Quintinshill Rail Disaster

On 22 May 1915 one of the worst railway accidents in Scotland happened at Quintinshill near Gretna Green in Dumfriesshire. Five trains were involved: a troop train carrying soldiers from the Leith Battalion of the Royal Scots, a local passenger train, a Glasgow express and two goods vehicles. Over 200 people were killed, with a similar number injured.

There have been a number of books published on this dreadful accident which can be viewed in the library. They include ‘The Quintinshill Conspiracy: the shocking true story behind Britain’s worst rail disaster’ by Jack Richards and Adrian Searle (2013), ‘Gretna: Britain’s worst railway disaster (1915)’ by John Thomas (1969), ‘The Sorrows of Quintinshill’ by G.L. Routledge (2002) and ‘Britain’s greatest rail disaster: the Quintinshill blaze of 1915′ by J.A.B. Hamilton (1969). These books contain detailed accounts of the events as well as photographs, maps, diagrams, newspaper reports and lists of those killed.

The official report by Lieutenant-Colonel Druitt to the Board of Trade can also be found in the library [Ref: Cd 8114 PP LX 1914-1916 Railway Accidents 1915]. This comprises the full text of the report, witness statements and the report’s conclusion. An electronic version can be accessed by library members with a Scottish address via the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers digital resource.

Finally, the library also holds a small collection catalogued as the ‘Quintinshill Rail Disaster’. It comprises five items about the memorial which was commissioned by the Scottish Area of the Western Front Association and includes the order of service, dedication and photographs of the memorial.

Further information on the accident can be found on the Railways Archive website, while details of the soldiers that were buried at Rosebank Cemetery, Edinburgh can be seen on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.