Weaving was big business in Dundee as far back as the 16th century. After the Union with England in 1707 ended military hostilities, Dundee recovered from the devastation of the Siege of Dundee by General Monck in 1651 and established itself as an industrial and trading centre.

The whaling industry which left such a huge impact in Dundee began in 1753 and ignited a parallel ship building industry. In 1820 when the first delivery of jute arrived in the city, Dundee’s industries were well placed to capitalise on this new industry. The historical weaving industry, the ship building industry built the big, fast ships to bring the jute back from India and the whaling industry provided the whale oil needed for softening the jute fibres. Today it is easy to forget just how much of life in Dundee revolved around jute. We were the jute capital of the world often referred to as ‘juteopolis’, processing over 1 million bales of jute by 1900. The population of Dundee more than tripled in 60 years from 1841 to 1901 and was in fact higher than today. Over 50,000 of Dundee’s inhabitants were working in over 100 jute mills, with more working in mills for linen.

This booming business in Victorian made many rich jute barons as they were known. But these were the few profiteers of the industry, and the conditions were dire for the vast majority of workers. As many as three-quarters of the workers were women and children, who could be employed for cheaper rates than men. The wages were low, and the risks were high. Health and safety was not what it is today, and injuries, accidents and occupational hazards were commonplace. It’s difficult to imagine the working conditions, dust would be everywhere getting in the eyes, noses and mouth. Constant noise from the machines was deafening, and in fact many workers went deaf after spending too much time inside the mill. The machinery also produced lots of heat, grease and oil fumes which led to a condition which was known as ‘Mill fever’. Bronchitis and other breathing problems were also common.

Ever present in the mills was the risk of accident and injury, and the local newspapers have many accounts. Verdant works website notes an accident in Verdant Works Mill on 26th March 1852: ‘On Tuesday afternoon a girl employed in Verdant Mill got entangled about a carding machine and sustained such injuries before she could be released as to occasion instantaneous death’.

Some years previous, in 1839, Sir David Barry submitted the findings of his investigations into the conditions of the Dundee mills to Parliament. Included in this report were lists of workers who had been in accidents at work, or whom were suffering physically.

10-year old boys, Robert Malcolm and Hugh Cook were reported as missing one arm, as well as 11-year old Jane Lappen – most likely a direct result of life in the mills. Many more children and adults were reported as having missing limbs or horrific disfigurements, having fallen foul of the fast-moving machinery.  Many more were reported to be partially amputated somewhere their body, more often than not the foot, arm or hand.  Joan and Thomas Murtree, 16 and 15 respectively, both showed differing syptoms; the latter more serious than the former, causing Sir David Barry to write “likely to die”.

A tragic accident reported in 1853 reads:
‘Accidental Death: We regret to record the death of James Clark, a worker at Verdant Mill, which took place on Wednesday evening in consequence of an accident which happened to him while attending his employment on the previous day. It appears he was caught by a belt of the machinery which carried him rapidly to the roof of the building where he was three times revolved round one of the shafts before he could be extricated. He was conveyed to the Infirmary as soon as possible, but the poor fellow was so much bruised that death was the result’.

As well as the terrible conditions in the mills, the huge increase in population from 1840 to more than triple within 60 years was not met by an increase in house building. Overcrowding became a huge problem with entire families living in a single room. These conditions remained with 70% of people living in just one or two rooms in 1911. Certain areas such as Blackness and Lochee were especially overcrowded due to the common practice of people living close to their workplaces. When you’re working 12 hours a day slaving away in a mill, the last thing you want to do is live a long walk away.

Overcrowding inevitably led to poor sanitary conditions. Diseases including cholera, typhus and smallpox thrived in the city, and together with accidents and other infections and fevers contributed to Dundee having one of the highest death rates in Scotland, and the highest infant mortality rate.

The whole city suffered poor health, which showed when 50% of the men who volunteered at the local army recruiting office in 1911 were rejected as unfit for service because of their health.

Wages in Dundee were one of the lowest in Scotland during this time, whereas the cost of living was the highest. Low wages meant little money for food, medicine or other items necessary for a good quality of life.

Work in the mills of 19th century Dundee offered little except the promise of more bleakness.

Images courtesy of Local Photos (Dundee)

At the time of its opening on Albert Street, there were three patients admitted to the Dundee Lunatic Asylum, but as time went on, these numbers swelled to proportions that became unmanageable for the premises, resulting in the asylum’s relocation (in 1882) soon after being granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria. Having gone through many transitions and names, it was renamed Royal Dundee Liff Hospital in 1963. To begin with, the asylum relied heavily on contributions from the public and various bodies, such as the Masonic Lodges and other well-heeled organisations and individuals who were in a position to offer financial help. Life was not easy for many people in Dundee, as well as elsewhere up and down the country. People still expressed the same feelings of doubt, grief and mental anxiety that we still see today in modern society, but, unfortunately for those living at the time of the asylum’s opening, proper diagnosis and treatment can in no way be compared to the vast range of assistance offered today.

General Paresis, more often known as general paralysis of the insane or paralytic dementia, was the main cause of many deaths in the asylum, most likely brought on by the onslaught of syphilis. Late-stage syphilis (a sexually transmitted disease) caused severe neurological issues, usually accompanied by psychotic symptoms whereby a patient would emote delusions of wealth/grandeur, immortality, sexual prowess, nihilism and anarchism. Unfortunately for many of them, the disease left them bedridden and, in more severe cases, straight-jacketed. Death was a slow process of muscle atrophy, mania and a complete disconnection from life around them.

People from all walks of life passed through the doors of the asylum, each with their own unique experiences leading to their admission. What we found of particular interest, were the number of cases deemed “cured” after very short periods of time (particularly in those who expressed homicidal tendencies!). A 49 year old man was admitted in the mid 1840’s, expressing what was described as “severe homicidal mania”. He expressed intense desires to cut the throats of his wife and children, with no real reason as to why. He was deemed cured, and released back to his family within 3 months.

In some cases, the patient was never deemed cured, and would be transferred to another institution such as the Cupar asylum or Montrose asylum to begin another round of diagnosis and treatment. There is a case of a 35 year old male admission displaying extreme delusions coupled with intense violence. He had been in and out of prisons and asylums since the age of 27, and truly believed that “the Divine King” had commissioned him to commit acts of violence. He was noted to “besmear his face with excrement”, and also tried to have “sexual intercourse with a male nurse” he thought was a woman. Wandering about his room naked, he would complain that his clothes smelled of blood. He was transferred to Cupar asylum as uncured.

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Surprisingly, even those suffering from extreme grief were admitted to the asylum for short periods, receiving care and attention until their emotional pain became more manageable. The records for 1824 show a young girl of 17 was admitted for “dementia, grief” (not dementia as we know it today). After 6 weeks at the asylum, her emotional state was deemed well enough that she could re-enter society. Unfortunately, with no family to look after her and having been dismissed from employment due to her mental state, she was transferred to the Poorhouse.

There are a few very unique records for some patients within the almost never-ending lists of records, such as the curious case of one female patient, described as having “demonomania”. She describes seeing the devil and his “imps” and talks of the “devil coming to carry her away” and of being “sold to the devil”. Interestingly, a large abcess appeared on her lips around this time. After 7 weeks, the abcess burst, and, miraculously, all her symptoms disappeared!

Some of the troubled indivduals confined to the asylum warranted no more than sympathy and, for all intents and purposes, seemed quite “normal”. In the corner of one of the rooms sat a petite 37 year old woman. Recently bereaved, she speaks of her upcoming wedding “next Monday”. She is described as a bright, happy individual, with a cheerful disposition. With no change to her mental state, the poor soul died after 2 years of “General Paresis”.

Strathmartine Hospital image copyright Scott A Murray at www.oblivionstate.com

 

Mains Castle, in Caird Park, Dundee, was built on land which at one time belonged to the Stewarts, then passed to the Douglas Earls of Angus in the 14th century. Later, in the 16th century, it became the property of the Grahams and a castle was built by a David Graham; there is a date of 1562 over a doorway. At one time the castle was known as Mains of Fintry after the Grahams castle of that name in Stirlingshire. It originally had a courtyard, surrounded by buildings but most of these have been demolished. The unusually high stair turret is a 17th century addition – and may have been built to give views over hills to the south. The castle is located in Dundee’s Caird Park to the north of the city overlooking the Dichty valley. On the opposite side of the burn is located the mausoleum of the Graham family and the Mains’ cemetery, which was formerly the site of the district’s kirk.

The fate of Sir David Graham, the builder of Mains Castle, was a strange one. Throughout the alternations of the religious professions of the Scottish nobility during the reign of Mary, the Grahams of Fintry remained steadfastly attached to the Romish Church. They thus retained the friendship of many of the northern nobles who still adhered to the old religion, and were frequently engaged in the conspiracies which foreign ecclesiastics encouraged for its establishment in Scotland. But after the Reformation faith had gained a footing in Scotland—largely because of bribes of the confiscated Church lands—this tampering with superior forces brought retribution upon them. The story of the conspiracy known to history as “The Spanish Blanks” also lends a little interest to Mains Castle. If you are interested in whether or not there are any ghosts at Mains Castle, check out this link to read a paranormal investigation into the castle by Ghost Finders Scotland.

Photo by Mark Andrew Turner, courtesy of Lost Dundee

 

For sixty years, the Mars Training Ship lay anchored on the River Tay at Dundee and it became a famous local landmark, embedded in Dundee history. In that time, more that 6,500 homeless and destitute boys joined the ranks of the Mars to learn new skills and to keep out of trouble. Launched in 1848, the Mars was not always a Training Ship.  She was a handsome three-masted sailing ship with two decks and eighty guns. But by the time she was completed, the era of sail was giving way to new technology and her conversion was never entirely successful. After a brief spell on coastal defence duty, the Mars was earmarked for scrap. At that time in 19th century Dundee, poverty and disease were rife and many children had no option other than to steal to survive and a good number ended up in prison, living in squalid, life threatening conditions.

Putting the young boys in jail was the only option until it was agreed that this was no life for young boys, and that an attempt should be made to rehabilitate them rather than confine them to jail. The Mars was berthed in Dundee with the sole purpose of providing this alternative way of life for the young delinquents. On board the vessel, the Mars boys were educated, trained in all aspects of life, learning new skills to help them adjust to life away from the ship without the temptations of crime, but it was not a free ride; nor was it easy. Many boys tried to escape the ship, with some losing their lives in the process.  In March of 1871, 3 young lads lost their lives whilst attempting to escape in an open boat in stormy waters, and a gravestone is erected in their memory at Forgan churchyard.  Those caught trying to escape, or breaking any other rules, such as smoking or theft received physical punishment for their disobedience.  Boys were strapped over a gym-horse and beaten with the tawse (a short, thick leather whip for those of you too young to know what it is).

Life wasn’t all about escaping and beatings for the boys; they enjoyed a Summer holiday each year, and on Sundays were allowed off the boat to walk around the grounds of St Fort’s in total silence.  The Summer holidays consisted of a twenty mile walk to a camp site in Elie which had no lighting, heating, water or toilet facilities.  Daily activities included diving and swimming – irrespective of whether or not the boys could swim!

“We’ll Send Ye Tae the Mars” by Gordon Douglas details for the first time the life and times of the Mars and the people who ran it and the boys from Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh who were trained there. It tells a fascinating history of how it all happened and how the Mars helped thousands of boys find a new life away from the poverty and crime of nineteenth-century Dundee.

Order the book here now. Click the following link to visit the official “Sons of the Mars” website for detailed information and remember to sign up for a rare glimpse into their records of the boys who trained aboard, and the reasons they were sent to the Mars.

special thanks to our friend Shehanne Moore for her contributions

 

The Howff is an iconic landmark in Dundee’s city centre, a calm oasis and a peaceful resting spot to sit in the shade of the well kept trees and shrubs. But as well as housing the graves and crypts of Dundee’s great and the good, the land itself also has a dark history.  The land on which the Howff lies was once part of the sprawling Greyfriars Monastery which was laid to ruin during the invasion of Scotland in 1547 when the town of Dundee was stormed by the English under the rule of Henry VIII. During the subsequent Scottish Reformation, the monastery remained in ruins, confiscated by the Crown along with other religious buildings. In 1564 Mary, Queen of Scots granted the land to Dundee for use as a burial ground. At this time, Dundee’s existing graveyards were overcrowded and unsanitary, so Mary, Queen of Scots on the 15th April 1567 granted a charter to the town for the use of the grounds of the Greyfriars monastery, as their new burial ground.  This ground became known as the Howff – ‘howff’ meaning meeting place as it was used for meetings by the Dundee Incorporated Trades.

On many of the gravestones you can still see the engravings of symbols and icons related to the trade of the deceased. The graves and tombs of the Howff and those that lay within tell tales of the dark history of Dundee, such as the tomb of Alexander Duncan of Lundie. He was the Provost from 1681 to 1685 and in 1689, in the absence of the current provost, took command when Claverhouse attacked Dundee. He was also the great-grandfather of Admiral Viscount Duncan, who defeated the Dutch in the famous battle of Camperdown in 1797. It is well-documented that the families of many who died could not afford tombstones, so the dead were laid in unmarked graves, leaving the land as a grassy expanse, which not only made for a great meeting place, but also allowed people to air out laundry and graze their animals.

One of the residents of the Howff, Dr David Kinloch, was arrested by the Spanish Inquisition in Spain while travelling Europe. Luckily he cured the inquisitor general of an ailment and was rewarded with freedom, and returned to Dundee. Other well-known folk buried here include James Chalmers, best remembered as the inventor of the adhesive postage stamp, and James Keiller’s mother (James Keiller was the founder of James Keiller and Sons, and his family are credited as the inventors of marmalade). Several other well known Dundee families have their ancestors buried here including Lyells, Forresters, Muirs and Guthries.

Due to overcrowding, a “new” Howff was built a short walk away from the original site, but was subsequently built over and replaced by Bell Street car park and Abertay library. At the back of the library, it is possible to see a few of the headstones incorporated into the wall. It’s definitely worth thinking about the next time you park your car there or visit the library!

The records of some 80,000 burials at the Howff over 300 years show there were also many infants laid to rest at the Howff. Many of them died from diseases practically unknown today with many of the records showing ‘teething’ as the cause of death. Babies often died during teething periods due to fever, or increased rates of infection while teething due to the practice of cutting the gums open to allow teeth to grow through. Many of the deaths were also caused by diseases such as whooping cough, small pox or measles which are now prevented by vaccines. Water in the head was often recorded as cause of infant death, which is an abnormal build-up of cerebrospinal fluid in the cavities of the brain.

Reading the lists, generously provided online by Friends of Dundee City Archives at www.fdca.org.uk makes for very grim reading but in our opinion, is really worth a visit for a really in-depth insight into not only the volume of people buried there, but the variety of ways in which the deceased met their demise.

Several causes of death highlight the tragedies that struck some families. Several entries tell of very young children dying because of their clothes catching fire, which would have been a more common accident in the 18th and 19th century due to the use of fires and candles in a time before electricity. One 27 month old infant was killed by a cart passing over them. These tragic accidents must have devastated families who had likely already lost family or friends to the many diseases that plagued our town in those times, such as the sad tale of William Crookshanks, buried in 1835 at age 3 after falling into a well and drowning or the poor, unnamed son of Thomas Davidson Henderson, who perished after only half a day.

We will leave you on a slightly less morbid note, as there are some buried in the Howff who reached a ripe old age for the times in which they lived. Isabella Abbot was buried in 1850 having died of old age at 93, her last address being listed as Lochee. John Adam, a weaver originally from Kirriemuir also died of old age at the grand age of 90. Even with people dying of consumption, scarlet fever, cholera and dropsy, some hardy critters managed to escape the line of fire and were able to live out long lives, albeit in harsh times.

Dudhope Castle, one of Dundee’s oldest buildings, sits overlooking the city, near the foot of the Law. The castle was originally built in the late 13th century by the Scrimgeour family, appointed Hereditary Constables of Dundee by William Wallace in 1298. John Scrimgeour entertained King James VI at Dudhope in 1617, and was granted a charter of the lands and barony of Dundee on 11 December that year. He refused to sign the Covenant in 1639. Later, King Charles I created him Viscount Dudhope and Baron Scrimgeour of Inverkeithing in November 1641. He died in 1643 and was succeeded by his eldest son James. On the death in 1668 of John Scrimgeour, Constable, and first Earl of Dundee, King Charles II ignored the existence of the rightful heir, and made a grant of Dudhope Castle and the office of Constable to Charles Maitland, a younger brother of the Earl of Lauderdale.

Later, whilst experiencing financial difficulties, Maitland sold Dudhope Castle in 1684 to John Graham of Claverhouse. It was from Dudhope Castle that he departed for Killiecrankie in 1689; the victory which resulted in his death. In 1694, the King therefore made a grant of Dudhope Castle to Archibald Douglas. The Douglas family were the last family of occupants of the castle, continuing until about 1790. During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, James the 2nd Viscount Dudhope, sided with the Covenanters and fought the Royalist army at the Battle of Marston Moor in July 1644 where he was mortally wounded.

The castle was converted to be used as a woollen mill in 1792 but the scheme never really took off. In 1795 the castle and park were leased to the Ordinance Office for 95 years. The castle was used as a barracks between 1796 and 1881 but in 1881 the stores moved to Perth and the Castle was abandoned. Town Council of Dundee took the decision to create a public recreation ground of the Park and obtained a sub-lease from the Ordnance Office in 1854 for 35 ½ years. The Earl of Home wanted to develop the grounds as terraced housing. This was prevented when Dudhope Park was acquired for the people by Dundee Town Council and opened as a public park in 1895.

Dudhope Castle image courtesy of Lost Dundee

 

In the midst of a terrible storm, a train travelling over the Tay bridge to Dundee plummeted into the murky waters of the River Tay, taking with it every life on board. The evening of 28th December 1879 and the preceding events will always be remembered in Dundee’s dark history. Men, women and children all perished during the disaster – one of the worst in the city’s extensive history. Fierce winds tore through the infrastructure of the bridge, collapsing it under the weight of the travelling train, and sending both it and it’s passengers to a watery grave. Rescue attempts were made, but the weather was too troublesome for the rescuers, and they were forced to abandon their task until the weather subsided.

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By early 1878, the bridge was certified as usable, initially subject to a maximum speed limit of 25mph, after a Board of Trade inspection spent three days inspecting both its structure and its capacity to transport goods and passenger locomotives. On 1st June, 1878, the bridge was officially opened for passenger transport across the River Tay to the delight of all involved in its production. However, this joy was not to last. Only 6 months after Queen Victoria had travelled over the bridge, the most horrific of incidents occurred. At 7:13pm, a train approached the bridge amidst winds that were afterwards described as bad as a typhoon or a hurricane. Passing the Southern signal cabin, the train gathered speed for its journey across the river. There are no confirmed or official measurements for the wind on the night of the disaster, but it is estimated to have been blowing at roughly 80mph that evening.

After going no more than 200 yards, the infrastructure of the bridge collapsed under the buckling pressure of the wind and the added weight of the train, sending everything tumbling into the dark, freezing waters below. The whole event would have taken seconds to unfold, but the terror of the passengers and crew on board is unimaginable. Records indicate that it is unknown exactly how many were travelling on the train, but estimate that, based on ticket ledgers and confirmed crew, around 75 people could have potentially been on the train that evening. Of this potential 75, there were only 60 known victims, and only 46 bodies were ever reclaimed from the Tay. Although the families of those who were reclaimed must have been devastated, the families of those who were never recovered must have felt a terrible emptiness at never being able to lay their loved ones to rest.

The design and construction of the bridge came under intense scrutiny and disrepute as a result of the ongoing Inquiry into what factors caused the accident that claimed the lives of so many people. The reputation of Sir Thomas Bouch was in tatters as a result of the faulty design of the bridge, whose high and lengthy girders collapsed under the strain of the severe weather and the speed of the travelling train. Complaints had been made to the stationmasters concerning the speed of the trains travelling into Dundee across the bridge, especially where the high girders connected to the bridge proper. These girders were part of the redesign of the bridge, designed by Sir Thomas upon the realisation that the original structure would not be berthed soundly in the bedrock at the bottom of the river. As you can see in the images to the right, there is limited support between the “level” railway and the redesigned upper girders.

As the girders separated from the main bridge, some witnesses reported extreme but brief flashes of light; others comparing the accident to a falling fireball. Conversely, others claimed to have seen no fire or flashes at all, which only added to the overall confusion of what actually happened in the few seconds after the bridge had come apart.

Previous concerns were raised over the stability of the bridge, not only by passengers, but by workmen carrying out their tasks on the structure, who had all experienced shaking and tremors linked to the redesigned high girders; even more so when a train was crossing. Unfortunately, many reports of the fault were unfounded and flecked with incontinuities, so little was done by way of a thorough investigation into the issues until it was far too late. Sir Thomas was blamed for inadequacies in not only the design and construction of the bridge, but also for the way in which inspections and maintenance were carried out. Poor management of the contractors was also placed on Sir Thomas, who could provide little to no evidence or witnesses to disprove the accusations. Shortcuts had been taken throughout the project due to a variety of factors, including time and financing, which all contributed to a flawed design and, ultimately, a bridge that was destined for disaster.

Further findings showed that the pillars supporting the weight of the bridge were not adequately secured, with poor metalwork, uneven masonry and poor choice of materials contributing to the overall ineffectiveness of the bridge over a sustained period of time. If it had not been for the combination of these factors, coupled with the unusually adverse weather, the Tay rail bridge may have lasted for some time, but not indefinitely. Below is a list of the missing and the dead, detailing the order the bodies were recovered and a little detail about each of them.

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image courtesy of Paddy McArtney at Dilkusha photography

The first body recovered from the disaster was that of 54 year old Ann (Annie) Cruickshanks, a single domestic servant living in Edinburgh.  Originally from Kingsbarns, Fife, she was recovered on 29th December 1879 in waters near Newport.  She is believed to have been travelling with 53 year old widow, Mary Easton, whose body was never recovered.

It was not until 5th January 1880 that the second body was recovered.  24 year old David Johnston, a railway guard now living in Edinburgh was found near the Tay (rail) bridge; his death leaving behind a young wife and child.

The following day, to the east of the bridge, local tradesman John Lawson, 25, was recovered.  Described as having reddish, curly hair, and wearing a dark tweed jacket, John joined the train at Ladybank, presumably returning home to see his wife and two children.

At the same time as John Lawson was recovered, searchers also found the body of 22 year old James Leslie, a clerk residing in Baffin Street with his parents.  Records show that he “assisted his parents” and was also listed as “single”, which could lead us to assume that his parents required a level of care and financial assistance that may not have allowed John much personal time to save money in order to settle down himself.

Slightly further West of the point where John and James were located, another body was found.  William Jack was 23 and a grocer in Dundee, who had joined the train in Dairsie, returning home to Dundee.  He had been visiting his mother, to comfort her in the wake of losing her daughter (his sister) only 2 weeks prior to the disaster.

Later that same afternoon, searchers located James Crighton, 22.  It is not recorded where he boarded the train, but it is known that he had attended his father’s funeral in Stair (Ayrshire).  Notes further indicate that he was considering approaching his employers to ask if he could take his father’s employment in order that he could provide for his mother and his eight siblings.

The final recovery of 6th January 1880 was that of 34 year old Robert Watson, a moulder from Dundee, travelling back home from Cupar.  In the late afternoon, as daylight was in it’s final stages, his body was found “abreast” of the Mars training ship.  Robert was travelling with his two young sons, Robert and David, who were recovered during the course of the search.  Robert’s wife, Mary was left widowed and had lost two of her sons, and still had a 3 year old and a 16 month old to take care of at home.

January 7th 1880 saw another large recovery, thanks to the valiant attempts of brave and determined searchers, who trawled the Tay for hours in desperate attempts to find all the casualties of the horrific disaster.  The first recovery of the day was made early in the morning.

John Marshall, 24, was found in waters to the East of the first broken pillar (closest to what is now Riverside Drive).  He was part of the train crew on board that day, joining the train at Edinburgh and leaving behind a young wife.

Less than 2 hours later, searchers recovered David Watson.  At 18 years old and single, David had already lost his father.  Records do not show a great deal of information relating to him, other than he was registered as a commission agent and was the son of a tobacconist.

41 year old William McDonald was the next recovery.  Of stout build, with fair hair, William was a sawmiller who lived in the city.  He was found not long before noon, with records showing that he was married with 2 children – one of whom, 11 year old David, boarded the train with him at Newburgh.

At the same time as William was located, the body of teacher and registrar David Neish was found.  Having visited relatives in Kirkcaldy, David was travelling home with his 4 year old daughter Isabella.  With distinct “salt and pepper” hair, wearing a tweed suit, tweed overcoat and a dress hat, David died with some of his possessions still on him, such as a chained, silver watch and a brown silk umbrella.  His widow was left to raise their remaining four children.

James Millar, 26, from Dundee, but working in Dysart (near Kirkcaldy) was the 4th body found that day, taking the total recovered after thirteen days, to ten.  A flax dresser, James left behind a wife and child.  It is understood that James worked away from home to support his young family, and visited them at weekends.

Volunteers continued to trawl the area of water in and around the broken pillars and quickly located the body of 18 year old William Threlfell, from Dundee.  Described in the records as having “fair hair, thin face, fair complexion, rather slender make”, Wiliam was a confectioner in the city who had boarded the train at Edinburgh, along with a great deal of the passengers on that fated journey.

It was a few hours after this find that they came across the form of John Sharp, a 35 year old joiner, employed at the time by James Keiller & Sons, was found, again “abreast” the Mars.  He was the sole provider for his mother and father who lived in St Andrews.  He is described as being 5’10”, with a fair complexion and hair, grey eyes and having a small moustache.

Walter Ness was found an hour or so later some distance East of where the Mars was berthed under the bridge.  At 24, he was member of the Dundee Artillery Volunteers, and was buried with full military honours.  Dark featured and well dressed, Walter, originally of Kirkcaldy, joined the train at Ladybank, presumably to visit his mother in the Wellgate area of Dundee.

On 8th January 1880, around 11am, Thomas Davidson was found to the East of one of the destroyed pillars.  At 28 and single, he is described as a farm servant, orginally from Kilconquhar in Fife.  Amongst his possessions, he was found to have a silver watch, as well as silver rings in his ears.

Within an hour or so, the second body of the day was recovered close to another of the broken support pillars.  Archibald Bain, 26, had been visiting his uncle in Cupar with his younger sister, Jessie.  It is mentioned in the record of bodies that his father identified his body, as his mother had already passed away.

The eighteenth passenger to be recovered was 23 year old Alexander (Alec) Robertson, who lived with his brother in Dundee, but had been visiting his father in Abernethy prior to the disaster.  Wearing a Rob Roy tartan scarf, a grey tweed suit and possessing a silver watch, Alexander is described as being a single labourer of “ordinary make”, about 5’1″ tall, and having large whiskers and a round face.  His brother, William, was also travelling with him.

Fair-haired George Johnston, a 25 year old mechanic joined the train at St. Fort (South-East of Wormit) with his fiance Eliza Smart.  He was also found in the proximity of the previous two bodies.  The body of his fiance was never recovered.  George was the final body to be extracted from the river that day.

The last body extracted from the river that day was James Foster Henderson, 22.  A labourer who joined the train at Ladybank, with fair skin and hair, and of “stout build”, it was noted that one of his fingers was deformed (but records do not seem to indicate which one).  He was survived by his father, mother and 7 siblings.

William Peebles was the first discovery of the morning of 9th January 1880.  Leaving behind a wife and 8 children, William had boarded the train after an attendance at a funeral.  Originally from Dundee, William lived and worked in Inverness as a land steward.

11 year old David McDonald was found a few hours after the discovery of William Peebles, close by to where his body had been found.  Both the bodies of William and David are listed as being found “Abreast of Training Ship Mars, in line with 3rd Broken Pier”.  David was the son of William McDonald and was found almost 24 hours after his father.  He is described as small for his age, with dark features and was wearing, amongst other items, a dark tweed suit, a black velvet scarf and a mourning cap.  It is unclear if there had been a recent death in the family that he could have been in mourning over.

The river relinquished the body of Robert Watson (Jnr), 6, on the afternoon of 9th January 1880, not far from the bridge.  The first of Robert Watson’s sons to be discovered after his own body was recovered, is described as being stout, wearing a dark tweed suit, pink wristbands, a tartan scarf, a blue and white shirt and a velvet bonnet.

Divers returned the body of David Cunningham to the shore on 10th January 1880, having found him 500 yards below the third pier.  David also joined the train at St. Fort, and was travelling with his friend and co-lodger Robert Fowlis at the time of the disaster.  Simply depicted as “Stout, 5’9″, No Whiskers”, 21 year old David is listed as being a mason.  Amongst his possessions was a silver watch with a leather chain.

The 25th body to be recovered was that of Elizabeth McFarlane.  The records do not show which date she was recovered from the water, but it can be assumed that she was recovered on either 10th January 1880 or 11th January 1880, as she was the 25th passenger to be found.

Robert Frederick Syme was located mid-morning of the 11th January 1880.  He was a 22 year old clerk, joining the train in Edinburgh.  Found amongst his belongings were 5 £1 notes, sovereigns, a travelling bag and a silver watch.

Robert Fowlis was a 21 year old, clean-shaven mason.  He co-lodged with the aforementioned David Cunningham, and was located around noon on 12th January 1880.  With no father listed, Robert was listed as the primary supporter of his elderly and incapable mother, Ann.

On 13th January 1880, William Veitch was found to the east of one of the piers.  18 year old William had already lost his mother, and was survived by his father and his two younger sisters, who were not travelling with him from Cupar to Dundee.  Records indicate that William was wearing a lot of new clothes, but we do not know any more than this at this time.

That afternoon, David McBeth, 44, a railway guard from Dundee was found in his guard’s uniform, and was part of the fated crew of the doomed train.  Tall, with dark features, David was unmarried and died leaving his already-widowed mother to grieve alone.

Slightly later that same afternoon, near to the 2nd broken pier, 21 year old railway stoker, George Ness was brought to shore.  Records indicate that he, like so many others, was survived by a young wife and child.

It was not until 16th January 1880 that the body of 9 year old David Livie Watson was found washed up on the beach near Broughty Ferry Castle.  The brother of Robert Watson (Jnr) and the son of Robert Watson, both of whom had been recovered earlier, David was the last member of the family to be returned to land.

From 16th January 1880, recoveries were sporadic.  Sometimes days, if not weeks would pass without any further findings.  It was not until 23rd January 1880 that the next body was found.  John Scott was making a surprise visit to Dundee to visit relatives after he had lost his job with Halcyon as a seaman.  A diver recovered the 30 year old’s body early that afternoon, and reports show that he was missing a number of teeth.  Whether or not this was a result of the disaster is unclear.

Isabella Neish, daughter of David Neish, was recovered on 27th January 1880 at Wormit Bay, 20 days after her father’s body was found.  She was 4.

Over a week later, on 6th February 1880, London resident James Murdoch, 21, was located by a diver south of the 1st pier.  It is believed he was making the journey to visit his family, who lived in Dundee.

The following day, 7th February 1880, the first of two bodies to be found that day was recovered close to shore at Newport Pier.  39 year old William Henry Beynon was born in Wales, but his reasons for travelling to Dundee are unclear.  His father and mother were both recorded as deceased, and he was noted as married and living in Gloucester, where he worked as a photographer.

The next person to be found later that day was Peter Salmond.  Having been brought to shore by the tide near Monifieth, Peter, 43, was married and worked as a blacksmith.  He lived in Dundee with his wife, but there is no record of them having any children.

9 days later, on 16th February 1880, the body of 43 year old George McIntosh was found on the shores of the beach at Eathiehaven (now known as Lunan Bay).  A Dundee resident, George was survived by his wife, who was not travelling with him.  Records show that he was fair-haired, and was wearing (amongst other things), a tweed checked suit, a tweed shirt and stockings of “Grey and Scarlet”.

Oil and colour merchant, David Jobson, 39, was next to be discovered by searchers, approximately 400 yards from the Fife shoreline, near Newport on 17th February 1880.  Records show that his parents were also deceased and he was survived by a wife, Mary, but no reported children.

A diver located the body of Jessie Bain in the afternoon of 18th February 1880, over one month after her brother’s body had been recovered.  As with her brother Archibald, it was her father who had to come once again to identify her body, as her mother was already deceased.  She is described as being of “stout make” and had “brown or fair hair”.

On the morning of 1st March 1880, almost 2 weeks after the last discovery, the on-duty engine driver of the ill-fated locomotive, David Mitchell, 37, was spotted on a sandbank between Tayport and Broughty Ferry.  WIth his passing, his wife was left to raise their 5 young children aged between 8 years and 13 months.

Far East of Tayport, George Taylor’s body was pulled from the river on 11th March 1880.  25 year old George was a stonemason and lived in Dundee, helping to support his widowed mother.  He was travelling with Elizabeth Nicoll, a married woman, but it is not clear what their relationship was.  Her body was never recovered.

Near to the Buddon Ness lighthouse, by Carnoustie, Robert Culross was the next person to be located on 13th March 1880.  Records are not clear whether he had been brought to shore by the tide, or whether he was found in the waters by the lighthouse, but he is believed to be a carpenter, residing in Tayport.  He was identified by Captain Edwards, who is presumed to be a friend of his deceased father, Robert, who was a seaman.

15 year old James Peebles was travelling from his parent’s home in St Fort (South-East of Wormit).  The reason for his journey over the rail bridge is unknown, as he is noted as living in Newport, where he worked as an apprentice grocer.  His body was discovered at Tayport Harbour in the early hours of 11th April 1880, almost one month after Robert Culross was found.

Later that morning, an unsettling discovery was made by local fisherman hauling in salmon nets.  Thomas Ross Annan, 20, orginally from Newburgh, was an iron-turner employed at Wallace Works.  He was found caught in the netting and was pulled to shore, before being identified by his Uncle.

On 14th April 1880, the Captain of Abertay Lightship spotted the floating body of Margaret Kinnear, 17, close to his vessel.  Described as having blue eyes and sharpened features, Margaret was also disclosed as wearing a striped petticoat, dark green dress and other black overgarments, trimmed with feathers and furs.  She worked as a domestic servant for Robert Lee, who later confirmed her identity.

Joseph Low Anderson was recovered close to Caithness Coast on 23rd April 1880.  Being this far from the site of the disaster, it is likely that his body was found by a passer-by or perhaps a member of a ship’s crew, but there is no record of who notified the authorities.  Joseph is described as being 21, of fair features, with a pimpled neck, and was employed as a compositor (he set up text frames for printers).

The final body to be recovered from the River was that of 21 year old William Robertson.  Strangely, he was found close to the Mars Training Ship on the evening of 27th April 1880, almost 4 months to the day since the disaster.  A labourer from Abernethy, he lived with Mr and Mrs Bain in Dundee, whilst helping to support his father.  Mrs Bain identified his body in the absence of a family member.

The following people were passengers on the train on the night of the disaster whose bodies were unfortunately never recovered from the waters:

Eliza Smart, 22, was travelling with her fiance, George Johnston (recovered on 8th January 1880).  She worked as a table maid in Dundee, but was herself born in Kingsbarn, Fife.  It is noted that one of her legs were smaller than the other, and was bandaged at the time.

David Scott, 26, was a goodsguard from Dundee, and joined the train at St Fort, presumably returning home from work or visiting relatives.  No spouse or dependants were listed.

Elizabeth Hendry Brown, 14, was a tobacco spinner in Dundee and was travelling on the train with her grandmother from Leuchars.

Elizabeth Mann, 62, is the grandmother of Elizabeth Hendry Brown, and was a widow, dressed in black clothes and wearing a crepe bonnet.

Euphemia Cheape was a 51 year old domestic servant from Dundee, travelling from St Fort.  Her passing left behind six adult children, and her husband,James.

21 year old Annie Spence worked as a weaver in the city, and resided in Dundee with Mrs Whitelaw (relationship unknown), who reported her missing soon after the disaster.

Aberdonian Mary Marion Montgomerie Easton, 53, was the travelling companion of Ann (Annie) Cruickshanks, the first person to be recovered after the disaster.  Listed as the widow of Reverend James Cruickshanks Easton, it can be assumed that she was a relative, by marriage, of Ann Cruickshanks.  She was described as having a large forehead, a small mouth and a turned up nose.

David Graham was a teacher in Stirling.  David, 37, boarded the train at Edinburgh, and has no clear links to Dundee, but was indentified by Dundonian James Ferguson.  Records do not indicate what the relationship between the two was.

Elizabeth Nicoll, 24, was travelling with George Taylor at the time of the tragedy, whose body was recovered on 11th March 1880.  Elizabeth is listed as married to David Nicoll, but it is not clear why she was travelling from Newburgh with Mr Taylor.

Wiliam Nelson, a 31 year old from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear was also amongst the list of missing.  He worked a machine fitter and was married to an ill woman, and had no children.  William was reported missing by his relative, George Nelson.

John Hamilton, 32, was a grocer from Dundee.  He left behind a wife and 3 children.  He joined the train at Leuchars and is presumed to have been returning home after visiting his sister in Guardbridge, Fife.

Donald Murray, 49, was a mail guard, working on-duty on the night the bridge fell.  He was wearing his standard uniform and left behind his second wife, Eliza, and two young children, as well as two adult children, from his first marriage to Mary Bell.

Elizabeth Milne was a 21 year old dressmaker from Newburgh, Fife.  It is not known where she boarded the train, or why.