- Transcribed by unknown author unknown author
- Edition: November 3rd 1882 November 3rd 1882
An appalling accident to a Pullman car was reported on Monday. While the
Scotch Express which left St. Pancras at 9-15 on Saturday evening was traveling
towards Leeds, the conductor whose name is DONALDSON, of one of the two
Pullman Cars, that were bound for Edinburgh - the the Glasgow car being
immediately behind it - discovered to his horror that the rear most portion of the car
was on fire.
Rushing up to the centre of the vehicle he called to the passengers - four
gentlemen, who were all in their sleeping berths - that the car was on fire.
Then lowering a window he attempted to arrest the attention of the engine
driver by means of the communication cord; but whether he succeeded in doing so
seems to be the least very doubtful. As far as can at present be ascertained
the train did not slacken speed at that point. In the meantime, three or four
gentlemen passengers were rushing frantically about the car in their
nightdresses, having been apparently been cut off by the rapidly spreading flames
from the berths which they had occupied.
The fire, fanned by the currents of air which found access through several
apertures, made its way from the hinder compartment, where it had originally
broken out, towards the opposite end of the car, consuming everything in its
progress. Meanwhile, happily a signalman, perceiving flames and smoke, wired
to the man on duty at the next box to stop and examine the train. When the
driver had proceeded a few hundred yards further, and before he reached the
point where he was to have been stopped by the signalman, he discovered that
something was wrong, and applied the Westinghouse continous brake, and quickly
brought the train to a standstill within a short distance of Hunslet, the
ticket collecting station for Leeds.
By this time the Edinburgh sleeping car was one mass of flame almost from
end to end. DONALDSON, the conductor, and three of the passengers, the latter
still in their nightshirts, leaped from the car, one of them gaining egress
through a window, as he could not open the door. An alarm was immediately
raised, and, attracted partly by the glare of the flames a number of railway
servants and police-constables were quickly on the spot.
Buckets of water were thrown upon the burning car, which was detached from
the rest of the train. The flames, however, had got too firm a hold of all
parts of the car, but the latter was found to be too high. At this stage, or
shortly before, the conductor of the car suddenly appears to have remembered that
one of the four gentlemen traveling in the coach - who was believed to be a
Dr. ARTHUR - had not been seen since the car took fire. DONALDSON called the
attention of the railway officials and the police to this distressing fact,
and all energies of those present were directed for a search for the missing
gentleman. He was believed to be near the end of the car which first took
fire. The flames, however, prevented the explorers from gaining access to the in
terior of the vehicle at this part until it had been drawn to a point of the
line opposite to Messrs. NICHOLSON’s chemical works, where a number of men
were at work. Here a private jet belonging to the firm was obtained, and there
being a plentiful supply of water the flames were quickly extinguished. Not,
however, until the car was a complete wreck, and had been burning for
probably half an hour.
Then it was that the remains of the fourth gentleman were found in a
sleeping berth, all of the furnishings of which had been destroyed, and the woodwork
almost totally burned away. The flesh was found to have been literally
burned to a cinder, and the bones of the legs were broken and calcined. The head
alone had partially escaped, it having been apparently protected by some
object. A portion of the hair was burned away, but otherwise the features were only
scorched. The teeth were firmly clenched, and the expression of the
countenance was most horrible to behold. The right arm - the flesh of which was
almost completely burned away - was raised as if the unfortunate victim had been
in the act of warding off some falling object when he met his terrible fate.
After some delay the wreck of the carriage was detached and the train was
again made up and proceeded on its journey northwards. The body of the deceased
gentleman was taken possession of by the police and conveyed to the public
mortuary. In his possession were found a gold and silver watch, gold guard, and
other articles of jewellery, as well as £15 in gold and silver.
THE DECEASED DR. ARTHUR.
The gentleman who met his death was Dr. John ARTHUR, son of the Rev. Mr.
ARTHUR, Free Church Minister of Banchory - Devenick, Aberdeenshire, and who had
been several years in Ceylon. He left the island about five weeks ago, and
reached London a week last Monday. One of his brothers who recently began
practice as a doctor at Cults, within the parish of Banchory - Devenick, by on
the north side of the Dee, received a telegram requesting him to meet Dr. John
(the deceased) at the Aberdeen Railway Station on the arrival of the train
from London about half past twelve o’clock, but prior to his going there Mr.
BOYLE, the station master, had received a message from Leeds intimating that a
Dr. ARTHUR, with a ticket to Aberdeen, had been fatally burned in the Pullman
car, and requesting him to make inquiries. These inquiries soon resulted in
the belief that the deceased must be Dr. John Findlay ARTHUR.
No words can adequately give an idea of the shock sustained by his brother
when the intelligence was communicated to him, or to the father and mother
and the other members of the family at Banchory - Devenick. It happened that
the Communion was being observed there on Sunday, and the Rev. Hugh
FITZPATRICK, of Free Greyfriars, Aberdeen, who was assisting the Rev. Mr. ARTHUR, did
everything in his power to offer such consolation as was possible in the
circumstances. Dr. John Findlay ARTHUR was about thirty-three years of age and
THE BURNED TRAIN.
The mystery of the cause of the accident for the most part remains
unexplained. The train stopped at Normanton for about ten minutes, and during its
stay a composite carriage was attached for Glasgow, containing passengers
chiefly for Kilmarnock and Dumfries. At that time all seemed well - nothing outward
to indicate fire, and the passenger cord was in good working order. After
leaving this station the journey was being made under the usual conditions -
still no flame or smoke being visible. It was just when they had got eight
miles and a half from Leeds that the guard experienced a smell of burning, and at
first thought that it was caused by the friction of the wheels. He looked out
and, observing that there was something wrong, pulled the cord, put on the
air brake, and the train was pulled up as quickly as possible.
It was then seen that a terrible catastrophe had occurred. The guard ran
forward to the burning car and soon had it uncoupled and put into a railway lye.
There is only one explanation of the cause of the accident as yet hinted at.
It is alleged that one of the gentlemen in the car had a light on the table
near his bed, and that this may have set fire to the curtains.
The Central News learns on inquiry at St. Pancras that the Railway officials
have no doubt but that the burning of the Pullman car Enterprise on Sunday
morning was due to the deceased man smoking in his berth. The ashes of the
cigar, or the cigar itself, it is conjectured, fell on the coverlit, the thick
curtains around the berth preventing the smoke from escaping and being seen
until the flames burst forth.
The deceased it is believed, was suffocated by the smoke or stupefied,
otherwise he would have been able to give an alarm. The heating stove of the car
is at the other end of the car from where the fire broke out, and this portion
was in no wise burned. An official inquiry was held at Leeds on Monday, and
officials from London and Derby, as well as the conductor DONALDSON were
The inquest was opened Tuesday, continued on Wednesday, and adjourned till