Memorial to Elliot victims on track

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The proposal to erect a monument to the casualties of the 1906 Elliot Rail Disaster is attracting growing support.

The disaster, which occurred in atrocious weather conditions at Elliot, saw the North British Express bound for Edinburgh, crash into the rear of a stationary Caledonian Railway at Elliot.

The crash claimed the lives of twenty-two people, including Liberal MP Alexander William Black. A further eight were injured, and the town’s drill hall was pressed into service as a temporary mortuary.

Now a campaign to erect a permanent memorial to the 111-year-old disaster is gathering support and is being spearheaded by local businessman Jim Millar and David Fairweather. In recent months Mr Fairweather has consulted with his fellow local councillors, MSPs and the chief executive of Angus Council.

He said: “I am delighted that the response has been overwhelmingly positive, and I would like to ask the public to get in touch with their views and suggestions for what form a permanent memorial might take.”

Mr Millar proposed the idea after researching his family history and found out about the crash. His great-great uncle David ‘Dev’ Cargill, a fisherman and talented footballer ran from his home in South Street to help at the crash site, but working in snow and ice next to a boiling engine saw him contract a chill which cost him his life at just 32.

He said “This disaster saw a significant loss of life in appalling weather conditions that must have made rescue attempts extremely difficult. I welcome the fact that a growing number of people share the view that a memorial is appropriate.

“We have had a number of suggestions about what kind of memorial would be appropriate, and where a memorial should be located, and the more people who get in touch with Mr Fairweather to express their views the better.”

The Herald report of the accident termed it an “appalling loss of life” and the total death toll on the day was 21, including three Arbroath men - James Cathro, James Christie and John Y. Wood. On the platform was a train guard and J. Maiden from Lochee who gave an eyewitness account to the Herald: “He was standing with his back to the ticket-office when he saw through a cloud of drifting snow the big black engine of the express coming tearing along, and at once realised there was to be a collision.

“The guard had apparently seen or suspected that something serious was to occur, for, as the express was approaching, he cried to the passengers to change but his warning came too late.

“When the collision happened the noise was not so terrific as usually occurs under such circumstances, being deadened to a great extent by the snow; nor was there any screaming or shrieking by passengers. But all was confusion. The overturned engine lay on its side vomiting forth steam, and its works in motion; the flying timber mingled with the drifting and falling snow. Mixed up with the pile of debris were dead and dying, the moans of the injured being heartrending, while the scene presented was that of a veritable slaughterhouse.”