Regarding your news article “Honoured 100 years on, dead of a forgotten disaster’ (23 May), my maternal grandfather, Hugh Urquhart, was the senior engineer of the Glasgow and South Western Railway which exercised running powers over the eight miles of track shared by various companies north of Carlisle.
His report differed markedly from the findings of Lt-Col Druitt’s hasty Board of Trade inquiry in noting that there was never only one cause of such a disaster and during the war this had become one of the busiest stretches of double-line railway in the UK.
The signalmen’s errors were the immediate cause, but chronically bad time-keeping by two late-night express sleepers from Euston – the 23:45 to Aberdeen and the 24:00 to Glasgow – caused by wealthy passengers demanding the trains wait for them, also contributed.
The death toll resulted from the troop train’s decommissioned gas-lit, lightweight coaches which shattered and caught fire and were only used because it was a bank holiday weekend and Caledonian’s modern carriages were needed to take the public to the beaches.
The trial of James Tinsley and George Meakin before the infamous “government” judge Alexander Ure (Lord Strathclyde) was a travesty and their sentences of three years, and 18 months’ hard labour, respectively a disgrace to Scottish justice.