Action for Son’s Death 1900


Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 23.48.43During early March 1900, Mr James Leishman, a brass picker residing at Lyon’s Land, Springfield sued the Caledonian Railway Company for £1,000 damages for the death of his son, Gavin Leishman.

Gavin had died at the age of only 14 on 7th February 1899, whilst in the employment of Dixons (Limited) at their number 1 Blantyre Pit, High Blantyre. He had been fatally injured when some wagons propelled against him. It was said that no warnings was given as the train of wagons approached him and they had been driven at a dangerous speed. The Caledonian Railway denied any fault and stated that the shunting operations at High Blantyre were always carried out carefully and that all necessary precautions had been taken. They counter argued that the accident would not have happened were it not for the negligence of Gavin in wandering between wagons in the siding and not looking out for approaching trains.

Later, as the case was heard in court, the jury retired at 3.55pm and took just 35 minutes before coming back to the courtroom and mentioned that the brakesman employed by the company had been at fault by not being at the head of the train of wagons.

Whilst this looked hopeful for the Leishman family, the jury had a ‘however’ to follow. They were unanimously united in the opinion that the boy, Gavin Leishman was at fault for not looking where he was. The Counsel in the courtroom settled in favour of the Railway, with no payout to the family given, nor any fine imposed on the railway company!

From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016

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