Explosion on a Train, 1905

Continuing a detailed look at Blantyre news stories from 1905, this one had an explosive ending!

On Monday 6th November 1905, George Rice, a Polish labourer was working at Dixons Pits in Blantyre. Part of his daily tasks was to fetch explosives for the miners, which he did by travelling to a Glasgow store and bringing the explosives back to Blantyre. It was a request his employers had made of him often so a habit had formed where the quickest way to do this, was hop on the train at Blantyre Station. Such errands certainly for him were commonplace and in these days before any significant safety rules, Dixons may not even have known he was taking a train!

Now on that day, he picked up two canisters of explosives in Glasgow and boarded the return train. Sitting down in the carriage he held the two canisters in his lap. Also in the carriage were several other men who were sitting smoking. One of them lit his pipe and threw the match to the floor, but for some reason the lit flame came into contact with the canister, exploding it most terribly!

The whole carriage was alight with flame, the windows blown out and as the train trundled into Bellgrove Street Station in Glasgow, passengers on the platform were astonished to see one of the carriages completely on fire. The alarm was raised as the door swung open and George through himself out of the burning carriage on to the platform to put out the fire around his body. He was not only badly burned to his arms and legs, but cut himself badly on the platform. The train stopped to a halt as the railway staff raced to the scene.

The carriage was immediately detached from the train to prevent the fire spreading and the train made off on the rest of its journey, leaving the abandoned flaming carriage on the line at the station.

George Rice was taken to the Infirmary along with other men on the carriage whilst the fire was put out.

Reading back on this, it’s hard to believe there was such disregard for safety and had it been a commuter train at an earlier time, the accident could have been much worse!

Bellgrove Street Station is pictured several decades ago.

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