December 1907

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1907) Contents]





   A serious accident occurred at Stanley early on Saturday morning. On Friday a young ploughman, named George Stewart, 19 years of age, and residing with Mrs Easson, 1 Precinct Street, Coupar Angus, had been at the Perth Feeing Market, and when returning home at night had evidently taken the wrong train, and in a short time found himself at Stanley. He wandered about the station for a time, and so careless were his movements that some of the station officials had occasion to check him. Suddenly he disappeared, and was not again seen until a quarter-past one on Saturday morning, when he came walking along the line with his thumb and two fingers of the left hand shattered, his right arm above the elbow smashed, and a deep wound in the left temple. The night porter who found the unfortunate man in such a condition took him to the signal-box, where first aid was rendered and Dr. Sibbald, of Stanley, sent for. He could give no explanation as to how the accident occurred. With the first train he was removed to the Perth Royal Infirmary, where it was deemed necessary to amputate his right arm; and he now lies in a dangerous condition. 

   It is presumed that Stewart had strayed on to the railway line. Failing to observe the approach of a train, he had been knocked down, and lay in a semi-conscious state. Regaining consciousness, he had walked for a considerable distance along the rails until met by the night porter. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 2nd December, 1907, p.5. 

   FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – George McCafferty, a cattle tender at Broadfoot Farm, Symington, died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on Saturday from the effects of injuries sustained on the railway line at Symington. Deceased, who was about 60 years of age, was walking on the line and failed to observe the approach of a train. 

– Scotsman, Monday 2nd December, 1907, p.10. 

   A shocking accident took place on the Joint railway Line near Paisley this morning. A gang of nine surfacemen, stepping out of the way of a train, got in front of an express going in the opposite direction. Six men were killed on the spot, and a seventh died on the way to Paisley Infirmary. The train which the men were clearing was the 8.41 from Gourock. The calamity is the most heartbreaking of its kind that has happened on that line since the memorable collision at Pennilee junction, now nearly thirty years ago. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Wednesday 4th December, 1907, p.2. 

   While travelling on Saturday between Dunfermline and Lochgelly, a man of the labouring class took suddenly ill of internal hemorrhage when the train had reached Crossgates. The other passengers in the compartment gave warning to the officials at Cowdenbeath Station, and the engine-driver and a clerk had just lifted the man on to a stretcher when he expired. From papers found on the man it is believed that he is John McManus, thirty-four years of age, a Militiaman, belonging to Lochgelly. 

– Hamilton Herald and Lanarkshire Weekly News, Wednesday 4th December, 1907, p.2. 





   As reported in yesterday’s “Telegraph,” a shocking railway fatality occurred yesterday morning on the Glasgow and Paisley Joint Line, about half-a-mile to the east of Cardonald Station, in which seven men, six of whom belonged to Paisley, were killed. The Joint Railway comprises two up lines and two down lines. On the up main line a squad of nine men were engaged in repair work in charge of Patrick Slaven, foreman. between nine and ten o’clock a passenger train came in sight running to Glasgow, and the men were warned to leave the four-foot way. They stepped out and were standing in the up loop-line, when just as the train was passing an unattached engine suddenly dashed in among them, killing six outright, and fatally injuring another. The foreman and Patrick McAllister had miraculous escapes. The killed were terribly mutilated. An effort was at once made to save the life of the injured man, Michael McVey, who was placed on the engine, and taken to Paisley. 

   It appears that an engine which had in the morning taken a workers’ train to Renfrew, and was returning to Glasgow, was running on the up loop line parallel with the passenger train on the up main line, and that the steam emitted from the locomotive of the latter obscured it from the vision of the surfacemen, so that quite unconscious of their danger they stood directly in its way, and it was upon them before they could realise their position. 

   The names of the killed are:- 

   Michael McVey, Brown’s Lane, Half Way, married, with four children. 

   Donald Campbell, 29 Thread Street, Paisley, married, leaves a widow. 

   Felix McKenna, 5 Renfield Street, Renfrew Road, Paisley, widower. 

   Thomas McNamee, 16 Cotton Street, Paisley, married. 

   Owen Call, 4 Galloway Street, Paisley, married. 

   Martin Kilblane, 4 John Streetm Paisley, single. 

   John McAtammey, 13 Old Sneddon, Paisley, single. 



   Interviewed in the afternoon, Patrick Slavin, the foreman, who is aged fifty-six years, and lives at 10 Back Sneddon, Paisley, stated that he saw the passenger train half a mile away, but did not observe the engine on the parallel line owing to the steam that was thrown out by the former. He warned his men in time, and they stood out. The locomotive of the passenger train has just passed when he was horrified to see like a flash the front of another engine bearing swiftly on them. The whole thing was so sudden and so shocking that he can hardly recall what occurred. He instinctively got out of the way as the engine dashed past, and when he looked he saw the terrible havoc it had wrought among his squad, who were terribly cut up, one man being cut in two, another decapitated, and others literally crushed. The single engine, he thinks, would be alongside the second carriage of the passenger train. Patrick McAlesher (22), living at 4 South Croft, Paisley, was working at the extreme end of the squad, and had time to take warning. He jumped out of the way and escaped, but, like Slavin, was so affected by the shocking experience that he can tell little of what occurred. 



   Paisley, Wednesday Afternoon. – Patrick McAllister, one of the two surfacemen who miraculously escaped at the disaster near Paisley this forenoon (reported in our one o’clock edition), was interviewed by a Paisley press representative. 

   He explained that the trains were not going in the opposite directions, but were going the same way, one on the main line and one on the loop line. It was on the loop line the disaster occurred. 

   The whole affair seemed to him like a flash of lightning. 

   Six were killed outright, being so badly mangled that the place looked like a slaughter-house. 

   The bodies were fearfully mutilated, and had to be gathered up in sacks. One of the bodies was carried for a distance of about a mile on the hook of the engine. 

   Campbell and McVey were married men. 

   The two men who escaped jumped aside on hearing the approach of the engine. 



   At the point where the accident occurred there is what is termed a full set of rails, and it has now been ascertained that a Caledonian train from Gourock and a light engine from Renfrew were travelling towards Glasgow almost abreast. 

   The men stepped aside to avoid the first-mentioned, and the steam from it is believed to have obscured their view of the light engine, which dashed into them with such dire results. 

   near the point at which the accident occurred there used to be a tunnel, but about thirty years ago a collision occurred in this covered portion of the line, and subsequently it was opened up. It may also be recalled that on 22nd March, 1887, four surfacemen were killed on the Joint Line near Ibrox Station. 

   Mr Picken, stationmaster at Gilmour Street Station, Paisley, immediately on being warned of the occurrence, despatched an engine and flat waggon to Pennilee to bring the bodies to Paisley, where they were transferred to the mortuary at the Police Office for identification. 



   A feeling of consternation was created in Paisley when the news of the catastrophe was circulated. At first there was a general inclination to disbelieve that such a loss of life could have occurred among a body of surfacemen, and rumours thereafter circulated that a collision had occurred. Soon, however, the dreadful details were officially announced, and by the time the special train, conveying its mournful burden of the remains of the victims, a considerable crowd had collected at the station. Sergeant Macdonald, of Cardonald, accompanied the train, and among those at the station were the Rev. Canon Chisholm and Father Young. the majority of the victims of the disaster were understood to be Catholics, and these rev. gentlemen had been summoned to meet the train. 

   As the news of the occurrence spread in the town, excitement and general concern increased as the squad of workmen involved were known to belong to Paisley. Some time elapsed, however, before the names of the killed were officially available, and many relatives of railwaymen had flocked to the station and Police Office to learn the fate of their friends. 



      A few minutes after the disaster the officials at St Enoch and the Central Station were apprised, but as details were awanting it was not at first realised that the occurrence had involved such a serious loss of life. Later information confirmed the earlier reports that seven lives had been lost and the awful nature of the injuries. Happening as it did to a squad of surfacemen, a painful sensation was created in the city, and particularly among the railway employees. The passengers who travelled by the Caledonian train to Glasgow – which in a sense contributed to the accident – were unaware of the terrible disaster that had taken place. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Thursday 5th December, 1907, p.3. 

   FATAL ACCIDENT AT NEW STATION. – Yesterday afternoon, a labourer, named James Campbell, belonging to Paisley, and residing at the Working Men’s Homes in Dalkeith, who was employed by Messrs Bruce & Sons, Edinburgh, contractors for the new railway station presently building at Newtongrange, was killed while at his work. Campbell was engaged carrying a hod of lime along the up-line of rails, when he failed to observe a train coming in the opposite direction. Owing to the noise of the train on the one line, he probably failed to hear the approach of the other train. The result was that he was run down by the 2.25 p.m. express, and killed instantaneously. The body was removed to the mortuary at Newtonloan Hospital. 

– Dalkeith Advertiser, Thursday 5th December, 1907, p.3. 

   FATAL ACCIDENT AT LYBSTER. – About 9.30 on Tuesday morning a lamentable accident occurred at Lybster Station which resulted in the death of a young brakesman, named Hugh Munro. The railway employees were at the time getting the morning train ready for departure, and Munro had gone to couple on a waggon to the engine. In the shunting operations which followed he was caught between the buffers of the engine and the waggon and crushed so severely that death was almost instantaneous. Munro was a young man not much over twenty, and was a native of Ardgay, Bonar-Bridge, Ross-shire. 

– John o’ Groat Journal, Friday 6th December, 1907, p.4. 

   RIDE ON A RAILWAY BUFFER FROM KIRKCALDY TO ABERDOUR. – An exciting incident was witnessed at the railway station, Aberdour, on Saturday afternoon. While a heavily-laden special train conveying passengers to the Qualifying final football match at Tynecastle was passing through Burntisland, a man was observed sitting on the buffers of one of the carriages. The train was pulled up at Aberdour Station, and the man taken from his dangerous perch. It transpired that he had travelled from Kirkcaldy, and, beyond being somewhat scared by his perilous experience, he was none the worse of his escapade. Naturally the affair caused much excitement amongst the passengers, and the people on the platform. 

– Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian, Saturday 7th December, 1907, p.4. 


   A painful sensation was caused on Sunday evening throughout the town, when it became known that the body of Adam Braidwood, foreman road surfaceman, residing at 56 Castlegate, had been found an hour or two before on the railway at the Lanark Station platform. About three o’clock in the afternoon Mr William Todd, proprietor of the sawmills which adjoin the station, had been taking a walk round his woodyard and was returning by way of one of the station platforms, when he saw the body of a man lying between the outside rail and the platform. On going nearer, he at once recognised it as that of the deceased, who had been missing from the previous night. From the position of the body and the marks on the track, it appeared as if deceased had been knocked down and dragged about 25 yards by an incoming train. the right arm and both legs were almost severed from the body – the latter being broken in several places – while there was a deep wound on the head. It is not known how deceased met his death, but the likelihood is that on Saturday night he had been crossing from the woodyard where the horse belonging to the Road Surveyor is stabled, which was attended to by him, and where also the road store is situated, to the opposite platform, when he was caught by one of the incoming trains. Deceased was 53 years of age, and has been in the employment of the District Committee for 22 years and was well-known throughout the district. The funeral, which was a public one, took place on Wednesday to Lanark Churchyard, and was very largely attended. Much sympathy is felt for his widow and family. 

– Hamilton Advertiser, Saturday 7th December, 1907, p.5. 

   AN INCIDENT that was somewhat out of place when the bodies of the surfacemen were being removed from the station to the mortuary, was the playing of a hurdy-gurdy near by. The music was not by any means appropriate to the sad spectacle, but the public were too engrossed witnessing the melancholy proceedings to interfere. 

– Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette, Saturday 7th December, 1907, p.5. 

   ACCIDENT AT THE HARBOUR WORKS. – An accident occurred at the harbour extension works on Wednesday whereby Normand McGavin, 5 Pratt Street, was jammed between the bogie and engine while in the act of propping a waggon. He was attended to by Dr David McNab, who found that two of his ribs had been broken. 

– Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian, Saturday 7th December, 1907, p.5. 





Sad Affair at Glasgow. 

   An engineman named Hugh McClelland (65), who resided at 4 Monkland Street, Townhead, Glasgow, met with a terrible death this morning on the Caledonian Railway, between Springburn and Pinkston Road. Deceased, who was employed as an engineman and pumpman by the Alkali Company, was crossing the railway to go to a shed, when he was knocked down by a train from Braidwood, due at Buchanan Street Station at 7.20, which evidently he failed to observe in the darkness. 

   Death must have been instantaneous. When his body was found both feet were completely severed. The unfortunate man had apparently been carried for a distance of about forty yards along the line on the engine, as his lamp was recovered about that distance from the body. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Monday 9th December, 1907, p.2. 





   At Airdrie yesterday, Frederick Ekeval, Edinburgh, driver of the express train which collided at Sunnyside Station, Coatbridge, on 13th September, was charged – before a jury – with recklessly driving so as to collide with a light engine, causing the death of Agnes Mary Lermont and injuring fifty other persons. 

   James Fawcett, fireman to Ekeval, said the route was new to them. He did not see the signals were against them. Half-a-minute before the impact the brakes were applied hard. 

   Waller, the guard, corroborated. 

   Over twenty witnesses were examined. 

   The defence was the brakes had become defective and failed to act. 

   The jury, after retiring for twenty minutes, returned a verdict of not proven, and added a rider that the railway officials were to blame in sending such a heavy train with such an inexperienced driver. 

– Dundee Courier, Tuesday 10th December, 1907, p.5. 


   A light engine from Kirkcaldy to Thorton collided with a mineral train at Sinclairtown Station last night, destroying several of the waggons and damaging the signal-box. The engine was thrown from the metals, but fortunately the driver and firemen escaped uninjured. Considerable delay was caused to north and south-going traffic, the Dundee and Edinburgh trains having to go by Inverkeithing and Dunfermline. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Thursday 12th December, 1907, p.4. 

   COLLISION. – On Tuesday morning, a collision, fortunately unattended by injury to anyone, took place at Wishaw Central Station. A goods train ran into some stationary waggons and a brake van on the main line. The van was damaged and knocked off the line, and a little delay was occasioned until it was put right. 

   RAILWAY FATALITY. – On Wednesday morning the mangled remains of David Durward (54), a yardsman, who resided at Burnside Street, Flemington, were found on the main line of the Caledonian Railway at Shieldmuir. It is supposed that while following his employment he was run down by a passenger train. 


   SERIOUS ACCIDENT. – An elderly man named Matthew Taylor, a hammerman, residing in Marshall Street, met with a serious accident on Monday at Wishaw Ironworks. He had occasion to cross the railway which divides the steel works from the iron works, and was carrying some iron rods when he was knocked down by a train of waggons, and dragged about ten yards along the line. He sustained severe internal injuries, and rupture of the kidneys. 

– Hamilton Advertiser, Saturday 14th December, 1907, p.6. 

   FATAL ACCIDENT AT MID-CALDER STATION. – Mr Adam Manson, the tenant of Millrig farm, Mid-Calder, when returning home from Edinburgh market on Wednesday, alighted as usual at Mid-Calder Station. While he was crossing the Caledonian Railway to reach the road to Millrig, he failed to notice the approach of a train from the west. he was run down and instantaneously killed, the body being terribly mangled. Mr Manson, who was about sixty years of age, had spent his whole life at Millrig. He was of the most amiable disposition, was a shrewd business man, and took an active part in the public work of the parish. He was held in high esteem by his neighbours, whose sympathy will go out to the widow and family in their sad loss. 

– Scotsman, Friday 20th December, 1907, p.6. 

   NATIONALISATION OF RAILWAYS. – At the meeting of the Mutual Improvement Association on Monday night, Mr W. Hendry read an interesting paper on the “Nationalisation of Railways.” Upon a vote being taken at the close of the lecture, the majority was found to be against nationalisation. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Friday 20th December, 1907, p.7. 

   A light engine ran into a number of platelayers near Manors Station on Tuesday, killing one man and seriously injuring another. 


   On Saturday night a fatal accident occurred at Whifflet Station. A labourer named Patrick Burns was crossing the line on his way to the station to catch the eight o’clock train when he was knocked down by a mineral train and his body cut in two. 


   Alex. Murray, labourer, Bell Street Lane, Dundee, was knocked down by a locomotive on the N.B. Railway at Dundee on Monday, and died as a result of the injuries he sustained. 

– Strathearn Herald, Saturday 21st December, 1907, p.2. 





Driver’s Gruesome Story. 

   Sheriff Lyell, in Paisley Sheriff Court to-day, held a public inquiry regarding the railway disaster at Pennelee, near Paisley, on the Glasgow and Paisley Joint Railway, whereby seven surfacemen were killed. 

   Mr George Hart, the fiscal, conducted the inquiry on behalf of the Crown. Mr Dickie, Paisley, represented the relatives of the deceased; Mr Angus McPhail, Glasgow, appeared for the Railway Companies; and Mr Muir, secretary of the Amalgamated Railway Society, appeared for the driver of the light engine. 

   The Paisley Master of Works Office produced a plan showing the line had a clear view of over a mile where the accident took place. 

   Patrick Slavin, foreman of the men who were killed, said he did not notice the approaching light engine which ran into the men. He was watching the approaching express, and it came upon them in thirty seconds, throwing off steam and smoke. As regards the rules of instructions, they generally depended on their own lookout. 

   James Dickson. Greenock, driver of the passenger train, and Richard McRoberts, fireman, Greenock, gave evidence. As to the passenger train, Dickson said he was not blowing off smoke, but only exhaust steam, and McRoberts said at times he did not see the light engine. 


   John Arthur, driver of the light engine, told a gruesome story. The exhaust steam from the passenger train did not prevent his seeing the signals, but it prevented him seeing the gang of surfacemen. When he passed over the place he heard a strange rattling noise, as if the engine rods had broken. His fireman remarked that it seemed as if someone had been run over. His engine was tender first. He crept along the tender and looked over, when he saw one of the men dead hanging from the drawhook. He turned back, and gave all the assistance he could. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 24th December, 1907, p.3. 





While Crossing Railway. 

   A serious accident occurred this morning at Kelty Station. 

   A pithead worker named Cooper, who had arrived with the workmen’s train from Dunfermline, was crossing the railway on his way to the pit, when he was knocked down by a train from Perth, and run over. 

   The unfortunate man had a leg and arm taken off, and was at once removed to Dunfermline and District Hospital. 



   On inquiry at the Dunfermline and East of Fife Hospital later in the day it was ascertained that William Coupar, labourer, Pittencrieff Street, Dunfermline, who was seriously injured at Kelty Railway Station this morning, was as well as could be expected, and that a fatal result was not anticipated. 

   At the hospital it was found necessary to amputate one of his arms, which was terribly crushed. Coupar was also badly injured about the head and legs. 

   It appeared that he had a miraculous escape from instantaneous death, for the engine of the Perth express and three carriages went over him. 

   He was conveyed to the Dunfermline Lower Station by an engine and van, and from there was removed to the hospital. 

   Coupar worked at the surface of the Aitken Pit. 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Friday 27th December, 1907, p.3. 

   SHOCKING RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – The down platform of Cambuslang railway station was the scene of a shocking accident yesterday morning. Charles Johnstone (18), a clerk residing at White’s Land, Kirkhill, was running to catch the 8-30 train for Glasgow, and missing his footing he fell down between the platform and the train, and had his right arm run over above the wrist by a milk waggon which was coupled to the hindmost carriage. He was attended to by Dr Macpherson, who ordered his removal to the Royal Infirmary, where it was found necessary to amputate the arm at the elbow. 

– Hamilton Herald and Lanarkshire Weekly News, Saturday 28th December, 1907, p.3. 

   A DANGEROUS PRACTICE. – While a man was crossing the rails at Dysart Station on Monday night about seven o’clock, and when stepping on to the platform, he missed his footing, and rolled on to the line. His head striking one of the rails, he was slightly cut about the forehead. The accident which might have been more serious, should serve as a warning to those who engage in this dangerous practice. 

– Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian, Saturday 28th December, 1907, p.5. 


   On Wednesday forenoon Mr Robert Hardie, chemist, Kingskettle, had a remarkable escape from serious injury. A farm servant on Kettle Farm with horses and cart was passing under the bridge at Kingskettle Station when the trace horse took fright at a passing train. At the junction of the streets the trace horse made for one street and the cart horse for the other, with the result that a shaft broke and was carried away with the trace. The other shaft went right through the chemist’s shop window, doing considerable damage and pinning the cart horse among the masonry. How Mr Hardie escaped is a miracle. 

– Fifeshire Advertiser, Saturday 28th December, 1907, p.2. 

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