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April 1906

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1906) Contents]





   A serious railway accident occurred about nine o’clock last night on the Caledonian main line between Kirtle bridge and Ecclefechan. The train, which was the 2.10 express from London to Glasgow, was travelling at nearly seventy miles an hour, when it dashed into a goods train which had become derailed through a broken axle. The permanent way was torn up for nearly a mile, and both lines completely blocked as a result of the accident. The engine was overturned, and lay on its side on the metals, while the first and second carriages also lay across the rails, making all traffic impossible. The company, in order to expedite other traffic as far as possible, sent all trains, round by Dumfries, on the Glasgow and South-Western line. 

   One lad, about fourteen, has lost his life. He was found beneath an overturned carriage. Three or four other passengers were more or less seriously injured, while others again were suffering from slight injuries and shock. The driver and fireman were both severely burned on the hands and face. A relief train conveyed about forty passengers, a relative of the boy who was killed, as well as the driver and fireman of the wrecked train, was despatched for Glasgow as soon as possible after the occurrence. Another train took the remainder of the passengers to Carlisle. 

   A serious railway accident occurred at Kirtlebridge on 2nd October, 1872. An express train which was late was wrecked through the error of a pointsman. Twelve lives were lost. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Saturday 7th April, 1906, p.2. 

   GLASGOW RAILWAY THEFT. – Some unusual features characterised a case of theft heard in Glasgow Sheriff Criminal Court yesterday by Sheriff Scott Moncrieff. Two men, named David Watson (20) and Peter McGowan (31), railway fireman and engine driver respectively, pleaded guilty to a charge of having, on 24th or 25th March, broken into a lockfast railway goods van at Parkhead Railway Station, and stolen a quantity of wearing apparel. Mr Brander, Depute Procurator-Fiscal, said accused were employed on a train which drew up about midnight near Parkhead Station. The railway company had suffered from numerous thefts of goods in the course of transit, and had set two detectives to watch. They caught the two accused, but a third man escaped after a severe struggle. Mr Scanlan, solicitor, who appeared on behalf of McGowan, said the third man was a secret agent, who had encouraged accused, and suggested to them to commit the theft. No attempt had been made to find this third man, and he understood that no warrant had been applied for against him. Neither of the accused had been in trouble before. Mr Brander, in reply, said the Crown had no knowledge of who the third man was, and certainly the railway company never arranged with anyone to entrap accused. If the accused chose to give evidence against the third man, undoubtedly proceedings would be taken against him. The Sheriff passed sentence on accused of thirty days’ imprisonment each. 

– Scotsman, Saturday 7th April, 1906, p.8. 

   The Caledonian Railway Company have evidently a strong belief in the dictum that “There is a place for everything, and everything should be in its proper place.” They have put up a notice in their third-class compartments, warning passengers against throwing bottles that have been bereft of their contents out of the windows, and winding up with the sober injunction that “such articles should be left under the seats.” 

– Hamilton Herald and Lanarkshire Weekly News, Saturday 7th April, 1906, p.5. 




   A SERIOUS railway accident occurred on Friday night on the Caledonian main line between Ecclefechan and Kirtlebridge, caused in the first instance by the breaking of the axle of one of the waggons of the 7 p.m. express goods train from Glasgow, and the waggon itself turning turtle and derailing three others behind it, while the express from Liverpool and Manchester, which leaves Carlisle at 8.42 p.m. and is due in Glasgow at 11 and in Edinburgh at 10.55 came up almost immediately and ran into the debris, there being no time to give warning and avert disaster. The express is due at Lockerbie shortly after nine o’clock, but does not stop there, merely detaching a “slip” carriage when in view of the station. The result is that a speed of seventy miles an hour is sometimes attained, there being no heavy gradients, and on Friday night the express, with engine No. 902, was running at its customary high speed when it dashed into the debris. The impact was terrific, and such as not only to force the heavy express engine, together with nine of the eleven coaches, not only to leave the metals, but to drive them along the side of the track for a considerable distance. Under these circumstances it is nothing short of miraculous that the casualty list should be so light, only one person, a boy of fifteen, being killed, while only fourteen were injured, and none of the injuries being regarded as serious. It was in the second carriage that the fatality occurred. Curiously enough this coach was thrown completely across both lines on its broadside, and the one victim of the catastrophe, a boy named Harold Blackwood, only son of Mr William Blackwood, foreman fitter, Barrow-in-Furness, was afterwards found beneath it. The little fellow was travelling to Glasgow with his uncle, Mr Alex. Blackwood, and a friend named Rogeerson. he was sitting between them when the collision occurred, and it is somewhat remarkable that both men escaped with a few cuts. The lad’s grandparents are resident in Lochee, to which place his parents also belong. The permanent way, as a matter of course, was for about a quarter of a mile a stretch of distorted metal, wood, and torn-up earth. 

   A relief train was speedily made up at Lockerbie, which brought the passengers to their respective destinations some four hours later. Amongst these, it may be mentioned, were four young men from Barrow-in-Furness district who were on their way to Glasgow to see the international football match. 


   The south-western district of Scotland has gained a somewhat notorious name for railway disasters. Quite a number of serious accidents have occurred on the section of the line between Lockerbie and Gretna. The most appalling was that which took place on the morning of Wednesday, October 2, 1872, at Kirtlebridge Station, when eleven persons were killed and sixteen injured. The catastrophe was due to the shunting of a mineral train across the down line, when an express train from London was approaching. Serious loss of life was also entailed by a collision which occurred at Lockerbie Station on the night of May 3, 1883, when a Stranraer passenger train entering the station from the Dumfries branch collided with a passenger train from Glasgow. Seven persons were killed, including an engine driver and fireman, and nine were injured. Accidents which occurred in May, 1901, and March, 1902, caused extensive damage to rolling stock, permanent way and freight, but neither of these involved loss of life. In one case two goods trains collided at Gretna, and in the other a waggon of an express train left the rails, dragging nine others with it, with the result that they were piled upon each other and lay across both rails at Kirtlebridge Station. The Dumfries and Lockerbie branch line was the scene of a disaster to a cattle train about two years ago. 

– Perthshire Advertiser, Monday 9th April, 1906, p.4. 

   FURTHER details are given to-day of the accident in which the Caledonian corridor express train leaving Carlisle for the north at 8.42 P.M. was wrecked near Kirtlebridge on Friday night. By a fortunate chance, the two carriages which suffered most severely were almost empty at the time of the accident. This fact accounts for the comparatively small loss of life. 

– Scotsman, Monday 9th April, 1906, p.6. 



Pointsman Injured. 

   An unfortunate accident occurred last night to Alexander Mann, a railway pointsman at Ballinluig Junction. 

   Mann was engaged shunting a carriage on to the Aberfeldy train when, in trying to step on to the platform quickly, he was caught between the buffers of two vehicles and severely crushed. 

   Mann has now been in the Highland Railway service for six or seven years, but only several months at Ballinluig. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 10th April, 1906, p.5. 

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT GREENOCK. – While walking on the main line of the Caledonian Railway yesterday, Thomas Copland, engine-cleaner, was knocked down by an engine, and received severe injuries to his head. 

– Scotsman, Wednesday 11th April, 1906, p.8. 


   Mann, the pointsman injured at Ballinluig Station, still lies in a precarious condition. In addition to a severe crushing, his injuries include broken ribs and injured breast-bone, caused by his being jammed between the engine and carriage buffers on Monday evening. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Thursday 12th April, 1906, p.5. 

   FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – A man named James Finnie (45) was found about 7 o’clock on Sunday morning lying on the G. B. & K. J. L. Railway between Beith and Barrmill, opposite to Bellcraig Farm, in seriously injured condition. On examination by Dr Sneddon, it was found that the unfortunate man had sustained a severe scalp wound, a deep gash extending four inches on his forehead, a fracture of the left arm (which necessitated amputation), and other injuries. He was conveyed on a trolley to Barrmill Station, where his injuries were dressed. He was afterwards conveyed to Irvine Poorhouse, where he succumbed about 8 p.m. Finnie was seen in Beith in the early evening, and at Barrmill Station between ten and eleven o’clock. He must have been overtaken while walking on the line by the late train. Those in charge were not aware of anything unusual having occurred. Deceased is said to have been formerly in the employ of Lord Eglinton as an under-groom, and at times was employed by Mr Love, of Newhouse. 

– Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, Friday 13th April, 1906, p.5. 

   SERIOUS ACCIDENT. – About noon on Thursday an accident of a serious nature occurred at Kinghorn Station. While removing some waggons in the landsale lye by a number of surfacemen, one of their number, George Burnett, 60 years of age, residing in Bruce Terrace, while engaged spragging the waggon, accidentally fell under one of the wheels, which passed over his left leg. Dr Welsh was immediately called, but prior to that the station officials had the unfortunate man bound up. The doctor ordered his immediate removal to the Kirkcaldy Cottage Hospital by the ambulance van, where his leg was amputated above the knee. 

– Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian, Saturday 14th April, 1906, p.4. 

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT WHIFFLET. – On Saturday night a man named George Bowmaker, residing at Whifflet, met with an accident on the railway near to Dundyvan Basin. The man is supposed to have been trespassing on the railway when he was knocked down by a passing train. He was severely bruised, and his right arm had to be amputated. He was removed to the Alexander Hospital. 

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT STOBS. – On Saturday evening a mishap occurred on the North British Railway at Stobs Camp Station, south of Hawick. A goods train from Carlisle going north was being shunted at Stobs Camp to allow the evening Pullman to pass, and the train ran with great force against the battery, the engine jumping the embankment, and several waggons were smashed. There was no damage done to the permanent way, and neither the driver nor fireman of the goods train was injured. 

– Scotsman, Monday 16th April, 1906, p.4. 

   FATAL RESULT OF A RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – At Kirkcaldy Cottage Hospital yesterday George Burnett, who was injured at Kinghorn Railway Station last week, succumbed to his injuries. Deceased was engaged spragging a waggon, when he accidentally fell in front of the wheels, which passed over his left leg, rendering amputation necessary. Deceased leaves a widow. 

– Dundee Courier, Wednesday 18th April, 1906, p.6. 




   What has every appearance of being a suicide of the most determined and premeditated character occurred early this morning at the Newington passenger railway station. A signalman proceeding on duty shortly before six this morning came on the body of a man lying on the rails at the entrance to the bridge on the inner circle, and close to the station. What made the discovery the more gruesome was the fact that the head was detached from the body, as if it had been guillotined. The head was badly smashed, brains and blood being scattered over the line, while some of the hair was attached to the rails. One foot was also damaged, it having come in contact with the passing train. the police were at once informed of the occurrence, and the mutilated remains conveyed to the mortuary, where they now lie awaiting identification. 

   From the position of the body, it is surmised that the man must have deliberately invited death by laying his head on the rails, and as the station is always shut up at night, he must have climbed over the gateway. The suburban line is extensively used for goods traffic throughout the night, and it is impossible to say which train had run over the man. That can only be determined when the engines come to be cleaned, as there are sure to be marks of the impact. Curiously enough, the man’s cap was not found, and it is thought that it must have been caught up by the engine and carried away. The cloth of the coat was so driven into the trunk that nothing could be seen of the body. there was nothing on the body to lead to identification, and all that was found in his possession was three pence and a pipe. 

   The body is that of a young man of about 25 years of age, five feet eight inches in height, with red hair and slight red moustache. It was dressed in a navy blue suit, with Lorne lacing shoes, with iron heels which are the popular footwear of those affecting the bell-mouthed trousers garb. Two anchors and a cross were tattooed on the left fore-arm, and there were several indistinct marks on the right arm. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Friday 20th April. 1906, p.2. 

   RAILWAY TRAGEDY IN EDINBURGH. – A shocking discovery was made by a signalman early yesterday morning at Newington Station, on the Suburban line of the North British Railway, Edinburgh, the dead body of a man, with the head completely severed from the trunk, being found near the rails there. The head was terribly smashed, and one foot was mutilated. the station is closed a night, and although it is not known how deceased found his way in, it is surmised that he must have met his death by one of the goods trains which are sent round the Suburban line during the night. The body was identified later in the day as that of John Brims, nineteen years of age, of 15 River Lane, Thurso. 

– Scotsman, Saturday 21st April, 1906, p.8. 

   ACCIDENT ON THE RAILWAY. – George Bowmaker, labourer, Whifflet Street, met with an accident on the Caledonian Railway, near to Whifflet Station, on Saturday evening. About five o’clock one of the employees engaged in shunting operations on the railway noticed a man on the up line leading from the North British Railway to the Caledonian Railway at a point about 140 yards north from the Whifflet South signal cabin. On proceeding to the spot the employee found Bowmaker lying between the rails suffering from a compound fracture of the left arm at the shoulder, having evidently been run over by a number of waggons. He was attended to by Dr Hamilton, who amputated the arm at the shoulder, and afterwards had Bowmaker removed to the Alexander Hospital in the ambulance waggon. 

– Coatbridge Leader, Saturday 21st April, 1906, p.4. 

   RAILWAY FATALITY. – Early yesterday morning a goods guard named David Todd, residing at Broad Street, Cowdenbeath, was killed on the West Fife Mineral Railway.  A train of empty waggons was being run from Kelty to Westfield Siding for Kininmonth Colliery. On reaching Ballingry Siding the engine was pushing a number of waggons in front of it, when some of them became derailed. Todd was sitting, lamp in hand, on the foremost waggon signalling when he was thrown off. His body was discovered later beneath one of the derailed vehicles. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Saturday 21st April, 1906, p.4. 




   Last night, an old man, about 60 years of age, named Thomas McCue, had a narrow escape from death at Portobello Railway Station. In the early part of the day McCue was travelling from Tranent with an order from the Inspector of Poor of that place for his admission to Inveresk Poorhouse. He went past Inveresk, however, and came to Portobello, where he stayed for a few hours, and got rather more drink than was good for him. He came back to the station at night, and while walking about the platform fell over on to the rails. Henry Burnett, a rubber mill worker, residing at 20 Springwell Place, Dalry Road, noticed the accident and without a moment’s delay jumped on the rails and lifted the old man on to the platform. No sooner were the two men in safety once more than an express train came up at full speed, and but for the prompt action of Burnett, McCue must have met with a terrible death. McCue was sent off by the Portobello Police to Inveresk Poorhouse in a cab. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Tuesday 24th April, 1906, p.2. 

   On Sabbath a young woman passing along the Cumbernauld Road near Castlecary was observed, by a railway signalman, to be overcome with sickness. He had her removed to a neighbouring house, where she later gave birth to a still-born child. The young woman, a farm servant, had been intending to leave Castlecary Station with a view of reaching her home near Plean, via Larbert, but no train was available. She had then determined to set out on foot. 


   ACCIDENT AT THE RAILWAY STATION. – On the morning of Thursday of last week a surfaceman, named Thomas Corcoran, who is in the employment of the N. B. Railway Company and resides in Victoria Street, fell while coming down the exit stair from the Glasgow departure platform of the Railway Station and sustained a broken arm. 

– Kirkintilloch Gazette, Friday 27th April, 1906, p.2. 

   STONE THROWING. – John Johnstone, a lad of 16 years of age, pled guilty on Tuesday, before Bailie Pearson, to throwing stones in the subway of the railway station, and was fined 10s. or 7 days’. The youth is to be sympathised with for being so foolish, but the crime is reprehensible and must be put down. A few years ago, in Portland Street, a man lost his life through a boy throwing a stone at a horse which was attached to a cab on which he was riding. Parents and teachers should specially warn boys against this dangerous practice. 

– Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, Friday 27th April, 1906, p.8. 


   Mr John Drummond (Glasgow) moved that in the interests of the health of the men and the safety of the travelling public the Congress declares that railway companies should be compelled to adopt an eight hours day and instructs the Parliamentary Committee to adopt a bill. He said h failed to see why Scottish railway companies should not have the same hours of employment as Englishmen or Irishmen. Some men in Scotland were two days work in one. 

   Mr Muir, Glasgow, said that there was more necessity for such legislation as time went on, for heavier trains meant more responsibility for signalmen, who had now to put more brain power on. The resolution was unanimously carried. 


   Mr Andrew Haxton (Edinburgh) moved: “That the Congress is of opinion that the inspectors of the Board for Railways should have the power to visit railways, stations, sidings, yards, etc., and report, with the view of preventing accidents.” Under the Factory Act, he said, an inspector goes about and points out flaws that ought to be remedied for the safety of the workers, and the same thing ought to prevail for the safety of railway servants. It was unanimously carried. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Friday 27th April, 1906, p.4. 


   A fatality of a most distressing character occurred at Lochgelly late on Saturday night. While walking along the railway line from Lumphinnans to Lochgelly on Sunday morning about half-past seven, Alexander Forgan, miner, belonging to the former place, made a ghastly discovery to the west of Lochgelly station. Lying on the up line was the decapitated and terribly mutilated body of a man. The police were notified, and the body was removed to the Lochgelly mortuary. Subsequently it was ascertained to be that of John Clark Kennedy, waggon shunter, who resided at 8 Stationhead, Lochgelly. It is believed that the unfortunate man had been at the Kirkcaldy Links Market on Saturday, but how he came to be on the line is unknown. It is supposed that he must have been caught by one or other of the many goods trains which pass between Thornton and Dunfermline. 

– Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian, Saturday 28th April, 1906, p.6. 





   About 9.30 yesterday morning, George Spence, Strathendry, Leslie, was found by John Lynch, pilot engine driver, lying on the railway near Townhill Junction. Spence was quite unconscious, and his removal was ordered to the Dunfermline and West of Fife Hospital, where he was certified to be suffering from a fracture of the left leg from the ankle upwards, a severe scalp wound, and bruises on the arm. The 8.15 a.m. express from Dundee to Glasgow had passed the spot shortly before. It is supposed that Spence had been struck by the train. he lies in a very serious condition. 

– Dundee Courier, Saturday 28th April, 1906, p.4. 







   A distressing accident took place at Brodie, four miles from Forres, on Saturday afternoon, resulting in the death of William Murray (78), labourer, Kintessack, and serious injury to Robert Munro (28), labourer, Muirton of Dalvey. It appears that three men were on their way home from work at Earlsmill, and, on leaving the train at Brodie Station, they were taking a short cut along the line when one of them, hearing the approach of the 4.18 train from Forres, shouted to Murray and Munro, but the old man had seemingly not heard the warning, and the train, which does not stop at Brodie, dashed past, killing him on the spot. Munro made a gallant effort to save his companion, and as a result his left foot was cut off and his right arm broken. Munro was removed to the Forres Leanchoil Hospital, and last night he was as well as could be expected in the circumstances. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Monday 30th April, 1906, p.4. 

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT GLASGOW. – On Saturday afternoon three joiners were walking along the railway line at Princes Dock, Glasgow, when they were struck and knocked down by the first of a number of waggons which were being shunted by a North British Railway Company’s engine. The wheels passed over the leg of James Kean, 31, residing at 33 Elizabeth Street, Ibrox. The three men were taken to the Western Infirmary, and it was found that Kean had sustained a compound fracture of the right leg below the knee. David Elborn, 24, residing at 263 Langside Road, sustained internal injuries and bad shock, whilst the third man was apparently unhurt. Kean and Elborn were detained in the institution. 

– Scotsman, Monday 30th April, 1906, p.6. 





   An incident of an alarming character occurred at Arbroath Station on Saturday evening, and but for the commendable presence of mind of a little girl it might have been attended by fatal consequences. It would appear that a labourer named Thomas Watson, residing at 44 Kinnaird Street, and employed at Messrs Shanks’ works, had come off the 8.40 train from Dundee, due at Arbroath shortly after nine o’clock, and falling between two of the carriages his head came in such violent contact with the couplings that he was rendered unconscious. Fortunately a little girl who chanced to be on the platform observed Watson falling, and immediately informed the officials. As the train was due to move out of the station those in charge immediately hurried to the spot, and under the supervision of the stationmaster, Mr John Grant, the man was removed from his precarious position, and first aid was rendered by the station ambulance corps. Watson was bleeding profusely about the head, a deep gash apparently having been inflicted by his fall on the couplings, while his face was also rather seriously bruised. Dr Duncan was summoned, and shortly after his arrival Watson recovered consciousness, and was able to be removed home. On inquiry yesterday it was ascertained that he was progressing favourably. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 30th April, 1906, p.4. 





   An alarming accident occurred on the Caledonian Railway, near Glasgow, late of Friday night, in which considerable damage was done to rolling stock. No one was injured. the eleven o’clock train from Glasgow Central Station to Ardrossan was passing through Muirend Junction, about five miles out of the city, when it was switched on to a new line connecting with the Busby and East Kilbride line, on which a number of empty vehicles were standing. The driver, observing the mistake, at once shut off steam and applied the brakes. The speed of the train was very greatly reduced before the impact came. But the collision was sufficiently violent to throw the passengers from their seats, and to smash and interlock the buffers of the train. No damage was done to the line. 

    The only persons who had been injured were two men named Scroggan and Whyte, who are believed to belong to Ireland. These two men were sent to the Victoria Infirmary. In consequence of the mishap, the Belfast steamer did not get away from Ardrossan till after two o’clock on Saturday morning. 

   Samuel Cunningham, the driver of the train, has been over thirty years in the Caledonian service. It was undoubtedly his presence of mind in applying the brakes immediately he felt the train leaving the main line that saved a disaster. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 30th April, 1906, p.5. 

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