Railway Accident at Shandon – part 1

Dear blog reader

This is part 1 of a 3 part series on a railway accident at Shandon in 1895, parts 2 and 3 will be published in subsequent weeks.

Hope you find this interesting.





An alarming railway accident occurred last night on the West Highland Railway near Shandon, Gareloch, which happily was unattended with loss of life, but resulted in considerable destruction of plant.

It appears that the train which leaves Fort William at 4:22 was approaching Shandon Station about eight o’clock when a couple of carriages left the line about six feet from where the double line is formed. One of the carriages went right along on the south side of the platform to opposite the booking-office, when it toppled over onto the side. The carriage immediately following tore up on the platform, and finally rested right across it and over part of the line on the north side.

Shandon Station

There was a considerable number of passengers in the train, and great alarm was felt, but with one exception the passengers escaped with a shaking. One lady named Mrs Gillies, who is staying at Shandon Hydropathic, and had been to Fort William for the day, was rendered unconscious for a time and was injured about the forehead.

Immediately on the accident happening information was sent to Helensburgh, and Mr Purves, stationmaster, at once proceeded to the scene of the accident with assistance. Dr Sewell and Dr Reid were speedily on the spot and rendered help. Mrs Gillies was removed to the stationmaster’s house, which is close at hand, and after receiving medical help was able to be removed to the Hydropathic. So far as can be ascertained at present her injuries are not serious, beyond a severe shock. A train was sent up from Helensburgh about ten o’clock, and took off the passengers.

The breakdown squad from Cowlairs was telegraphed for, and proceeded to the spot without delay. The train consisted of two engines, three carriages, van, and two horse vans. The carriages that left the line are very much damaged, and looking at their position, it seems a marvel how any of the passengers escaped. The permanent way and a portion of the platform are somewhat damaged, and it will take some hours to clear the line.

A special train was made up and sent from Helensburgh about nine o’clock, and took the passengers and luggage on to Glasgow about an hour and a half late. This was the last train for the night, and as the rails were badly twisted, it will cause some delay in the morning.

No correct solution of the accident can be given, but it is thought that the points must have locked or shifted after the engines passed over on to the wrong line, entering the platform on the up line, with the carriages turned on to the down line, thus dividing the train, the engines going one way and the carriages another. The relief train arrived at Upper Helensburgh at 10pm, where some anxious relatives were waiting for their friends, and were much relieved when the train arrived and the passengers comfortably resting as if nothing had happened.


Part 2 will be published next week on a passenger’s narrative and part 3 will be published the next week again on the report to the Board of Trade.

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