1879: Train plummets into river – all passengers are lost

Scottish Scribe from 1879 as seen in Old The Front Page

Railway Engineer Sir Thomas Bouch made a number of errors in building the original Tay Bridge, including using cheap materials and inadequate design.

But his worst error was not taking account of the effect of high winds on the structure. He’d been told iron girders didn’t respond to the effects of wind; but that only applied to short girders – not the long ones he’d employed.

So it was that during a heavy storm the girdered section of the bridge collapsed under the combined pressures of the train which was travelling north towards Dundee and of the storm blowing across Tayside.

It took some time to establish that a total of 75 people had died in the accident. Only 46 bodies were found – but the steam locomotive was recovered, refurbished and put back into service.