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Tay Bridge Disaster Ghost Train

Information about the ghost train from the Tay Bridge Disaster and a history of the Tay Bridge:

The Tay Bridge disaster took place at 7:45pm on the 28 December 1879 when a violent storm caused the bridge to collapse and the train and six carriages to fall into the River Tay in the Firth of Tay. All 75 passengers, crew and the train driver were killed. It is said that on the anniversary of the Tay Bridge disaster a ghost train appears where the track would have been and the screams of the passengers can be heard as they vanish in the middle of the Bridge at the site where they would have plunged into the River Tay.

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The History of Tay Bridge - The First Tay Bridge

The first Tay Bridge was designed by the Civil Engineer Thomas Bouch. It took six years to build. During the construction of the first Tay bridge ten million bricks were used. Other construction materials for the first Tay Bridge included two million rivets, eighty-seven thousand cubic feet of timber and fifteen thousand casks of cement. Six hundred men were employed during the building of the Tay Bridge and twenty workers were killed during its construction.

At the time it was such a major construction and undertaking to build the Tay Bridge that people would travel from afar to see it. This included General Ulysses Grant, the 18th President of the United States of America, in 1877. The Queen of Britain at the time was Queen Victoria and sadly she was unable to officially open the Tay Bridge when it opened on the 26 September 1877. The Directors of the Tay Bridge marked the occasion by crossing the Bridge in the train engine Lochee. Queen Victoria did visit the Tay Bridge in the summer of 1879 and crossed the Bridge in a train. She then knighted Thomas Bouch the designer of the first Tay Bridge.

Tay Bridge Disaster

The Tay Bridge Disaster took place on 28 December 1879. It remains one of the worst train disasters in Scottish and British history. It is thought that there were 75 passengers on the train that fell into the River Tay on the night of the disaster. This number was reached according to the number of tickets from St Fort Station in Fife. The local Dundee police force recorded 60 people and these names can be seen at Dundee Central Library. Only 46 bodies were recovered after the Tay Bridge disaster. There were no survivors.

The Tay Bridge disaster took place during a storm that took place across central Scotland. The Edinburgh train had already started its journey across the Tay Bridge, too late for the signalman to stop it. When the train made its way across the middle of the Bridge the high girders collapsed and the train, crew and passengers fell into the icy cold River Tay.

Much of the rail track after the River Tay disaster remained intact and the area of track that caused the train to go into the River Tay was clean cut. It is thought that the storm had either caused a vertical waveform, the high winds caused a train carriage to derail and an axle hit a buttress on one pillar of the high girders and sent a shockwave down to a supporting pillar or that the wind caused the upper courses of the masonry on the bridge to become detached and make the bridge tilt downwards. Many blamed the design, construction and the maintenance of the Tay Bridge as contributing factors for the reason for the Tay Bridge disaster. The official enquiry into the Tay Bridge disaster found many flaws in the iron superstructure of the Bridge and its maintenance. It found that there was no calculations into the effect of wind pressure on the bridge and its supports. Thomas Bouch, the designer of the first Tay Bridge, was blamed for the Tay Bridge disaster. He denied the charge but his career was now in ruins. His designs for the other Scottish bridge the Forth Bridge had been accepted and the foundation stone was laid but this contract was taken from him after the Tay Bridge disaster.

Thomas Bouch died on the 30 October 1880, just ten months after the Tay Bridge disaster. It is said he died a broken man. His son in law was one of the passengers that died in the Tay Bridge disaster.

The train engine that pulled the train of the Tay Bridge disaster was recovered from the Tay river bed and was put back into service. Railway staff nicknamed it The Diver and it continued to work for the North British Railway until 1908.

In low tide the masonry piers of the original Tay bridge that would have supported the iron columns of the Bridge can be seen in the waters.

The Scottish poet McGonagall wrote a poem which he called The Tay Bridge Disaster after the event. Many agree that it is his best piece of work.

The Second Tay Bridge

The second Tay Bridge was designed by William Henry Barlow. It was built by William Arrol. It was built upstream and parallel to the first Tay Bridge and to a double track bridge design. The foundation stone to the second Tay Bridge was laid on 6 July 1883. During the construction 25,000 tons of iron and steel, 70,000 tons of concrete, ten million bricks and three million rivets were used. Sadly more lives were lost during this second construction. Records show that 14 men died from drowning during the four year construction of the second Tay Bridge. It opened on the 13 July 1887 and remains in use today thanks to regular maintenance.

Photographs of the Tay Bridge Disaster can be seen at the Dundee City website at

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