The Toil Bridge Revisited

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Last week on the podcast we had an epic listener story called, The Toil Bridge Train sent in by Alexander Short. Podcast friend and monthly co-host Sylvia Shults not only loved the story but knew it quite well. She is currently writing a new book that includes the complete story of that ill-fated train and includes the ghostly encounters that followed. She also informed me that that bridge was called The Tay Bridge not Toil and it really happened on December 28th, 1879. Which matches perfectly with Alex’s dream or time slip encounter. Following is an article I found on The Courier – UK division that ties up the tale with a bow. 

The Diver - The Train from the Tay Bridge Disaster 1879Forgotten Tale of the Tay Bridge Disaster Engine 
by Graeme Strachan (June 27, 2015)

An unusual fact about the Tay Bridge Disaster is that the locomotive once again crossed the Tay before it was withdrawn in 1919. Engine 224 was a spare in Dundee when it was called out to work a mail train to Burntisland on December 28, 1879, after the regular engine from Ladybank failed. The southbound crossing went without issue but disaster struck on the return journey which was due to arrive at Dundee a little before 7.30pm. Shortly after 7.13pm, the Tay Bridge collapsed but driver David Mitchell and ‘stoker’ John Marshall had no warning of the impending disaster. The original crossing had been the longest railway bridge in the world but during the storm, the wind was said to have blown the iron girders in the central section away “like matchwood”. Fifty-nine people are known to have died, although there was confusion over the numbers killed as many bodies were not discovered for months.

The locomotive, North British Railway (NBR) 224 built by Thomas Wheatley at Cowlairs Works, survived the disaster. Despite the fall, the locomotive had been protected by the bridge girders which formed a cage around the train as they fell together. In April 1880, an attempt to recover it failed when the chains broke and two days later a second attempt also failed because the salvage equipment broke after the locomotive had been brought to the surface.

One week later, it was recovered and stood on the bank of the Tay until it was sent to Cowlairs on its own wheels for repairs, after which it was returned to traffic. The first person to drive the Diver was Robert Marshall whose brother, John, 24, had been the fireman on that fateful night.

A new double-track bridge was designed by William Henry Barlow and built by William Arrol & Co, 18 meters upstream of, and parallel to, the original bridge. The foundation stone was laid on July 6, 1883, and the second bridge opened on June 20, 1887, and remains in use.

Train drivers became reluctant to take the train across the new Tay Bridge believing it to be unlucky or a bad omen. However, on the 29th anniversary of the disaster, the engine was used to serve the exact same route as it had that fateful night making the crossing to Dundee across the new Tay Bridge. The Diver was in service until 1919.

This Week’s Podcast: On the podcast this week Sylvia Shults is back for more ghost story fun. We also have two more of your stories and a brand new Not So Important Times In History. You can listen to this podcast on Thursday at Ron’s Amazing Stories, download it from Apple Podcasts, stream it on Stitcher Radio, or on the mobile version of Spotify. Do you prefer the radio? We are heard every Thursday at 10:00 pm and Sunday Night at 11:00 PM (EST) on AMFM247.COM. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link

Ron’s Amazing Stories is produced and hosted by Ronald Hood:
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