Nearly caused a rail crash, 1862


pointsOn 30th December 1862, a pointsman was arrested whilst drunk at work in Low Blantyre and nearly caused a huge rail accident!

That Tuesday night, the county police apprehended a pointsman on the Hamilton and Glasgow Railway, named Archibald Kennedy, residing at Blantyre. They accused him of culpable and reckless neglect of duty.

It appears that on the evening of Saturday 27th December 1862,  a passenger train left Hamilton station at about a quarter past six o’clock heading for Glasgow. Upon the train reaching the junction of the Hamilton and Strathaven Railway, near Greenfield Farm (Betram Street Burnbank), at which Kennedy was pointsman, the pointsman (who was worse of liquor) set the points there for the Strathaven line running through Springwell, instead of allowing the train to proceed along the main line towards Glasgow.

He thus caused the train to run off the main line to a distance of about 400 yards, alongst the Strathaven Railway through Springwell. Fortunately no accident occurred, and the train, being backed up again on to the main line, proceeded, without any long delay. The prisoner (who wore on his breast a war-medal in court, was above forty years of age) and was examined before the Sheriff  being committed to prison.

Pictured on this 1896 map is the complex arrangement of tracks at that junction. The train should have carried on in the direction of the green arrow, but instead was diverted by Mr Kennedy’s inebriated state along the direction of the red arrow, that track only having opened less than year before.

From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018

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