August 1907

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1907) Contents]

   FATAL ACCIDENT INQUIRY. – An inquiry was held on Thursday in the Elgin Sheriff Court – before Sheriff Gray Webster and a jury – in regard to the death of William George Macpherson, railway guard, and residing at Boat of Garten, who, while engaged shunting, was crushed between a horse box and the loading bank at Knockando Station on July 15, and died in the Fleming Hospital, Aberlour, on July 20. Alexander Davidson, railway porter, Knockando Station, said the train arrived about two o’clock from Boat of Garten, and the engine was uncoupled and run into a siding for a horse box, which he attached to the engine. Macpherson was waiting at the loading bank to see that it was right. Witness signalled to the engine driver to start, and jumped on to the engine. The engine was suddenly stopped, and, on looking back, he saw Macpherson leaning on the loading bank close beside the horse box. Samuel Leslie, engine driver, said Davidson gave the signal to his fireman, but before the engine was moved he saw Macpherson standing on the horse box. He shouted out to him to mind himself, because he considered the position dangerous, in respect that he was between the bank and the horse box. Macpherson turned his body round and gave a nod with his head, which gave witness the impression that he understood it was all right. On turning round after he started the engine he observed that Macpherson was being drawn in between the horse box and the bank, and he stopped the engine at once. On going to him he found that he had received serious injuries. In answer to Mr Mackenzie, solicitor, witness said there was no reason for Macpherson remaining on the footboard of the horse box. Constable Munro, Archiestown, and Dr Sellar, Aberlour, having been examined, the jury returned a verdict of accidental death. 

– Banffshire Herald, Saturday 3rd August, 1907, p.4. 

   RAILWAY CARRIAGE ON FIRE AT ABERDEEN. – An exciting incident occurred in Aberdeen Joint Passenger Station last night about eleven o’clock. A large excursion train which was returning from Inverness to Montrose, had stopped at the station, and while there one of the carriages took fire in consequence of an explosion of gas in a compartment. The flames, which caused some alarm, were speedily extinguished, but a shunter was burned, and had to be removed to the Royal Infirmary. 

– Scotsman, Tuesday 6th August, 1907, p.3. 


   Sheriff Campbell Smith’s deliverance on the Invergowrie crossing fatality case is noteworthy. It is couched in the Sheriff’s characteristic style; there is some hard hitting in it, and it lays down important dicta regarding the liability of railway companies which, if followed up, may have far-reaching effects. As the law stands, where highways cross railway lines the onus is on the company to provide proper safeguards, and this they do by stationing flagmen at the crossings or by using automatic gates, which may be operated from a near-by signal-box. But the Invergowrie crossing is of a different sort, and although it is close to the station, it has apparently been no one’s special duty to watch the traffic and warn wayfarers of their danger. That danger does exist has been proved by the accidents that have occurred and the narrow escapes that have taken place. There is an awkward curve on the line, and trains approaching from the station side are not easily seen. The very alert traveller, no doubt, gets warning enough; it is for the less agile and less careful people that safeguards must be provided. The right-of-way exists, and will be maintained. It is for the Railway Company to choose its method of protection, either by providing a bridge at the place or by other means. The question of liability for such accidents has become a very important one. The restrictions placed upon railway companies in such affairs are greater in Britain than in almost any other country, and this is to the advantage of the public at large. There is no desire to hamper railway companies in their work, which is of public benefit, but the value of human life is high, and the existence of death-traps where these can be obviated will not be permitted. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 6th August, 1907, p.2. 

   FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – On Saturday night a man named John Reilly, brickworker, residing in Chapman’s Land, Glenboig, was knocked down by a passenger train on the Caledonian Railway, near to the Coatbridge Station. He was badly mutilated, and only lived a few minutes after the accident. Deceased is said to have been walking on the line. 

– Kirkintilloch Herald, Wednesday 7th August, 1907, p.5. 


   In Campbeltown Sheriff Court yesterday a charge of assault was preferred against Captain Duncan Stewart of Knockrioch, a well-known landed proprietor and a Justice of Peace for Argyllshire. Captain Stewart was charged with having, on July 13, on the railway of the Campbeltown and Machrihanish Light Railway Company, assaulted Mr T. Lindsay Galloway, civil engineer, Whinhill House, by striking him severe blows on the head or face with his fist. A plea of guilty was tendered. It transpired that the blows had been struck in a heated moment during an altercation between accused and complainer regarding certain accommodation works on the railway, of which Mr Galloway is engineer, and which passes through the lands of Knockrioch, belonging to Captain Stewart. Sheriff Wallace imposed a fine of £3, or fourteen days’ imprisonment. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Friday 9th August, 1907, p.3. 

   ACCIDENT ON AN ENGINE. – A young man, named George Stewart, engine cleaner, of 21 Amisfield Street, met with an accident on Sunday while engaged cleaning an engine in the Caledonian Railway Engine Cleaning Sheds, Kelvindale Road. He had been standing on the brake, when his foot slipped, causing him to fall into the pit, a distance of about 4 feet, and in trying to recover his balance his left hand caught some sharp part of the engine, inflicting a flesh wound on the palm about 2 inches long. Dr. McColl dressed the wound. 

   RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – While William McCormack (32), a plate layer, of 17 Webster Street, Bridgeton, in the employment of the Caledonian Railway Co., was driving a wooden wedge out of a railway chair on the line of the tunnel between the Botanic Gardens and Kelvin Bridge Station at one o’clock last Wednesday morning, a piece of metal from the face of the hammer became detached and struck him on the left temple, embedding itself in the flesh. He was taken to the Western Infirmary and attended to by Dr. Gray. the wound fortunately did not prove serious. 

–  Milngavie and Bearsden Herald, Friday 9th August, 1907, p.4. 

Fire at Whifflet Station. 


   A fire which attracted considerable attention and for a time threatened to interfere with the railway traffic took place at the Caledonian Railway, Whifflet, on Thursday evening. The outbreak occurred in an old passenger carriage used as a lamproom, and situated about fifty yards to the east of Whifflet Bridge, close to the main up line. About nine o’clock, a yardsman employed in the North British goods yard at Whifflet noticed smoke issuing from the carriage, and he at once informed the Caledonian Railway officials. Owing to the inflammable nature of the erection the flames speedily broke out, and attracted a large crowd of spectators from the Whifflet and Low Coats districts. Mr Young, station agent at Whifflet, did not consider it necessary to call out the Fire Brigade, as their efforts would have been of little use on such inflammable material. A number of waggons were standing in the lye close at hand, and with all possible speed these were removed to a place of safety. Those present at once directed their attention to keep the permanent way from being injured, and by applying pailfuls of water, which was secured from engines at hand, to the sleepers, they succeeded in doing so. The heat from the fire was intense, and a telegraph pole close at hand was repeatedly ignited, but was not allowed to burn for any length of time. 

   In order to protect the main line from the flames, an effort was made to pull the burning carriage on to its side. A signal wire rope was got, and placed round the carriage, but the heat soon caused the wire to snap. After a number of unsuccessful attempts the railway men were ultimately rewarded with success attending their efforts, but not before the fire had almost spent itself. 

   Great caution had to be exercised in working the traffic on the up line. When the fire was at its height a mineral train passed, and the flames almost touched the waggons. Some time after one of the Middle Ward excursion trains, returning from Oban passed, but the fire by this time was almost subdued. The conflagration caused some alarm among the passengers, and the train in approaching the place had to slow down. 

   The fire, which lasted for fully an hour, was witnessed by a large group of people. A splendid view was had from Whifflet Bridge, which was lined with spectators, as was also the footpath leading from Whifflet Street to Calder Street. 


Fatal Accidents. 



   On Saturday about 10.20 p.m. a man, name unknown, was found lying on the up slow line near to the Coatbridge Station and immediately below the bridge that carries the road over the railway from Summerlee Works to the rows. His legs were badly mutilated below the knees, and it was evident that a train had passed over them. Dr Andrew was speedily in attendance, and he ordered the man’s removal to the Alexander Hospital. On the arrival of the ambulance waggon at the station, however, the man expired, and the body was then conveyed to the mortuary at the Police Office. During the course of Sunday the body was identified as that of John Reilly, about thirty years of age, a brickwork labourer, employed in Gartsherrie Brickworks, and residing at 3 Carrick Place, Glenboig. The deceased was unmarried, and his parents reside in Ireland. How the deceased came to be on the railway is not known, but he was seen on the platform in conversation with another man shortly before the last train left for Glenboig. 



   On Thursday forenoon, Arthur McCardle, jr., 16 years of age, was fatally injured while employed in the Waverley Iron Works, belonging to the Waverley Iron and Steel Coy., Ltd., McCardle, who lived at 10 Portland Street, was employed as a labourer in the works, and on Thursday was engaged wheeling scrap from the scrap heap near to the empty siding at the works. It appears that a number of empty waggons were standing in the siding, and round the end of these he passed on his way to the scrap heap. How the lad met with his injuries is not known, but attention was first attracted by his cries, and he was found lying on the scrap heap, evidently suffering severely. Dr Rennie was at once summoned, and on arrival found the lad suffering from a compound fracture of the right upper arm, as well as internal abdominal injuries. He was conveyed to the Alexander Hospital, where he died at three o’clock on Thursday afternoon. 

   In the lye where McCardle was working were a number of waggons standing. A number of other waggons were shunted into the lye causing the stationary ones to move, and it is believed that he was injured by these waggons, as his barrow had been dragged a distance of 20 yards by the axle of the first waggon. 

– Coatbridge Leader, Saturday 10th August, 1907, p.5. 

   A locomotive driver, named James Clifford, was engaged on Monday proping past a waggon on a temporary set of rails at McAlpine’s property, Bogston, Greenock, when the plank suddenly snapped and he was crushed between the broken ends and the truck, being killed instantaneously. Clifford, who was forty-three years of age, was unmarried. 

– Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Sunday 10th August, 1907, p.3. 





Workmen’s Train Wrecked. 


Three Trains in the Smash. 

   This forenoon, as the miners’ train to Earlseat was proceeding from Denbeath, it was run into by a coal train. Fortunately the miners, warned by whistling, had jumped, and, with the exception of Thomas Russell, they escaped injury. Russell was able to walk home later. 

   The passenger train contained about forty miners, and was standing at the time near the points. 

   It is understood the brakes on the coal train had not acted, and the driver whistled in warning. 

   The carriages were smashed, and the place strewn with coal and derailed waggons. 

Methil, Later.      

   The alarming accident on the Wemyss Mineral Railway at Wellsgreen Crossing this morning resulted in great destruction to rolling stock and the narrow escape of about 80 miners. A workman’s train of several carriages, with about 80 miners from Denbeath for Earlseat Mines, Thornton, was drawn up at Wellsgreen Crossing to allow a coal-laden train from the Michael Pit to pass, with the intention of being shunted on the Wemyss section to allow another coal-laden train of 70 waggons from the mines also approaching Wellsgreen, to proceed to Methil Dock. 

   Owing to the slippery state of the rails the brakes failed to act, and the train from the mines dashed into the workman’s train, the impact throwing it on the train from the Michael Pit, the whole three trains being jammed in a confused mass. 

   Two of the engines were badly damaged, and two of the carriages of the workmen’s train were smashed to atoms. 

   The stoker of the workman’s train fortunately warned the men, and they just got clear in time, with the exception of Thomas Russell, miner, Denbeath, who was on the footboard when the collision occurred. He sustained several severe cuts, and is suffering from shock. 

   Both lines have been torn up, and the two coal-laden trains were derailed and a number of the waggons smashed, and the contents strewn about in confusion. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Monday 12th August, 1907, p.2. 





   About ten o’clock on Monday night a railway collision, which caused a serious dislocation of traffic, occurred in Larbert Station. A goods train from Stirling, when about to enter the station, mistook a signal, which was intended for a Kilsyth goods train, which was in the act of shunting out of a siding on to the up main line, with the result that the Stirling train crashed with great force into the centre of the Kilsyth train, wrecking three waggons, which were loaded with coal. This was strewn in all directions over the line, and along with the wreckage of the waggons it caused a complete block of the main line. A breakdown gang was summoned from Stirling, and in the meantime all traffic had to be worked over the single line. The train from Glasgow due at Larbert at 10.43 was considerably delayed, as was also three English expresses, while goods traffic was completely dislocated. Operations for the repair of the line and the clearing of the debris were commenced as soon as possible, under the direction of Mr Smyth, station superintendent, and Inspector Lawrie. It was found that not much damage had been caused to the permanent way, although the points had been badly twisted, and the block was cleared and the line repaired, so that soon after two o’clock on Tuesday morning traffic was resumed. No one was injured, but, as already indicated, three waggons were wrecked, while the engine of the Stirling goods train was slightly damaged. 

– Falkirk Herald, Wednesday 14th August, 1907, p.5. 

   DISTRESSING RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – Gateside Colliery loop line, at a point opposite Westburn Cemetery, was about six o’clock on Saturday evening the scene of a distressing railway accident, whereby James Middleton (51), an engine-driver residing at 452 South Wellington Street, Glasgow, was severely injured. Middleton was in charge of his engine which was engaged in shunting operations when he overbalanced and fell from the footplate on to the line. One of the engine wheels passed over the unfortunate driver’s right leg above the ankle, causing a compound fracture. The sufferer was conveyed in a passenger train to Glasgow, and from the Central Station he was removed in an ambulance waggon to the Royal Infirmary, where it was found necessary to amputate the right leg below the knee. Middleton’s fall from the footplate is attributed to a sudden application of the brakes, causing the engine to slightly jerk. 

– Hamilton Herald and Lanarkshire Weekly News, Wednesday 14th August, 1907, p.3. 

   ACCIDENT ON THE MONKLAND RAILWAY. – On Tuesday evening Thomas Mulgrew (19), pithead labourer, residing in Freeland Place, Kirkintilloch, met with a bad accident on the Monkland Railway near Craigenbay. Mulgrew, who had been working at the Auchengeich Pit, was taking a short cut along the railway with another man, named Dennis Mochan, residing at 20 Hillhead, Kirkintilloch. The goods train running from Gunnie to Gavell came along and the driver whistled to the two men to clear. It is stated that they did so, but that afterwards Mulgrew became dazed and staggered against the passing train. He was slightly injured on the head and portions of the thumb and forefinger of the left hand were cut off and the third finger was mutilated. The train staff took the injured man on to Kirkintilloch Station, where Dr W. Whitelaw dressed his injuries and despatched him by an evening train to the Royal Infirmary Glasgow. At the infirmary the remains of the thumb and the forefinger were amputated. Late advices are to the effect that Mulgrew is doing as well as can be expected. Mulgrew, who had only that day started work at the pit, states that he was hit on the haunch by the engine and knocked against a small hut at the side of the line and then fell against the moving train, and it was then that his left hand was injured. 

– Kirkintilloch Gazette, Friday 16th August, 1907, p.2. 

   A young domestic servant was killed on the railway at Portlethen on Wednesday while taking cows over a level crossing. 


   A stoker at Perth Railway Station on Saturday sustained serious injuries through his head coming into violent contact with a signal post. 


   A platelayer named Thomas Gallacher was knocked down and killed instantaneously yesterday by a passing train on the Cathcart District Railway. 


   A window was dedicated in Auchtertool Parish Church on Sunday in memory of two lads who were killed on the railway last February while proceeding to their work. 

– Falkirk Herald, Saturday 17th August, 1907, p.3. 

   ACCIDENT AT GOODS STATION. – Hugh McIvor, goods clerk at Johnstone Station, net with a nasty accident on Tuesday evening while at work among the shunting waggons. In attempting to mount an engine he fell, and one of the wheels passed over his right foot, severing four toes. Dr Taylor was procured and had the sufferer conveyed to the Cottage Hospital, where it was found necessary to amputate the toes. 

– Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette, Saturday 17th August, 1907, p.6. 





   An accident which for a time produced some excitement occurred on the Dundee and Arbroath Joint Railway on Saturday night. 

   The engine of the 5.40 passenger train from Arbroath to Dundee broke down just as the train was going out of Easthaven Station. The train drew up so suddenly that the passengers, especially in the front portion, were jolted about and their heads were knocked against the sides of the compartments. Those in the rear carriages became somewhat alarmed at the cries from their fellow-passengers in the front compartments, and the fear for a time was that a serious accident had occurred. 

   When the true state of matters was learned the passengers took the situation philosophically. They had to detrain and wait an hour and a half before another engine appeared on the scene to take the stranded train along. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 19th August, 1907, p.4. 





Kirriemuir Showyard Accident. 

   Sheriff Lee and a jury in Forfar Sheriff Court to-day held inquiries into the circumstances attending the death of James [formerly reported as David] Bell, railway porter, Dubton’s Cottages, Montrose, who was killed on 17th July at Dubton Station by being knocked down by a train from Aberdeen; and of George Munro Young, farm servant, in the employment of Alexander Smith, Findowrie, Brechin, who met his death on 26th July while in charge of a horse and cart at the Angus Agricultural Showyard at Kirriemuir by falling from the shafts of the cart. 

   The first witness in the Dubton case was William Scott, stationmaster of Dubton, who said Bell was returning from the points apparatus when the accident occurred. He was walking along the line on the up side. There was a passenger train coming through the station on its way back to Aberdeen, and at the same time a special fish train was coming from Aberdeen. Bell was walking along the line with his back to the special train when he was struck by the engine. Witness went up to him and found him lying on his left side unconscious. Witness put him into the train, and he died twenty minutes after the accident in the waiting-room. It was the practice of railway porters to walk along the line with their faces to an approaching train, and the deceased should have been walking on the down line. In reply to Mr Theodore Scott, solicitor, Glasgow, who appeared for the Caledonian Railway Company, witness said that he heard the engine whistle from the station. Other witnesses spoke to the deceased being very deaf. the jury returned the usual formal verdict. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 20th August, 1907, p.4. 

   ACCIDENT IN GALASHIELS. – James Wright, labourer, was found early on Sunday morning lying on the railway at the foot of a high wall in Buckholmside. He had evidently fallen over the wall, which is 35 feet high, and sustained serious injuries. Je was reported yesterday to be in a precarious condition. 

   TWO MEN KILLED BY AN EDINBURGH EXPRESS. – News was received in Moffat yesterday that a man named Donaldson, brother of Mr George Donaldson, stationer, Beattock, was killed neat Cobbinshaw on Saturday towards midnight by being run down on the line by the 10.45 express from Edinburgh to Carlisle. He was a clerk in Tarbrax Oil Works. Late on Saturday night the body of a man, apparently about forty years of age, was found on the Edinburgh line near Carstairs Junction. He had probably been run over by the Edinburgh-Carlisle express. Both feet were severed from the body, and there was alarge open wound on the forehead. In the pockets of the deceased were found a return half ticket, Lanark to Overtoun, a silver lever watch, and a programme of Smyllum Garden entertainment, with some children’s toys. The body lies at Carstairs for identification. 

– Scotsman, Tuesday 20th August, 1907, p.4. 



   While a heavy goods train from Arbroath to Dundee was passing through West Ferry Station between five and six o’clock yesterday morning one of the waggons was discovered to be on fire. The outbreak was a serious one, and near Harecraigs the train was halted and divided at the part where the fire was blazing. The engine then set off at full speed for Dundee with the portion containing the burning waggon, which was shunted into a lye near Roodyards. The remaining portion of the train was left on the line, and was the means of delaying for nearly twenty minutes the 5.25 morning train from Broughty Ferry to Dundee. Having left the burning waggons at Dundee, the engine returned for the other portion of the train, and conveyed it to the siding at Stannergate. 

– Dundee Courier, Friday 23rd August. 1907, p.4. 





   A shocking accident befell John Robertson, foreman surfaceman, Gray’s Road, Ladybank, last night in the shunting yard at Ladybank, as the result of which the unfortunate man died later in the Dundee Royal Infirmary, whither he had been removed. 

   Prior to finishing work for the day Robertson was examining his part of the line, when a pilot engine along with some waggons came upon him, knocking him over, and severing one of his legs, and severely bruising the other. Dr Prentice was soon in attendance, and ordered the injured man to be removed to Dundee Infirmary. Mr Stewart, stationmaster, arranged a special engine and van, and the ambulance van was in attendance at Tay Bridge Station on the arrival of the engine. At the Infirmary it was found necessary to amputate Robertson’s injured leg above the ankle, but his condition was such that he succumbed. 

– Dundee Courier, Saturday 24th August, 1907, p.4. 

   RAILWAY FATALITY. – Robert Smith (seventy-two) retired roll-turner, residing at 309 Kirk Road, Wishaw, was knocked down by a passenger train on the Wishaw and Newmains branch railway, belonging to the Caledonian Railway Company, on Saturday afternoon, and was fearfully mutilated, his body being practically cut to pieces. The old man was not noticed by the driver or stoker of the engine, but was seen by the guard after the train had passed over him. 

– Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, Saturday 24th August, 1907, p.4. 



   On Monday afternoon a labourer, John Queenie, thirty years of age, residing in Roland-street, Maryhill, was knocked down by an engine at the Sewage Works, near Cardonald Station, where he was employed. His skull was fractured, and he died as he was being conveyed to the Western Infirmary in the Govan Police Ambulance Waggon. 

– Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette, Saturday 24th August, 1907, p.2. 

   MINER’S BRAVE ACTION. – A girl of three-and-a-half years of age was the other day gallantly rescued from serious injury or death by a miner, John Dorkin, 9 Engine Row. While playing with a number of children the girl had gone underneath a train of waggons lying at the Hill of Beath Colliery Siding. While she was in this perilous position the train commenced to move, and Dorkin rushed in between the wheels and held her in his arms until he could escape. Although the child’s clothing was torn both escaped injury. 

– Dundee Courier, Wednesday 28th August, 1907, p.7. 



   Yesterday a serious accident took place on the North British Railway near Blairhill Station, Coatbridge. A miner named Park was rushing along the line to catch the train which was approaching from his rear. The buffer of the engine struck him, inflicting bad injuries. Park was removed to the Alexander Hospital, and he died during the afternoon from the injuries sustained. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Friday 30th August, 1907, p.6. 

   NARROW ESCAPE AT AN EDINBURGH STATION. – A passenger who arrived at the Suburban platform of the Waverley Station yesterday afternoon when the train was leaving for Leith Central Station had an alarming experience of the danger of attempting to enter a train in motion. He endeavoured to board the train, but, missing the footboard, fell between the platform and the carriage, and was drawn in up to the shoulders. The train was promptly stopped, and the man was assisted to the platform by the railway officials. The right leg of his trousers and the back of his coat were badly torn, but his personal injuries were slight, and he was able to continue his journey. 

– Scotsman, Saturday 31st August, 1907, p.8. 

   KILLED ON THE RAILWAY. – On Wednesday evening a fatality occurred on the North British Railway, near to Blairhill Station. A number of miners employed at Espieside Pit, which is situated a little to the west of the burgh, travel by train from Blairhill to Coatbridge and Airdrie, and generally proceed to the station along the line. On Wednesday evening a number of miners were following the usual path. The train from Glasgow was at the time approaching, and one of their number, named William Park, thirty years of age, residing a 24 Mack Street, Airdrie, was knocked down by the engine. He was struck on the back of the head and right side, and rendered unconscious. The signalman in the box near at hand noticed the accident, and at once summoned aid, and had Park removed to the Alexander Hospital close at hand, where it was found that he had received a fracture of the skull. He never regained consciousness, and died from his injuries at one o’clock the next day. At the time of the accident a strong wind was blowing, and it is thought that the deceased failed to hear the approach of the train. 

– Coatbridge Leader, Saturday 31st August, 1907, p.4. 

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