THE TAY BRIDGE DISASTER.
The foliowing regarding the Tay Bridge disaster has been received by the San Francisco mail; —The most awful railway accident which has ever occurred in Scotland took place near Dundee on the night of Monday after Christmas Day, when a portion of the famous Tay Bridge, together with a train which happened to be passing over at the time were blown into the water. The circumstances of the catrstropho are very extraordinary. In the evening a terrific tempest arose, and the wind blew up the river with fearful force. So severe was the hurricane, that many found it impossible to walk, and had to crawl along on all fours. When the gale was at its height the passenger train due from Edinburgh at about 7.15 p.m., arrived at the Stratliford. station on the Fife side of the river, where the Dundee tickets were collected. In the excitement following on the discovery of the catastrophe afterwards, the railway officials stated that there appeared to be over 200 persons in the train, but it now transpires that there were barely 75. At any rate, only 53 tickets were taken. To this number must be added a few season ticket-holders and infants in arms. After the train left Stratliford station it was seen to speed on its way across the south end of the bridge, the lights on the sides and front of the engine andcarriagcs being distinctly visible. The train continued its way onwards, entering between the high girders in the middle of the bridge, and was just about emerging from them when a fearful crash, like thunder, swept up the river. At that moment two intensely brilliant sheets of flame and showers of sparks were seen at the high girders, evidently resulting from the ftiction of the ponderous mass of iron, as it crashed and tumbled into the river from a height of 100 ft. Nothing more .than this is known of the affair. About 7-30 p.m. the Dundee station master began to feel uneasy, and together with another oflicial crawled along the bridge to see if the train was visi'olc. The bright moonlight revealed an immense fissure in the centre of the bridge, and the two men returned and announced the dreadful catastrophe that must have happened. About 11 o’clock the gale abated somewhat. A large steamer proceeded to tho scene of the accident. No signs of the ill-fated train or passengers could be discovered ; indeed, all aboard must have perished instantaneously. One of the men on the deck of the Mars training ship, which was moored not very far from the bridge, says that the gale was the strongest he Had. experienced _for years, and he and others on the vessel were watching the bridge. According to the accounts published in Dundee the reason he gave was that the wind was so high that they thought the bridge would be down. Dwellers on the banks of the river looked to see if tho train would venture on the bridge on such a nigjit. At the time it was due tho gale was sweeping down the valley of the Tay, and appeared to have reached its height. The sensation produced by this terrible calamity in Scotland was immense. Nothing like it has ever occurred before in the north, and the people were horror struck. ' Tho engineer who erected tho bridge states that the severest possible tests were applied to it before the structure was handed over to the North British Railway Company. He professes himself unable to account for tho accident. Other particulars of the disaster state that the gap in the bridge was about half a mile long. All the rails were recovered. The railway authorities estimate the total number of lives lost at 75. The statement that only 56 passenger tickets were taken up at the last stopping place does »Qt
children requiring no tickets, nor for the number of railway employees, or passengers for Broughly Ferry, whose tickets were not taken up. The opinion of Sir Thomas Bouch, and other engineers, who have visited the scene of the calamity, is that the disaster occurred in this way ; The train, in their view, had entered within the high girders intact about 20 minutes past 7. The gale was then at its height, and the supposition is that the end carriages had been blown off the rails. If this had occurred they would have been dragged along the track, and would have torn off the lattice work. Most of those who had witnessed the calamity spoke of having seen showers of sparks, and if the conjecture of the engineers is the true one, that is just what might have been suspected. Had the train kept the rails, they say, no damage would have been done to the bridge, and the catastrophe would have been averted.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 60, 12 February 1880
THE TAY BRIDGE DISASTER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 60, 12 February 1880
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