Railway Accident


Fall from the embankment between the Firth of Forth
and Lower Granton Road, near Granton Harbour


Railway Accident -  1860

  A railway accident between Trintiy and Granton in 1860

  For permission to reproduce, please contact Peter Stubbs                                                                 peter.stubbs@edinphoto.org.uk


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   A railway accident between Trintiy and Granton in 1860


 Railway Accident

Granton  -  1860

Report in 'Illustrated London News'

This engraving appeared in the Illustrated London News, on July 21, 1860, together with an account of the accident.  The engraving is from a photograph by the Edinburgh photographers, Truefitts, who established their studio in Princes Street four years earlier.

The London Illustrated News reported:


"On Sunday se'nnight, (i.e. on Sunday of the previous week  -  se'nnight is an archaic word for seven nights or a week) an accident of a melancholy nature occurred between Trinity and Granton, on the line of the Edinburgh , Perth and Dundee Railway, by which four lives were lost and five or six persons seriously injured.

The ordinary Sunday evening passenger-train leaves Edinburgh at 4.30pm.  The accident occurred to the engine and tender while they were returning to the Locomotive station at Scotland-street, after having safely conveyed the passenger-train to Granton.

There were on the engine and tender at the time of the accident six persons - namely David Mathieson, the engine-driver;  John McKenzie Mathieson, the engine driver's son, a boy of about eight years of age;  John McKenzie, a brother-in-law of the engine-driver;  Andrew Morgan, a pointsman in Scotland Street Station;  James Bolan, the stoker;  and George Dall, a railway porter.

The engine had just left Granton, about five o'clock and was proceeding rapidly along the line which, at that point runs close to the sea on a high embankment when , from some unknown cause, the engine and tender went off the rails at a point opposite Wardie Cottages, a little to the westward of Wardie Hotel, and dashed over the embankment into the sea, a distance of about thirty feet, carrying with them the railing of a bridge, which at that point crosses the road, and a portion of the low parapet wall skirting the line."

The London Illustrated News report continued:

"Mathieson, the engine-driver, his son, his brother-in-law and Morgan, the pointsman, were killed on the spot;  Bolan, the stoker, who jumped off immediately before the engine went over the embankment, escaped with a dislocated shoulder.

Dall, the porter, had a marvellous escape with his life.  He was carried over the embankment, and fell down the stone bulwark, close to the sea, it being nearly high water at the time.  He was severely bruised by the fall, and cut about the head, besides being scalded in the face by the steam from the engine.

The accident also resulted in injury to several persons who happened, at the time, to be sitting on the stone bulwarks beneath the railway, on the north side, some of whom narrowly escaped with their lives.

Within three-quarters of an hour after the accident, Sheriff was on the spot, as were also Mr List, Chief Constable of the county and Mr Brown, Deputy Procurator Fiscal.

The engine was lying bottom upwards on the beach, a little to the eastward of the point at which it had gone over the embankment, while the tender lay close behind it on its side."

London Illustrated News:  July 21, 1860,  p.70


The Scene of the Accident

The photograph on this postcard was probably taken about 50 years after the accident.  The photo shows the embankment a short distance to the west of where the accident occurred. 

This view looks to the east.  Wardie Hotel is at the extreme right of the picture.  Wardie Cottages are off the picture to the right.

 Postcard by W Smith, Goldenacre  -  Looking to Lower Granton Road from Granton Beach  -  with legends added

The engraving below shows a train departing from Granton Harbour and heading towards the spot where the accident happened. This view looks to the north towards Granton Harbour and the Firth of Forth.

  Engraving  -  Granton Harbour


 Railway Accident

Granton  -  1860

Report in 'The Scotsman'

The Scotsman newspaper on July 9, 1860, the day after the accident, gave a rather fuller report than appeared in the Illustrated London News:

The Scotsman reported:


"When news of the accident first reached Edinburgh at about half past five o'clock, it was reported that the ordinary Sunday evening passenger train for the north which leaves Edinburgh at 4.30pm, had run over the embankment into the sea near Granton, and much excitement was caused by the rumour, which increased as the persons injured were brought in cabs to the Infirmary.

The fires report, however, proved to be exaggerated, the actual fact - sufficiently distressing in itself - being that the accident had occurred to the engine and tender while they were returning to the locomotive station at Scotland Street, after having safely conveyed the passenger train to Granton.

The Scotsman:  July 9, 1860, p.2

The same report in 'The Scotsman' mentioned that Mr Dall, the porter, who had the "marvellous escape with his life" after falling down the stone bulwark, severely bruising himself, being cut about the head and scalded in the face by the steam from the engine, was however able to walk home to his own house in Wardie Square.,


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