The Gretna Disaster. A talk at Leith Library.

Leith Library hosts a talk on the Gretna Rail Disaster and its effect on the people of Leith. Wednesday 18th March, 2.00 – 3.00pm. Call 0131 529 5517 or email leith.library@edinburgh.gov.uk to book a place.

Gretna Rail Disaster Memorial, Rosebank Cemetery, Pilrig Street, Edinburgh

Gretna Rail Disaster Memorial, Rosebank Cemetery

The Quintinshill rail disaster occurred on 22 May 1915 near Gretna Green. The crash, which involved five trains, killed a probable 226 and injured 246 and remains the worst rail crash in the United Kingdom in terms of loss of life. Those killed were mainly Territorial soldiers from the 1/7th (Leith) Battalion, the Royal Scots heading for Gallipoli. The precise number of dead was never established as the roll list of the regiment was destroyed by the fire.

The crash occurred when a troop train travelling from Larbert to Liverpool collided with a local passenger train that had been shunted on to the main line, then to be hit by an express train to Glasgow which crashed into the wreckage a minute later. Gas from the lighting system of the old wood

en carriages of the troop train ignited, starting a fire which soon engulfed the three passenger trains and also two goods trains standing on nearby passing loops. A number of bodies were never recovered, having been wholly consumed by the fire, and the bodies that were recovered were buried together in a mass grave in Edinburgh’s Rosebank Cemetery.

Read history as it happened with free access to the Scotsman Digital Archive.

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