Where is it?

No 10

A Railway Accident  -  Where was it, and when?

Railway Accident  -  Where was it, and when?

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Jeremy French


Enlarge this picture

   Railway Accident  -  Where was it, and when?




February 2006

The photograph above was sent to me by Jeremy French.

Jeremy wrote:

"I attach a photograph of some trucks that have gone through the buffers and into a harbour. It looks to me like the word 'Coltness' appears on at least two of the trucks.

Is this a picture of a location that you recognise, and do you know when the accident occurred?

Any help you are able to give would be much appreciated."

Jeremy added:

"Ewan Crawford of Highland Railway reckons this picture may show Leith Docks.  Are you able to confirm, please?"

 Jeremy French:  February 25, 2007

Please e-mail me if you can help to identify where and when this photo might have been taken. 

Thank you.  -  Peter Stubbs




When I received answers 1 and 2 below, the only image that I was displaying on the web site was a low resolution image.  See the thumbnail below:

Railway Accident  -  Where was it, and when?

I've now replaced it by the higher resolution picture at the top of this page, with the option to enlarge it further:

Railway Accident  -  Where was it, and when?



Walter Lyle Hume

Cowes, Isle of Wight

Thank you to Walter who wrote:

Not Leith, Granton or Methil

"I suggest that the location is not Leith, Granton or Methil, but it could be Shields.  there were no coal hoists in the Forth with stonework as shown in the picture.

It would help if you could clear the image so as to note the registration on the trawler hull.  Very curious.

I have now replaced the original image by a clearer image, above.  - Peter Stubbs

I look forward to someone furnishing an answer."

Walter Lyle Hume, Cowes, Isle of Wight:  February 25, 2007



Patrick Hutton


Thank you to Patrick who wrote:

1900 to 1925?

"The reproduction isn't brilliant - but is that not a NB wagon in the background?  The date could be anywhere in probably the first quarter on the of C20."

I have now replaced the original image by a clearer image, above.  - Peter Stubbs

Patrick added:

"The wagons have brakes, but I can't tell if they have sprung buffers or dumb buffers. (These are simple blocks.)

There are quite a few possibilities:

-  Burntisland?



Patrick Hutton, Edinburgh:  February 28, 2007



Patrick Hutton


After seeing the higher resolution picture, Patrick wrote:

"All the wagons, as far as I can see, have sprung buffers, which dates it as a bit later.

According to a web reference all dumb buffers were banned in Scotland for new build wagons after 1 Oct 1903, and completely after the end of 1915

I've had a look on the National Library map website - there was a hydraulic coal hoist at Burntisland in 1894, but the general topology doesn't seem to suit the photo, eg the office beside (behind) the hoist, the steps down at the corner of the pier/wharf behind.

I must remember to look in some books tonight."

Patrick Hutton, Edinburgh:  March 1, 2007



Walter Lyle Hume

Cowes, Isle of Wight

After seeing the higher resolution picture, Walter wrote:


"Here's a shot in the dark.

The registration looks as though it could be A202.  This appears to be consistent with size of vessel of  1891 vintage.  If so, it could have been the Aberdeen trawler Regina, which moved to Aberdeen 1908, from Grimsby, served with the RN during WW1, then sold to France, probably after 1919.

Date of photograph could be between 1908 and 1914 - IF it is A202.  Can anyone confirm the possibility of coaling berth at Aberdeen?"

Walter Lyle Hume, Cowes, Isle of Wight:  February 25, 2007



Phil Wilson

Aberdeen, Scotland

Phil Wilson wrote:


"With regard to the Railway Accident query, Walter Lyle Hume may find the answer to his question here:


I haven't had time to search this site - and anyway, am not sure I would recognise the relevant features correctly."

Phil Wilson, Aberdeen, Scotland:  March 1, 2005

Thanks for the message, Phil.  I've passed it on to Walter.

- Peter Stubbs:  May 1, 2007



Patrick Hutton


Patrick wrote:


"The Aberdeen trawler dates fit pretty well with the wagon dates, perhaps just pre-WW1.

The National Library of Scotland maps website only has a large-scale Aberdeen map dated about 1870, so the railways are still fairly rudimentary.

It could be a coaling berth rather than a coal loading hoist."

Patrick Hutton, Edinburgh:  March 1, 2007



Phil Wilson

Aberdeen, Scotland

Phil Wilson wrote:

Around 1911

"The boy standing next to the stonework at the right on this photo has clothing that is almost identically to the boy in this photo, which I know is definitely dated 1911.

Boy in 1911 clothing

This suggests that the photo dates from around that time."

Phil Wilson, Aberdeen, Scotland:  March 2, 2005



Richard Hollingworth

Thank you to Richard Hollingworth who wrote:


"The location of the unfortunate mishap is Tayport.  There was a single shute here mostly used for bunkering small vessels."

Richard Hollingworth:  July 1, 2007

Tayport is in Fife, Scotland.  It is on the south bank of the Firth of Tay, to the east of Dundee.

I e-mailed Richard Hollingworth yesterday, to ask him if he knows the date of the accident, or if he has any other information about the accident.

If he tells me anything more about it, I'll add the details to this page.

Peter Stubbs:  July 2, 2007



Phil Wilson

Aberdeen, Scotland

Thank you to Phil Wilson who wrote:

Probably Tayport

"Following the latest suggestion of Tayport for this accident, I found an early card of the Tayport Harbour on the University of St Andrews Special Collections web site.

The railway and the wooden stanchions certainly look similar.  I wouldn't like to say for sure though!"

Phil Wilson, Aberdeen, Scotland:  July 3, 2007



Patrick Hutton


Definitely Tayport

Thank you to Patrick Hutton for telling me about a page he had found on a Tayport web site.  It includes the photograph of the accident at the coal hoist.

Railway Accident  -  Where was it, and when?

The Tayport site confirms that the location of the accident was Tayport Harbour.  Several people viewing this photo on the Tayport web site commented that they used to swim in the harbour or dive from the coal hoist.

One, writing from Australia, said that his great uncle, Jack McKay, was aboard the trawler and died as a result of this accident.

Patrick Hutton, New Town, Edinburgh:  July 3, 2007



Ian Lindsay

Fife, Scotland


After seeing a presentation of Postcards of North Fife, given by Ian Lindsay to at meeting of the Lothian Postcard Club Meeting yesterday evening, I now have fuller details of this accident.

The presentation included two postcard views of the accident.  Ian described this as:

"Accident with Coal Drop Machine  -  Tayport  -  June 11, 1920"

Ian added:

"Sadly, one person died the following month from the injuries sustained - John McKay (63) who was working on the boat when the wagon dropped.

Tayport was always a busy harbour with the coal exporting and timber for Donaldson's sawmill, Tayport."

Ian Lindsay, Fife, Scotland:  June 13, 2008



Edinburgh Railway Lines and Stations












Edinburgh in 1958

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