quintinshill rail disaster
THE SIGNAL BOX
Early on the morning of Saturday 22 May 1915, as so often happened
during World War I, the overnight expresses from London to Glasgow
were running late. A local passenger train for Beattock was allowed to
leave Carlisle ahead of them,heading north on the main line.
En route, as it passed through Gretna, it gave a lift to JamesTinsley,
the relief signalman for the Quintinshill Signal Box who should have
been on duty there at 6 o’clock. When it arrived at Quintinshill, soon
after 6.30, the local train would normally have been shunted into the
north-bound passing loop
(the down siding)
to allow the two expresses,
following it,to pass. However,both up and down loops were occupied by
goods trains and the local passenger train had to be shunted from the
down main line to the up, south bound,main line.
This operation would have been perfectly safe if George Meakin, the
signalman still on duty at the time, had, firstly, remembered to put a collar
on the signal lever; this simple device would have prevented the lever from
being moved so halting any train coming from the North, and, secondly, sent
a ‘blocking back’ signal to the next signal box to the North, at Kirkpatrick, to
indicate that there was a train on the line and no traffic should be allowed
through until it was reported clear.