Poignant roll call of Tay bridge disaster victims

Tay Rail Bridge disaster
Tay Rail Bridge disaster

A POIGNANT roll-call of victims of the Tay Rail Bridge Disaster has been issued in the hope of finding living descendants in north east Fife.

The Tay Rail Bridge Memorial Trust, which hopes to create memorials on both sides of the Tay, has a research team who are currently piecing together the lives of the 59 people who perished in the catastrophe, which happened on December 28, 1879.

Fife poet Ian Nimmo Smith, who is the trust’s vice-chair, says that the local connection is stronger than many people think.

“The Tay Bridge Disaster is often associated with Dundee, but in fact a large number of the victims came from north east Fife,” he said.

“In the middle of the 19th century there was a significant migration of farm workers into the city.

“We hope to gather as much information as we can about them so that we can honour their memories properly.

“If anyone thinks they may be related to one of the victims, they can carry out further research through Murray and Clare Nicoll, who have written a book,‘Victims of the Tay Rail Bridge Disaster’, which is available via the Tay Valley Family History Society.”

Anyone with links to any of the victims is asked to contact Ian on 01592 741930 or e-mail InimmoW@aol.com

Those wishing to contribute to the campaign for the new memorials can do so via Paypal on the trust’s website, www.thetaymemorial.com or by cheque made out to the Tay Rail Bridge Disaster Memorial Fund and sent to the treasurer, Ian Rae, at 11 Wilmington Drive, Glenrothes, KY7 6US.

THE victims so far known to have connections with north east Fife are:

Joseph Low Anderson (20), a bachelor and compositor by trade, who was born in Auchtermuchty and joined the train at Cupar on that fateful day;

Thomas Ross Annan, an iron turner, also 20 and single, born in Newburgh. He joined the train at Ladybank, having travelled on the Perth connector from Newburgh.

Archibald Bain, a single man aged 26 and a farmer, birthplace unknown, who joined the train at Cupar, and his sister Jessie, aged 23, who was with him.

Elizabeth Hendry Brown, a tobacco spinner aged just 14, who was born in Dundee but joined the train at Leuchars;

Euphemia Cheape (54), a domestic servant and mother of six from Kilmany who boarded at St Fort;

James Crichton (22), a ploughman from Ceres;

Ann Cruikshanks (54), a single lady from Kingsbarns who worked in domestic service and who boarded the train at Burntisland; Robert Culross (26), a carpenter born in Ferryport-on-Craig (now Tayport), who also boarded at Burntisland;

David Cunningham, a 17-year-old mason born in Forgan, who boarded the train at St Fort;

Robert Fowlis (20) also a mason, who was from Balmerino and who also joined the train at St Fort;

James Foster Henderson, a labourer aged 22, whose birthplace is unknown but who is know to have boarded the train at Ladybank;

David Johnston, a 31-year-old railway guard married to Helen Bruce, with two children, born in Strathmiglo, He boarded the Edinburgh connector at Waverley station, then the ‘William Muir’ ferry at Granton, then the train at Burntisland;

George Johnston (24), a mechanic from Forgan, who joined the train at St Fort;

Margaret Kinnear (17), a domestic servant from Leuchars;

John Lawson, a 25-year-old plasterer married to Mary Hood, two children. His birthplace is unknown, but he joined the train at Ladybank, having travelled on the Perth connector from Perth.

John Marshall, a 23-year-old fireman/stoker from Ceres, who was on duty when the tragedy happened along with 44-year-old railway guard David McBeth, whose place of birth is unknown.

George Ness, railway fireman/stoker (21), married to Ann Brann, one child, born in Flisk, joined the train at Leuchars;

David Scott (26), a railway goods guard from Kingsbarns, who is thought to have joined the train at St. Fort;

John Scott (30), a seaman from Kingsbarns, who is thought to have joined the train at Ladybank, Fife, having travelled from England;

Eliza Smart, a tablemaid aged 24 from Kingsbarns, who was the niece of Ann Cruikshanks and fiancée of George Johnston, both of whom also died. She joined the train with George at St Fort;

Annie Spence, a 22-year-old weaver from Newburgh, who boarded the train at Ladybank.