Fall from the embankment between the Firth of
and Lower Granton Road, near Granton Harbour
Railway Accident -
permission to reproduce, please contact Peter Stubbs
Granton - 1860
Report in 'Illustrated London News'
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.
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
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
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."
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.
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.
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:
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 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.,