Tay Rail Bridge committee busy

Stuart Morris of the Tay Rail Bride Disaster Memorial Trust
Stuart Morris of the Tay Rail Bride Disaster Memorial Trust

COMMITTEE members from the Tay Rail Bridge Disaster Memorial Fund have been raising its profile as well as money, reports KEVIN QUINN.

The group is planning to build a memorial on the banks of the River Tay, to those who lost their lives when a train plunged into the Tay during a violent storm on 28 December, 1879.

On top of the usual type of fund-raising activities, committee members have been getting out and about, and in front of TV cameras to talk about the disaster.

Stuart Morris of Balgonie, whose great-great-grandmother was one of the victims, spoke of his day with a TV crew from the ‘Yesterday’ channel, last week.

He said: “It went off well. I enjoyed it.

“The programme is one of these ‘who do you think you are’ type of programmes, looking at moments in history instead of family history.

“It traces people who have a connection to these events, who don’t know they have.

“We were filming at the McManus Galleries Archive in Dundee and had access to what they had from the disaster, such as purses and watches found. One purse still had one and a half pennies in it.

“I also managed to see the actual train tickets, it’s the first time I have seen them.

“From there we went to Leuchars train station and I was filmed walking across the bridge. Lots of heads were turned, it caused quite a stir.

“Then we went back to Dundee, to the site of our proposed memorial on the banks of the River Tay. It was all good publicity for the trust.

“They say the programme should be ready by October for the commissioning body. It will probably be aired around Christmas time, so quite near the anniversary of the 28th.”

Stuart also spoke of other planned fund-raising events.

He said: “We are in talks about having a fund-raiser at the Unicorn in Dundee, because after the disaster, the then HMS Unicorn held a fund-raiser.

“We are hoping to have that at the end of the year, but we are still putting final bits and pieces together.

“Dundee Rep are putting on ‘Five Pound and Twa Bairns’ from 5 February for a week to raise funds for the memorial.

“The castle will be hosting Gaels Fire 2 later next year.”

Another member of the trust, local poet Ian Nimmo White continues to offer talks on the disaster.

He said: “I have got three talks coming up, they are proving popular, especially around the area of the bridge.

“They are coming in fast enough and of course all proceeds go towards the memorial. The fund total is starting to pick up but there is still a bit to go. The talks and other fund-raising ideas will go on until the memorial is up and running.”

n To donate, make cheques out to “Tay Rail Bridge Disaster Memorial Trust” and send to Ian Rae, Treasurer of TRBDMT, 11 Wilmington Drive, Glenrothes, KY7 6US.