Quintinshill Rail Disaster 1915

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Quintinshill Rail Disaster 1915


The Quintinshill rail disaster was a multi-train rail crash which occurred on 22 May 1915 outside the Quintinshill signal box near Gretna Green in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. It resulted in the deaths of over 200 people, and is cited as the worst rail disaster in British history.
Although the disaster happened in Scotland some of the injured were taken to England - especially to the Cumberland Infirmary. Some victims therefore died on English soil, so a Coroner's Inquest was held into these deaths in Carlisle.
The Quininshill distaster occurred when a local train was diverted onto the southbound main line to make way for two express trains heading for Glasgow; the local train was apparently forgotten by the signalmen, and it was hit head-on by the next south-bound train, which was the second of two troop trains carrying the 1st Battalion of the Royal Scots Guards
225 people lost their lives in the disaster, or died as a direct result of it. All but 12 of the dead were soldiers on their way to Gallipoli; 500 soldiers, exactly half of the 1st Battalion, were travelling to Liverpool where they were due to embark on a voyage to the Dardanelles.
It was estimated afterwards that nearly 215 yards (196.6 metres) of train was compressed into just 67 yards (61.3 metres), and a serious fire broke out. Barely 30 seconds after the initial impact, an express train travelling north ploughed into the mass of wreckage, which exacerbated the gravity of the situation even further.


Photograph of the disaster site published in the Daily Sketch 24 May 1915


Anonymous photographer



Lancaster University




Reproduced by courtesy of Cumbria Image Bank, who retain all rights over this image. No further reproduction is permitted without written permission of Cumbria Image Bank.


For an account of an interview with a survivor of the crash, published in 2001, which includes an allegation that the crash was caused deliberately as an act of sabotage, see: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/may/18/transport.uk


Twentieth century, World War One

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Photograph published in newspaper





Anonymous photographer, “Quintinshill Rail Disaster 1915,” Local History Resources for Schools, accessed October 25, 2020, https://regionalheritage.omeka.net/items/show/68.