore all the more difficult to solve. The injured woman’s sister, who is resident in Edinburgh, has been communicated with. 

– Strathearn Herald, Saturday 23rd December, 1905, p.6. 

   KILLED ON THE RAILWAY. – About midnight on Saturday the body of Archibald McDonald, surfaceman, was found lying on the up line of the Glasgow and South-Western Railway, near Well Street Bridge, Paisley, with the head terribly injured. He was twenty-seven years of age, and resided at 4 Well Street, and it is believed that while taking a short cut home by the railway he had been struck by a passing train. 

– Scotsman, Monday 25th December, 1905, p.4. 


   Complete immunity from railway accidents is a privilege that does not belong to any railway company. Some of the companies are, of course, freer than others from those unpleasant occurrences, but sooner or later they all suffer, and disasters more or less serious fall to their lot. It is therefore to the advantage of every company to take such steps as may reduce to a minimum the loss of life and property that attends collisions between, or derailment of, passenger trains when running at high speed. For many years it has been noticeable that in America particularly, the destruction of life and property caused by railway accidents has not been caused so much by the actual collision or derailment, as by the fire which usually follows the catastrophe. This danger from fire appears to be a growing one, either from the increased use of oil or gas for lighting the carriages, or from the adoption of electricity as a motive power. If anything were needed to strengthen the argument that non-inflammable materials should be used in the construction of railway coaches, and particularly in those used in tunnels and tubes, we need only refer to the appalling loss of life that occurred on the Paris underground railway in August, 1902. In this country it has not been usual for the wreckage caused by a railway accident to catch fire, though such things have occurred but lately; there have not been wanting indications that this additional danger must be taken into account, and more so as electric traction increases. One of the surest ways of guarding against fire is the adoption of coaches constructed entirely, or almost entirely, of steel; and we are glad to see, says “Engineering,” that the matter is receiving the attention of our railway companies and of our manufacturers. In addition to the great advantage that they are incombustible, steel coaches have the strong recommendation that they are lighter than wooden ones in proportion to the load they carry, a considerable economy om the cost of haulage being thereby secured by their use. It is claimed also that their lasting qualities are superior to those of the wooden coaches. There is nothing in the appearance of the finished coach to indicate that it is made of steel, except that the extra width inside due to the thin steel sides is very noticeable. This is a decided advantage to the passengers, as it gives more room in the seats, which are placed across the car. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Tuesday 26th December, 1905, p.3. 




   About 8.30 this morning a serious railway collision, resulting in injuries to nine persons and serious damage to engines and carriages, took place at Milnwood Junction, near Mossend Station, on the Caledonian Railway. It appears that the 7.55 passenger train from Lanark, on reaching Milnwood Junction, dashed into a pilot engine. The explanation of the collision is that a mineral train from Motherwell had been piloted as far as Fullwood Junction, and the pilot engine had dropped off and remained stationary, unknown to the signalman, who had signalled on the passenger train. Both engines were almost completely destroyed, and three carriages were destroyed. 

   Immediately the accident happened the stationmaster, Mr McLaughlan, of Mossend, was on the spot, and called for the assistance of Drs Service and Findlay, of Mossend, to attend to the injured. The names of the injured are: 

   Robert Martin, driver of the passenger engine, Lanark, cut on left temple. 

   Robert Muir, driver of pilot engine, residing at 3 Annfield Place, off Muir Street, Motherwell, cut on left temple, right hand scalded, right thigh bruised. 

   Alexander Weir, clerk in the audit office of the Caledonian Railway, Glasgow, and residing in Carluke, slight injuries to hand. 

   John Frame, Carluke, bruises. 

   George Milligan, Carluke, bruises and shock. 

   Patrick Burns, South Vennell, Lanark, bruised shoulder and thigh. 

   Miss M. Walker, Wellington Terrace, Lanark, bruises. 

   Jeanie Caille, 53 Merry Street, Motherwell, bruises and shock. 

   James Richardson, the guard of the train, is the most severely injured, and he was removed to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, suffering from severe injuries to his head. 

   The breakdown squad from Motherwell were early on the scene, clearing away the wreckage, under the superintendence of Mr Watson, district superintendent; Mr Pettigrew, of the General Superintendent’s Office; Chief Inspector Sinclair, Inspector Small, and Mr Anderson, Motherwell. There was not much delay, owing to there being four lines of rails. By mid-day all the lines were clear. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Wednesday 27th December, 1905, p.4. 





   A railway collision occurred at an early hour yesterday morning on the North British line between College and Bellgrove Stations. 

   The 5.20 workmen’s train from Shields Road to Springburn ran into a North British engine and wagons which were standing in the tunnel between College and Bellgrove Stations. 

   The engine of the workmen’s train struck the van of the other train, knocking it and two wagons off the rails. The workmen’s train was not injured, and kept the line. It was able very shortly to proceed on its way. 

   Considerable delay was caused to traffic while the debris was being cleared, but trains were run through the new tunnel to the north of the old one. 

   Fortunately, no one was injured, though the accident caused great inconvenience to numerous business men on their way to the city. 

– Daily Record, Wednesday 27th December, 1905, p3. 







   A dastardly attempt was made yesterday morning to wreck one of the Cathcart Circle passenger trains – an attempt which failed in almost miraculous fashion. 

   The railway officials and the police are reticent on the subject; but it appears that the train in question was the first morning train which runs on the outer circle line. This train leaves the Central Station at six o’clock, and carries a large number of workmen for the south suburban districts. 

   The train left Crosshill Station at its usual time, and when rounding the curve at the large stone wall, within one hundred yards of Mount Florida Station, the engine struck some heavy obstruction. The driver was in the act of pulling up the train when a second and a third obstruction were struck. Realising that something serious was amiss, the driver applied the air brake and stopped the train within a few yards. 

   The driver and guard examined the line and discovered that three large heavy iron “railway chairs” had been deliberately placed on the rails. The engine wheels broke the first in two, while the second had been knocked off the rails by the wheels, and the third was also broken in two. Fortunately the engine and carriages kept the rails, and after a short delay the train was taken into Mount Florida Station with safety and afterwards proceeded on its journey. 

   It was at first thought that this was the prank of some foolish boys, but the fact that the obstructions must have been placed on the line after midnight does not give colour to this. On the other hand, the evidence is that the affair was deliberately planned with some knowledge of the place, because at this point the trains are generally running “with full steam on” for the purpose of taking the short incline before entering the station. If the attempt had proved successful the engine and carriages would, in all probability, have been dashed against the large stone wall with disastrous results. 

   Searching inquiry is being made into the affair, but so far no trace has been found of the perpetrators, and the whole matter is shrouded in mystery. 

– Daily Record, Friday 29th December, 1905, p.5. 



   An unfortunate accident occurred last night outside the Aberdeen Joint Station. When a Midland railway corridor carriage was being shunted at Clayhills Siding, it “jumped” the metals and ran into the wall of the railway viaduct. In consequence of this accident the outgoing trains were considerably delayed. A breakdown squad was immediately despatched to clear the line, and the operation occupied three-quarters of an hour. The 5.30 Caledonian Grampian Express was detained for 48 minutes. This train contained the members of the Aberdeen Football team and officials, who were proceeding to Kilmarnock, but who, by the accident, were unable to get a connection to Kilmarnock yesterday, necessitating their staying in Glasgow overnight. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Saturday 30th December, 1905, p.4. 

Exit mobile version