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Quintinshill, Britain’s worst rail disaster

Gretna Green
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Quintinshill, Britain’s worst rail disaster

Gretna Green


Quintinshill,near Gretna, witnessed the worst railway disaster on 22 May 1915. A troop train, carrying soldiers of the Royal Scots, to fight at Gallipoli, was heading south at high speed in the early hours of the morning. The local signalman, George Meakin, who had shunted a local passenger train on to the main line for operational reasons, should have been off-duty, but due to an informal arrangement between himself and the relieving man, James Tinsley, he continued to work until his arrival. He had also omitted to place a locking collar on the levers of the southbound signal. Tinsley, preoccupied writing his log from the notes left by his colleague, overlooked the passenger train standing in full sight of the box and accepted the troop train from the north, clearing the signals for the approaching train.

As the train approached at 70mph, Meakin realised to his horror what was about to transpire, the crew having no time to slow, far less stop their train. Seconds later it ploughed into the stationary passenger train, creating instantly a scene of devastation and carnage.

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