March 1907

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1907) Contents]

   ACCIDENT AT RAILWAY STATION. – An accident, which might very easily have had serious consequences, occurred at Neilston [Glasgow, Barrhead & Kilmarnock] Station on Wednesday evening. Whilst a number of passengers were waiting for a down train some of the younger folks seem to have indulged in some frolics, in the course of which the cap of a lad named Robertson, Stormyland Street, Barrhead, was thrown on to the line. The lad jumped down to recover the cap, and was struck by the train which had at that moment arrived. He sustained a severe cut on the right cheek, but fortunately no serious results are anticipated. he was brought down in the train to Barrhead Station, where his wounds having been dressed, he was afterwards conveyed home. 

– Barrhead News, Friday 1st March, 1907, p.3. 

   A TRAGIC DEATH. – Late on Friday afternoon a man was decapitated on the main line of the North British Railway at Durhamtown Bridge, half a mile west of Bathgate Station. The body has been identified as that of Alex. Cherry (45), Gideon Street, Bathgate, who was for some time living at Breich. 

– Linlithgowshire Gazette, Friday 1st March, 1907, p.4. 

   RAILWAY ACCIDENTS AT MAGDALEN GREEN. – The Procurator-Fiscal (Mr Al. Agnew) has been in communication with the Caledonian Railway Company on the question of accidents on the railway near Magdalen Green Station. Mr Agnew received a communication from the Company, in the course of which it was pointed out that the railway was properly fenced at the place, and that they did not see what more they could be expected to do. They held that if there was any duty on anyone in the matter it fell upon the Town Council, who, having established recreation grounds and baths in the vicinity, ought to construct convenient access thereto. Surely, the Company stated, they could not be called upon to remedy the remissness of the Town Council in this respect. The letter came before the Works Committee of the Town Council last night, when it was remitted to the sub-committee which has charge of the matter. 

– Dundee Courier, Tuesday 5th March, 1907, p.7. 

   ENGINES OFF THE RAILS. – Teo of the large-sized engines employed at Bo’ness in connection with the mineral traffic went off the rails on Tuesday morning. The more serious of the mishaps occurred on the line opposite the Chemical Works. Here the engine, on becoming derailed, ran against the sea wall, and narrowly missed falling over into the tide. The other engine, in crossing the points at a nasty curve opposite the West Pier, also left the metals. The break-down squad, accompanied by a powerful steam crane, arrived from Cowlairs, and after some hours of hard work succeeded in righting both engines. traffic in no way suffered from the mishaps. 

– Linlithgowshire Gazette, Friday 8th March, 1907, p.5. 

   THE ATTEMPTED TRAIN-WRECKING AT BATHGATE. – Not a little alarm was occasioned in the town and district when it became known that an attempt at train-wrecking had been made at Bathgate at the week-end. From information gleaned from reliable sources, it appears that no sinister purpose was intended, it being alleged the offence had been committed by some maliciously-inclined boys, who appeared to have been heedless of the serious consequences that might have resulted from their foolish prank. It appears that on Saturday night the driver of the 7 p.m. passenger train from Bathgate Upper to Coatbridge, via Slamannan, encountered an obstacle on the rails about half-a-mile north of Lower Bathgate Station. Immediately the train was brought to a standstill, when it was found that the train had a lucky escape from being derailed, as the wheels had cut clean through a couple of upturned “chairs” which had been placed on the rails. The passengers at the time were ignorant of the affair, and the train itself did not show signs of meeting with any obstructions, the engine having cut through the obstacles. The driver, after ascertaining that all was right, proceeded to Westfield, where he reported the matter to the officials. On the line being examined later, they found that two upturned “chairs” had been placed on the rails, and a little distance further on a rail appeared to have been also across the line. It was stated at first that the permanent way was damaged, but we learn that this was not the case. It was fortunate that the train kept the metals, otherwise a serious accident would have occurred, as the embankment at that part shows a depth varying up to about twenty feet. If, as is alleged, the work was that of some mischievous boys, then strong measures should be adopted to put down such practices. The police, we believe, are making investigations into the case. 

– West Lothian Courier, Friday 8th March, 1907, p.4. 

   Thomas Elliot, a railway surfaceman, who resided near Lockerbie, was rundown and killed by a north-going goods train between Ecclefechan and Kirtlebridge. 

– Strathearn Herald, Saturday 9th March, 1907, p.2. 


   On a single-line section of a Scottish railway the quick-wittedness and pluck of a driver prevented a frightful catastrophe. a goods train was put into a siding to allow an express passenger train to overtake it. The operations were carried out in a great hurry to avoid the passenger train being delayed, and the “line clear” signal was given before the whole of the train was in the siding. When the express was approaching, it was discovered that the goods train was longer than the siding could accommodate, so that the engine occupied the main line to the extent of several feet. It was too late to stop the approaching express, and a disaster seemed imminent, when a plan of action occurred to the active brain of the driver of the goods train, which he immediately put into operation by opening his regulator and putting the power of the engine against his train. This action caused the spring-buffers to compress, so that the train occupied several yards less space. It was now a fight between the power of the engine and the pent-up force of the one hundred buffer springs. If once the engine wheels commenced to slip, the springs would probably gain the mastery and force the engine on to the main line in the face of the oncoming express. The driver gallantly stuck to his post, manipulating his engine until the increasing roar caused by the approaching train told him the express was close upon him; then, leaving the regulator and the sand valves wide open, he leaped from his engine. Fortunately his action was successful. A few inches only intervened between the two trains, but the express swept by in safety. – G. A. Sekon, in Chambers’s Journal

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 13th March, 1907, p.6. 

   NARROW ESCAPE OF STRANRAER EXPRESS. – An accident of a serious nature to the Stranraer express which left St Enoch’s yesterday at half-past twelve, was narrowly averted at Gailes, near Irvine. A lorry belonging to the Caledonian Railway Company was returning from Glasgow Western Golf Clubhouse with a load of boxes filled with empty bottles. At the level crossing the lorry was stopped on the metals to allow the gate to be opened, but on returning the lorryman found that the wheels had gradually sunk in the soft ground, and to make matters worse, the Stranraer express was seen to be approaching at a high speed. As it was, the lorryman had only time to unyoke the horse and get to a place of safety when the train dashed into the obstruction, smashing the lorry into atoms. The fact that the train kept the metals can only be attributed to the high speed at which is was travelling. Parts of the lorry were found in a pond fifty yards distant. A piece of metal from the engine, which was badly smashed, was also found among the wreckage. 


   A REPREHENSIBLE TRICK. – An Inverness young lady, who journeyed by train from Edinburgh to Inverness yesterday, was made the victim of a very reprehensible trick. She was seated in the north-going train which leaves the Waverley Station at 10 A.M., when a fairly well-dressed woman came up to the carriage, opened the door, and placed a little girl, about 2½ years old, inside. The woman said the child was going to Inverness, where her grandmother would be waiting the arrival of the train, and she hoped the occupant of the carriage would see the child safe as far as she was journeying. The young lady – the daughter of a prominent citizen of Inverness – carefully watched over her little charge on the northward journey. On arrival of the train at Inverness, to the young lady’s surprise, there was no grandmother in waiting, and afterwards the child was handed over to the Parish Council authorities, and placed in the poorhouse. The little girl is unable to give any information about herself, except that her name is Maggie. The child is bright, happy, and healthy-looking, and several persons who heard of her story have offered to adopt her. The police, however, are endeavouring to find the woman who placed the child in the train. 

– Scotsman, Thursday 14th March, 1907, p.6. 

   ENGINE-DRIVER GOURLAY’S SENTENCE. – A memorial it is understood, is being prepared for transmission to the Secretary of Scotland, praying for a consideration of the case of Engine-Driver Gourlay, sentenced on Tuesday to five months’ imprisonment on a charge of culpable homicide in connection with the Elliot Junction railway disaster on 28th December last. Special attention will, it is believed, be called to Gourlay’s age, his long service, and good character, and to the looseness of the line management, without which, it is averred, Gourlay’s mistake might not have had fatal consequences. A remission or a reduction of the sentence will be craved. It is understood that the memorial is being promoted by the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, who supplied funds for the defence. 

– Scotsman, Thursday 14th March, 1907, p.6. 



Young Man Throws Himself in Front of a Train. 

   While engaged talking to a friend at Uddingston Station on the Caledonian Railway, a young man, Archibald McLellan, threw himself in front of a passing train and was instantaneously killed. 

   McLellan, it was reported by the police at Glasgow yesterday had travelled to Uddingston in the evening, where he was seen by a friend, when a goods train passed through the station at full speed. 

   McLellan threw himself in front of the engine and was immediately killed, one of his feet and one of his hands being severed from his body, which was otherwise badly mutilated. 

   The body was taken to the police mortuary at Uddingston, where it now lies. 

   The deceased was a young man of about 20 years, and was employed until lately as a hotel porter in Glasgow. 

– Dundee Evening telegraph, Thursday 14th March, 1907, p.2. 





   ABOUT nine o’clock on Saturday night a serious accident occurred on the Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Railway, about a mile east of Dromore Station, and nine miles from New Galloway Station. This is perhaps the most exposed part of the whole railway system, there being a large stretch of moorland, backed on either side by hills. The scene of the disaster is in the very heart of what is known as the “Land of the raiders.” At this period of the year Saturday night is about the busiest time for railway officials, a number of goods and cattle trains having to be got through for the Monday’s markets. On Saturday night there were three cattle trains, and one of these, which left Newton-Stewart at 6.30, got through without mishap, about half an hour previous to the disaster to the 7.30 cattle train from Newton-Stewart. In the interval a serious landslip had occurred, resulting, probably, from the severe storm of wind and rain that prevailed. A considerable portion of the embankment had slipped down on to the permanent way, and before the obstruction could be detected, the cattle train dashed into it, with the result that a disastrous smash took place. The engine and twenty-one waggons of cattle and sheep were derailed. the driver and fireman of the train had a miraculous escape, as the engine was thrown on its side, and embedded in the earth. Two cattle and two score of sheep were killed, and a number more had to be slaughtered. The waggons were twisted about in all directions, while the cries of the injured animals were pitiable in the extreme. As a result of the disaster, the whole railway system was blocked, there being only a single line of rails between Castle-Douglas and Newton-Stewart. 

   The Irish mail train, in consequence of the block, had to be sent via Ayr and Kilmarnock, and other succeeding trains were also dispatched by that route. About an hour after the accident, information was received at Newton-Stewart and Stranraer, and immediately a breakdown train was sent forward from Stranraer to assist in clearing the line. Had the accident happened to the mail train, which followed, there would in all probability have been serious loss of life. It may be stated that so severe was the storm that the windows in the guards’ vans were blown out. 

   Breakdown trains from Dumfries and Hurlford, with a steam crane, also arrived in the early hours of Sunday morning and it is expected that the line will be open for traffic early this morning. The Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Railway has been singularly immune from accidents, and this is, perhaps, the most serious one that has occurred since the opening of this line some forty-seven years ago. 

– Scotsman, Monday 18th March, 1907, p.6. 


   Yesterday morning two Crosshouse miners – Thomas Wilson (37), Tow Row, and William Fulton (17), Busbie Row – were run down and killed on the Kilmarnock and Troon branch of the Glasgow and South-Western Railway at Gatehead, about two miles from Kilmarnock. They were proceeding to their work at No. 4 Fairlie pit, and were, as usual, taking a short cut by the railway, but owing to the violent storm of wind and rain, they failed to notice the approach of the 5.28 passenger train from Killmarnock, which overtook them at the bridge which spans the River Irvine between the parishes of Kilmaurs and Dundonald, and they were instantaneously killed. The bodies of the men were discovered some time afterwards by George Fulton, a brother of one of the deceased, who was going by the same route to his work. The accident was unnoticed by the driver or fireman of the train, but on reaching Ayr bloodstains were discovered on the front of the engine. Wilson has left a widow and two children. Fulton was unmarried, and resided with a widow mother. 

– Scotsman, Tuesday 19th March, 1907, p.8. 


   The subject of precautions against railway accidents has been fruitful topic during the past few weeks. A writer in the current issue of Chambers’ Journal makes a very valuable and suggestive contribution to the discussion, and condemns unequivocally the whole system of signalling by semaphores, and even fog detonators. He is of opinion that the establishment of infallible communication between signalman and engine-driver would be a very simple problem to the electrician, and points out that experiments have been successfully tried in conversing by wireless telegraphy between two trains travelling in opposite directions, and that a proposal is on foot to install the system for the use of passengers. Concluding the writer says:- “But it is quite time that the whole antiquated system of signalling by semaphores and fog detonators was superseded by something more in keeping with present-day requirements, and more in line with the capabilities of modern science. On the Boston and New York City subways there is an apparatus in which comprises an automatic block system of the type adopted by the Pennsylvania and a number of other railways, but with the addition of a short inclined plane alongside the track at the entrance to the block. This is interlocked by the mechanism which lights the red lamp at the entrance to the block whenever it is occupied by a train. The plane, when raised, touches a lever which depends from the second train, and this lever in turn applies the air brake, bringing the second train to a standstill. Hence an engine-driver cannot run past the danger-signal. This device is reported to be perfectly successful in operation, and is regarded as an absolute protection against the admission of a second train to the block already occupied. 

– Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for the Montrose Burghs, Thursday 21st March, 1907, p.2. 

   ACCIDENT AT GLASSAUGH STATION. – An unfortunate accident occurred at Glassaugh Railway Station on Thursday afternoon. A young man named Copland, residing at the Bands, Cullen, was at the station weighing machine with a lorry load of straw for the purpose of having it weighed. When about to leave the station, Copland, observing one of the ropes rather slack, climbed on to the load for the purpose of tightening it. He lost his hold, however, and fell with considerable force to the ground. It was fully ten minutes before he regained consciousness, and blood was flowing freely from his head and ears. He was conveyed by trap to Cullen, where, after careful examination, Dr Pirie found that no bones were broken, although the breast and back had been badly bruised and there were cuts about the right ear and the side of the head. Mr Willox, constable, having some knowledge of ambulance work, had bandaged the head before the doctor’s arrival. 

– Banffshire Herald, Saturday 23rd March, 1907, p.5. 









   An accident of a peculiarly painful nature occurred on the Caledonian Railway near Larbert yesterday afternoon, as the result of which a young man named William Winton, son of Mr Edward Winton, coach-hirer, pitlochry, lost his life. 

   It appears that Winton only left Pitlochry at eleven o’clock with five other Atholl men en route for Canada. At a point near Larbert the unfortunate man looked out of the carriage window just as the train was passing a bridge. He must have been struck by the side of the bridge, however, because he was knocked back into the carriage. His friends saw that he had been killed instantaneously. To their further surprise, one of their number, William McGowan, had his face severely cut by broken glass, for when Winton was knocked into the compartment his head struck the window. 

   The body was conveyed on to Buchanan Street Station, and taken charge of by the police of the Northern Division until the arrival of deceased’s father, who proceeded to Glasgow on the sad news being telegraphed to Pitlochry, where it created the most profound sensation. 

   Deceased was about 25 years of age, and was a man of fine physique. He served with the volunteers in the South African War. 






   A man named Peter Sneddon, checkweighman, and residing at Foulford Street, Cowdenbeath, was killed at the Cowdenbeath Railway Station yesterday afternoon by being run over by a pilot engine. 

   The tragic occurrence took place at a time when there was a large number of people at the station. The deceased was standing on one of the platforms talking to a miners’ official, and left him to cross the line to the other side to catch the train from Dunfermline to Kelty. when on the line he was caught by a pilot engine, and to the horror of the onlookers was instantaneously killed, his head being almost severed from his body. 

   The deceased was a widower of between forty and fifty years of age, and was well known in Cowdenbeath, where he took a deep interest in friendly societies, besides being an enthusiastic Freemason. 

– Dundee Courier, Saturday 30th March, 1907, p.5. 

   CAUGHT BETWEEN THE BUFFERS. – At 7.50 yesterday morning, while James Sutherland, shunter, 19 years of age, and residing at Castleton Place, Larbert, was working on the down platform at Larbert Station, he met with a serious accident. He was about to couple on to the Glasgow train the through carriage which runs from Grangemouth docks to Buchanan Street Station, Glasgow, when he was caught between the buffers, and received severe internal injuries. He was immediately attended to by members of the station ambulance corps, who rendered first-aid assistance, after which Dr Ronald made an examination, and ordered his removal by train to Stirling Infirmary, where he now lies in a precarious condition. 

– Falkirk Herald, Saturday 30th March, 1907, p.5. 

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