The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

 
 
 
The Tay Bridge Disaster of 1879

The Tay Bridge Disaster of 1879


The Tay Bridge disaster occurred during a violent storm on 28 December 1879 when the first Tay Rail Bridge collapsed while a train was passing over it from Wormit to Dundee. There were no survivors.

Fifty-six tickets for Dundee had been collected from passengers on the train before crossing the bridge. There were 60 known victims, but allowing for season ticket holders and tickets for other destinations, the death toll must have been higher. Perhaps as many as 75 people died in the tragedy but only 46 bodies were recovered, two not until February 1880.

This photograph shows the tickets collected from some of the passengers who lost their lives that night. The composition also includes four portraits of employees of the railway company who were killed in the accident. The names are a little difficult to read but the portrait in the top right-hand corner is of John Marshall, a 23-year-old fireman from Ceres, who was stoking the train's engine on the night of the tragedy, and the portrait in the lower right-hand corner is of David Johnston, a 31-year-old railway guard married to Helen Bruce, with two children, born in Strathmiglo.

Photographer unidentified [reverse is blank].
 

Code: 125474
 
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© Paul Frecker 2018